Pronunciation Japanese words


How do you pronounce Japanese words?

Basically, you speak the Japanese language as you read it. Words are made up of syllables with no difference in tone, as they would have in Chinese. It is a rather rhythmic language, in which some vowels are long or short and are pronounced with more or less emphasis. If you are interested, then these sites and youtube movies can be helpful:

  • Japanese Roman Character Pronounciation Guide   (wikiversity)
  • An introduction to Japanese Pronounciation   (website)
  • How to pronounce Ri-Ra-Ru   (youtube)
  • Japanese pronounciation   (youtube)


Below you will find sound samples of greeting, counting and various words used during Aikido lessons to help you get used to the pronunciation.

Aikido audio clips

greetings at the beginning and end of the lesson:


onegai shimasu

Greeting at the start of the lesson. It means something like "please, do your best" or "let's train well together". The u at the end of a word is often not (completely) pronounced. This is a 'standard' Japanese greeting. It is not easy to translate literally, because it gets its meaning depending on the situation in which it is pronounced. See an explanation of this   .

 domo arigato gosaimashita

Greetings at the end of the lesson. It means: "thank you". This is also a 'standard' Japanese expression.

 counting from 1 to 10 

1-ichi 2-ni 3-san 4-shi (yon) 5-go 6-roku 7-shichi(nana) 8-hachi 9-k(y)u 10-yu.

The 4 and 7 have a double pronunciation. Which pronunciation you use depends on what you try to count. Listen to the sound clip how to count in Aikido. Incidentally, there are different numeric systems for all numbers, depending on what you are trying to count.



Shihonage - 4 direction throw


Techinage - heaven and earth throw 


Kotegaeshi - throw by twisting the wrist


Iriminage - throw by entering


Ikkyo first form


Nikyo - second form


Sankyo - third form



Aihanmi - equal position


Gyaku hanmi - mirror position


Shomenuchi - strike the head from above


Morotedori - 2 hands grab 1 wrist



Hidari - left


Migi - right


Mae - forward


Ushiro - backward


body parts:

Ashi - foot, leg


Te - hand, wrist


Kata - shoulder


Eri - nek, collar


full description of the technique:

Tachiwaza katatedori aihanmi ikkyo


Tachiwaza katatedori gyakuhanmi shihonage


Suwariwaza shomenuchi iriminage


The name of the technique is combined with the 'position' and the 'attack' to indicate how the techniques are trained. During exams, the techniques are requested with this composition, sometimes also by adding omote or ura as a requested variant.


Translated from our Dutch website by Andrea Maruccia and Sheila Clement I 2018


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