In the system, are variant forms of .


Today, with few exceptions, there is only one hiragana for each of the forty-five that are written without diacritics or digraphs. However, traditionally there were generally several more-or-less interchangeable hiragana for each. A 1900 ordained that only one selected character be used for each mora, with the rest deemed ''hentaigana''. Today, although not normally used in publication, ''hentaigana'' are still used in shop signs and brand names to create a traditional or antiquated air. Hiragana originate in '','' a system where were used to write sounds without regard to their meaning. There was more than one kanji that could be used equivalently for each syllable (at the time, a syllable was a mora). Over time the ''man'yōgana'' was reduced to a form, the hiragana. Many ''hentaigana'' derive from different kanji from the ones for the now-standard hiragana, but some are the result of different styles of cursive writing. As ''hentaigana'' have derived from ''man'yōgana'', there are hundreds of different ''hentaigana'' used to represent only 90 of the Japanese language. have variant forms, too. For example, (ネ) and (ヰ). However, katakana's variant forms are fewer than hiragana's ones. Katakana's choices of ''man'yōgana'' segments had stabilized early on and established – with few exceptions – an unambiguous (one symbol per sound) long before the 1900 script regularization.

Standardized ''hentaigana''

Prior to the proposal which led to the inclusion of ''hentaigana'' in 10.0, they were already Standardized into a list by Mojikiban, part of the Japanese Information-technology Promotion Agency (IPA). To view ''hentaigana'', special fonts need to be installed that support Hentaigana such as

Version 5.01 and later
Hanazono Mincho

Hanazono Mincho ADFKO


Sources of ''hentaigana''

''Hentaigana'' are adapted from the reduced and cursive forms of the following ''man’yōgana'' (kanji) characters. Source characters for the kana are not repeated below for hentaigana even when there are alternative glyphs; some uncertain.

In Unicode

286 ''hentaigana'' characters are included in the in the and blocks. One character was added to Unicode version 6.0 in 2010, 𛀁 (U+1B001 HIRAGANA LETTER ARCHAIC YE which has the formal alias HENTAIGANA LETTER E-1), and the remaining 285 ''hentaigana'' characters were added in Unicode version 10.0 in June 2017. The Unicode block for Kana Supplement is U+1B000–U+1B0FF: The Unicode block for Kana Extended-A is U+1B100–U+1B12F:

Development of the hiragana syllabic ''n''

The hiragana () derives from a cursive form of the character 无, and originally signified , the same as む. The spelling reform of 1900 separated the two uses, declaring that could only be used for and could only be used for syllable-final Previously, in the absence of a character for the syllable-final , the sound was spelled (but not pronounced) identically to , and readers had to rely on context to determine what was intended. This ambiguity has led to some modern expressions based on what are, in effect, s.

Modern usage

''Hentaigana'' are considered obsolete, but a few marginal uses remain. For example, ''otemoto'' (chopsticks), is written in hentaigana on some wrappers and many shops use ''hentaigana'' to spell ''kisoba'' on their signs. (See also: "" for "the old" on English signs.) ''Hentaigana'' are used in some formal handwritten documents, particularly in certificates issued by classical Japanese cultural groups (e.g., schools, etiquette schools, religious study groups, etc.). Also, they are occasionally used in reproductions of classic Japanese texts, akin to the use of in English and other Germanic languages to give an archaic flair. Modern poems may be composed and printed in ''hentaigana'' for visual effect. However, most Japanese people are unable to read ''hentaigana'' nowadays, only recognizing a few from their common use in shop signs, or figuring them out from context.


Some of the following ''hentaigana'' are of the same kanji as their standard hiragana counterparts, but simplified differently. Others descend from unrelated kanji that represent the same sound. Image:Hiragana_I_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_E_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_O_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_KA_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_KI_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_KO_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_SI_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_SU_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_TA_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_NA_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_NO_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_HA_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_YU_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_RE_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_RO_01.svg, Image:Hiragana_WA_01.svg,

See also

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External links

Chart of hentaigana calligraphy
from 's ''A Reader of Handwritten Japanese''
A chart of hentaigana
hosted by of the

L2/15-239 Proposal for Japanese HENTAIGANA
- Unicode {{Authority control Japanese writing system