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Hiragana (平仮名, ひらがな)

One of the two Japanese syllabaries used commonly in modern Japanese (another one is katakana, 片仮名, かたかな). Hiragana evolved from manyōgana (万葉仮名, まんようがな, lit. “kana of ten thousand leaves”) in its cursive form, around the 9th century C.E. The creation of hiragana is often attributed to possibly the greatest Japanese calligrapher of all time, the Shingon (真言宗, しんごんしゅう, Shingon shū, i.e. "Shingon sect", a major Japanese esotheric Buddist school) priest and Sanskrit scholar, Kūkai (空海, くうかい, 774–835). In everyday language, hiragana is used to write words that have no kanji (漢字, かんじ, lit. “characters of Han China”), such as grammatical postfixes, particles, etc. Hiragana in calligraphy is commonly known as onnade (女手, おんなで, lit. “woman’s hand”) as originally it was used mainly by women, or kana (かな).

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Page last modified on October 27, 2011, at 07:05 PM