Hiragana/Katakana in 1 Hour - How to Write and Read Japanese

    Learn ALL Hiragana/Katakana in 1 Hour is a series of two video lessons available for free on YouTube. Each video is an hour long, focusing on either a whole set of hiragana or katakana. The video gives an overview of hiragana and katakana using graphics and charts, then goes through each character to help you remember how to write and read them. Each character is introduced with the stroke order of the character, and what the character looks like in different kinds of fonts. They also show an illustration mnemonic for each character to make it easy to remember. You'll also hear a brief explanation of where you might see the character in Japanese grammar. When they introduce a new kana that has a similar shape to the one you've already learned, they take the time to compare and explain the differences.

    Once each column (a set of three to five characters) is introduced, they do a quick quiz to review, showing you the characters you've just learned while giving you a moment to recall how they're pronounced. Some quizzes use actual words where the character appears.

    The host of the video lessons, Risa, is a native speaker of Japanese, so you get to hear her authentic pronunciation of each character. However, keep in mind there's sometimes a gap between the actual Japanese sound and the English keywords they use in their mnemonics. For example, they encourage you to think of the shape of an apple to remember a hiragana あ (a). However, あ is closer to the sound of "ah" (ɑ), not "apple" (æ). This may trip you up, so try focusing on how the host reads the character, rather than the mnemonic keywords for accurate pronunciation.

    They do cover all the kana in an easy-to-understand way using illustrations and animations. However, an hour long video lesson is a lot to pack in. If you're interested in using this video lesson series for learning kana, don't force yourself to go through it all in one sitting.

    The series is created by JapanesePod101.com, who are known for offering a huge amount of Japanese learning content. However, at the same time, their content organization tends to be difficult to navigate. For example, these YouTube videos don't have timestamps, so you may find it hard to keep coming back to where you left off.

    If you prefer a collection of bite-size lessons, you can check out the 10-Day Hiragana Challenge and 10-Day Katakna Challenge playlists. Each of the two videos from the Learn ALL Hiragana/Katakana in 1 Hour series are divided into ten parts with videos just several minutes long. The downside of this 10-Day Challenge series though is that it includes more advertisements for JapanesePod101.com products.