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万葉仮名: development of hiragana from man'yōgana
Kanji in this term
Grade: 2
Grade: 3
か > が
Grade: 5

Grade: 1


Compound of 万葉 (man'yō, ten thousand leaves, from the title of the Old Japanese poetry anthology, Man'yōshū, “Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves”) +‎ 仮名 (kana, phonetic character, literally “borrowed characters” or “borrowed names”, from the way the characters were borrowed for their phonetic values).[1][2]

This kind of phonetic re-use of Chinese characters was broadly popularized by the Man'yōshū. Chinese used phonetically to spell Japanese occurs even earlier in the historical record, such as on the Inariyama Sword, dated to 471 or 531.



万葉仮名 (hiragana まんようがな, rōmaji man'yōgana, historical hiragana まんえふがな)

  1. Man'yōgana, the early Japanese syllabary using Chinese characters to represent Japanese sounds: the predecessor of hiragana and katakana

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN
  3. 3.0 3.1 1998, NHK日本語発音アクセント辞典 (NHK Japanese Pronunciation Accent Dictionary) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: NHK, →ISBN
  4. 4.0 4.1 1997, 新明解国語辞典 (Shin Meikai Kokugo Jiten), Fifth Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN