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Hiragana Fonts

Japanese writing consists of a mix of three different scripts: Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana. Kanji is based on Chinese characters which we shall consider ideographic for the sake of simplicity, while Kana (both Hiragana and Katakana) is syllabic.

Displaying rounded forms, Hiragana is a syllabary consisting of 46 characters, as well as several diacritics. Derived originally from cursive forms of Kanji, Hiragana is used for the grammatical morphemes (elements) of a sentence, e.g. auxiliary verbs and inflectional affixes. Except in books for young children, Hiragana is not normally used alone in writing Japanese.

While the Kana syllabaries were developed in the 9th century AD, their forms and usage were fixed in 1900. Either syllabary can be effectively used alone for writing Japanese, though the common custom is to write in a mix of Kana and Kanji. Because of the large number of homophonous words in Japanese, some have argued that Kanji serves to reduce ambiguity in written language. The syllabic nature of Kana, as well as its order, suggest some early influence from Indic scripts, most likely through the spread of Buddhism. Either syllabary can be used as furigana, small annotations next to a Kanji character which hint at meaning or pronunciation.

The Hiragana font can be found in the non-Latin multilingual font library from Monotype Imaging®.

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