Japanese Pronunciation Tool - Kanji to Romaji Translator
First time here?
Thank you for your interest!
Here's how it works.
This phonetic translator has several settings, such as Convert to.
Each time you change the settings, the phonetic transcription of the sample texts below is automatically updated.
Transcription above each word
Transcription under each line of text
Transcription under each paragraph of text
Phonetic symbols cheat sheet
How to use this kanji to romaji translator
This online romaji translator can convert Japanese text into several different formats:
- Japanese alphabet kana (はつおん) – the most common way in Japan to show pronunciation of Japanese characters.
- Romaji (hatsuon), which uses Latin alphabet
- International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) (hat͡sɯᵝoɴ) – the most accurate method of showing the pronunciation of Japanese words
If you choose the first option, this style of transcription is called furigana in Japanese. You will also need to choose the option transcription above each word for the setting Transcription display options. Here's an example:
You probably noticed a little line above つおん. Do you want to know why it's there? See the next section Pitch accent in Japanese words.
If you need to copy the phonetic transcription into another program or print it, please read our FAQ.
Watch a tutorial "How to convert text to phonetic transcription and listen to audio recordings of words"
Pitch accent in Japanese words
Unlike any other similar tool this Japanese romaji translator also shows the position of pitch accent in Japanese words. You can select how high and low pitch syllables will be displayed:
|forward and backward slash||は／つおん‾|
|upper and lowercase letters||haTSUON'|
Note that the options colors and overline are not copy-paste friendly. They are only available if you choose the option transcription above each word for the setting Transcription display options.
The last option is only available if you choose the type of transcription romaji.
The pitch accent is extremely important in Japanese. Please see the section below about learning Japanese as second language.
Devoicing of vowels /i/ and /u/
A special option shows the devoicing of vowels /i/ and /u/. The devoiced syllables are replaced by circled forms of katakana. For example:
惑星 ➔ わ／㋗せい‾
Since the circled forms of ピ and プ don't exist, they will be replaced by ㋪° and ㋫°, respectively.
Weakening of consonant /ɡ/
Another option shows the weakening of the consonant /ɡ/. In such cases, the regular dakuten sign (for voicing) will be replaced by handakuten. For example:
資源 ➔ し＼け°ん
Multiple pronunciations of Japanese words
Some Japanese words are spelled the same, but are pronounced differently and have different meanings. They are called homographs. Compare:
|道路の端に ➔ は／し‾||↔||池の端に ➔ は／た‾|
The phonetic translator will highlight homographs in green. If you hover your cursor over these words or tap them on your mobile device, you will see all possible pronunciations.
At the moment this phonetic translator cannot yet decide which pronunciation is correct for such words. You will need to choose the correct pronunciation yourself depending on the context.
Premium features: high-quality computer-generated audio and automatic translation
The subscription Premium gives you access to some additional features in this phonetic translator:
- You will be able to generate the audio of your text using a selection of high-quality text-to-speech voices.
- You will be able to obtain an automatic translation of your text into your native language.
Please read our FAQ to learn more about premium features.
Built-in Japanese dictionary
This phonetic translator has a built-in Japanese-English dictionary, JMdict. It contains more than 250,000 Japanese words.
Before you can activate it, make sure this page is displayed in English. If necessary, set the page language to "English" in the top left corner.
Here's what you need to do to activate the dictionary:
- For the setting Transcription display options select the option "transcription above each word".
- In the section Choose what you will see when you click the word turn on the option "word's meaning".
- After submitting your text, click on any word in the results to see its definition.
Create your own custom word lists
You can create your own custom word lists using this phonetic translator. Here's how you can do it:
- For the setting Transcription display options select the option "transcription above each word".
- In the section Choose what you will see when you click the word turn on the option " to word list".
- After submitting your text, click on the word you want to add to the word list and then click the button " to word list".
- You will be prompted to select the transcription and enter the meaning/translation of the word (the latter for most languages is optional).
- Once you finished adding words to your word list, click on My Account at the top of the page and then on My word lists. You will see the list of all your word lists.
There are so many things you can do with your word list:
- export it into a file (Word, Excel, plain text),
- print it from your browser,
- share it with other people (for example, your students),
- practice pronunciation of every word using the audio recordings of real people (if available) or high-quality text-to-speech voices.
Watch a tutorial "How to create custom word lists"
Japanese characters worksheet generator
This tool also allows you to create your own worksheet to practice writing Japanese characters. In order to do that, you will need to submit some Japanese text. Then you may choose your worksheet settings:
- How many times each character will be displayed
- Font size
- Grid style
Highlighting of high-frequency Japanese words
In the section Advanced options you will find a special option that allows you to highlight Japanese words required for the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test JLPT. The words for different JLPT levels will be highlighted in the following colors:
If you want to make the frequency analysis of your text and obtain the detailed statistics, please use Japanese word frequency counter.
Learning Japanese as second language: phonetic transcription can help you improve your Japanese pronunciation
Japanese pronunciation may seem easy for people who are just starting to learn Japanese. The Japanese language only has five vowels, and Japanese consonant sounds are not very difficult to learn. However, there is one thing in Japanese that will cause you a lot of trouble... Pitch accent!
First of all, what is pitch accent? It means that some vowel sounds in Japanese words are pronounced with different pitch (with high or low tone).
In order to understand this phenomenon better, let's compare Japanese with English. The English language has stress accent, which means that stressed vowels are pronounced louder. In some cases, different stress positions can change the meaning of a word. Compare:
|His pronunciation is perfect /ˈpɝfɪkt/.||↔||I want to perfect /pɚˈfɛkt/ my pronuncation.|
In the above example, placing stress on the right syllable and pronouncing the words correctly makes the speaker more natural-sounding and easier to understand. Try pronouncing the word "perfect" the wrong way in each of the sentences above and feel the difference.
A similar phenomenon occurs in Japanese. Pitch accent helps to distinguish some words that may seem identical when written with kana (Japanese alphabet).
When a person speaks in Japanese while respecting pitch accent, they sound much more natural compared to someone who neglects this part of Japanese language. Someone who uses pitch accent incorrectly sounds similar to the way that Gru from the movie Despicable Me sounds to native English speakers.
The challenge with Japanese pitch accent is not that it is extremely hard to reproduce - the challenge is that it is often disregarded in Japanese textbooks and dictionaries. As a result, it is considered unimportant by students and even their teachers.
When you start learning Japanese from a textbook, the first chapter will likely suggest imitating native speakers on Japanese audio recordings in order to master pitch accent and speak in a natural-sound way. But then the subject is completely dropped! This is a huge oversight for those who desire to learn correct Japanese word pronunciation.
As opposed to fully tonal languages (like Mandarin Chinese), situations where the accent position changes completely the meaning of a word are relatively rare in Japanese. So when a person speaks Japanese and puts stress on the wrong vowels, they are understood (although often with difficulty). An average student may think: "If people understand me, why bother learning it?" Well, compare these three phrases:
|端を見る||hashi o miꜜru||to see an end|
|箸を見る||haꜜshi o miꜜru||to see chopsticks|
|橋を見る||hashiꜜ o miꜜru||to see a bridge|
As you can see in the above examples, the pitch accent does sometimes change the meaning of the phrase. If you want to sound natural when you speak Japanese, sooner or later you will need to learn correct Japanese language pronunciation! Why put it off?
This tool will serve you as an Japanese pronunciation guide and will help you save time. You will no longer need to look up the pronunciation of words in a dictionary.
If you use the phonetic transcription regularly in combination with Japanese audio and video recordings, your pronunciation and listening skills in the Japanese language will improve.
Japanese pronunciation dictionaries that we recommend
Some of the dictionaries listed below are not really pronunciation dictionaries, but just regular Japanese dictionaries. However we used all of them extensively when we were proofreading our database with pronunciations of Japanese words.
If you are interested in Japanese pitch accent, we highly recommend purchasing either NHK or Shin Meikai pronunciation dictionary. Both of them have an introductory section that covers the subject in detail (in Japanese). Both are invaluable tools for learning how to correctly pronounce Japanese words.
Check our Japanese romaji subtitle converter and obtain something like this:
- Phonetics and pronunciation glossary
- Japanese dictionaries online – Project Modelino
- Japanese phonology – Wikipedia
- Japanese pitch accent – Wikipedia
- Romaji (romanization of Japanese) – Wikipedia
- NAIST Japanese Dictionary
- MeCab – part-of-speech and morphological analyzer for Japanese
- Furigana – Wikipedia