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About Hiragana Times

The monthly magazine that introduces the real Japan to the world, in English and Japanese

Hiragana Times introduces the real Japan to non-Japanese by looking at Japan as an attractive, unique town in the global village. Inside Hiragana Times, the world of Japan becomes reality, and one can experience the cultural frontier between Japan and the rest of the world. Hiragana Times has been published since 1986 and has readers in more than 100 countries. Readers are mainly in their 20s and 30s, but the number of middle-aged and elderly readers has been rapidly increasing in recent years.

Hiragana Times is a truly unique magazine in which you can study language while learning about Japan. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vice versa, and furigana are placed below each kanji to make Japanese study even easier.
Digital version provides audio. <Sample>

The articles are used also in universities, a dictionary and more

Hiragana Times articles are used every year in some Japanese university English exams, and used as a Japanese text in overseas universities. All the translated sentences from every issue are converted into Braille. Furthermore, they have been included in a well-known online dictionary, and used as online translation improving data by global enterprises and university lingual study institutes. At the NTT All Japan Town Magazine Festival, Hiragana Times has twice been awarded the Grand Prize.

The uniqueness of Hiragana Times

Hiragana is the base of the Japanese language

Spoken Japanese consists of 46 syllables and 86 syllables of their modified forms. Hiragana characters represent these syllables. In other words, hiragana is a phonetic script. At elementary school students learn hiragana first. Then they learn katakana and kanji. Fairy tales and picture books for lower grade students of elementary school are written in hiragana.

You can read anything by mastering only 46 hiragana characters

For adults, almost no books or magazines in hiragana-only are available, but Hiragana Times provides you with texts that can be read strictly in hiragana. By knowing hiragana you will also be able to write anything that you can speak.

Furigana (Hiragana) is placed on each kanji

It is said that the Japanese language is one of the easiest languages in the world, if you do not have to learn Kanji. However, knowledge of kanji is necessary to improve your Japanese proficiency. For all kanji, furigana (hiragana) is placed in the magazine, allowing one to learn kanji at the same time as reading in hiragana.

You can read without a dictionary

As the English sentence blocks and Japanese sentence blocks are alternately displayed, you can easily compare the English sentence with the Japanese sentence and grasp the meaning without a dictionary. Furthermore, articles are selected from contemporary Japanese news and topics, so you can obtain knowledge of Japan and study the language at the same time,

Best for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) preparation

JLPT places an importance on comprehension (the ability to read and understand). It applies to hearing tests, too. Since it is hard to predict the JLPT questions, it is difficult to know how to prepare for the test. Hiragana Times, which includes many expressions and kanji that often appear in the tests, especially 2nd and 1st grades, is one of the best sources to improve your comprehension, for the test.

Revolutionary multi-level Japanese texts


Japanese sentence is followed right after English sentence

You can read English texts with Japanese texts, comparing their sentence constructions. Appropriate English words and phrases are positioned on each Japanese word or phrase under the Japanese texts, in addition to furigana below each kanji. So, you can instantly grasp the meaning.

There are more features in the 13-page “Insight into Japan (text sample)” section.

Multi-level Japanese texts information]

* The audio of the “Multi-Level Texts” is included in the digital version subscription, or available separately from Febe (OTOBANK).

Digital version with audio

The audio is accompanied by the “Insight into Japan” (13 pages)

  • Audio is recorded in easy listening English and Japanese by professional narrators.
  • English and Japanese sentences are recorded alternately, sentence by sentence. Since recordings are created in MP3 format, you will be able to download them to mobile devices.
  • While reading the texts, you can hear the audio using a PC, iPad, Phone and android devices.

Furthermore, from these pages you can jump to the “Japanese-only text” pages (no English, no furigana nor romaji). If you challenge yourself on these pages, you will get to know your level of Japanese. [Sample]


Left: Multi-level text. Right: Japanese only text.

[ Digital version Sample ]

Many fascinating articles for readers

[2015 Contents]

  • Topics & Event
    Events, useful information and new products that non-Japanese would take interest in.
  • Japan Products
    Introducing unique Japanese products.
  • Spotlight
    Figures or spots which are currently talked about are introduced.
  • Social News
    Heart-warming topics that mass media would rarely report.
  • Trends
    Booming new business or newly emerged social phenomenon.
  • Special Interview
    Asking about their impressions of Japan and such to the ambassadors / their wives to Japan, or other influential people.
  • Travelling Japan
    Introducing newly emerged tourism business.
  • Cool Japan
    Report of Cool Japanese products or services.

[Multi-level texts] ——————————————————————
(Special pages designed for Japanese study)

  • Close Up Japan
    Current Japanese topics and the issues related to non-Japanese are explained.
  • Japanese TPO
    Expressions that are used in daily life, but rarely appearing in ordinary Japanese texts.
  • New Expressions & Buzzwords
    New words and buzzwords which are currently in use.
  • Japan Watching
    Japanese way of living is described through a humorous episode.
  • Behind the Scenes
    Behind-the-scenes looks at interesting Japanese themes or incidents.


  • Proper Noun Trivia
    The meanings of names of places, people, companies, brands and so on.
  • Kanji Master Road
    Explanation of kanji structure and how to memorize.
  • Nihongo Puzzle
    Searching vocabulary and kanji of JLPT N5 level.
  • My Japan & My Country
    Reader’s view about Japan and a comparison with their own country.
  • Hot Spot
    Sightseeing spots not well known to foreigners, but popular among Japanese.
  • Popular menu
    Popular best three menu choices, from a leading restaurant chain.
  • Japan Profiles
    Introducing a unique person or business.
  • Brand Story
    A report; how a famous brand was created.
  • Japanese in Japan
    A foreign student or worker interview;what their Japanese life is like.
  • Japanese Comics
    A outline of well-known manga books is illustrated.

[ Latest Issue page]

How to purchase the Hiragana Times

  • On sale on the 20th of every month in Japan
  • Available in Japan at mid-sized and large bookstores. We recommend the foreign book section of a larger book store.
  • Available outside Japan at Japanese bookstores or Japanese centers in major cities of the world.
  • The price in Japan is 500 yen. Outside Japan the price varies.
  • To obtain a subscription, please fill in the subscription page on the site.
  • Available also at Apple’s Newsstand and Google Play.
  • For school use as a class text, supplemental material, library, or group use, order from below.
    DECPub Subscriptions

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