U (kana)

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u
transliteration u
hiragana origin
katakana origin
spelling kana 上野のウ
(Ueno no "u")

in hiragana or in katakana (romanised u) is one of the Japanese kana, each of which represents one mora. In the modern Japanese system of alphabetical order, they occupy the third place in the modern Gojūon (五十音) system of collating kana. In the Iroha, they occupied the 24th position, between and . In the Gojūon chart (ordered by columns, from right to left), う lies in the first column (あ行, "column A") and the third row (う段, "row U"). Both represent the sound [u͍]. In the Ainu language, the small katakana ゥ represents a diphthong, and is written as w in the Latin alphabet.

Form Rōmaji Hiragana Katakana
Normal a/i/u/e/o
(あ行 a-gyō)
u
uu
ū
うう, うぅ
うー
ウウ, ウゥ
ウー
Other additional forms
Form A (w-)
Romaji Hiragana Katakana
wa うぁ ウァ
wi うぃ ウィ
wu
we うぇ ウェ
wo うぉ ウォ
Form B (v-)
Romaji Hiragana Katakana
va ゔぁ ヴァ
vi ゔぃ ヴィ
vu
ve ゔぇ ヴェ
vo ゔぉ ヴォ

The hiragana form with dakuten, ゔ, representing the sound "v", is rarely seen on older words, since the sound doesn't occur in native Japanese words. However, it is becoming more common with Western influences.

Derivation[edit]

Both う and ウ originate, via man'yōgana, from the kanji (pronounced u and meaning space).

Variant forms[edit]

Scaled-down versions of the characters (ぅ, ゥ) are used to create new morae that do not exist in the Japanese language, such as トゥ (tu). This convention is relatively new, and many older loanwords do not use it. For example, in the phrase Tutankhamun's cartouche, the recent loan cartouche uses the new phonetic technique, but the older loan Tutankhamun uses (tsu) as an approximation:

タンカーメン の カルトゥーシュ
Tsutankāmen no karushu

The character う is also used, in its full-sized form, to lengthen "o" sounds. For example, the word 構想 is written in hiragana as こうそう (kousou), pronounced kōsō. In a few words the character (o) is used instead for morphological or historical reasons.

The character ウ can take dakuten to form ヴ (vu), a sound foreign to the Japanese language and traditionally approximated by ブ (bu).

Stroke order[edit]

U (kana).png

The hiragana う is written in two strokes:

  1. At the top of the character, a short diagonal crook: proceeding diagonally downwards from the left, then reversing direction and ending at the lower left.
  2. A broad curving stroke: beginning at the left, rising slightly, then curving back and ending at the left.
U (kana).PNG

The katakana ウ is written in three strokes:

  1. At the top of the character, a short vertical stroke, written from top to bottom.
  2. A similar stroke, but lower and positioned at the left.
  3. A broad angled stroke: beginning as a horizontal line written from left to right, then reversing direction and proceeding downwards from right to left as a curved diagonal. The horizontal line must touch both the other strokes. Apart from the short diagonal, the character is identical to .

Other communicative representations[edit]

Character
Unicode name HIRAGANA LETTER U KATAKANA LETTER U HALFWIDTH KATAKANA LETTER U HALFWIDTH KATAKANA LETTER SMALL U
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 12358 U+3046 12454 U+30A6 65395 U+FF73 65385 U+FF69
UTF-8 227 129 134 E3 81 86 227 130 166 E3 82 A6 239 189 179 EF BD B3 239 189 169 EF BD A9
Numeric character reference う う ウ ウ ウ ウ ゥ ゥ
Shift JIS 130 164 82 A4 131 69 83 45 179 B3 169 A9
Character
Unicode name HIRAGANA LETTER SMALL U KATAKANA LETTER SMALL U HIRAGANA LETTER VU KATAKANA LETTER VU
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 12357 U+3045 12453 U+30A5 12436 U+3094 12532 U+30F4
UTF-8 227 129 133 E3 81 85 227 130 165 E3 82 A5 227 130 148 E3 82 94 227 131 180 E3 83 B4
Numeric character reference ぅ ぅ ゥ ゥ ゔ ゔ ヴ ヴ
Shift JIS 130 163 82 A3 131 68 83 44 131 148 83 94
  • Braille
う / ウ in Japanese Braille
う / ウ
u
ゔ / ヴ
vu
うう / ウー
ū
ゔう / ヴー
⠉ (braille pattern dots-14) ⠐ (braille pattern dots-5) ⠉ (braille pattern dots-14) ⠉ (braille pattern dots-14) ⠒ (braille pattern dots-25) ⠐ (braille pattern dots-5) ⠉ (braille pattern dots-14) ⠒ (braille pattern dots-25)

Japanese Semaphore Basic Stroke 6.svg Japanese Semaphore Basic Stroke 9.svg