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Sogana (草仮名 sōgana?, lit. grass kana) is an archaic Japanese syllabary, now used for aesthetic purposes only. It represents an intermediate cursive form between historic man'yōgana script and modern hiragana.

Sogana appears primarily in Heian era texts, most notably the Eiga monogatari and Makura no soshi.[1] Originating from cursive forms of the man'yōgana characters, commonly occurring sogana were further adapted and by the early eleventh century had evolved into the forms of modern hiragana.[2]

Sogana's principal, now only, function was artistic effect. It was often used for the rendition of poetry, as in the work of Fujiwara Kozei, whose style is often cited to exemplify the use of sogana.[3] However, attribution of the few surviving sogana works is disputed.[4]


  1. ^ Seeley, Christopher (1991). A history of writing in Japan. Japanese studies library. BRILL. p. 80. ISBN 9789004090811. 
  2. ^ McCullough, William H. (1999). The Cambridge History of Japan: Heian Japan, Volume 2. Cambridge University Press. p. 416. ISBN 9780521223539. 
  3. ^ Murray, Julia K. (1979). A decade of discovery: selected acquisitions, 1970-1980, Part 63. University of Michigan. p. 57. ISBN 9780934686365. 
  4. ^ LaMarre, Thomas (2000). Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensation and Inscription. Duke University Press. p. 86. ISBN 9780822325185.