U (kana)

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
うー
ウウ
ウー
Other additional forms
Form A (w-)
Romaji Hiragana Katakana
wa うぁ ウァ
wi うぃ ウィ
wu うぅ ウゥ
we うぇ ウェ
wo うぉ ウォ
wyu うゅ ウュ
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
vya ゔゃ ヴャ
vyu ゔゅ ヴュ
vye ゔぃぇ ヴィェ
vyo ゔょ ヴョ
u
transliterationu
hiragana origin
katakana origin
spelling kana上野のウ
(Ueno no "u")

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

Derivation

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

Variant forms

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

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.

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

Character
Unicode nameHIRAGANA LETTER UKATAKANA LETTER UHALFWIDTH KATAKANA LETTER UHALFWIDTH KATAKANA LETTER SMALL U
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode12358U+304612454U+30A665395U+FF7365385U+FF69
UTF-8227 129 134E3 81 86227 130 166E3 82 A6239 189 179EF BD B3239 189 169EF BD A9
Numeric character referenceううウウウウゥゥ
Shift JIS130 16482 A4131 6983 45179B3169A9
Character
Unicode nameHIRAGANA LETTER SMALL UKATAKANA LETTER SMALL UHIRAGANA LETTER VUKATAKANA LETTER VU
Encodingsdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhexdecimalhex
Unicode12357U+304512453U+30A512436U+309412532U+30F4
UTF-8227 129 133E3 81 85227 130 165E3 82 A5227 130 148E3 82 94227 131 180E3 83 B4
Numeric character referenceぅぅゥゥゔゔヴヴ
Shift JIS130 16382 A3131 6883 44131 14883 94
  • Braille
う / ウ in Japanese Braille
う / ウ
u
ゔ / ヴ
vu
うう / ウー
ū
ゔう / ヴー

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