The characters above should look very familiar to any student of Japanese. Hiragana is the phonetic alphabet that is usually the first writing system you learn. Compared to the much more complex and difficult to remember Chinese characters and the angular katakana alphabet, the loopy hiragana characters have a pleasant round feel that’s often called “cute.”

But which character is the cutest of them all? Japan weighs in.

The website Niconico News recently polled their readers to find out which character takes the cute cake and, with a whopping 21.1 percent of the vote, the clear winner is あ or “a”, the character that pretty much everyone meets first during their studies of the phonetic alphabet.


Respondents said the character “has a harmony as well as a certain assertiveness” and “feels like the main character.” One man said, “Not only does it come at the beginning, but it also starts out the word ai (love), so I love this character!” Preach.

Number two, with about 14 percent of the vote, was ゆ or “yu.”

“It looks like it’s curling up, so it’s cute.”
“It’s circular and starts off some classic Showa names for cute girls like Yuko and Yumi.”
“I think it’s got nice curves and a nice sound as well.”

And coming in third with 7.4 percent was ね or “ne.”

“It has meaning, not just a sound, so it’s the cutest!” (In Japanese, ne is used at the end of sentences to mean something like “don’t you think so?” or “right?”)
“When added to the end of a sentence, both the shape and the sound make it softer.”
“The sound is cute and the little twist at the end looks like a tail!”

What do you think, readers? Do you have a favorite hiragana character? And do you think they really look cute? Let us know in the comments.

Source: Hachima Kikou via Nico Nico News
Images: My Artworks Gallery