Hiragana Stroke Order

I was helping my son with his Japanese homework the other day and I was surprised to notice that he writes な with a different stroke order than I do.  Looking it up later, I determined that he was right and I’ve been wrong all these years!  You see, when I started studying Japanese in my twenties, we were expected to learn hiragana and katakana within the first few weeks of class and there was no one watching over our shoulder to drill us on penmanship or stroke order.  We were adults and unless our penmanship was illegible, it was fine; stroke order didn’t come up until we got to Kanji.

Kids studying Japanese at a young age, on the other hand, are learning to write at all at the same time that they’re learning to write kana in particular.  Especially if they’re learning in a Japanese school, they’re going to be drilled on this by a native Japanese teacher.  Even before that point, our kids used a set of wipeable cards when they were first learning to write.  After realizing that I was doing な wrong, I dug out these cards and quizzed myself.  I found out that I also mess up せ and も!

Here are the correct stroke orders for the three hiragana I have been getting wrong.  Do you write these correctly?


I love the great big 宿題 (しゅくだい) stamp that my son’s tutor puts on the pages he has to do for homework that week.  I’m sure it makes a really satisfying kerchunk when she puts it on there.


When our oldest was in yochien, a common homework exercise was to come up with a word that starts with a specified kana and then draw a picture of it.

The clever little bugger always tried to pick words whose pictures are easy to draw.  Once, for は, he came up with はり (needle) and just drew a little line.  For た, he chose たね (seed) and drew a little dot.  We made him draw the plant sprouting from it.