The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Japanese language and Okinawan pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. Sounds occurring only as allophones are included for narrow transcription.

See Japanese phonology for a more thorough discussion of the sounds of Japanese.

Examples in the charts are Japanese words transliterated according to the Hepburn romanization system.

IPA Japanese example English approximation
b basho bog
ç hito hero
ɕ shita, shugo sheep
d dōmo dome
dz, z[1] zazen zen, rods
, ʑ[1] jibun, gojū gelatin, fusion
ɸ fugu food
(lips don't touch teeth, more like blowing out a candle)
ɡ gakusei gape
h hon hone
j yakusha, kyū yak
k kuru skate
m mikan much
n nattō not
ɴ nihon long
ŋ ringo finger
p pan span
ɽ[2] roku close to /t/ in auto in American English,
or between lock and Scottish rock ([l] and [ɾ]).
s suru sue
t taberu tan
ts tsunami cats
chikai, kinchō itch
[3] wasabi was
ʔ (in Ryukyu languages) oh-oh!
IPA Japanese example English approximation
a aru father
e eki met[4]
i iru need
yoshi, shita (almost silent)
o oniisan cold
[5] unagi closest to boot
u͍̥[5] desu, sukiyaki (almost silent)

IPA Japanese examples English examples
ː long vowel:
double consonant:
big gram (compare big ram)
tone drops:

kaꜜki (oyster), kakiꜜ (fence)[6]

  1. The fricative [z]~[ʑ] is in free variation with the affricate [dz]~[]. Usually, this is represented phonemically as /z/.
  2. The Japanese r varies between a postalveolar flap [ɽ] and an alveolar lateral flap [ɺ].
  3. The Japanese w is not equivalent to a typical IPA [w] since it is pronounced with lip compression rather than rounding. The labial spreading diacritic is an extended IPA character.
  4. The Japanese /e/ doesn't quite line up with any English vowel, though the nearest equivalents are the vowel of pay (for most English dialects) and the vowel of met; the Japanese vowel is usually articulated at a point between the two.
  5. There is no simple symbol in the IPA for Japanese u, which is neither rounded [u] nor unrounded [ɯ], but compressed [ɯ͡β̞]. The labial spreading diacritic is an extended IPA character.
  6. The position of this downstep, which does not occur in all words, varies between dialects, and frequently is not indicated. The downstep is a drop in pitch; the word rises in pitch before the . When occurs after the final syllable of a word, any attached grammatical particles will have low tone.