"alphabetic" ordering in japanese lists

How are lists written with kanji ordered? I am thinking of lists that would be ordered alphabetically in languages using an alphabet.

For example, on 青空文庫 Aozora Bunko there is a hiragana table where I can select the first hiragana of the book title. After selecting お, I get 12 tables of 50 entries which seem to be ordered by the hiragana character following お. So you would be supposed to know the pronunciation of the first kanji to find the correct item.

Is this the usual way of sorting tables with japanese entries?


It’s called 五十音順ごじゅうおんじゅん, which is actually a level 19 vocab word. Basically, within any given row, you have あいうえお order.

So within the “k” sounds, it goes かきくけこ, and that also holds true for other sound types (except where characters have become obsolete).

After the vowels it then goes かさたなはまやらわ, as seen in that table.

This is normal, you’ll see it everywhere.

There is a loose connection between the order of the rows and the placement of the tongue in the mouth, but it doesn’t strictly hold true all the way, and some rows (like は) have changed pronunciation since the creation of the order.


When it comes to 五十音順, I had to also get used to

Quote from the wiki on 五十音順.

It’s also brought up in this stack exchange post on the topic:


Where would the が sounds be ordered in this order? Under か, or at the end?


Here’s the mnemonic I use to remember the order of the columns:

Ah, Kana Symbols. Take Note How Many You Remember Well.

And then there’s ん tagging along at the back.

There’s another alphabetical order that’s sometimes still used in Japanese, but it’s fairly archaic - it’s called いろは, the name (and also the first three kana) in a poem which uses every single kana exactly once each. The order is basically the words of the poem. Note, however, that it includes ゐ and ゑ but excludes ん, because it was written in the Heian era - like I said, pretty archaic. Wikipedia

Under か. If that makes the words identical, unvoiced comes first. Also, きゃ and such are treated as きや. And again, if that makes the words identical, the one without the glide comes first. And also, っ is treated the same as つ. If this makes the words identical… well, you get the pattern.


I feel like I should have learned how to do this properly since I’ve been studying Japanese for 5+ years, but this one thing in particular felt like such a pain in the butt I skipped it completely.

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Half expecting Sutho or someone to swoop in and go “well you’re just functionally illiterate, aren’t you?” :stuck_out_tongue:

But yeah, I get you. Even knowing the order fairly well, I still find myself just staring at the shelves in a bookshop trying to figure out if the book I want is further to my left or my right.


If he weren’t banned for 1000 years he might have :man_shrugging: which would have been fun tbh, even if it meant derailing the thread.


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