How much do you pay attention to 高低アクセント?


Just hit L2 and I was considering recording the pitch accent locations of each vocab item in reading notes. So far I’m thinking / & \ might be a good way to do this. [eg. い/ち, た/べ\る]

I got this idea after I read about OJAD on Tofugu’s new resource list.

But then I came across this short, very interesting paper advising beginners to ignore accent for the most part. I’m not exactly a beginner…lower intermediate-ish probably. I definitely want to be taking my own steps to develop speaking/listening proficiency alongside WK’s focus on reading.

What say you guys? Should I not bother recording accent and just imitate the audio samples?

If anyone does make a point to explicitly check accents, know any sleeker way to record them? / & \ are a bit bulky, and the way they mark accents on wikipedia doesn’t seem very intuitive to me.


edit: ローマ was making me look bad ༼⌐■ل͜■༽

edit 2: holy smokes there’s Furigana!


That was written in 1995 and is probably the reason pitch accent hasn’t really been taught as part of most methods.

Many people are advocating against this now. It’s like how Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji says to ignore readings and only concentrate meaning. Modern methods take a more comprehensive approach.

Although I will say that personally I prefer to learn pitch accent through immersion rather than as part of my studies.

Almost all methods universally agree that it’s better to move away from Romaji as soon as possible. :wink: But don’t worry, Tofugu’s got you covered:


Welcome to the forum community here.

Pitch accent… I definitely don’t focus on it for every single vocab item I come across. I honestly pay almost no mind to it when I’m on WaniKani. It’s something I’ll tune in on when doing listening / shadowing practice, or especially when speaking a passage.

Actively listening for it but not necessarily spending extra time on it. I do think it’s important for beginners to get in the habit of listening for.

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The important thing about pitch accent is being aware that it exists and spending some weeks early on in your Japanese studies training your ear to notice the differences. Once you have an awareness, you can continue studying as normal but being able to notice the pitch accent pattern when you listen to new vocabulary.


At a minimum, paying attention to pitch accent is a good idea. If you make a point to pay attention, you’ll pick up some patterns, especially if you’re also listening to native content (podcasts, drama, anime, etc.) so you can hear conjugations and sentences, not just individual words in their base forms.

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If you have a Mac, the J-J dictionary uses a number system for pitch accent. I like it because it’s clean; it leaves the kana intact without any weird symbols. Even if you don’t have a mac, it might be worth learning. If you want more explanation let me know.

Here’s two example words plus the chart that shows how it all works.
Screen Shot 2020-05-01 at 19.19.29
Screen Shot 2020-05-01 at 19.18.50

For Anki cards I use colors to note pitch accent. I look up a word in this dictionary to see the number, then I make the low syllables one color and high syllables another.

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That chart looks amazing. Dropping a number or two in the reading notes on WK wouldn’t take but a second.

Unfortunately I’m on PC but I think I will try to learn this.

I do see # of はく (mora) down the rows and # of はく until the pitch falls along the columns, but I’m not sure what the extra white dot is in each cell, or the dot-in-dots.

Any further info is appreciated - I think the different dots and the shadings of the cells are tripping me up the most at the moment.

Thanks again everyone, seems like a great place you’ve got here.

There’s a pitch accent script you can add for your browser, so the pitch accent will be shown on every item page, during lessons, and during reviews.

Also, the Yomichan browser extension recently added a pitch accent dictionary.

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Wow that’s even better. Installed!

Once I figure out that chart a bit more it’s off to the races.

  • The number in a square indicate the mora of the downstep, also indicated by the dot in dot
  • the extra white dot indicate the following particle
  • shaded cells are just showing the groupings
  • first mora and second mora are always different pitch and there can only be one downstep

SoraR’s correct, but I had a few examples typed out so I’ll post anyway

I’m not sure what the extra white dot is in each cell, or the dot-in-dots.

The dot-in-dot shows the last syllable that has a high pitch accent before it drops to low.

The white dot shows the pitch of the particle that comes after the word in question. If we pretend that that particle is は, は after a 0 word would remain at high pitch. Any other number and は is low pitch. The interesting case is where the number of syllables in the word is equal to the number given for pitch accent. For example, 愛想, あいそ (amiability, friendliness). It has 3 syllables and its dictionary entry is a 3. This means that it’s lo-hi-hi, but the は (or whatever comes after) is lo again. This means that the only difference (in regards to pitch accent) between it and a 0 word is the accent of what comes after.

Another quick example: 葉 (leaf) vs 歯 (tooth). They’re both pronounced は, but 葉 is 0 and 歯 is 1. So according to the chart, 葉は would be lo-hi, but 歯は would be hi-lo.

the shadings of the cells

I never actually paid attention to the shading of the cells lol but SoraR’s right. 0 column are all the same because pitch starts lo, goes hi, then stays hi for the particle.
The cells in column 1 all start hi, then go lo and stay low. The diagonal dark ones are words where the last syllable of the word is hi, but what comes after is lo. And the white ones in the middle are words where there’s a hi-lo drop somewhere in the middle of the word.

How far you want to get into all this is up to you. I think the chart is good to learn. I studied pitch accent a little bit and picked up general patterns from Dogen’s pitch accent series (paid). After that plus spending time learning the language, I started being able to guess the pitch accent of new words and get them right enough of the time to be happy without spending a ton of time on it.


Just as a point of reference, I am conversationally fluent in Japanese and have never explicitly studied pitch accent or even bothered looking it up at any point along the way. It was something that just came naturally with lots of speaking and listening practice.

I feel that it is something that you may find to be helpful to be aware of, but is not something you should spend a lot of time on, as you’ll likely progress much further faster if you use that time to focus on grammar, vocabulary or kanji.


Just wanted to circle back and cap things off here.

Lots more info and resources are available at the Pitch-Accent Awareness Corner. Thanks again to everyone for helping me here instead of linking me there with an exasperated sigh :slight_smile:

Recap: the general advice for beginners here is to be aware that pitch-accent is a thing but refrain from letting it distract you too much - just imitate the audio examples. I think this makes sense.

My reasoning for taking a different route is that I’m returning to serious study after a decade-long stint as an “eternal intermediate.”

My plan this time is to find places where aspiring native speakers of Japanese or English who want to learn the other language can chat and exchange know-how on a casual basis. To that end I’m trying to learn grammatical terms like 動詞どうし (verb) so that I can talk about grammar in Japanese.

It seemed like a good idea to learn a bit more about pitch-accent while I was at it.

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