Japanese Lessons

Japanese Consonants: How to Pronounce し、じ

Japanese letter し and じ

Description of the Japanese Pronunciation し、じ

Picture describing Japanese pronunciation /sh/

し and じ consist of the Japanese consonants [ɕ] representing the sound of the roman letter /sh/ and [ʑ] representing the sound of the roman letter /z/ together with the Japanese vowel [i]. The way to pronounce them is similar to how you pronounce [s] and [z], but the point where you make a chink is a little farther back. Then, you will pronounce them by causing friction as the air passes through the chink. Be careful however, because if you used the same point as [s], it would sound like 「すぃ」. This sound is also similar to the English sound (she). The difference is that you need to purse your lips a little to pronounce (she), but your lips will remain in a natural shape to pronounce し. [ɕ] is an unvoiced sound and [ʑ] is a voiced sound.

Does it make sense to you? Let’s try to pronounce し、じ after the tutor on the video!

Wasabi Japanese Pronunciation Lessons

Words Exercise with the Pronunciation [ɕ] [ʑ] し、じ

Please repeat the following words after the tutor on the video.

Words Roman Letters Meanings
しろ shi ro white
した shi ta under
あし a shi leg
むし mu shi insect
しかる shi ka ru to scold
あじ a zi taste
みじかい mi zi ka i short
まじめ ma zi me serious
そうじ so u zi cleaning
はじめて ha zi me te first

Sentences Exercise with the Pronunciation [ɕ] [ʑ] し、じ

Please repeat the following sentences after the tutor in the video.

Japanese Sentences English Translations
しろいぬがいます。 There is a white dog.
しょう学生がくせいしかりました。 I scolded a schoolchild.
真面目まじめそうをします。 I will clean seriously.

Tongue Twister Exercise with the Pronunciation [ɕ] [ʑ] し、じ

Please repeat the following tongue twisters after the tutor on the video. Also, please focus on the pronunciation practice, not the meaning, because they were made only for the sake of practice.

Japanese Tongue Twisters Vocabulary
書写山しょしゃざんしゃそうじょう 書写山しょしゃざん: mountain’s name, そうじょう: high priest
しゅひじゅすしゅしゅちん しゅ: satin ひじゅす: red-dyed satin しゅちん: satin with raised figures
じゅつじゅつ修行しゅぎょうちゅう じゅつ: magician, じゅつ: magic, 修行しゅぎょう: training




This is the how to pronounce [ɕ] [ʑ] し、じ. We recommend that you practice the sentences above at least 5 times for each exercise, though we understand that pronunciation practice can be dull. Good pronunciation will give you listening and speaking ability, and thereby you will be confident enough to speak Japanese with native speakers. Thus, the ability you gain is well worth the time spent. We are looking forward to seeing you in the next lesson; [t] [d] た て と、だ で ど.

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