Japanese Lessons

Japanese Vowels: How to Pronounce う

Japanese letter u

Description of the Japanese Pronunciation う

Picture of Mouth for Japanese Pronunciation u

The pronunciations of Japanese vowels are determined by 3 factors; two of which are the position of your tongue, high or low (1) and front or back (2), and the final factor is the form of your mouth (3). When you pronounce う, you are going to purse your lips slightly and raise the back part of your tongue up to the upper-middle and the back position.

Does it make sense to you? Let’s try to pronounce [u] う after the tutor on the video!

Wasabi Japanese Pronunciation Lessons 

Words Exercise with the Pronunciation [u] う

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

Words Roman Letters Meanings
うみ u mi sea
うた u ta song
うる u ru to sell
うち u chi house
うわぎ u wa gi coat
うすい u su i thin
うしろ u shi ro behind
うま u ma horse
a u to meet
いう i u to say


Sentences Exercise with the Pronunciation [u] う

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

Japanese Sentences English Translations
うみうたうたいます。 I’ll sing the song of the sea.
うまりました。 I sold the horse.
おとうとうわります。 I’ll borrow a jacket from my little brother.

Tongue Twister Exercise with the Pronunciation [u] う

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


外郎ういろう: Japanese sweet’s name, る: to sell


うたうたい: singer, うた: song, うたう: to sing


こつ鬆症しょうしょう: osteoporosis, しょう: lawsuit, しょう: to win a lawsuit



This is the how to pronounce [u] う. 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 [e] え.

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