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Cyrillization of Japanese

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Title: Cyrillization of Japanese  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Cyrillization, Japanese language education in Russia, Furigana, Japanese language, Romanization of Japanese
Collection: Cyrillization, Japanese Writing System, Japan–russia Relations, Japan–soviet Union Relations
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Cyrillization of Japanese

Cyrillization of Japanese is the practice of transliterating the Japanese language into Cyrillic script, either to represent Japanese proper names or terms in Russian and the other languages written in Cyrillic, or as an aid to Japanese language learning in those languages.

The following cyrillization system for Japanese is known as the Yevgeny Polivanov system. Note that it has its own spelling conventions and does not necessarily constitute a direct phonetic transcription of the pronunciation into the standard Russian usage of the Cyrillic alphabet.


  • Main table 1
  • Geminate consonants 2
  • Common errors 3
  • Exceptions 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Main table


and Katakana to Polivanov cyrillization correspondence table, for single/modified kana.

Kana Cyrillic Hepburn Kana Cyrillic Hepburn Kana Cyrillic Hepburn Kana Cyrillic Hepburn Kana Cyrillic Hepburn
а a и/й i у u э e о o
ка ka ки ki ку ku кэ ke ко ko
са sa си shi су su сэ se со so
та ta ти chi цу tsu тэ te то to
на na ни ni ну nu нэ ne но no
ха ha хи hi фу fu хэ he хо ho
ма ma ми mi му mu мэ me мо mo
я ya ю yu ё yo
ра ra ри ri ру ru рэ re ро ro
ва wa и/й i э e о o
-н/-м -n
га ga ги gi гу gu гэ ge го go
дза za дзи ji дзу zu дзэ ze дзо zo
да da дзи ji дзу zu дэ de до do
ба ba би bi бу bu бэ be бо bo
па pa пи pi пу pu пэ pe по po
Kana Cyrillic Hepburn Kana Cyrillic Hepburn Kana Cyrillic Hepburn
きゃ キャ кя kya きゅ キュ кю kyu きょ キョ кё kyo
しゃ シャ ся sha しゅ シュ сю shu しょ ショ сё sho
ちゃ チャ тя cha ちゅ チュ тю chu ちょ チョ тё cho
にゃ ニャ ня nya にゅ ニュ ню nyu にょ ニョ нё nyo
ひゃ ヒャ хя hya ひゅ ヒュ хю hyu ひょ ヒョ хё hyo
みゃ ミャ мя mya みゅ ミュ мю myu みょ ミョ мё myo
りゃ リャ ря rya りゅ リュ рю ryu りょ リョ рё ryo
ぎゃ ギャ гя gya ぎゅ ギュ гю gyu ぎょ ギョ гё gyo
じゃ ジャ дзя ja じゅ ジュ дзю ju じょ ジョ дзё jo
ぢゃ ヂャ дзя ja ぢゅ ヂュ дзю ju ぢょ ヂョ дзё jo
びゃ ビャ бя bya びゅ ビュ бю byu びょ ビョ бё byo
ぴゃ ピャ пя pya ぴゅ ピュ пю pyu ぴょ ピョ пё pyo

Geminate consonants

Consonants are geminated exactly as they are in romaji: e.g. -kk- > -кк-.

Common errors

In English texts, Japanese names are written with the Hepburn system.[1] People then try to transcribe Japanese names as if they were English.

Very often people[1] want to transcribe shi as ши and ji as джи. This is incorrect, because in Russian ши is pronounced as шы and джи as джы. The Russian sound /ɨ/ is in fact closer to Japanese /u/ than to Japanese /i/. It would probably be closer to Japanese to write щи, but the system uses си and дзи. Actually, Russian щи is pronounced like Japanese sshi.[1]

Equally often people transcribe cha, chi, chu, cho as ча, чи, чу, чо. This is acceptable phonetically, but for reasons of consistency, it is better to follow the rules and write тя, ти, тю, тё.[1]

Sometimes э is replaced with е (but, ironically, not at the beginning of a word, even though there are Roman transliterations such as "yen" and "Yedo" which one might expect to be written as ен and Едо).[1] This is tolerable only for the words that are in general use (e.g. kamikaze > камикадзе instead of камикадзэ).[1] One should, however, never replace ё (yo) with е (ye) — it will change the Japanese word too much. The initial ё (yo) or after a vowel, is often written as йо (yo), which has the same pronunciation: Ёкосука -> Йокосука (Yokosuka), Тоёта -> Тойота (Toyota). Although, the spelling "йо" is not common in Russian words, these are more generally accepted for Japanese names than the transliterations using "ё".[1]


Some proper names, for historical reasons, do not follow the above rules. Those include but are not limited to:

English (Rōmaji) Russian spelling Cyrillization Japanese
Japan (Nihon, Nippon) Япония Нихон, Ниппон 日本 (にほん, にっぽん)
Tokyo (Tōkyō) Токио То:кё: 東京 (とうきょう)
Kyoto (Kyōto) Киото Кё:то 京都 (きょうと)
Yokohama Иокогама (also Йокохама) Ёкохама 横浜 (よこはま)
Yokosuka Йокосука Ёкосука 横須賀 (よこすか)
Toyota Тойота (Тоёта in older publications) Тоёта トヨタ (originally: 豊田)
jujitsu (jūjutsu) джиу-джитсу дзю:дзюцу 柔術 (じゅうじゅつ)
yen (en) иена эн 円 (えん)

Some personal names beginning with "Yo" (or used after a vowel) are written using "Йо" instead of "Ё" (e.g. Йоко for Yoko Ono, but Ёко for Yoko Kanno and all other Yokos). The letter "Ё" is not often used in Japanese Cyrillization due to its facultative use in the Russian language (and possible substitution with the letter "Е" which would affect the pronunciation), but professional translators use ё mandatory.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Смоленский, Вадим (21 March 1999). """Как гайдзин гайджынам. Последний раз о дилемме "СИ" и "ШИ. Виртуальные суси. Retrieved 2011-03-13. 

External links

  • Online Japanese→Polivanov transcription converter
  • Proposal for a coordinated Japanese transcription system for several Slavic languages
  • Суси or Суши (Susi or Sushi) – Cyrillization of し (and others) controversy (Russian)
  • Automatic cyrillization of hiragana and katakana
  • Say no to romaji!, a resource promoting the use of kana in the Japanese learning industry, contains a discussion between students and teachers of Japanese on the subject of rōmaji and kiriji.
  • Kiriji and Yevgeny Polivanov
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