Romanization is the process of converting Japanese characters into Latin characters for English readers.  The resulting product is known as Romaji, which is a combination of Roma (Rome in Japanese) and Ji (字, or character).  For a Japanese learner, Romaji is something to be avoided.  It reinforces the bad habits such as trying to convert characters into something familiar instead of learning to recognize new characters directly.  You can’t really communicate with other people using Romaji.  Romaji (kana too) cannot differentiate between homonyms as opposed to Kanji.

But, that isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use Romaji.  For me, there are two main reasons to use Romaji: typing and singing.  I have a feeling this applies to most viewers of my videos and blog.  The majority of people use Romaji to input Japanese, including Japanese people.  As for singing, native English speakers will always be more accustomed to reading latin characters than to reading kana and kanji.

The last thing to take into account is that there are multiple types of romanization which produce different looking Romaji.  The same word in Japanese may have several romaji variants, based on the system you are using.  Officially, the Japanese government uses the Hepburn system and it is considered the standard for romanization due to its fair pronounciation accuracy when read by the average English speaker.  Nihon-shiki romanization has a more direct mapping with Japanese characters and is generally how Japanese people type.  Modern standarization organizations prefer Kunreishiki, which seems to merge the pronunciation-friendly Hepburn with Nihon-shiki’s consistency to the Japanese alphabet.

I found myself using my own mutant Romaji style for my own needs.  So, I am just going to write out my own romanization chart right here on my own blog for reference.  All the romaji I produce is done with this romanization style.  My romanization system takes 3 things into account:

  1. Ease of typing using IME
  2. Proximity to Japanese pronunciation
  3. Avoiding collisions with other characters of the same pronunciation

 

Kagiyama-Class Romanization Table
あ ア a い イ i う ウ u え エ e お オ o や ヤ ya ゆ ユ yu よ ヨ yo
か カ ka き キ ki く ク ku け ケ ke こ コ ko きゃ キャ kya きゅ キュ kyu きょ キョ kyo
が ガ ga ぎ ギ gi ぐ グ gu げ ゲ ge ご ゴ go ぎゃ ギャ gya ぎゅ ギュ gyu ぎょ ギョ gyo
さ サ sa し シ shi す ス su せ セ se そ ソ so しゃ シャ sha しゅ シュ shu しょ ショ sho
ざ ザ za じ ジ ji ず ズ zu ぜ ゼ ze ぞ ゾ zo じゃ ジャ ja じゅ ジュ ju じょ ジョ jo
た タ ta ち チ chi つ ツ tsu て テ te と ト to ちゃ チャ cha ちゅ チュ chu ちょ チョ cho
だ ダ da ぢ ヂ ji づ ヅ zu で デ de ど ド do ぢゃ ヂャ ja ぢゅ ヂュ ju ぢょ ヂョ jo
な ナ na に ニ ni ぬ ヌ nu ね ネ ne の ノ no にゃ ニャ nya にゅ ニュ nyu にょ ニョ nyo
は ハ ha/wa ひ ヒ hi ふ フ fu へ ヘ he ほ ホ ho ひゃ ヒャ hya ひゅ ヒュ hyu ひょ ヒョ hyo
ば バ ba び ビ bi ぶ ブ bu べ ベ be ぼ ボ bo びゃ ビャ bya びゅ ビュ byu びょ ビョ byo
ぱ パ pa ぴ ピ pi ぷ プ pu ぺ ペ pe ぽ ポ po ぴゃ ピャ pya ぴゅ ピュ pyu ぴょ ピョ pyo
ま マ ma み ミ mi む ム mu め メ me も モ mo みゃ ミャ mya みゅ ミュ myu みょ ミョ myo
や ヤ ya イィ yi ゆ ユ yu イェ ye よ ヨ yo
ら ラ ra り リ ri る ル ru れ レ re ろ ロ ro りゃ リャ rya りゅ リュ ryu りょ リョ ryo
わ ワ wa ゐ ヰ wi ゑ ヱ we を ヲ wo
ん ン n/m
Kagiyama-Class Katakanization Table
あ ア a い イ i う ウ u え エ e お オ o や ヤ ya ゆ ユ yu イェ ye よ ヨ yo
ウァ wa ウィ wi ウゥ wu ウェ we ウォ wo ウャ wya ウュ wyu ウョ wyo
ヴァ va ヴィ vi vu ヴェ ve ヴォ vo ヴャ vya ヴュ vyu ヴィェ vie ヴョ vyo
キェ kie
ギェ gie
クァ kwa クィ kwi クェ kwe クォ kwo
グァ gwa グィ gwi グェ gwe グォ gwo
シェ she
ジェ je
スィ si
ズィ zi
チェ che
ツァ tsa ツィ tsi ツェ tse ツォ tso ツュ tsyu
ティ ti トゥ tu テュ tyu
ディ di ドゥ du デュ dyu
ニェ nie
ヒェ hie
ビェ bie
ピェ pie
ファ fa フィ fi フェ fe フォ fo フャ fya フュ fyu フィェ fie フョ fyo
ホゥ hu
ミェ mie
リェ rie
ラ゜ la リ゜ li ル゜ lu レ゜ le ロ゜ lo

 

Romanization Rules

Particles

  • は is romanized “wa” when used as a particle, “ha” otherwise.
  • へ is romanized “he”, though it is pronounced “e” when used as a particle.
  • を is romanized “wo”, though it is pronunced “o” when used as a particle.

Long Vowels

  • Kagiyama-class Romanization does not use macrons (ā, ē, ī, ō, ū), as many keyboards lack the ability to type them.
  • アー is romanized “aa”
  • イー is romanized “ii”
  • ウー is romanized “uu”
  • エー is romanized “ei”
  • オー is romanized “ou”.  The exceptions being the words that explicitly use “oo”: 炎 (honoo)、遠 (too)、通り (toori)、氷 (koori)、大 (oo)、頬(hoo).
  • This means that Tokyo would be romanized as “toukyou”.

Syllabic N

  • If the next character starts with n, b, or p, ん is romanized: m.
  • Otherwise, ん is romanized: n.

Geminate Consonants

  • Also known as long consonants.
  • The sokuon (っ) is represented by doubling the first letter of the consonant. (e.g. いっしょ -> issho)
  • The one exception is for ち (chi).  When elongating ち, a “t” is added instead of a “c”.  (e.g. いっち -> itchi)
  • When singing, this extra character is used as a delay or preparation for the consonant, rather than a head start.

Extended Katakana

  • Since extended katakana is somewhat of a mess and not easily inputted, it basically comes down to what sounds the closest.