by Erik Haugaard
Japanese Glossary
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Mt. Fuji

A Japanese Glossary for Samurai’s Tale

Pronunciation Guide

In Japanese words, pronounce all the letters. The letter r is softly rolled.
The vowel sounds are similar to Spanish or Hawaiian:

a [ah] as in father
e [eh] as in pen
o [oh] as in home
i [ee] like the [i] in happiness
u [oo] as in true
except that un sounds like the [un] in fun

The vowels i and u are usually in short syllables and are not stressed.
Thus the name Akiyama is pronounced [AH kee YAH MAH]. 

But all vowels are pronounced.  Thus Iida Castle is pronounced [ee-ee-dah]

Japanese Vocabulary Guide
[CAPITAL LETTERS] denote a stressed syllable

daimyo [DY me oh] a noble landowner, a lord
kaishakunin [KY SHAH koo NEEN] a trusted friend who witnesses the ritual suicide of seppuku
hara-kiri [HAH rah KEE ree] another word for seppuku (see below)
katana [kah TAH nah] the sword of a samurai
konidatai [KOH ni da TYE] caravan of men and animals carrying supplies
ninja [NEEN jah] samurai who works as a spy or secret assassin
ronin [ROH neen]  outlaw samurai, who has no master
samurai [SAH moo rye] a warrior of noble class
sake [SAH keh] a kind of wine made from rice
sama [SAH MAH] a title of superior respect, like Lord or Majesty
san [SAHN] a title of respect, like Sir or Mister
seppuku [SEP poo koo] formal ritual of suicide, committed by a noble who has been disgraced
shogun [SHO gun]  general of the army; military ruler of the country
sutra [SOO tra] words of Buddhist scripture
zazen [ZAH ZEN]  a Buddhist practice of silent meditation
Zen [ZEN] a Japanese sect of Buddhism which emphasizes meditation