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I-Ro-Ha Ordering/Sequencing Characters in Japanese; Katakana      

        The Japanese writing system is very complex, using several sets of characters that serve different purposes. These are Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana. Kanji characters are pictorial ideograms (i.e. little pictures of  ideas) originally coming from the Chinese and adapted to Japanese culture. Katakana and Hiragana were added to "customize" the system into Japanese culture and are phonetic symbols used to build words or concepts. Indicating order in a Roman language is very simple and direct, but terribly complex in Japanese. Contrary to a direct "1,2,3,..." or "a,b,c, ..." no matter what is being sequenced, in Japanese what is being ordered, sorted or sequenced dictates the how it is indicated. There can be very many ways of describing a sequence in Japanese. 

      When working with Japanese Temari books, you will often see the characters below in the diagrams. They are Katakana characters used in the Japanese writing system to indicate the specific ordering of steps in a sequence, and what are used in the vast majority of Japanese Temari books to indicate the order of stitching in pattern diagrams. This the parallel to English/Roman languages where one would follow in order (1, 2, 3, ... or a, b, c, ... ). There are a very few books that use Hiragana characters; if you have a book that does not match these on the patterns this is why. Keeping a copy of this chart handy will be a big help in working out stitching steps from the diagrams in the Japanese Temari books. While we've compiled a good inventory of Japanese character translations that appear commonly in Temari books, this alone will be in valuable for showing you where to stitch.

I-Ro-Ha to Indicate Sequence, Order (Katakana)
English Equivalent

i 1 or A

ro 2 or B

ha 3 or C

ni 4 or D

ho 5 or E

he 6 or F

to 7 or G

chi 8 or H

ri 9 or I

nu 10 or J

ru 11 or K

o 12 or L

        With thanks to Milly K.
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