THE NINJA MOUNTAIN, SOMEWHERE ON NORTHERN
HONSHU ISLAND, THE SAME DAYWatashi wa … hiragana o … yomu koto ga dekimas …
Taro traced his finger along the line of symbols, speaking the sounds out loud. “I … can read … hiragana.”
“You can,” said Hana, smiling.
Taro grinned. For now, it was only the hiragana that he had mastered—the simplified form of writing that was used mainly by women. But now that he had learned these forms, he would be able to progress to the kanji, and eventually be able to read and write the language of...