As promised, this week is a simple one: today’s sound is n, written in hiragana as ん and katakana as ン. It sounds pretty much like one might expect; however, in the middle of words it is more like an ‘ng’ sound with the ‘g’ being weak.
So why would this week be so simple? The answer is that this sound never appears at the beginning of a word in Japanese. Sunday Soundcheck lists words commonly used, but not commonly found in language texts which start with whatever character we are discussing. Okinawa dialect varies dramatically from common Japanese and there is an amusing souvenir shirt which lists words starting with n.
Interestingly, I found a foreign word Njamena (ンジャメナ) which is N’Djamena, the capitol of Chad, formerly Fort Lamy.
There is a game in Japanese called shiritori (尻取り) in which players – usually children – take turns making words which start with the last character of the previous person’s word. The game has a natural end when a player accidentally says a word ending in n, earning that player a bad point.