I have been coveting this set of hiragana blocks Moonstitches found at a thrift shop in Japan ever since she posted about it. I found a similar set on Ebay, only not nearl as nice and with the cost of shipping it was a little more than I wanted to spend. Last week while at Pat Catan's I spotted flat wooden tiles about 3" square. At 14 cents apiece, I picked up enough to make a set of my own.
It's really not quite the same, the wood is cheap pine and the tiles are rather thin. I outlined everything with a thin black sharpie and colored them with watercolors, then polished them with linseed oil and beeswax. I think it's just that I want the set Moonstitches found, and nothing else is going to quite measure up, haha.
Hiragana is a set of phonetic symbols used to write Japanese in combination with kanji. Children learn hiragana first, any word can be written entirely in hiragana. They then spend pretty much the first 8 years of school learning kanji.