Japanese Kana Tiles Gear VR Game

Japanese Kana Tiles is an educational game for the Samsung Gear VR, with which to learn the Japanese Kana alphabets.


Following the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, I, Gerrit, joined a team of volunteers to help with relief efforts. My time in Japan made me fall in love with the country and the culture. I decided to learn more about the language, and through those efforts, the idea of this app was born.

The Japanese writing system consists of three alphabets. Two are phonetic, which means if you know the symbol you can pronounce the words as you read it, even though you might not know what it means. The phonetic alphabets are named Hiragana and Katakana, or collectively as Kana. The third alphabet is Kanji, which are those complicated looking Chinese characters. Kanji characters are pictographs, which means you need to know the meaning as well as the word it symbolises.


This Gear VR application is a basic memory game, played with either the base Hiragana or Katakana syllabograms. The game therefore requires that the player already has a basic understanding of the Hiragana and Katakana characters. The aim of the application is to help you exercise your memory of the Japanese Kana characters in a more relaxed environment without any distractions.


At the start of the game, you are transported to a Japanese courtyard (have a look around), and presented with the main menu. You can then choose your set to start the game with the Hiragana or Katakana option. To select a button, position your gaze pointer over the button and tap the touchpad.

At any time during the game, you can bring up the main menu by pressing the back button. The game does not pause the timer in this instance. You can also bring up a Kana reference sheet in case you get stuck by selecting the “instructions” option from the menu. To hide the instructions, press the back button on the headset again.

You can switch your tile set or restart your game at any time by selecting the applicable button from the main menu. To hide the menu, press the back button again, or select “continue.”

The aim is to match all the pairs of tiles in the fastest time with as few errors as possible. The player will be presented with English tiles on the left, always in order, and the selected Japanese set on the right, shuffled. You can choose any language tile by positioning your gaze pointer over the tile. To select the tile, simply tap the touchpad on side of the Gear VR. If the tile is selected it will turn a yellowish colour.

Next, select the corresponding tile from the other language set. If the tiles match, it will turn green and disappear, otherwise it will indicate the error by briefly turning red.

The player will lose a point for each incorrect match, and gain a point for each correct match. It is therefore possible to have a negative score! When all the tiles are correctly matched, you will be presented with your final score.


We hope you enjoy the “Japanese Kana Tiles” Gear VR memory game and that it helps you in your quest to become more proficient in Japanese!

* Note: At the time of writing, the app is still under review for publication by the Oculus Store.