Japanese pronunciation of Hiroshima has virtually no accent

TOKYO (AP) — The way some Americans used to pronounce Hiroshima, the city where an atomic bomb was dropped in the closing days of World War II, “HEE-roh-SHEE-mah,” sounds a bit foreign to the Japanese ear.

The Japanese language generally doesn’t have accented syllables — meaning each part of the word usually gets an equal weight in sound.

These days, many people put the accent on the second syllable, which makes it closer to the Japanese pronunciation. That’s the way President Barack Obama, scheduled to visit the southwestern Japanese city Friday, says it: “Hee-ROH-shee-mah.”

But that is still a bit different from the gently flat Japanese pronunciation of Hiroshima, “Hee-roh-shee-mah,” which means “broad island.”