In the cool of winter, developer Rikito Ohnishi played Wordle, an English-language word game that has shot across the internet with blistering virality. It was, he wrote, straightforward and interesting: A new puzzle every day, with a single five-letter-word solution, discovered through six consecutive guesses.

But he had one qualm.

“I had difficulty entering words because I don’t speak English well,” he tells The Japan Times via email. To remedy this, Ohnishi created Kotonoha Tango, a Japanese variation on the Wordle format — with kana in place of the alphabet. Each five-kana word is drawn from Japanese vocabulary databases.