Although phonemic awareness does not usually develop outside the acquisition of alphabetic reading, nonnegligible phoneme manipulation abilities have been reported in Japanese fourth graders who knew only the kana, nonalphabetic, writing system. The present contribution explored whether some characteristics of this system may facilitate phonemic awareness in Japanese children. In two distinct training studies, the pre- and posttest phonemic awareness abilities of three groups were compared, one trained with explicit reference to some organizational aspects of the kana matrix, one trained without such reference, and one control. Training was effective in both studies, especially when displaying explicit reference to the kana system. Some features of this system thus seem helpful in drawing Japanese children's attention to phonemic constituents.