Two days ago, I posted about Hayabusa2's target asteroid being named "Ryugu." Yesterday, astronomer Elizabeth Tasker tweeted:
The problem with JAXA giving asteroid 1999 JU3 a new name is I need to update by TEDx talk … and ensure I can pronounce 'Ryugu' correctly…— Elizabeth Tasker (@girlandkat) October 7, 2015
I realized that I need to know how to pronounce Ryugu too, and I also realized that I wasn't sure how Japanese speakers pronounce the name of its spacecraft, Hayabusa2. Fortunately, Tasker had access to a roomful of astronomy graduate students at Hokkaido University, several of whom carefully spoke the words for her and me: Hayabusa, Hayabusa2, and Ryugu. I thank them very much for helping me out!
Their pronunciation of "Hayabusa" is pretty easy for an American to replicate. I'm fascinated by the fact that Hayabusa2 is not "Hayabusa-ni" but instead "Hayabusa-tsu", a Japanese pronunciation of the English "two".
As for Ryugu, that one is going to be challenging, because the initial consonant is that Japanese sound that's somewhere between an "R", a rolled "R", and an "L". I think I'll go with "Ree-yoo-goo" as a first approximation, but that's one too many syllables; I'll have to practice that initial sound quite a bit before I get comfortable with it!