Theories of language production generally describe the segment as the basic unit in phonological encoding (e.g., Dell, 1988; Levelt, Roelofs, & Meyer, 1999). However, there is also evidence that such a unit might be language specific. Chen, Chen, and Dell (2002), for instance, found no effect of single segments when using a preparation paradigm. To shed more light on the functional unit of phonological encoding in Japanese, a language often described as being mora based, we report the results of 4 experiments using word reading tasks and masked priming. Experiment 1 demonstrated using Japanese kana script that primes, which overlapped in the whole mora with target words, sped up word reading latencies but not when just the onset overlapped. Experiments 2 and 3 investigated a possible role of script by using combinations of romaji (Romanized Japanese) and hiragana; again, facilitation effects were found only when the whole mora and not the onset segment overlapped. Experiment 4 distinguished mora priming from syllable priming and revealed that th e mora priming effects obtained in the first 3 experiments are also obtained when a mora is part of a syllable. Again, no priming effect was found for single segments. Our findings suggest that the mora and not the segment (phoneme) is the basic functional phonological unit in Japanese language production planning.