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The following are Japanese characters: 日本語です. If they don't appear similar to this image: Image:Kanji en kana - Nihongo desu.svg, see the Japanese-language Characters subsection for instructions.

[edit] Japanese orthography

Japanese text is written with a mixture of kanji and the two kana syllabaries. Almost all kanji originated in China, and all have one or more meanings and pronunciations. Kanji compounds generally derive their meaning from the combined kanji. For example, Tokyo (東京) is written with two kanji: "east" (東) + "capital" (京). The name was chosen because Tokyo was to be the capital of Japan to the east of the existing capital, Kyoto. (There are some other kanji compounds, called "ateji", which do not share such a relationship with the meaning or sound of the words.)

Centuries ago, the kana syllabaries — hiragana and katakana — derived their shape from particular kanji pronounced in the same way. However, unlike kanji, kana have no meaning, and are used only to represent sounds. Hiragana are used to write native Japanese words. For example, the Japanese word for "to do" (する suru) is written with two hiragana: す (su) + る (ru). Katakana are generally used to write loanwords and onomatopoeia. For example, retasu was borrowed from the English "lettuce", and is written with three katakana: レ (re) + タ (ta) + ス (su). The onomatopoeia for the sound of typing is kata kata, and is written with 4 katakana: カ (ka) + タ (ta) + カ (ka) + タ (ta). It is common nowadays to see many businesses using katakana in place of hiragana and kanji in advertising. Additionally, people may use katakana when writing their names or informal documents for aesthetic reasons.

Roman characters have also recently become popular for certain purposes in Japanese (see rōmaji), but their use is still very limited.

[edit] Japanese pronunciation

Main article: Japanese phonology

Throughout Wikipedia, a modified version of the widely-accepted Hepburn romanization is used to represent Japanese sounds in Roman characters. The following are some basic rules for using Hepburn to pronounce Japanese words accurately.

[edit] Vowels

  • The vowels a, e, i and o are generally pronounced as in Spanish or Italian.
  • The vowel u is similar to that of the oo in moon, although without lip-rounding.
  • Japanese vowels can either be long (bimoraic) or short (monomoraic). The macron denotes lengthening.
    • Long a, o and u sounds are usually written with macrons as ā, ō and ū.
    • Long e and i sounds are usually written ei and ii, but in neologisms are instead written with macrons as ē and ī.
    • Circumflexes (âêîôû) occasionally appear as a typographical alternative to macrons, especially in older texts.

Japanese vowels can be approximated in English as follows:

vowel /a/ /i/ /u/ /e/ /o/
British Received Pronunciation between cap and cup as in feet as in boot as in get as in dog
General American as in father as in feet as in boot as in get as in old

[edit] Moraic n

  • An n before a consonant is moraic (its own mora).
  • A moraic n followed by a vowel or y is written n'.
  • The moraic n has various phonetic realisations:
    • Before an n, t, d or r, it is pronounced [n].
    • Before a k or g, it is pronounced [ŋ].
    • Before an m, b or p, it is pronounced as [m]. It is written as m in some versions of Hepburn, but as n in Wikipedia’s modified Hepburn.
    • It is otherwise pronounced as [ɴ] or [ɯ̃].

[edit] Consonants

  • Consonants other than f and r are generally pronounced as in English.
  • The consonant f is bilabial: the teeth are not used, and the sound is much softer than the "f" of English.
  • The consonant r is similar to Korean r. To an English speaker's ears, its pronunciation lies somewhere between a flapped t (as in American and Australian English better and ladder), an l and a d.
  • Double consonants (kk, tt, etc.) basically indicate a slight, sharp pause before and stronger emphasis of the following sound, more similar to Italian than English. Spelling anomalies:
    • double ch is written as tch (sometimes cch),
    • double sh is written as ssh and
    • double ts is written as tts.

[edit] Japanese names

Main article: Japanese name

In Japan the given name always comes after the family name:

  • Example: 安倍晋三 (Abe Shinzō). "Abe" (安倍) is the family name.

However, to reflect the Western convention of listing the family name last, some Japanese people born since the establishment of the Meiji era (1868-09-08) conform to the "given name, family name" in western texts. So 安倍晋三 (Abe Shinzō) is listed as "Shinzo Abe". On Wikipedia, for persons born from the first year of Meiji (1868) onward, Western order is always used.

[edit] See also

[edit] Japanese-language Characters

See: Wikipedia:Enabling East Asian characters for other East Asian Character sets.

Throughout Wikipedia, Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters are used in specific articles. Many computers with English or other Western operating systems don't show them by default.

If you see boxes, question marks or senseless letters mixing into the first part, you still do not have support for East Asian characters.

[edit] Check for Support

1. This is Japanese text as it appears on Japanese websites and Wikipedia:

かつ、尊厳と権利と について平等である。

2. Compare it to this picture of what it should look like:


[edit] Windows 95, 98, ME and NT

Your system should offer to download Asian fonts by default while viewing pages in those languages [1]
Otherwise update your system manually with these language support packs: here

[edit] Windows 2000

Instructions for Windows 2000

[edit] Windows XP and Server 2003

The Windows CD-ROM is needed while installing support for East Asian languages. (Non-East Asian localizations only)

Instructions for Windows XP and Server 2003

[edit] Windows Vista

Windows Vista includes proper support for Japanese characters by default. You can actually type in Japanese or view Japanese with the default tools.

[edit] Mac OS X

By default all necessary fonts and software are installed in all versions of Mac OS X from 10.2 (2002) and higher.

For Mac OS X 10.1 multilingual software updates are available as free downloads from Apple's website. The Asian Language Update will install support for Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Mac OS X Language Support Updates at

[edit] Fedora Core

Install the appropriate ttfonts packages.

For Fedora Core 3, the packages are ttfonts-zh_TW (traditional Chinese), ttfonts-zh_CN (simplified Chinese), ttfonts-ja (Japanese) and ttfonts-ko (Korean). For example,

yum install ttfonts-ja

As of Fedora Core 4, you need fonts-chinese, fonts-japanese and/or fonts-korean.

[edit] Debian GNU/Linux

Installing the ttf-kochi-mincho package will add support for displaying Japanese text in the Debian GNU/Linux or Ubuntu distribution. You can do this with the following command:

apt-get install ttf-kochi-mincho

[edit] Gentoo Linux

Install a Japanese font package. The most common is ja-ipafonts.

emerge media-fonts/ja-ipafonts

[edit] Unicode Japanese Fonts

List of free Japanese fontses:Ayuda:Idioma japonés pt:Ajuda:Japonês th:วิกิพีเดีย:ภาษาญี่ปุ่น


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