Japanese orthography


Japanese text is written with a mixture of kanji and 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" () + "capital" (). The kanji, however, are pronounced differently from their Chinese relatives. For example, in modern mandarin Chinese, these two kanji would be "Dongjing." The name was chosen because Tokyo was to be the eastern capital of Japan, relative to its previous capital city, Kyoto (京都). (Some other kanji compounds use characters chosen primarily for their pronunciations. Such characters are called ateji.) In addition to native words and placenames, kanji are used to write Japanese family names and most Japanese given names.

Centuries ago, hiragana and katakana, the two kana syllabaries, derived their shapes from particular kanji pronounced in the same way. However, unlike kanji, kana have no meaning, and are used only to represent sounds. Hiragana are generally used to write some Japanese words and given names and grammatical aspects of Japanese. For example, the Japanese word for "to do" (する suru) is written with two hiragana: (su) + (ru). Katakana are generally used to write loanwords, foreign names and onomatopoeia. For example, retasu was borrowed from the English "lettuce", and is written with three katakana: (re) + (ta) + (su). The onomatopoeia for the sound of typing is kata kata, and is written with 4 katakana: (ka) + (ta) + (ka) + (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)

Japanese pronunciation


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.


  • The vowels a, i, u, e, and o are generally pronounced somewhat similarly to those in Spanish.
  • The vowel u is similar to that of the oo in moon, although shorter and without lip-rounding. In certain contexts, such as after "s" at the end of a word, the vowel is devoiced, so desu may sound like dess.
  • Japanese vowels can either be long (bimoraic) or short (monomoraic). The macron denotes a long vowel.
    • Long a, o and u sounds are usually written with macrons as ā, ō and ū. The notation "ou" or "oo" is sometimes used for a long "ō", following kana spelling practices.
    • Long e and i sounds are usually written ei/ee 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 vet as in dog
General American as in father as in feet as in boot as in hey as in know

Moraic n

  • An n before a consonant is moraic (its own mora).
  • A moraic n followed by a vowel or y is written n' to distinguish it from mora that begin with the consonant 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].


  • 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.

When a consonant is followed by another of the same letter, the first consonant is written with a chisai (made-smaller) tsu (つ/ツ). Exception: Double n. In this case, being as n (ん/ン) is a single consonant, it can be written by itself. (Ex: Woman: Onna-おんな)

Japanese names

内文:Japanese name

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

  • Example: 福田康夫 (Fukuda Yasuo). 福田("Fukuda") 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 福田康夫 (Fukuda Yasuo) is listed as "Yasuo Fukuda". On Wikipedia, normally Western order is used for people born from the first year of Meiji (1868) onward.



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

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



1. 呢個係一句響日文網站同維基百科所展現嘅字:


2. 同佢呢張圖比較係咪同佢相似:


Debian GNU/Linux 同 Ubuntu


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



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.



With X.Org 7.x and above, install the package x11-fonts/font-jis-misc:

pkg_add -r font-jis-misc-1.0.0.tbz

Please note that the package version may be different. Alternatively, this can be easily accomplished by installing from the ports tree:

cd /usr/ports/x11-fonts/font-jis-misc && make install clean

Mac OS X



響 apple.com 嘅 Mac OS X 語言支援更新








95, 98, ME 同 NT


當你用Internet Explorer時,你嘅系統應該提供下載亞洲字型[1]

唔係嘅話,就手動更新你嘅系統: 呢度

Windows 2000 嘅指示

XP 同 2003



Windows XP 同 Server 2003 嘅指示

Windows Vista預設咗日文支援。 你可以用預設工具去睇同打日文字。