How to view japanese characters

If you want to read and/or write japanese characters on your western computer, you have to install the right fonts. Here’s what to do on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.

Japanese characters on Windows XP

MS Windows can automatically install all the japanese (and more) fonts. You will need to have the installation CD/DVD :

  • Start the “Control Panel” ;
  • Find and launch the “Regional and Language Options” tool ;
  • Select the “Languages” tab and, in the “Supplemental Language Support” section, check the “Install files for East Asian languages” option ;
  • Click “OK” then, when prompted, insert your Windows’ CD or DVD ;
  • Reboot.

Now you can read (and write) Japanese (and other east asian) characters.

Japanese characters on Mac OS X

Mac OS X (Snow Leopard) installs the “Asian Languages Support” package by default ; so reading and writing japanese should be straight forward. In case you did a custom installation and didn’t install them, you can do it now:

  • Insert Mac OS X DVD ;
  • Browse to /Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Installation/Packages ;
  • Double-click on “AsianLanguagesSupport.pkg” and follow the white rabbit.

Quite simple.

Microsoft japanese fonts

In case you’re using some other operating system (such as NetBSD), you can get japanese font from Microsoft’s website.
Here’s the list :

  • MS Mincho, a serif font that can be used for a variety of uses from screen display to publications ;
  • MS Gothic, a sans serif like font which works well for on-screen display such as user interfaces ;
  • MS PMincho, a proportional latin variation in the Mincho (serif) style ;
  • MS PGothic, a proportional latin variation in the Gothic (sans serif) style.


That’s All Folks!

Author: Joel Carnat

@work Technical Architect and SysAdmin ; @home OpenBSD and FOSS, Karate, Kobudō, Jōdō, Bodyweight workout, Photography & Music

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