Japanese on a PC

To render Japanese characters (and other East Asian languages using multibyte-characters) correctly on the screen, You may face some obstacles: the operating system and the character settings.

Obstacle 1: Japanese Characters and The Operating System

Test: Do You see three Japanese characters or three question marks ?

→ 日本語 on a PC

If You see something like this ...

... You are ready to see all these pages correctly, Your PC will render them right.

Here (and ONLY here!) I used the Western trick to display Japanese characters using a small image file, to escape subsequent installations, so that any user can see them.

But if You see this ...

... pity, You would have to fix Your PC in order to see kanji on me pages instead of question marks.

But calm down, the fix is easy. You can do a suqsequent installation using Your XP or Vista CD.

The reason is this: Western Windows PCs do usually not have all languages and character sets installed, as mine. You are watching this HTML-page in Your internet browser; the HTML-page is written in UTF8 Standard (in the file header) to render Japanese characters. Your browser could recognize this character setting at once - if You had the character set installed on Your operatins system... (which does not change Your system language anyway)

Obstacle 2: Japanese Characters in The Browser

When You are surfing to Japanese homepages, and You do not use a Japanese operating system (I do not either), You sometimes face this problem, even if You did install all languages: the characters still may not render. Instead, You still see a bunch of cryptic text, like here, on the famous Japanese image board 2chan:

Even a Japanese cannot read this!

The cause is: these pages are not coded in UTF8 , but in one of the three other major Japanese character standards: JIS, Shift-JIS or EUC-JP. The Japanese author maybe did not even add any charactercode flags in the header, because he thinks that only Japanese with a Japanese OS will be surfing on his site. And (s)he is 99% right, and most certainly (s)he is completely unaware about the problems of us poor Westerners...I know Japanese who are making fun of this!

Don´t worry: it is easy to fix. in Firefox You can change thye language settings. Internet Explorer, Opera and the like have the same options.

And then You can finally see (and read) Japanese:

Japanese Text Editors (Word Processors) on PCs

I do not use a Japanese OS, and most of You neither. But You can write Japanese texts using Japanese word processor softwares. Some are freeware. Visit Wikipedia → Japanese:Software ... (If You cannot open that page, here is a local copy [20090907]) I use "JWPce" by Glenn Rosenthal:

Japanese Character Standards: JIS, Shift-JIS, EUC-JP and more ... still widely used


JIS = ISO-2022-JP = RFC 1468

JIS = Japan Industrial Standards

Developed in the 1970s, 7-Bit. Used since 1990 in Japanese e-mails

Shift JIS

= Shift-JIS = Shift_JIS = SJIS = MSKanji

8-Bit, from Microsoft, on the base of ISO-2022-JP (JIS). The difference to JIS are shifted bytes, to render Katakana.

Many Japanese websites are in SJIS, and often, Western browsers do not recognize SJIS.


EUC = Extended Unix Coding

Historically, a precessor to UTF8, for all complex East Asian characters (Japan, Korea and China). EUC still "competes" with SJIS.

A comparison of all three systems is here.

World Character Standard UTF8

So many countries have so many languages, so many character systems, that in the 1990s, a universal System was demanded, that can render ALL languages.

UTF8, that I use here, too, has a "key range" CJK Unified Ideographs (Chinese, Japanese and Korean) in the hexadecimal range between 4e00 (19968) to 9fbb (40891), that allows for 20.923 Asian characters.

Example: "Nihongo" = Japanese Language
as character, reading and UTF8:


UTF8 =


UTF8 =


UTF8 =

OK. Now You became curious :) ? Here are all the 20.923 Kanji sorted by UTF8.

In this list, the Kanji are ordered by the classic, 2000 years old radical system, that is still in use in Japan, for there is no better system :)

Read more about UTF8 on Wikipedia and on http://www.unicode.org/.