1. Japanizing your micros
When one buys a PC or a Mac in the U.S., system software that comes with
it can only handle languages which employ the roman alphabet.
Let's call this system software simply "an English system" for
the ease of reference. There are two ways to Japanize your micros: use of
add-on software or a localized operating system. The first kind of software
functions as a Japanese language module which installs on top of the English
system, providing Japanese fonts and the ability to handle 2-byte characters.
By a localized operating system, we mean system software specially tailored
to handle Japanese. This type does not install on top of the English system,
but rather, it replaces the English system. We will discuss these two types
of software below for each platform.
1.1. Japanizing your PC's
For PC's, we know of two different add-on packages: WIN/V (Kureo Technology
Ltd.) and Twin Bridge (Easternwell Technology). Both claim to convert (English)
MS-Windows into a bilingual Japanese/English Windows environment. (Twin
Bridge may be able to Japanize the DOS environment as well.) Obvious advantages
of this approach are:
The alternative approach is to purchase DOS/V, a bilingual version of DOS
and Windows-J, a Japanese version of Windows, both of which are available
from MicroSoft Japan. DOS/V has two modes; Japanese and English. One can
switch between the two with the use of the "switch" command, which
shuts down the current system and reboots with the other. Many DOS applications
require that the computer be in the English mode. Most English Windows applications
seem to run fine in the Japanese DOS mode with Windows-J running on top
- It is possible to retain the English Windows environment.
- It is less expensive than the alternative.
This latter approach, originally intended for Japanese users in Japan, provides
a little more complete Japanization. For example, even menus and system
messages are in Japanese. Disadvantages of this approach include
- a higher price tag, and
- added trouble to go back and forth between the English and Japanese
modes (if you have software that only runs under one but not the other,
or if you need to share the computer with someone else who doesn't know
1.2. Japanizing your Macs
The Macintosh computer has always handled foreign languages better than
PC's. Starting with System 7, Apple has supplied software technology called
"WorldScript", which enables a Mac to handle many different languages.
For Japanese language support, all you need is the Japanese Language Kit
(JLK) from Apple. It is a World Script language module to be installed on
top of the regular English system. It comes with three TrueType (scalable)
fonts (Osaka, Honmincho, Marugosshiku) and a front-end processor (a keyboard
input program that handles romaji->kana->kanji conversions) called
"kotoeri". The JLK allows one to run Japanese software and input
Japanese in English software as long as it is WorldScript-savvy. The system
menus and messages remain in English, so people who don't know Japanese
can still use the computer.
If you need complete Japanization including system menus and messages and
more fonts, KanjiTalk is the alternative. This is a localized version of
MacOS developed and marketted mainly in Japan. This package comes with four
more fonts than the JLK. If you also need to use the English system, you
need to install it separately and switch between the two. (This requires
 How to handle characters containing accents, umlauts, etc. (for instance,
for French, German, and Spanish) in e-mail messages is a whole another issue.
For a good overview and specific recommendations, see Larsen (to appear).
 One byte (=8 bits) can only represent 256 different values, which is
not enough to represent hiragana, katakana and several thousand kanji characters.
For this reason, two bytes (=16 bits) are used to represent one kana or
Larsen, Mark D. to appear. "Internet with an Accent: Towrds a
Standardization of Diacritics" In M. Warschauer (Ed.),
Telecollaboarion in foreign language learning: Proceedings of
the Hawai'i symposium. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii
Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center.