New blog in Japanese

I love MFT for what it is–a vehicle for international people interested in Japan to bounce ideas, rants and anecdotes off each other. That said, MFT has its limitations. In particular, not many Japanese people are involved here, which is understandable given that (a) we blog in rather colloquial English much of the time, and (b) many of our topics are simply not that interesting to locals.

Yet we cover many topics that could use more attention and counter-voices from Japanese people, and have even carried a couple of Japanese-language posts in the past for that purpose. I also personally want to improve my Japanese writing skills, which don’t get as much exercise as they should.

So I decided to start a completely separate personal blog, in Japanese and as Japanese-blog-like as I can stomach. (I will use my real name and avoid emoji, in case you’re worried.) This new blog is not really intended as a “Japanese version” of MFT, though material may be cross-posted or cross-referenced from time to time. It is basically a separate project with separate purposes in mind.

Here’s the link, and here’s a direct link to the first post, about how I “fell into Japan.”

25 thoughts on “New blog in Japanese”

  1. Good on you. I don’t have the patience to blog in Japanese. Not yet, at least.

    But, …Ameba?

    The 検索 field in the upper right for some reason has “AKB48” in it by default. Is that just me?

  2. Just curious, is there a reason why you chose Ameblo? I have an image of Ameblo that it’s mainly for personal diary use instead of a serious arena of discussion (if that’s your intent). I believe it’s required to register for Ameba to comment (boo!), and many Ameba members comment just to PR their own site (though you could probably delete them). If I were to use a Japanese blogging platform, I would probably choose hatena. Anyways, congrats on your new blog.

  3. I fully concur with the above two posters. I read as far as your second paragraph and thought to post a comment saying I was in a similar program in the 80s. But since I have no intent on registering, I didn’t.

    But it’s not too late, Joe, you can nip it in the bud and move the blog somewhere else 😉

    hatena seems like a much better location.

  4. Thanks for the platform suggestions. There really seems to be a dearth of decent blogging platforms in Japanese. WordPress and Blogger both have horrible Japanese localizations, hatena insists on giving me a non-functional English back-end interface for some reason, and several other services don’t even offer commenting at all… In the absence of anything that looked better, I punted with ameblo. Any other ideas?

  5. Hi, I’m a silent follower of MTF.

    Just read your Japanese entry – just the right level for my current reading skills, so great practice for me 🙂

    About platforms: How about tumblr? It’s not a full-featured blogging platform, but it is so sexy (and really gaining pace now). With the Disqus-module for comments, I guess you would more or less be covered for your needs.

    They are currently testing a JP-localized version:

  6. I’m not sure I see why the localization is very important if you’re writing all the content in Japanese. Just change “submit comment” and a few other tags to Japanese and it’s fine, and Blogger can certainly handle that well enough.

  7. Just like google, hatena probably chooses what language to serve you depending on your what you system language is. I noticed that today when I clicked the setup new account button on hatena. Everything went to English. I was assuming you could switch the language somewhere in the preferences, once you registered. But I didn’t register but was just checking things out.

    If you are using something other than windows (like mac or some linux distro), set your system language to Japanese and hit the site again. If nothing changes, it may have set a cookie with your – I mean its – language preference for you. You might need to find and clear that cookie.

    If you are using windows, spend some hard-earned cash on the Japanese version 😉 since MS seems to want you to buy two licenses if you want to use your computer fully (not just an IME) in two different language environments. Which, if I may get off on a rant, always annoyed the crap out of me.

    (If that changed with Vista/7, which I don’t believe it did, ignore the last paragraph.)

    Actually, now that I think about it, you maybe be able to set your browser language to Japanese…

  8. You can set your language preferences in the browser (Firefox at least) with no relation to your system language. I believe that web sites know what language your browser is set to, but that there is no field for the external system language.

    For some reason I still don’t fathom, MS only includes the option to easily switch the language of the Windows shell in the corporate or ultimate versions of Windows Vista although there is probably a hack out there that let’s you install the language packs. Compared to all the other features they use to delineate the various Windows SKUs, this one seems pretty trivial, and not very likely to be correlated with the use of other, more advanced features.

    However, even without the display language pack for Japanese or whatever installed, you CAN still set the system language for that, which should make all software other than the Windows shell itself act exactly as if you were running the Japanese version.

  9. Roy, you’re right, it is based on browser language. I wasn’t thinking so much about it at first.

    I must admit, it has been 10 years since I used windows with any regularity. Since then, I have hardly used it. I used Vista once a year and half ago for 2 minutes and haven’t had the opportunity to touch 7 yet.

    There used to be home and pro version and that was it, so I am not familiar with what all the new options are.

    With XP, you could install an IME to write Japanese and you could display Japanese, but you could not change the “Start” menu スタート nor could you use an application that had menus and whatnot in Japanese because all the text would be mojibake’d. And you didn’t have help files in Japanese.

    So you are saying that with the newer versions of Windows, I can buy the English version and install Japanese-language programs? And I can fully make the GUI Japanese? That would be nice. I used to have to buy the Japanese version, even though I primarily used English, just to run the odd Japanese program or two, like the dreaded 一太郎.

    By the way, I think you mean change the GUI not the shell. The shell is the command line.

  10. “With XP, you could install an IME to write Japanese and you could display Japanese, but you could not change the “Start” menu スタート nor could you use an application that had menus and whatnot in Japanese because all the text would be mojibake’d. And you didn’t have help files in Japanese.”

    This is only half right. Windows has supported fully Unicode compliant applications since XP (and maybe Windows 2000 but I can’t recall since I wasn’t very interested in languages when I was using that – and I couldn’t care less how the POSes Win98 or WinME work), and a properly written Unicode compliant program will NEVER produce that sort of mojibake, no matter what the system or display language is set to, as long as the proper fonts are available. This is actually the same for XP, Vista and 7.
    (Note that in XP Asian fonts were not installed by default on non-Asian systems as the files were still large by 2001 standards, although starting with Vista all language fonts are installed by default.) The problem is that although XP SUPPORTED Unicode compliant programming, it did not REQUIRE it, and a huge proportion of Japanese language software was sloppily coded using Japanese encoding (Shift-JIS I think) that would show up as mojibake unless the system language was set to Japanese. However, later revisions to the standard Windows APIs default to Unicode, especially .NET which I believe only supports Unicode apps, completely eliminating the mojibake problem. While I used to run into a lot of Japanese software that would display as mojibake, due to Microsoft’s improvements in the APIs and development tools, this is now pretty rare and I actually can’t recall seeing even a single minor instance anytime last year.

    Now, most retail packages of Windows, whether XP, Vista or 7, do NOT include the language packs necessary for changing the shell language – by which I mean the language used for displaying the Start menu, system dialogs and help files, etc., but all versions of Windows starting with XP DO have an option in the language control panel that allows you to change the language used for non-Unicode applications. So, in every version of Windows from XP on you can change the system language so that Japanese encoded programs will function properly, but in most versions of Windows this will NOT change the shell display language. In Vista and 7 the Enterprise and Ultimate editions allow you to change the shell language as well as the system language, and changing the shell language will also change the system language.

    One final important point is that of multilingual software, by which I mean third party software that includes localization to different languages within it. They tend to default to your system language upon installation, so that if you set your system language to say Japanese, even if your Windows edition does not have the files needed to display the Windows shell in Japanese, multilingual third party software will still display in Japanese. Well programmed software will also let you change the display language of that particular program independently of the system, but not all do.

    I am still running the Release Candidate version of Win7 that I installed over the summer, and haven’t bothered to upgrade to the retail version because it works perfectly well as-is, and doesn’t expire until this summer anyway. Since it’s the RC version I have all the features in the Ultimate edition, and a few weeks ago I changed my system/shell language to Japanese to get the 変換 keys on my Japanese keyboard working properly.

    “By the way, I think you mean change the GUI not the shell. The shell is the command line.”
    Technically CLI (command line interface) and GUI are both categories of shells. And in fact, when you change the Windows shell language it changes for both the CLI and GUI components. (I assume the same is true for Mac but I’ve never actually switched the language on one after the OS was installed.) It’s true that the term shell is more often applied to CLI, but I think that’s only because Unix users are more likely to use multiple CLIs on the same system than GUIs. The Windows GUI is commonly referred to as the windows shell though, and third party replacements for some of the core GUI elements are generally called “Windows shell replacements.” Old school users might also remember “dosshell”, a file manager included with DOS 5 and 6 that despite operating in character mode, was actually a primitive GUI.

  11. Wow, Roy. That is an opus. 🙂

    Just a quick reply before I got to bed. I am a unix guy that doesn’t know much about windows. To me, the shell, whether it be bash, tsch, or whatever only referred to the command line.

    I didn’t realize that the term had a wider application.

  12. And yes I do agree with the following:
    “XP SUPPORTED Unicode compliant programming”
    “a huge proportion of Japanese language software was sloppily coded”
    “using Japanese encoding (Shift-JIS I think)”

    It was indeed shift_JIS, or as I call it, shit_JIS
    And an interesting discussion would be exactly why so much Japanese software is so sloppily coded.

    Problem with unicode is that it hasn’t always (and as far as I know) still doesn’t have all the Kanji it needs to have.

  13. Holy shit, did this thread open up…

    I like the Tumblr option, Joe. Although, I’m half waiting for Adamu’s response to the Tumblr staff’s use of “I think we’re turning Japanese!”

    My selfishness: Part of the problem I have with Yahoo! and Ameba is that the media doesn’t show up in Google Reader. I don’t mind jumping to a blog article because the fed information is limited, but to get all of the text but big-ass “batsu” signs saying 画像が見つかりません (Yahoo!) or just the hyperlink to the image (Ameblo) is annoying. Interestingly, Livedoor blogs do not do this. As well, Ameblo blogs send ads in their feeds (in which images do appear…).

  14. Skimming through some Unicode documentation ( I found a reference to there being 19,583 unique hanzi (kanji) assigned code points, and I think there are actually more than that – especially if you count minor variants – so I don’t think you’re likely to find characters that aren’t in the Unicode database. However, finding a font that includes them all is an entirely different matter…

  15. I see I am out of date yet again.

    It looks like with unicode 4.0, many more CJK characters were added in 2003. Now unicode it appears can fully do the job.

    “all versions of Windows starting with XP DO have an option in the language control panel that allows you to change the language used for non-Unicode applications.”

    I did not know this, but if you have a mix of applications encoded in latin, utf-8, or shift_JIS, it seems you would have to be constantly changing this preference.

    Good to know that the most expensive versions allow you to change the display language.

    I also realize now that most of my windows experiences in Japan were prior to 2001 and the release of XP.

  16. Microsoft provides a tool to use non-latin, non-Unicode applications on XP called AppLocale. It’s supposed to work with most programs, and a lot of people use it to play Japanese PC games on US installations of Windows. Also, even though it’s not supported, you can get AppLocale to work with Vista and Windows 7.

    As for finding a “do-all” font for Unicode, there’s the GNU Unifont, which has every character in the so-called Basic Multilingual Plane as of Unicode 5.1 (5.2 is supposed to be coming soon). It’s quite ugly, being a bitmap-based font, but it’s probably the only freely available font that will handle almost anything except the really obscure.

  17. “I did not know this, but if you have a mix of applications encoded in latin, utf-8, or shift_JIS, it seems you would have to be constantly changing this preference.”
    utf-8 is Unicode, and standard Latin encoded programs always work, so actually if your mix is latin, utf-8 and shift_JIS you won’t have any problems. However, mixing say, shift_JIS and Korean encoded is going to cause a lot of mojibake. Although I can’t understand much Korean and have no reason to use Korean language software, when a visitor from Korea went to his Korean bank website to even log on it had to install a ridiculous fuckton of ActiveX plugins for IE before he could even log on, and I think some of them may actually have been so badly written that they were still showing the non-Unicode mojibake.

    “Good to know that the most expensive versions allow you to change the display language.”

    Sure, but it really annoys me that this relatively minor feature is one that you can only get by spending 100 bucks for a bunch of other, far more advanced features. They should just let you buy the language packs individually for $5 or something from the download store.

    @ToastR Didn’t know about the AppLocale tool. Does it actually work well? I’m actually surprised that choosing the encoding on a per-application basis isn’t one of the options on the compatibility screen, even though you can lie to a program about what version of Windows you’re running.

    BTW, does anybody happen to know how OSX is in this regard? That is, whether it was Unicode-only from the very first version, or whether it went through a similar evolution to Windows NT? MacOS Classic was probably just as bad as the early versions of Windows, but that’s hardly important now.

  18. re: AppLocale. It seems to work well enough with the one program I use it for; the mojibake that used to make up the message prompts are now Japanese. A doujin game I tried out also seemed to work. I don’t really know how well it works in the general case, though; people seem to report this or that problem with whatever random program they’re using. It’s clearly on the “power toy” level and explicitly calls itself a temporary solution when you run it. I think Microsoft was being a bit optimistic about getting everyone to program in Unicode.

  19. “utf-8 is Unicode, and standard Latin encoded programs always work, so actually if your mix is latin, utf-8 and shift_JIS you won’t have any problems.”

    Yeah, utf-8 is one encoding for unicode, and you’re right, since the the roman characters in the latin charset map the same as in shit-jis, indeed, it wouldn’t be a problem.

    I am pretty sure OS 10 was unicode only from the beginning. When I was running a version that still supported the classic OS, I had a lot of Japanese apps that were not unicode and they would not display at all in OS 10 using the classic mode. I had to boot specifically into OS 9 to properly use them.

  20. I didn’t care to read all the discussions about Windows language here, but a program called Vistalizator might be relevant for some:

    Basically, I have a JP Win 7 Home Premium which does not allow to change the language, but with Vistalizator, it is possible to change to US or any other language you want.

  21. Jonas, that is exactly the program I assumed existed, but hadn’t looked for yet. It’ll be handy when I reinstall the retail version of Windows, since I don’t plan on paying for enterprise or ultimate.

  22. Most software that comes out today is in unicode, and I believe that current versions of MS development tools no longer really support writing non-unicode software. Of course you can still write it if you really want to for some reason, but the newer APIs and application frameworks are unicode only. The only new software that should be non unicode is stuff like the very low budget games that ToastR mentioned above, where the developer isn’t really writing any application level code, just scripts within an out of date development system.

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