The perils of font variations

When I first started learning Japanese all those years ago, I took for granted that I’d always recognize each glyph once I learned it (outside of shodo, of course). But some typefaces put some weird, weird spins on certain radicals and kana.

I thought it would be useful and interesting to have a thread where we share these. Here are some that I’ve encountered, and I’d be interested to see any that you’ve encountered as well.

Here’s a sign from the first トラック野郎 movie. I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be 門.

Here are て and で from a chocolate mochi cooking video that was trending last week. As you can see, they look like a T.

This last one is from Tales of Destiny: Director’s Cut. It’s supposed to be 女, but as you can see, it’s so stylized that it looks more like 口.


If you know of any others, I’d be interested to see them!


This in particular is called a 略字.


Dang, how the heck did I never know this? I’ve seen these symbols, but I never knew there was a word for this simplification. Or that it’s distinct from kakikae.


That can’t actually be 女 can it?




At a glance, almost looks like 「ティモンとつ°ンバァ」.


It threw me too! I didn’t fully make the connection until I saw that square as a radical in other kanji. I’ve put a decent dent in that game and I’m still not used to it.

What threw me even more in this image was と; I thought it was ヒ!


I also encountered that font in “To Heart” Visual Novel. It was kind of shock :wink: But when now I think about it and look at it closely, it’s stroke order that helps to differentiate it from 口. It’s visible in the character itself, because lower left corner of the “square” is rounded, suggesting that both lines are one stroke (and of course vertical lines stick over the upper horizontal line). So it’s like two first strokes of 女 kanji got rotated 45 degrees counter-clockwise (so that diagonal lines became vertical), and then, to add insult to the injury, the second one got straightened :wink:


I’m watching the original Ultra Q right now and I just spotted two more…

First, I forgot that the dakuten could appear lower down on the right-hand side of the katakana.

Also, TIL the gun radical can look like 亠 sometimes.


I like that they included the reading for us non-natives who might otherwise be unable to decipher the kanji =D


You made this post ages ago, but I’m wondering how you’re playing the Tales of Destiny Director’s Cut game in Japanese? I’d love to play it myself!

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I’m a little afraid to get too deep into this on a forum where I don’t know the rules about it! :sweat_smile: But I’m using the PCSX2 emulator along with an ISO that I ripped a while back from a physical copy that I still own. I fell off the wagon with this game and I should really start playing it again!

Ahhh that makes sense. Thanks for sharing! I will try to figure something out for myself. When I do - I’ll let you know.

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Feel free to ask if I can help! I don’t know if I can offer much, but I know what a pain it can be to play old games and I have a lot of experience finding ways to make it happen. I don’t know everything but it’d be my pleasure to save you any hassles that I had to figure out!

I just discovered Akiko Yano and her first album, Japanese Girl/日本少女 from 1976. The music is really good, incidentally, and features some big names from the time. That stylized title in the lower-right corner is pretty out-there. It’s only four kanji but each looks successively less like it “should.”

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Seal script. Gotta love it.


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She identifies as female