It’s the nature of the beast that web design is always changing, and one of the many things that designers often lose sleep over is fonts.
Till recently web fonts were usually limited to ones installed on Windows or OSX, but these days you can choose a wide range of fonts available online. This means lots of choice for design but with more choice comes more woe. Which one to pick for which occasion?
Well, let’s put aside difficult decisions for a moment. We want to have a bit of fun with fonts! PingMag has scoured the plains of the world wide web for some funky Japanese fonts that are useful (okay, maybe not so useful!) — but always unique.
Fonts that are almost practical!
This font was created to mark 150 years since Yokohama opened its port to the world and to remake the “Yokohama” brand. The designers researched the images that people associated with Yokohama, and then turned the character you could see in these into a font. The result is a harmony of classic and modern, and rather attractive too. You can write in Roman characters and Hiragana, but the Kanji is limited just to characters used in Yokohama ward names!
This is recommended for all budding izakaya owners! You can almost taste the atmosphere just in the lettering. (Personal use okay. Apply for commercial use.)
Perfect if you’re in need of some nostalgia. Do you remember how your handwriting looked when you were a young child (yoji)? Say three or four years old? Well, with this font adults can recreate that charmingly earnest look on their work documents! It’s Japanese only and, of course, there’s no Kanji. (Personal and commercial use okay.)
Fonts for sentimental train (and other forms of transportation) aficionados
So now you can turn any word into a railway station name! The font resembles the style of characters used in old (i.e. back when JR was still nationalized) railway signage. Actually, it’s not just for nostalgia. The font can also look super modern and smart as well. (Personal and commercial use okay.)
Okay, this one’s for the real train fanatics among you, recreating the handwritten station name signs as used on Japanese railway lines from a bygone age. The design quality is also still good enough for today. (Personal and commercial use okay.)
This time it’s not words but the pictographs used in stations. Saying that, we’re not totally sure what that onsen (hot spring) symbol is doing there… (Personal and commercial use okay. Requires device with Japanese language input.)
If you’re more of a driver then check out this font that looks like lettering on the signs to be found on Japanese highways. Striking and easy to read (since you are in theory driving fast!), this is great for titles. (Personal use okay. Apply for commercial use.)
Ghosts in the digital age?! Yes, it’s horror fonts!
Do you sometimes want to give your text a scary or ghoulish look? Gothic type just doesn’t cut it, right? Well, you will find Onryo (which means “ghost” or “phantom” in Japanese) a very useful font for those days in the office when you need to cast spells and curses on your work enemies. (Personal use okay. Commercial use also okay but recommended to check with the designer.)
No scary experience is complete without some creepy-crawlies. For such occasions, reach for this font, which might just send shivers up your spine as you type. (Personal use okay. Commercial use also okay but recommended to check with the designer.)
Pure unadulterated fun!
For the uninitiated out there, this font is in the style of the cult manga ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’. Great for adding flourishes of onomatopoeia and the like, transforming dull text into exciting comic book scenes.
Who cares about getting meaning across? If you’re crazy about cats (neko), then the felines are all that matter! This font isn’t available as data but you can type what you want on the website, and then get an automated code to display an downloadable image.
And there you have it for now, folks! The wealth of Japanese fonts available online is almost endless if you search around — and we’ve just scratched the surface with this quick intro. Happy hunting!
Okay, so please look out for future PingMag articles written entirely in cats.