By Stephen Windwalker
Originally posted to Kindle Nation Daily 5.31.2010

Potentially big news for international readers here.

Although Amazon has yet to make an announcement about it, the Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac apps now render the Japanese language and alphabet. And thanks to an email that I received overnight from Mr. Toru Suzuki with my Japanese publisher Nikkei Business Publications, I’m happy to announce that one of the first Japanese language texts available to read with the Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac apps is a lengthy free excerpt from the Japanese translation of my bestselling Kindle guide.


So, that’s exciting for me, but far more exciting for the growth of a worldwide Kindle Revolution is the possibility that Amazon might soon open up the Kindle publishing platform to Japanese authors and publishers as it has already done with English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. There have been widespread reports that Amazon has been in talks with Japanese publishers about the launch of a Japanese Kindle, but now it is obvious that there’s no need to wait until Amazon makes the Kindle device itself ready for the Japanese language and alphabet. Ebook retailers could begin selling Kindle-compatible ebooks now to be read with the Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac apps.

Editor’s Note:  for more links, including links to a 50 page excerpt of a Japanese translation of Stephen’s Kindle guide, see the original article here.  PB


  1. We aren’t living in 1987 and one does not have to “support” Japanese. I take this post to mean the Kindle is so fundamentally broken it cannot process Unicode text, expecting everything to be as dumb as a mule (i.e., rendered solely in the US-ASCII characters visible on Amazon’s keyboard in Seattle).

    So. Japanese. Great. What if I want vertical text? Mixed vertical and horizontal? What if I need Korean inside my Japanese? Arabic? What if I want my Latin text rotated 90°?

    Now, of course you didn’t say Kindle “supports” Japanese; you said it “renders” Japanese. Isn’t this just a statement that Kindles now have Japanese fonts?

  2. Joe – this is just the applications on computers that support it. The Kindle devices themselves doesn’t have unicode fonts as far as I know. Mobi itself does support unicode and right-to-left however, so it should be a fairly trivial matter to add support for it.

    As a news item this is more about the official launch of ebooks in Japanese for Kindle for PC/Mac.

  3. 1) It’s stupid that Amazon didn’t build support for all languages into kindle 2 (at least) from the start. It’s stupid that Sony Reader is the same (though from experience, the lack of fonts is the thing holding back the sony).

    2) Who cares if kindle’s pc app does it? If anyone is going to use a kindle app in japan, it’s going to be on their phones (which is just the iphone really, because the few android phones in japan are like ver. 1.5 and don’t support the new android app, and amazon doesn’t have apps for BREW on the rest of the phones that 95% of people use). I don’t think they quite yet sell the kindle here, either.

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