Japanese Katakana T-Shirts

Create a Custom Japanese Katakana T-shirt. Just choose any simple short phrase or name you like and our clever(ish) translator will automagically convert it into Katakana for you to stick onto a T-Shirt. Banzai!!


Katakana is one of four character sets used in Japanese. The other three being: Hiragana, Kanji and Romaji. It is used primarily by the Japanese for pronouncing foreign words or phrases such as the titles of films or books or names which do not have a literal translation in one of the other alphabets.

Japanese Katakana consists of 73 characters, each with a distinct sound. Two styles of the Katakana alphabet can be seen below alongside the sounds they represent. The style on the left is a standard form of Katakana used in most computer applications and on the internet. The one on the right is a more stylised version of Katakana that we use on our T-Shirts.

Lost in Translation

The problem with translating english into katakana is that the english language consists of far more possible sounds than the katakana alphabet can reproduce. The two most notable omissions are the "V" and "L" sounds. When translated into katakana, these sounds become "be" and "re" respectively.

There are however many more subtle english sounds which cannot be pronounced using katakana. This makes accurate automatic translation of english into katakana almost impossible.

How do we do it?

Our translation algorithm seeks to find an aproximate representation of an english phrase in katakana by converting it into phonetic sounds which are supported by the katakana character set.

The process is by no means infallible and you should be able to find examples where the translation is less than accurate quite easily but we feel that some of the resultant mis-pronunciations are quite amusing and only add to it's charm. None of the resultant translations should be taken as wholly accurate, it's just for fun folks!

[28] Comments

rahmeesha 13/01/11
this is one of the best ideas. awesometastic!!!

aboobies 23/10/09

geeforce 03/10/09
what a clever idea!! points mean prizes!

TheCristale 19/07/09
I think this''s a great idea! People think that''s it''s the real translation, though :I

yogsodoth 29/06/09
Guys - your katana transliteration routine needs serious work. You''re totally glossing over the sokuon 促音, or chiisaitsu concept, as well as double beats. What you''re producing is not real transliteration. eg. Pockyポッキー, not ポキ. Not to mention bringing across the as tehe instead of za, etc. If yer gonna do it, do it right, eh?

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