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?

jossemar 24/05/09
Nice one - another great idea

ruth.smart 01/04/09
love this my hubby will love his b day pressie

g.stan@hotmail.co.uk 23/03/09
That''s cool! Love it!

willowspuppy 17/03/09
A great idea! Now, if i can only decide what phrase to have... :

Magic_Hands 16/12/08
i absolutely love this .. fab idea

icanwalkonclouds 01/12/08
that is so cool

treens 26/10/08
i love it, any other languages?

pummancs 21/10/08
it''s a good idea, and by chance my boyfriend used to learn japanese..so maybe gonna make one

Rooney 09/10/08
Brilliant quality, great service. Now, what shall i create next, so many ideas and choices.

trinod 02/09/08
the word for monkey actually looks a lot like Elf

stephensbrown 28/05/08
Might get one of these as a gift for my mate with some obscene message!

dollyknockers 21/04/08
a fab idea, you could have anything on it and no one would know!

Dackstar 05/04/08
Amazing, would make a great prezzie for my Asian-loving friend. :

Sekushi_Ama 03/04/08
it would be better if you made a hiragana one too so you could write more on ur shirt. but this is a great idea! i love it

timelessness 04/02/08

stellarthought 14/01/08
dope design

freespirit 03/01/08
omdz this is fab totaly love it

andycan 06/12/07
got one of these t-shirts made up for my birthday, was impressed with the quality and the delivery time, bought of the net before and not always to this standard.

soulmate02 19/11/07
very cool

oroquelle 12/11/07
Ooh my friend would really like this

nerdoutlaw 08/10/07
fantastic present for my mate for xmas!

Mr.nicklebe 07/08/07
Looks really swish. Quite hard getting words to make sense though :P

cookie5 24/07/07
Great idea!