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Japanese Website Translation

Translating websites into Japanes

Translating websites into Japanese is a necessary component of creating a successful international presence. As the global internet population grows, Japan continues to exhibit overwhelming monthly growth: in 2004, Japan has achieved the most growth worldwide by percentage as well as new active users (Nielsen//NetRatings). In fact, 2,372,463 new users were added in May 2004 alone, bringing the national total to 33,166,276. With numbers like these, global companies cannot afford to ignore the Japanese speaking online audience…and the best way to reach them is through a translated Japanese website.

Translating websites into Japanese involves much more than literally translating the text from the source language into Japanese. Translation is as a major component of the process of Japanese website localization (adapting the language, appearance, and functionality of a website for the Japanese market). Within the translation phase, Japanese translators must address linguistic issues such as accuracy, consistency and style.

Of course, accuracy is of the utmost importance when translating websites into Japanese. Translators should be professional, native speakers, preferably with appropriate industry-specific knowledge. Information such as currency, temperatures, and dates should be translated into Japanese using standard Japanese formats. To ensure accuracy, Japanese translators need to be highly credentialed and experienced.

Consistency is another linguistic concern in translating websites into Japanese. By utilizing translation memory tools such as Trados, Japanese translators should develop client-specific glossaries and terminology databases. This valuable data, which becomes the proprietary property of the client, ensures consistent translations across web pages and throughout the updating process of sites with dynamic content.

Japanese translators need to be mindful of linguistic style issues when translating websites. For example, while source website content may be created in a casual style, Japanese content should typically be presented in a more formal manner. Additionally, Japanese users are known to prefer information to be presented in logical formats, such as bulleted lists or charts, which should be taken into account while translating websites into Japanese (eCommerce Alert).

Japanese Website Translation

Your website must be fully “globalized” in order to successfully establish and maintain an online presence in Japanese-speaking markets. Within the translation services industry, globalization refers to the basic process of creating a website that functions in any market in the world.

Japanese website translation has many complexities, and not every translation agency is equal to the task. When selecting a translation company to translate your website, investigate to make sure that your potential translation partner has capabilities in the following areas:

1.     Japanese Website Translators

Professional, native-speaking website translators who specialize in the specific professional and technical areas of your company should execute your Japanese website translation project. Professional Japanese website translators like this should be experienced with issues related to website translation in particular, such as proper translation of text in links, graphics, and optimizing text for search engines.

2.     Japanese Website File Formats

Japanese website translation projects usually involve many different file formats, regardless of their complexity. Your Japanese website translation company should demonstrate their capability to translate text from such source files as HTML/XML/XSLT, web application files, server side pages, APIs, Databases, CSS, Java scripts, PHP, ASP.NET, Web forms, Graphic files, or FLASH files. You will probably need to supply these files to your translation company by email or on a CD-ROM, by uploading to an FTP server, or by giving the translation company access to your website via login and password.

3.     Japanese Web Terminology Management

Japanese website translators should utilize translation memory tools such as Trados to translate the text strings that have been externalized from the various file formats. The result will be client-specific glossaries and terminology databases, which becomes the proprietary property of the client, ensuring consistent translations and efficient updates to future Japanese websites.

Japanese Content Management System (CMS)

Many types of multilingual web content management solutions support the Japanese Language and website localization, including:

    Ektron CMS 400 (.NET)
  • EpiServer (.NET)
  • WordPress (PHP)
  • Microsoft SharePoint WCM (.NET)
  • Umbraco (.NET)
Japanese Website localization

Japanese website localization is the process of adapting the language, appearance, and functionality of a website for the Japanese market. Japanese website localization projects should be executed by experienced teams of localization professionals who work in conjunction with your website designers, adhering to proven best practices for website design and development.

If you are interested in localizing your website for Japanese markets, you may also find your company localizing printed documentation to be available as PDFs, multimedia products such as FLASH presentations, and web-applications such as online calculators or surveys. It is important that all components are correctly localized to offer your complete web experience to your potential Japanese users.

Localization of Websites into Japanese

Whether your project is simple (such as a straight HTML-based Japanese website) or complex (such as a dynamic database-driven Japanese web application), your localization company should have solid experience and a comprehensive process which includes at a minimum:

1.     Finnish glossary and terminology development.

2.     Japanese cultural correctness assessment.

3.     Japanese translation, editing and proofreading.

4.     Japanese localization of graphics.

5.     Japanese online quality assurance.

6.     Japanese usability testing and Finnish localization testing.

7.     Client review and approval.

You will need to provide your localization company with the following information, collectively referred to as a “Localization Kit.” This information allows them to analyze your Web site and to determine its Japanese localization requirements. This kit includes:

    Your current site URL.
  • Summary of site architecture.
  • Summary of any technologies and/or development tools used to develop your webbsite.
  • All files that make up your site in their original folder/file structure.
  • All original graphics used in your site (artwork, background, and navigation buttons).
  • All application source files (Word, PPT, Quark, etc.) for any documentation available via your website.
  • All application source files (Flash, Photoshop, Authorware, etc.) for any multimedia available via your website.
Japanese Web Internationalization (I18n)

Japanese website globalization (G11n) is a two-step process, including Japanese website internationalization (I18n) and Japanese website localization (L10n). Website internationalization deals primarily with the backend/functionality of a website, enabling back-end technologies to function or support any language and locale. Localization deals primarily with the front end or linguistic and cosmetic aspects of a website including locale-specific content, cultural correctness, translations and site design.

Whether your project is simple (such as a straight HTML-based Japanese website) or complex (such as a dynamic database-driven Japanese web application), the website internationalization process is the first step in ensuring your website’s global interoperability. During Japanese website internationalization, any language- or culture-specific assumptions in your website’s code base (functionality) should be “neutralized”; your website will then be primed for efficient localization into Japanese.

Japanese Website testing

Japanese website testing is a crucial quality control phase in the process of Japanese website globalization. In order to effectively communicate to potential global customers, you must ensure your website is linguistically and culturally appropriate to your target audience. In order to ensure your localized Japanese website is fully functional and completely adapted to the target users, a localization company must use experienced Japanese website testers and follow a thorough test plan.

A localization company should use professional, native-speaking specialists to execute Japanese website testing. With the goal of matching the performance of the Japanese website to that of the source site, Japanese website testers take the following aspects of the site into account during testing: browser compatibility, connection speeds, traffic, security, design, linking, translation accuracy, functionality and more.

Translators and web designers should work side-by-side with a company’s own expert users to track and solve issues before the Japanese website is launched. Typical website testing phases should include:

Japanese Web Site Internationalization Testing

Before Japanese website translation begins, Japanese website testing professionals test the source language site for international support and localizability. Japanese website internationalization testing saves time and money by exposing potential trouble areas early in the localization process.

Japanese Web Site Localization Testing

After Japanese website translation, testing specialists review the Japanese website in context to check for any linguistic or cosmetic issues. Linguistic testing deals with all language related issues of a localized website or web-application, including currency symbols, locale-specific text, and more. Cosmetic testing deals with all visual issues to ensure the language versions display correctly under various browser O/S scenarios.

Japanese Web Site Functionality Validation or Testing

After your Japanese website has been localized, tests are performed using a variety of platforms and test scripts to verify that your website works properly for your target users. Testing concerns at this phase include ensuring the website’s features/functionality work as they did in the original source language version of the site.

Japanese SEO

In order to launch your Japanese website, you need to have in mind that the process is more complex than just translating the content into the target language.

Technical considerations

There are some off-page factors that will apply to multilingual search engine optimization.

    Japanese Domain name: some search engines only refer to your top level domain to show results. This means that if you have different folders ( for your in-language content, the search engines prioritize the top level domain first to show local results. The best option is to have different domains for the different languages; this is very critical at all times for content updates and website management. Sub-domains or folders in the URL are the best cost-benefit option at the current time.
  • Links to the localized version: as you did with the main website, you need to start the link-building process for the translated version of your Japanese website. Local links from local domains in Japanese are very important. In general SEO, links are one of the most important factors to achieve success.
  • Hosting: search engines look at the IP of the requestor and score locally hosted domains higher than others non-locally. For example, it is better to have your Japanese version of the website hosted in Spain, but this is expensive and very hard to maintain. There are several combinations of tools and platforms that will help you to obtain better results.
  • Search engines: Google, Yahoo! and Bing are not the only search engines. Your SEO Company needs to know the most frequently used search engines for your target locale to optimize all content for all search engines.
  • Website architecture: Your website needs to support the different languages and encodings. Many websites have been built without internationalization in mind, so, is very important that you receive good feedback from your translation company about your current website architecture at the start of your project.
Find more Japanese translation and localization resources in our translation blogs:

For information on The Japanese language and translation, please see our information on Japanese Translation services.