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Japanese with English Windows

Ken Cotton

"Anything worth doing is worth doing right!" I think that's what my father used to say to me. Well he should have added that anything worth doing is worth doing PERIOD. Although I've spent quite a bit of time on this topic, more browsing, than testing, I'm still finding it hard to get anything down on paper. It's not a simple subject.

Sometime last year the TPC found itself without a program director and I offered to help out until someone came along. When it came time to choose a topic for the February meeting I thought that now might be a good time for users to talk about different ways that they get Japanese on their systems. One thing we have in common at this club is that we are all English speaking computer users living in Japan.

During the Q&A session at the meeting people sometimes ask how to view/print/input Japanese. And in Computing Japan, another great source of information for those of us living here, often we see letters to the editor asking for help in this area or thanking them for the help given in previous articles.

If my writing is anything like my speaking, those of you that know me will know that this might get kind of long. In case it gets split up and some put into next month's newsletter I should give a quick overview of how I'm going to try and cover this subject:

  • Introduction: You just read that.
  • Sources of further information
  • What are your needs?
  • Solutions with Japanese Windows 95
  • Solutions without Japanese Windows 95
  • Viewing only
  • Input, too
  • A summary, apology, and disclaimer

Sources of information:

Before I go on to summarize the different ways to go about it, I'd like to give a list of sources for further information. In addition to checking out the back issues of Computing Japan, I found one site, Using Japanese with a PC Running English Windows particularly useful.

With these links in hand, you could stop right here and assuming you have Internet access, you would be well on their way to answering any questions you have on this subject. If your computer isn't nearby and you have a few minutes to kill you might want to read on.

I will have put this information up on my home page so that anyone interested in learning more can just follow the links.

At the February meeting, not having anything of my own prepared, I considered handing out copies of Computing Japan articles and the above-mentioned Web site, but thought that as Bill Auckerman, Editor-in-Chief of CJ and past TPC might be there it wasn't such a good idea without getting permission first. Bill later told me it would have been okay. I'd also like to thank him for his input at the meeting.

Your Needs:

How you go about getting Japanese on you computer depends on a few things, most importantly your needs:

  • How often do you use Japanese?
  • Is viewing/printing enough?
  • Do you need to input?
  • Are Japanese menus okay?
  • Do you need an English manual?

Your choice also depends on your ability and willingness to take a risk and spend a little time:

  • Do you want to reformat your hard drive?
  • Are you willing to have some downtime?
  • Are you willing to reboot when switching languages?
  • Are your capable of doing it yourself?
  • Is there anyone that can help you?
  • Is your data backed up? <G>

And finally it depends on money. Are you willing to pay for:

  • A second hard drive?
  • Japanese Windows 95?
  • Add on programs?
  • A partitioning tool?
  • A boot menu utility?
  • Someone's time?

Your Choices:

With Japanese Windows 95

I'll start with what I consider to be the safest/easiest methods and work my way down. This list is by no means complete and may not even be very accurate. <G>

Win95J Only:
This is probably best if you use Japanese most of the time and can handle the Japanese manuals and menus. You'll want to make sure that either the English software that you want to use will work or that there are Japanese equivalents.

2nd Hard Disk Drive (1):
Installing Win95/J onto a second hard drive is recommend by more than a few club members, including Sigi (Mr. Akihabara) and Mike Kato (Program Director). Interestingly enough it is also the choice of my friend Feng Guang-ming of LineLabo Co., Ltd. who was kind enough to come along and show us UnionWay, one of the solutions that I'll mention below. Turning off the machine, switching HDD cables and then starting the machine again sure sounds safe, but I think I would need a 3rd hard drive for my data and applications that I want to access from both operating systems.

I'm not sure if owning Japanese Windows 95 qualifies for the upgrade version of Japanese Windows 95, but it might be worth knowing what files the upgrade looks for on the hard drive when you install or what floppies it asks for and then have one of these ready. Qualified or not, I'm lazy and usually pay for the full version as it saves time and worries during installation.

2nd Hard Disk Drive (2):

Using System Commander 3.0 a utility by V Communications, Inc., which lets PC users configure their systems with multiple operating systems, I believe that you can boot into a 2nd drive by having certain files on the first drive. Or your Win95 J & E could be on the same HDD and in the same or separate partitions. Be sure to read the manual carefully before you begin.

Same Hard Drive/Separate Partitions:

Things are going to get a bit tricky here as you might have to learn some new things and could bump into some obstacles. First thing you're going to need to learn a bit about is partitions.

If you bought a computer recently in Japan, it probably came with one hard drive and Japanese Windows 95 pre-installed on the one partition on that hard drive. At one point in time if you had wanted to keep the Japanese, but add English Win95 in a separate partition you would have had to reformat and repartition the hard drive using the DOS FDISK command and install the operating systems from scratch.

This would mean that any data on that drive would be wiped out along with the Japanese Win95. Many new machines that come with operating systems preinstalled don't actually give you the OS on floppies or CD-ROM and you are expected to run a program that will create the floppies for you from disk images of the OS somewhere on the machine. No thanks: too many floppies and too time-consuming.

Before you start to worry, now is probably a good time to introduce another utility that could pay for itself in just one use. It's Partition Magic 3.0, by PowerQuest Corporation. I think it sells for around 70 dollars. This program, along with the new scrolling MS Intellimouse and my ISDN line, are things that I wouldn't want to be without.

As the name implies, Partition Magic allows you to do things with your hard drive partition that wouldn't otherwise be possible. You can resize a hard drive and add, remove and even move partitions while keeping your data intact. Be sure to check out their Web site to see what else it does. It really is magic.

The latest version of PM comes with the Boot Manager from IBM, which like System Commander, allows you to choose which operating system to boot into at startup. I used OS/2 happily for almost 3 years before abandoning ship the week Window 95 was released and I always felt that the Boot Manager was worth the price of the whole operating system.

Using Partition Magic you could shrink the size of the Japanese Win95 partition and from the space made available, create a partition for English Win95 and a 1MB partition for Boot Manager. It might also be a good idea to create a separate partition or two for your data, applications and backing up. Doing this and/or adding a second hard drive makes it easier to keep things organized and safe.

I just received Partition Magic 3.0, but haven't tried it yet, so I can't comment on how easy it is to do all of this, but I had no problems doing it with version 2.0 and the first floppy from OS/2 which contains the boot manager.

Same Hard Drive/Same Partitions:

This is one way that I haven't tried as it scares me. In addition to being confused as to what's what on that single partition there are certain risks and pitfalls which were brought up at the meeting. These include problems using English disk tool utilities such as scandisk or defrag on a drive that contains Japanese (double-byte) files and the fact that it's a little tricky getting two versions of Win95 on the same hard disk or partition. I also wouldn't recommend using compression software as that complicates things even further.

Assuming you still want to go ahead you have a few choices, all free. One way would be to use a homemade freeware batch file or utility to take care of the copying/backing up of important files. Club president Pat Hughes uses WINBOOT (look for intlboot.exe at to do the job. He told me that although he "was impressed with it" he does not recommend this to everyone as he himself has had problems. He admits that the problems might have been self-inflicted.

Club member Yasuaki Kudo has written his own batch file he calls WSWITCH.BAT that does something similar. He wrote and told me that after using a Compression Agent a "large number of Japanese file names surely have gone crazy," but I think he has things figured out now. Look here or on the TPC Web page in the future as I bet we can get these two to share their experiences.

One other freeware program that seems to do about the same thing is called BOOTOS. No one that I know has tried this one.

If you're willing to pay and want to alleviate some of the risk, then System Commander, mentioned above would be the way to go. From the reviews that I've read it's not too difficult to get many operating systems available at bootup, whereas it seems as the above freeware solutions are choices that are made just before shutting down or rebooting.

On English Windows 95:

Next comes the add on environments which allow you to view and input Japanese text on top of English Windows 95, making it unnecessary to purchase the Japanese version. This is the way I do things, although I do plan to install it into a separate partition when I get a chance or have the need.

I'm not qualified to properly review all of the options available. Please check my home page for links to sites with more complete information. What I will do is tell you what I do and name a few of the more popular programs and some comments that club members have made on them.

Viewing Only:

When I want to browse the Web in Japanese I use the Japanese extension for Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0. It's easy to install and is fast, safe, convenient and free.

There is a program called Navigate with an Accent by Accent Software International Ltd. ( that works with Netscape and "lets you browse the Web in over 30 languages", but I've never tried it. There is downloadable trial version at their site.

It's also possible to view Japanese Web pages without downloading or installing anything. You can go to the Shodouka Launchpad. You enter the name of the page that you would like to view in a form on their site and it goes out and gets it and converts the Japanese characters to images and then shows them to you.

Disadvantages are that it slows things down and won't work if their server is down or busy. But if you rarely have a need to view Japanese pages or want to view Japanese from a friend's computer or cybercafe outside of Japan, then this might be something to keep in mind.

AsianViewer V. 1.1 by TwinBridge Software Corp allows you to view Chinese, Japanese and Korean Web pages. It costs $29 and there is a 30-day downloadable demo available.

At the meeting, Sigi said that one of his translators uses NJWin and is very satisfied with it. It's also used by club member Frank Zeritsch. He recently announced on the BBS that version 1.2 has been released and I think uploaded it. [Ed. Note: I use this, too, and have been very happy with it. -- Mike]

Pat Hughes has promised to review the latest release of RJ (Read Japanese), version 1.1 for the next newsletter. It's a bit different from the others. It also can give you a pronunciation and translation of the Japanese. I'll let him tell you more about it. If you want to try it there is a trial version at:


When I need more than viewing/printing I use UnionWay AsianSuite97, which is recommend by my friend Feng Guang-ming a DBCS (double-byte character set) expert. He works for LineLabo. They sell and support UnionWay and other CJK (Chinese Japanese Korean) solutions. I talked him into coming to the meeting to demo it, even though I knew that he didn't speak much English. I hadn't used the program that much myself so I'm sorry I wasn't of much help at the meeting. I think that most of their customers are Japanese that are using it to get Chinese and Korean on their Japanese systems.

He's told me that it's the best out there. There were a few reasons including something about: (1) it being "the only Multi-lingual software for any Windows platform (i.e., Windows 3.1, Windows 95 or Windows NT) to support 16 bit and 32 bit Windows applications processing Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters" (2) "providing 32 bit Unicode extension for Windows 95 to support Microsoft Office 97, Netscape Communicator (beta 2) and other 32 bit Unicode-based Windows applications and that" and that (3) frequent updates were available via the Web site.

MS Office97 just started shipping and there is something about it that makes it incompatible with these CJK programs. UnionWay was quick to get out a fix. You can download a trial version from the UnionWay Web site or buy it from LineLabo. Feng suggested that club members buy it through me, as they might not speak much English in the office. You can get all the information you need in Japanese or Chinese by calling them at 5229-8041.

The pricing varies depending on the number of fonts you get and if you want the newer 32 bit program or just the 16 bit one. Being busy and not really understanding the product, I'm not sure if I want to get involved, but if you need some help e-mail me at I'll also try and get a better review of it into next month's newsletter.

Feng and I speak in Chinese and he speaks quickly so forgive me if I miss something. He's a good friend and has tried a lot of these kinds of programs, so I trust him when he says UW is the best and haven't bothered to try too many of the other options. I'll mention some of the other products, but if you want to know more then you'll have to check around or encourage someone who is using one of these products to write a review for the newsletter.

I'd like to mention a few other options, besides UnionWay. Two that come to mind our KanjiKit by Pacific Software Publishing and Twin Bridge by TwinBridge Software Corporation.

From what I know, PSP has licensed the Japanese part of UnionWay and is selling it as KanjiKit. It is sold online for $199. You can download a 45-day trial version. In Tokyo I've seen it at T-Zone in Akihabara. Attain Corp. (03-3255-4721) who sometimes advertises in one of the English newspapers, also carries it. A review of it can be found in the August 1996 issue of Computing Japan.

If you do purchase locally, be sure to go to the PSP site to get the patch so that it works with Office 97 and other 32 bit Unicode-based Windows applications. A note on their site says: "This update will benefit all KanjiKit users. While installing, the name UWDBM or AsianSuite will appear, but you can ignore this."

Les Christoffel, who attended his first TPC meeting last month, said that he is quite pleased with it. (Les, you wanna write a review? <g>)

Another program that I've heard good things about it since I lived in Taiwan 7 years ago, is TwinBridge. A demo of TwinBridge Japanese Partner 4.0 is available at their site. If you decide to purchase it it's also $199. It comes with 4 fonts. "The pro version comes with additional 11 high quality TrueType Fonts and is $299."

Publicity Director Jose Caldeira is very satisfied with TwinBridge and told me that it deserves more than just the mention it was given at the meeting. Anyone interested?

Before I finish up and send this off to our editor I'd like to at least mention the names of a couple of other programs that I've come across, but know little about. They are AsiaSurf by DynaLab and KanjiWeb by New Fairland Associates.

In addition to these programs there are dictionary programs and even software that will actually read the Japanese to you. Your best bet is to get on the Web and do some searching.

I hope that I was able to help some people out. And I apologize if I seem disorganized. It's because I am. Feel free to e-mail me any comments, etc. and I'll be sure that they get into the next newsletter. I chose the topic of how to get Japanese on an English Windows95 as I thought this is one subject that most TPC members might need to know more about. I'll try and make this a running subject in the newsletter and on my home page and you can help out.

And now for the disclaimer: Use the above information at your own risk. Hope it's more right than wrong and does more good than harm. There are a lot of options and I hope that you find the one that is best for you.

© Algorithmica Japonica Copyright Notice: Copyright of material rests with the individual author. Articles may be reprinted by other user groups if the author and original publication are credited. Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from TPC. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

Algorithmica Japonica

March, 1997

The Newsletter of the Tokyo PC Users Group

Submissions : Editor

Tokyo PC Users Group, Post Office Box 103, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo 150-8691, JAPAN