Japanese Typefaces / Type Designers

TEAiM's picture

I design a magazine, each issue is about a specific city. Previous issues have included Sarajevo, Detroit, London and Athens. The next city is Kyoto. I am trying to get in touch with any type designers who live and/or work in Japan, preferably Kyoto. Do you know of anyone? Do you know of any great examples of typefaces produced in Japan (that are Latin/Roman etc not Kanji/Hiragana etc.)

I'm also currently investigating whether stacked/vertical type would be a suitable alternative to regular horizontal type. Can anyone recommend any interesting monospace/unicode faces that would make for a pleasing vertical stack?

Any help or opinions on Japanese type please get in touch! thanks. Feel free to email me here: hello@luketonge.com

hrant's picture

Akira Kobayashi is the most accomplished Japanese typeface designer. But he currently lives in Germany (working for Linotype) and I don't know if he ever lived in Kyoto. Among the newest generation of Japanese type designers is Kunihiko Okano, author of Quintet:
http://www.photolettering.com/plog/2011/dec/23/new-alphabet-quintet-kuni...

And here's a recent thing you should probably peruse:
http://competition.morisawa.co.jp/en/news/20121026_result/

As for monospace fonts, one of the most notable must be our Nick Shinn's Panoptica:
http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/shinn/panoptica/

BTW, how did this
http://typophile.com/node/93010
turn out?

hhp

Tosche's picture

Akira's home country is Niigata, not Kyoto. On the other hand, Kunihiko was actually born and raised in Kyoto. You should get in touch with him (just google his name to get a contact). He is very active in Japan and has done many jobs with Type Project (famous for Axis typeface) and Jiyu Kobo (Hiragino). Also Kunihiko was the gold prize winner of the Morisawa type competition in the Japanese category.

Upright vertical Latin (particularly the lowercase) typesetting is ugly to begin with, but here's my thought. A good vertical Latin can only be found in Japan, but even then it is kinda difficult to find. What makes a good vertical Latin type is the presence of vertical metrics which you can only find in Japanese fonts. Also the short ascender and descender helps a lot (you'll see why when you set the word "typography" vertically; the ph creates a huge, unpleasing counter shape). I think one of the following fonts are good in that sense, although I cannot confirm it now: Axis, Hiragino, Kozuka, Meiryo.

By the way, I'm another Japanese designer. A Reading graduate and type designer at Monotype UK (but haven't released any retail font yet), but since I wasn't born in Kyoto and don't work in Japan, perhaps I don't count.

Bendy's picture

Interesting. How does the designer put vertical metrics into a font?

Can someone explain what makes Adobe's Kazuraki so 'groundbreaking'? Is it the proportional spacing?

hrant's picture

Ben: Yes. Way overdue! But there's still the much harder task of getting the paint out... :-) Actually Toshi, being from Reading, has a decent shot at that.

Another "normal" Latin font that might fit Toshi's useful line of reasoning is Quadraat Headliner - although it has no Kyoto connection that I know of.

hhp

Tosche's picture

Hi Ben, you can do it in FontLab and even preview it (shamefully I do not remember how to do it, but I remember that it's pretty easy).

And by 'someone' perhaps you mean me, right? The innovations in Kazuraki is that this is the genuinely proportional Japanese font made for the first time, whose engineering is actually much less straightforward than you think. The implementation of vertical ligatures was also something that nobody had done on a commercial level. Just read the first half of this (or at least the first page) if you want more detail:
http://www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/devnet/font/pdfs/5901.Kazuraki...

Hrant, thanks for your kind comments. Quadraat Headliner seems to create a very thin line when typeset vertically (I assume we're talking about upright vertical as opposed to rotated). As for horizontal proportion, I think the character needs to be relatively uniform in width so that one-stem characters (I, i, l) do not thin down the line too much. Japanese newspapers use vertically-condensed typefaces and set vertically, just like the western papers use horizontally-condensed ones, but whether a vertical Latin text in the former proportion looks good or not, I do not know (maybe interesting to try setting Univers Expanded vertically).

Bendy's picture

Ha, I thought you might be the person, Toshi :^)

Thanks, good to know. Not that I'm about to start designing Japanese! What I'm wondering is would there be any circumstances under which it would be useful to include vertical spacing for Latin in a non-CJK font?

hrant's picture

Sure - people like to set vertical text. Even in allcaps things like a descending "J" or "Q" would make it matter.

hhp

Tosche's picture

If I work on a typeface with a Japanese typesetting in mind, I would definitely do it. It doesn't harm to have a vertical metrics, and for most letters it can be automated; just apply the same metrics to the letters on the same height line. Also it's very important to align all characters at the central axis. Better yet, make vertical alternate (valt) letters for J and Q!

Shame that non-Japanese version of InDesign doesn't do vertical setting while Illustrator and even Photoshop can do it.

TEAiM's picture

Good thanks! – enjoyed our time out there and met some great Athenian designers and typographers – including Panos Vassiliou of parachute who gave us permission to use Din Stencil – which fitted perfectly with the sense of rebellion and tension we felt in the city (we were there during some of the worst riots in recent memory)

http://www.boat-mag.com/athens/

http://www.formfiftyfive.com/2012/11/boat-magazine-athens/?utm_medium=tw...

eliason's picture

The ungainliness of vertically oriented Latin letters has struck me many times in banners hanging in churches. I don't really think dictating the spacing is going to solve the problem.

hrant's picture

Maybe rotalics has a role to play here? "Hmmm, I sense it..."

hhp

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