sci.lang.japan FAQ / 1. Writing / 1.3. Other questions on writing / 1.3.4. What are the systems of romanization of Japanese? Other systems of romanization

Apart from the three most well-known systems, the Hepburn, Kunrei and Nippon-shiki (see What is romanization?) systems, many other romanization systems for Japanese also exist.

The Nippo Jisho romanization

The Nippo jisho (日葡辞書) or "Vocabvlario da lingoa de Iapam" was a dictionary from Japanese into Portuguese published in 1603. The po (葡) kanji here is the character representing Portugal (see 3.4. Why is America called ?). Three or four copies of the original dictionary still exist.

The following table shows the romanization of Japanese used in the Nippo jisho.

A I U E O Yōon 1
a i v ye vo
K ca qui qu que co ???
S sa xi su xe so xaxuxo
T ta chi tçu te to chachucho
N na ni nu ne no nhanhunho
H fa fi fu fe fo ???
M ma mi mu me mo ???
Y ya y yu ye yo
R ra ri ru re ro ???
W va i v ye vo


  1. See 7.8. What is ?


JSL is the romanization system used in the textbook series "Japanese: the Spoken Language" by Eleanor Harz Jorden. It is based on the format of Kunrei-shiki romanization, with the difference that long vowels are written using doubled vowels, such as "oo" or "uu", rather than macrons or circumflexes, and the addition of information on pitch accent (see 7.5. What is Japanese pitch accent?) using acute, grave and circumflex marks. JSL romanization is intended for language teaching and study.

99 shiki

99 shiki (99式), created by The Society for the Romanization of the Japanese Alphabet (Shadan Houjin Nihon Roomaji Kai (社団法人日本ローマ字会) is a form of romanization developed from the view of romaji as a means of transliteration rather than as a strict orthography. As such it allows romanization of variant kana forms which do not currently have a romanized form. It uses neither circumflexes nor macrons.

Easy-to-read romanization

In practice the most widely used romanization in Japan is an unnamed variant of Hepburn romanization sometimes described as "easy-to-read" romanization. In this form of romanization, long vowels and syllabic ns (ん) are simply not indicated at all. This type of romanization is used in train stations to indicate station names, and it is the form of romanization which gives us Tokyo and Kyoto for the Japanese cities.

References and web links

  1. 「99式」日本語のローマ字表記方式(詳細)
  2. Hōyaku nippo jisho (邦訳-日葡辞書) published 1980 Iwanami shoten, ISBN 4-00-200451-1

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