Tips for translating your website to Japanese

When translating a website, it is important that you don’t just literally translate text. In many cases, the target language does not have a literal translation for your content. In other cases, cultural differences might make using certain phrases inappropriate. When translating to Japanese for example, it is important to remember that local culture varies dramatically from that of Western countries.

For example, a company selling interior décor accessories like floor tiles can’t approach a Japanese market with the same mindset as approaching an American market. With Japanese homes being much smaller than many American homes, talking about large family rooms and stairs leading to the second level of the home doesn’t have the same appeal. Simply translating content that was made for one audience with the hope that the language change is all you need is not the right way to localize a website.

Here are some helpful tips when localizing a website for a Japanese market

Fluent translator:

The very first step goes without saying, but if you want a high-quality translation then you need to hire a translator who is fluent in Japanese. To do this, find a Japanese national who is also fluent in the original language of the website, or choose a non-native Japanese speaker who is fluent in both languages.

Collaborate with a local:

When approaching the Japanese market, it is ideal to have a Japanese person on the team or at least collaborate with one for the project. A few things a Japanese national can help you with are; cultural references, whether or not your product appeals to a Japanese audience, and certain changes that should be made to make your content more appealing and appropriate. A native speaking person can also help you correct the tone of your website as Japanese tends to use a more formal and respectful tone when communicating.

The law:

Another important point to remember when translating web content to Japanese is to take into account Japanese laws. Japan has an Act Against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations. The Act in effect prevents websites from making any claims about a product unless there is sufficient proof to back those claims. If a company selling supplements wants to say that a multivitamin can effectively boost immune function, then they can only do so while referencing peer-reviewed research papers that show conclusive results of the same.

Optimize the content:

Web content needs to be optimized for search engines to be effective. A website that is in English might do extremely well in SEO but might not do so well when translated and searched for in another language. When a website is translated to Japanese, it also needs to be optimized for searches in Japanese. The right keywords need to be identified and used correctly to help the site rank better after translation.

Test groups:

Japan has a mostly homogenous ethnicity with over 90% of the population being of Japanese origin. This is actually an advantage to websites owners who want to translate a website to Japanese because even a relatively small test group is a good representation of the population. However, it is still extremely important to test a localized website with the help of locals to get a better idea of how it will perform with a wider audience.

Why use Localize?

The Japanese culture varies considerably from Western cultures which is why translating a website to Japanese is more than simply translating words. When translating to Japanese, Localize provides effect collaboration tools so you can include native speaking and local experts to make sure your content is accurate, appropriate and optimized for a Japanese audience.