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I'm working on an Android app that will help people learn Japanese kanji using a flash-card style study system. As part of this app, I need to show kanji on the screen both in plain-text form, and also possibly animations of the stroke order.

The problem is that the default system font used in Android, Roboto, doesn't look much like handwritten Japanese. It is very square, and lacks the "hooks" and variations in thickness that I usually see in handwritten kanji. Not only that, but there are some kanji in the font that are drawn in what I am told is a Chinese variant of the writing, that might not reflect the way the kanji is drawn in Japan.

So, I'd like to use a different font in my app to produce the flash cards and animations. The question is: which one? There are a number of fonts on my PC that I could potentially use (for example SimSun, Yu Mincho, or Kozuka), but I'm not sure which of them, if any, would be best. I was wondering, does the Japanese government or education system provide any guidelines or official standards that apply to what fonts should be used when teaching kanji? If so, do you know where I can find them? If not, is there a font you would recommend as a good foundation for learning kanji?

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    SimSun is for Chinese – avoid it. Mincho should be a reliable indicator for Japanese. – Zhen Lin Sep 23 '14 at 23:12
  • I think you're looking for a 教科書 font, literally "text-book writing". There's a free font from EPSON (教科書体M). It's closer to the "ideal" handwriting. – comeauch Sep 23 '14 at 23:27
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    I don't know about any standard font but one thing is clear - a font should have serif on strokes and variable line thickness in Kanji so that students can easily recognise what sort of stroke is used to write a Kanji. MS Mincho has both required features, but the font is by Microsoft. On Macintosh it is YuMincho. – Rilakkuma Sep 24 '14 at 0:07
  • @comeauch - I found the font you were talking about here: epson.jp/download2/printer/driver/win/page/ttf30.htm. Thanks for the recommendation! – Joshua Carmody Sep 24 '14 at 6:00
  • @comeauch On further examination it seems the license for that font doesn't allow for distribution, which could be a problem. But at least I have an idea what to look for now. – Joshua Carmody Sep 25 '14 at 5:17
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The font you're looking for is 教科書体【きょうかしょたい】. It is based on how people handwrite kanji.

Textbooks for elementary school students are printed with this font family. After graduating from elementary schools, 明朝体 is primarily used.

The following article explains why 教科書体 is better than 明朝 or ゴシック family, for learners.

http://www.mitsumura-tosho.co.jp/kyokasyo/syogaku/kokugo/qanda/number/02.asp

  • Thanks. It looks like that is indeed what I need. Now I just have to find a 教科書体 font that is licensed in such a way that I can distribute it. – Joshua Carmody Sep 25 '14 at 5:18
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    Unfortunately the link went down. Archive.org still has a copy: web.archive.org/web/20130728194941/http://… – Tomalak Oct 25 '15 at 4:41

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