In my experience, the above listed reading materials are all read from left cover to right cover, page one is the last page from a western perspective. I have been unable to find a reason for this publishing style.

In contrast, my Japanese dictionaries all have the first page on the left-hand side and the last on the right-hand side. In the west, everything is read from left cover to right cover, whilst in Japan there is variation.

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    – chocolate
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 7:12

1 Answer 1


Japanese can be written in two directions.

  1. in columns

    • each column is written from top to bottom
    • columns are arranged from right to left
  2. in rows [as in English]

    • each row is written from left to right
    • rows are arranged from top to bottom

The first is used for most newspapers, books (incl. manga), etc. Individual pages are thus bound on the right and thus, from a Western perspective appear to be read from the "back".

(By the way, I also have a 漢和字典 that is typeset in columns, thus bound on the right, and thus read "back to front".)

  • 1
    Downvoter here. How is this an answer to the question? He clearly asks why it is the way it is, not what are the different available directions.
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 18:58
  • @jarmanso7 The direction of the text on the page naturally determines whether to bind the pages on the right or on the left side. If the text is written in columns, you will finish reading on the left of the page and then the pages should be bound on the right (thus from a Western perspective "from back to front"). If I didn't make this clear enough, I will edit my answer.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 20:46
  • It makes sense to me now, thank you. Naturally, the next "why" would be "why are columns arranged from right to left". But of course, we could keep asking why forever...
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 21:07

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