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From my experiences, the above listed reading materials are all read from front to back, page one is the last page, when compared to western practices. Unable to find a reason for this publishing style. My Japanese dictionaries are all read with the first page in the front and the last is in the back. In the west, everything is read from front to back. In Japan, there is variation.

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    If you know why we westerns have chosen our standard, please mention that, just in case it could give hints. Thinking about it, the "western standard" makes it easier to turn the page using one's left hand, while most people are right-handed, so in that sense the Japanese one seems more logical. – Tuomo Sep 26 at 21:14
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    How can it be "universal" if another format exists. – Leebo Sep 26 at 21:50
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    I would not say there's a "standard" at all. – jarmanso7 Sep 26 at 22:31
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    I smell some ethnocentrism here. – Marco Sep 26 at 22:34
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    Everything printed in the languages that use the Arabic and Hebrew scripts is also read “back to front”. – Tom Gewecke Sep 26 at 23:21
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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".)

  • 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 Sep 29 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 Sep 29 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 Sep 29 at 21:07

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