In my web application, we want to allow users to provide custom text for simple automated messages, in which they can provide variables that will be filled in automatically. To give an example in English, it might look like this:

  • Possible variables in English: @pet @groomer @time @owner
  • User provides this text: "Hi @owner, please confirm your grooming appointment for @pet with @groomer at @time."
  • An example auto-generated message: "Hi Rebecca, please confirm your grooming appointment for Fido with Melissa at 3:30pm."

Because we want this to be user-friendly across languages, I would like to know what kind of fill-in-the-blank variable setup would be somewhat familiar and easy to use in Japanese. Is there some common pattern or symbol that would be the equivalent of the "@" symbol I used in my example?

EDIT: We would ideally like to localize all parts of the text. It might look something like this (minus my mistakes, of course):

  • Possible variables in Japanese: @(名前) @(ペット) @(時間)@(所有者)
  • User provides this text: こんにちは、@(名前)さん、@(時間)に@(ペット)の予約を確認してください。
  • An example auto-generated message: こんにちは、北本さん、16:00にポチの予約を確認してください。

The idea is that the user would find it easy to type in any message they want, and they can optionally put in placeholders for variable information like names, times, dates, etc. This feature is intended for users who are not necessarily technically savvy. I was hoping there are existing apps in Japan that do this kind of thing already.

  • Do you plan to localize the variable names?
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 21:50
  • Is this code? Programming languages are just that: languages. Japanese program using the same words and symbols as any other programmer in any other country. The only thing here that would be different is the words going into the variables would be Japanese.
    – Jimmy
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 2:39
  • 2
    @Jimmy - I think it is a text in a natural language, like English and Japanese, with placeholders for substitution embedded in it. You would have to take into consideration that words are not separated with spaces in Japanese. If the variable names are guaranteed to be in the Latin alphabet, this is unlikely to cause problems. But if they are localized, you would need the end of each variable to be clearly demarcated without relying on a following space, for example with a closing bracket like @{ペット}.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 6:25
  • @aguijonazo I added edits answering your questions. Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


Most symbols used in the English language would work. If you just give instructions like "this '@' always indicates a variable" somewhere, I'm sure people will understand whether it's '@' or '%', and you (or your programmer) can accommodate that. You can choose whatever symbol convenient for you. It's probably wise to stick to symbols on the JIS keyboard layout, and you might have to be prepared to accept fullwidth forms not just halfwidth forms, though. And because Japanese lacks word dividers, you might want to use symbols (like brackets, or %variable% as Windows batch files do) to indicate the end of a variable name as well as the beginning.

In general, you can probably use a standard localization solution used in the programming language/framework you use without any change, as long as it's a popular one like Android and Java. I haven't encountered a problem specific to Japanese in that way.

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