Intricate Japanese Movable Type Sets



It boggles the mind to think about typesetting in Asian languages with the huge number of different characters! But still, the world's first moveable type was invented in China, centuries before Gutenberg's printing press. Master custom printer Takuma Nakagawa tells about storing and retrieving Japanese characters:
"You have to remember each place for each word - it's about 400,000 characters, can you imagine!.. Too many. Some of them are set in alphabetical order, and then kanji characters are categorized for each kind. It's hard to remember it."

Read more about the moveable type process and see pictures of Japanese type sets at Dark Roasted Blend. Link

(Image credit: All Right Kou Bou)

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While it is true that the Chinese have used about one-half million characters over the millennia, many (if not most) are historical variants of characters and were almost never used in printed documents.
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Those interested in PacRim Jim's comment may find the following section on Wikipedia also interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenType#SING_gaiji_solution

The gaiji characters sometimes mean standard fonts cannot accurately write someone's or some place's names.
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