Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Translating Japanese Mooks

This past weekend I attempted to translate some instructions for an outfit in one of my Japanese doll pattern mooks.

I searched and found a few blogs with translation lists and guides (I've listed them at the bottom of this post).   I also discovered that the Google Translate app, which I've had on my phone for some time, can translate characters from photos.

The app accepts handwritten or typed text and once you've given it access, accepts speech via the phone's microphone and uses your phone's camera for scanning.  It can also speak the English translation for you.  It's a tedious process, but here's a brief look at how it works:

Some of the translations were hilariously wrong or verbose, while others were spot-on.  What I've learnt so far:

  • Some Japanese characters' individual translations differ from when they are grouped with other characters; so you need to know where a sentence/phrase begins and ends to know where to highlight for translation.
  • The app doesn't seem to recognise when the characters are printed for vertical reading (and there is a lot of vertical print),  so the translation ends up sounding like something Yoda would say.
  • Good lighting and clear print are a must, as the characters can be misinterpreted if they're not clearly printed for scanning.
During my online search, I came across this blog with very informative guides on sewing (in general) with patterns from Japanese sewing books:
These are the Japanese sewing terms translations:
This project requires a lot of patience and I hope the information I collect is viable.  My previous thinking was that all I had to do, with my knowledge of sewing,  was just to follow the photos.  But, after reading the translations, I've realised that I could be missing out on important information.  So,  here goes... 


  1. That was very sweet of you to share this information and make things easier for others.

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, grandmommy. :)

  2. Thanks for researching and sharing these links. I have a few My Favorite Doll and similar Japanese doll pattern mooks. These resources will help with those mooks ;-)

  3. It's Incredible what technology can provide as an aide for the average crafter! I wouldn't have a clue how to use this piece of equipment but I am so glad that you have found a way to make it work for you! I take my hat off to you Allenoel! :D

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Elizabeth.