Japanese – 日本語

Meet Minori, one of our Japanese Translators. Minori lives in north-west France after having studied English at university in Nagoya and has 19 years’ experience in translation. She speaks English and French fluently and mostly works in translation of marketing literature, sales collateral, legal documentation and more. She is our go-to translator for clients requiring literary Japanese translation.

Japanese Around The World

Japanese is the official language of Japan, which has a population of over 125 million. Japan consists of over 6,800 islands, suffers 1,500 earthquakes each year and has the highest life expectancy in the world, with over 50,000 citizens over 100 years of age. There are also around 2.5 million people of Japanese origin spread across the Americas, most notably in Brazil, many of whom speak Japanese as their first language. There is also a sizeable presence of Japanese expatriates in major world cities including London, New York and Paris. Although the 9th most spoken language in the world, Japanese is not one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Japanese uses 4 distinct systems of writing: kanji, hiragana, katakana and romanji.

  • Hiragana is syllabic and the most original writing system in Japan. It is used for simple words, conjugations, particles and children’s literature as it is the first set of writing which is taught.
  • Katakana is used to write foreign words.
  • Kanji is based on the Chinese writing system and consists of about 2000 signs. Kanji was imported from Chinese in the 6th century AD. It has developed strongly ever since, often simplifying the original letters.
  • Recently, romanji – a romanization of Japanese words – has developed, too.

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Translation: One of our longstanding manufacturing clients regularly requires certain pieces of marketing collateral translated into Japanese, and most recently we translated their HTML email newsletter into Japanese, complete with formatting to match the original document. We also regularly handle translation of Japanese documents for UK courts, the NHS, law firms and more.

Interpreting: We recently provided interpreters for a two-day event in London with a visiting delegation of Japanese businessmen. We arranged for three pairs of native-speaking interpreters to work in shifts to cover the conference, and also provided the necessary equipment to facilitate effective participation between all attendees. We also regularly provide Japanese interpreters to the NHS, the Department for Work and Pensions and more.

Prestige Network is an award-winning Language Service Provider (LSP) founded in 1991. From our headquarters in Berkshire, we service clients across the UK including City institutions, legal firms, sports teams, the NHS and the Department for Work and Pensions.

We cover translation, localisation, complex DTP, face-to-face simultaneous interpreting as well as telephone and video interpreting, transcription, voiceovers and non-spoken languages including BSL and Braille.

We manage a large pool of experienced, qualified linguists, enabling us to provide a top-quality service to clients, often within demanding timescales. All of our project management team are linguists with a real passion for language.

Our aim is that our clients recognise us as the best in the market, both in terms of quality, accuracy and value but also for our friendly, professional and customer-centric service.

We are externally audited every year and most recently passed the ISO 9001:2015 certification with flying colours.

All areas of the business were independently audited, with procedures assessed and compliance verified.

Selected highlights from the report are below:

Customer Satisfaction Rate: 97%
Fulfilment rate across all clients Interpreting : 93- 97 %
Fulfilment rate across all clients Translation: 97.83 %
On time delivery of translation projects: 98.89%

ISO:9001 certification means that commercial clients and public sector clients alike can rest assured that our quality management systems are best-in-class.

French Translation & Interpreting

History of the Japanese Language

Little is known of the early history of Japanese. Its linguistic development has been split into four stages by academics: Old Japanese, Early Middle Japanese, Late Middle Japanese and Modern Japanese.

Old Japanese is the oldest attested stage of written Japanese, and spans the period between the third and eighth centuries. The earliest texts found in Japan are written in Classical Chinese, which was brought to Japan with the spread of Buddhism. These documents show influences from Japanese grammar, chiefly by shifting the word order such that the verb is placed after the object. Old Japanese had 88 distinct syllables and may have contained up to as many as eight separate vowels, in contrast to the current five.

Early Middle Japanese designates the language as used between 794 and 1185, and sees significant Chinese influence on Japanese phonology. Old Japanese borrowed and adapted Chinese script to write Japanese, whereas Early Middle Japanese introduced two new scripts entirely: hiragana and katakana. This simplified writing and heralded a new age of literary proliferation, with the publication of classics including Genji Monogatari, Taketori Monogatari, Ise Monogatari and more.

Late Middle Japanese covers the years from 1185 to 1600, and is a period of transition in which the language sheds many of its archaic features and becomes closer to its modern form. The period spanned roughly 500 years extending from the 12th century through the 16th century and is customarily split into an Early and Late division. Politically, the first half of Late Middle Japanese consists of the end of the Heian period known as Insei and the Kamakura period; the second half of Late Middle Japanese consists of the Muromachi period. The end of the 12th century was a time of transition from the aristocratic society of the nobles in the Heian period to the feudalistic society of the warrior class. Accompanying this change, the political centre moved with establishment of various shogunates in the east.

In the middle of 16th century, Portuguese missionaries arrived in Japan. While introducing western concepts and technology, they also shared their language, which led to the introduction of various Portuguese loanwords into the language. In an attempt to spread their religion, the Portuguese missionaries studied and learned Japanese. They created a number of linguistic grammars, dictionaries, and even translated some of their literature. These resources have proven extremely valuable in Late Middle Japanese studies.

Modern Japanese is considered to begin with the Edo period, which lasted between 1603 and 1868. Since Old Japanese, the de facto standard Japanese had been the Kansai dialect, especially that of Kyoto. However, during the Edo period, Edo (now Tokyo) developed into the largest city in Japan, and the Edo-area dialect became standard Japanese. Since the end of Japan’s self-imposed isolation in 1853, the flow of loanwords from European languages has increased significantly.

French Translation & Interpreting

More About Translation


Meet Dawn, our Head of Translation

Dawn has a degree in French & German with an MA in Translation Studies. She and her team take care of over 1,700 complex projects each year for clients ranging from City banks, law firms, film studios, sports teams, universities and more.

What Goes Into High-Quality Japanese Translation?


We have a crack team of experts who will assess your documents on style, content, technical specialisms, etc. Your document is then loaded into project management software and sent to native-speaker translators selected specifically for your project.
Armed with tools including style guides, glossaries, high-tech translation memories and yes, old-fashioned dictionaries, our translators will get to work on your document, with an emphasis on accuracy and stylistic fit with the source document.
Once the final draft is submitted, your dedicated project manager begins the document review. As soon as this is signed off, the Client Services Delivery Manager prepares the documents for delivery in chosen format, including any design work necessary.

More About Interpreting


Meet Waheeda, our Head of Interpreting

Waheeda is our Interpreting Manager and heads up an amazing team fulfilling thousands of bookings a month. She is currently studying for an MSc in Social & Community Development and has a wealth of experience working in the Public & Third Sector.

The Interpreting Process


Get in touch with one of our sales advisors and talk us through your event. We’ll discuss different interpreting approaches and help you decide which is most appropriate to your event, and also provide any specialist equipment required.
Your French interpreter will have spent time studying any preparatory material you’ve provided and arrive at the venue in good time to liaise with your speaker(s).
Our language professionals will interpret accurately and efficiently, enabling effective communication between all parties. Please make sure to give us feedback afterwards as to how it went – we’d love to hear back from you.
Meet Akemi, one of our native Japanese interpreters

Akemi moved to the UK from Osaka almost 15 years ago. She has worked with Prestige for almost 10 years, and completes assignments for us in industries as varied as healthcare, law, banking and more. She holds a current DBS check and a basic security clearance for court interpreting.

Get Your Quote Today

Find out how our friendly, professional team can help you with your language needs. We'll find you the best solution that fits your timescales and budget.

Get In Touch