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Translations and Embroidery



If you have ever wondered why Japanese instructors put a vowel on the end of almost every word in English, the reason is that there are only 54 phonetic sounds in Japanese and 53 of them end with a vowel sound ("n" is the only exception).


The Japanese language has several writing systems. Here is a very simplified summary to help you understand.


Kanji- Chinese characters which are used to pictorially represent Japanese (or Chinese) words or concepts. (The cool looking calligraphy seen on belts) Kanji is not used for foreign names, unless they are translated to Japanese meanings (see below).



Katakana- a phonetic system used to represent the 54 sounds in the Japanese language. This system is used for foreign or "loan words" in the Japanese language. Foreign names and foreign place names are usually written in katakana. 



Hiragana- another phonetic system used to represent the 54 phonetic sounds. This is used in Japanese, in combination with kanji to make words/sentences and to clarify the reading of kanji. Its use is avoided in titles of associations etc and is not used on embroidery, unless you are Japanese and your given name is in Hiragana.



Romaji- this system is an alphabetic representation of the 54 phonetic sounds and is for the purpose of foreigners to read Japanese words. It is not used in embroidery. The Alphabet would be used to give the correct reading.






Please note that Western names are usually written in katakana or Alphabet.


Your name can be translated from English to Katakana *for free but please be aware that because of the phonetic simplicity of Japanese compared to English, an exact match may be difficult to achieve.

Initials, because they would need to be translated phonetically, are not really suitable in Katakana (e.g  J -> ji + e + i).  Therefore, they are done in alphabet. Otherwise, it just looks weird. 

Foreign words are almost always translated to katakana by Japanese people. For European, Asian or African customers, we may need to contact you for the correct pronunciation of your name.


Association names can include Kanji for Japanese words for example kara-te-do, sho-to-kan, ren-mei, Oki-nawa etc. and a few country names although names such as non-Japanese town/city names cannot be and will have to be done in Katakana. This can be translated for free.


There is a selection of translations for embroidery of the most commonly requested styles and associations on the order form. If your style or association is not there, please contact us and we will do it for you and add it to the list. This will allow others in your association to order simply too.





As mentioned above, this is usually reserved for Japanese, Chinese and Korean names. Some customers request Kanji translations for their names. While this is possible, please be aware that the match will usually be done based on phonetic sound and may not be exact. Each kanji has a meaning so it is possible that your name would contain kanji which when combined would have no logical meaning. Also because of the nature of kanji, it is possible that the meaning of a certain kanji in your name may be negative. We will attempt to avoid this as much as possible but it may be unavoidable.


Translations can also be done based on meaning, but please note that it will not be read the same as in English.


The selection of Kanji will be done by a professional native Japanese translator. A charge will be incurred because of the difficulty of the work involved. Please contact us for this service and see the professional translation service.




If you would like some personalized meaningful Kanji words on your belt we will be happy to help. However please note that translations in this case will incur a charge as they will be done by a professional, native Japanese expert.


Please note, western concepts and Japanese concepts are often very different and though it is possible to translate directly, we and the translator reserve the right to refuse a translation or to change it to make it more suitable for the budo-ka. The reason for this is that we do not want our customers to be walking round with stupid or insulting kanji, which is likely to degrade the wearer, insult the Japanese instructor or damage our reputation. Please contact us for this service.





Getting embroidery done on belts and dogi is standard practice in Japan and very common elsewhere. It is the best way to show recognition of one's achievement, or respect for one's style or associations (besides looking fantastic).


All these manufacturers pride themselves on their embroidery. Each manufacturer uses a different standard font to distinguish themselves (but other fonts may be available on request).


The standard colour for all manufacturers is golden brown but they can do a range of colours. If there is a colour that you want but cannot see on the order form, please contact us and we will do our best to get it for you.


Regarding the type and language of embroidery, please see above for further information. Please note that this is based on personal choice or the standard within the club or association.


If you have any further questions or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.


* Although we do not charge for translation of English names to katakana, please note that due to technical limitations, our system works out the cost based on the assumprion of one katakana per alphabet character. Although on average this is appropriate, it is not 100% accurate and your name could actually be one or two characters less in katakana than English thus resulting in being charged a little more. In the cases where the katakana is more than the Alphabet characters, we will cover the costs. We ask for your understanding in this matter.