Japanese Typography Posters


Overview

The purpose of this project was to explore the typography of other written languages. In addition to being an educational piece, the poster(s) should display the uniqueness of each language’s written characters, while also utilizing proper typographic techniques.

Research

  • Japanese language
  • Consists of three writing systems
  • Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji
  • Used in combination

For this project, I chose to work with the Japanese language because of my Japanese ethnicity and past familiarity with the language; I was exposed to the language while growing up, and I also took Japanese from seventh to eleventh grade. The Japanese written language consists of three writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. These three systems are used in combination to form a Japanese “alphabet,” each having a unique form to their characters.

Strategy

  • Address each writing system
  • Make clear distinctions between the three
  • Highlight the forms of each writing system’s characters

The language utilizes three writing systems, so I wanted to address each one, since all play a vital role in Japanese typography. Since each system’s characters are distinct from the other systems, I wanted to make a clear separation between the three, so that it would be easier to identify the differences. The characters within all the writing systems are very different from the Greco-Roman alphabet, and I wanted their unique forms to be the highlight of the project.

Solution

  • Three piece poster series instead of single poster
  • Large characters to emphasize form
  • Consistent colors and style inspired by vintage Japanese posters

Working with three writing systems, to address each one separately I decided to turn my project into a 3 piece poster series, rather than combining all the information onto one poster. Not only would this allow me more space to work with, but it would make it clear that these three are different from each other. However, since they are used together, I wanted the posters to be related by incorporating a similar style and elements.

The aesthetics of this series was inspired by the vintage Japanese posters from the early half of the 20th century, utilizing the primary colors in a desaturated earthy tone. Emphasis is put on the large geometric form of the characters, helping to distinguish the three writing systems apart. Consistent use of lines and motifs help to make these three posters a cohesive series.

Result

This three piece poster series places the three writing systems of the Japanese language in juxtaposition, allowing the viewer to learn about the distinct differences between the characters. While each system is uniquely different, the consistent use of color and style ties the posters together, similar to how Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji blend together to create a single written language.