How to Navigate Japanese Text

Don’t be scared by a Japanese text explosion – here’s how to get through it.

Sengoku Taisen’s Japanese text is seriously unforgiving. The trading card starter pack includes 8 pages of instructions, dripping in vocabulary specific to the military structures of 17th-century feudal Japan.

In-game, it’s worse: comic-book olde Japanese. “Forthwith, my liege, lest thy wit be confounded”, etc. etc.…

The marquee is a swirl of heavy-brushstroke kanji for the absurd title, “Sengoku Taisen: 1477–1615 Hi no Moto Ittou he no Gunki”. Or: “Warring States Battles: 1477–1615: Origin of the Sun: War Tale of a Unified Island”. Catchy.

But don’t worry: Here’s One Surprising Trick Japanese Game Designers DON’T Want You to Know!

All these complicated Japanese games are complicated for Japanese people too. So there’s a tutorial, and it’s super hand-holdy with loads of animated graphical instructions.

And getting to the tutorial is easy.

Method No. 1: The Japanese for tutorial is “chu–toriaru”. It’s basically the same, so point at a game and say “tutorial” loudly and clearly. An arcade attendant will set you up.

Method No. 2: “Tutorial” is written “チュートリアル”. Look for that; select it, poke it, whatever and you’re away.

Now you can play all those weird games that fill the arcade in place of the lightguns and racers you were expecting!

Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people