Phonetikana – Katakana Typeface

What do you do when you are a designer and have to make frequent trips to Japan but you are unable to find the time to learn to read or speak the language? Why design a katakana typeface that has English phonetic sounds embedded of course! Thats exactly what Michael Johnson and his team at Johnson Banks have been working on and has named it “Phonetikana.”


In the example above you see the katakana representations of the sounds that a cow and sheep makes – Moo ムー and Baa バー. Kinda cool although not something I would use but it would be a good design tool for illustrations, labeling and maybe even teaching.

Quick description of Katakana

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Katakana is a syllable based writing system in Japanese used to write foreign and loan words such as names of persons, places and products. There are 46 of these angular characters which are different but similar to the more curvy Hiragana and more complex Kanji. Take a look at a Katakana chart I made a few years ago for this blog, then check out this cool site to see if you can remember them all.

‘phonetikana’ first seen on Design Boom and designed by Johnson Banks.


7 thoughts on “Phonetikana – Katakana Typeface

  1. That’s pretty cool! Not sure if I’d use it to study Katakana but it would definitely make a cool logo, and it would look good in other elements of a website as well.

  2. good news dread. finally Black Passenger Yellow Cabs: Of Exile and Excess in Japan, is available in jamaica at sangsters bookstore. let me know what you think. im in cayman right now, soo reach jamaica. hit me on facebook dread.

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