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4 Things You Should Know About Japanese Book Translation

Posted by Ethan N. on March 31, 2023.

Japanese book translation today is incredibly diverse in terms of topics, genre, and scope. New independent publishing companies are devoted to introducing new Japanese literature to Western audiences every month. 

If you have a modest company or are a self-published author, you may encounter difficulties when translating, localizing, and editing the book into Japanese or vice versa. Today’s article will come over 4 key notes on Japanese book translation to give you a general but comprehensive guide.

1. Determine Your Types Of Japanese Books

Japanese writing has developed into its own genre among western fans in recent years. When asked about their preferred literary genres, people frequently mention romance, science fiction, historical fiction, or Japanese literature, and each one has a specific writing style. So, before starting any Japanese book translation project, you need to determine which category the book belongs to. 

You should know that Japanese art and film as well as writing have the same instant appeal in the west. This is due to the reality that European and Asian artists, including authors, poets, musicians, painters, etc. observe the world in very different ways. Therefore, thay can express the distinctive differences in their work.

In addition to narrative structure, Japanese writing also has distinctive themes. Many of the largest and finest literary figures in Japanese translation are female, and by addressing issues like societal structures and patriarchy, grief and loneliness, and non-romantic love, these women are shattering barriers and literary conventions. The Kafkaesque type is one prevalent literary theme in contemporary Japanese writing.

Moreover, in order to have a successful localized book, you should consider these further questions:

  • What subjects do Japanese authors address? 
  • What connects the works of these authors? 
  • Is this Japanese book written in a particular style? 
  • What distinguishes them from authors from other countries?

2. Define Target Market

The Japanese print publication industry is made up of printed books and printed magazines. In 2022, printed book purchases in Japan totaled 649.7 billion Japanese yen. Compared to the prior year, the market’s value shrank by more than 30 billion yen. 


With more individuals remaining at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the market was able to expand in 2021 for the first time in 15 years. The temporary closure of bookshops during that year had a detrimental impact on the sales numbers even though a similar scenario had occurred in 2020.

Also, text-based media is incredibly prevalent in this country. The nation has a high literacy rate, which is partially due to the focus on memorization and learning the distinctive writing system of Japan during compulsory schooling. One of the biggest publication marketplaces in the world, the Japanese industry had a value of 1.63 trillion Japanese yen in 2022.

The revenue value of printed publications has been gradually declining in recent years, even though print still accounts for the majority of the market, while digital publications have increased their market share. 

Another aspect that you should know when handling Japanese book translation is the growth of multicultural Japanese literature. A number of noteworthy Japanese works have been translated from non-traditionally “Japanese” viewpoints. Solo Dance by Li Kotomi, a gay Taiwanese woman living in Japan, and The Color of the Sky Is the Shape of the Heart by Chesil, a young Zainichi Korean moving to the U.S., both debuted in English in 2022. 

3. Calculate The Japanese Book Translation Cost

If you want to adjust your project to the available budget, you must evaluate the cost of your Japanese book translation, which is based on these visible aspects.

The Project Size

The volume directly affects the rate of translation into Japanese. If you want to swiftly enter a new market with a translated book, you may surely condense some of the material or choose only the crucial documents to translate initially. But with the book industry, the best choice is to adapt the whole volume of the book and translate it smoothly from beginning to end.

Method for Translation Services

The service plan has a considerable impact on the rate of Japanese translation. Translation alone (TO), translation plus editing (TE), and translation plus editing plus proofreading (TEP) are the three main services provided by translation agencies nowadays.

The Language Pairs

Japanese translation costs are affected by language pairs. Depending on the source and target languages, translation costs differ for each language. If the source and target languages share the same sentence structure, alphabet, or country of origin, the translation process will go more quickly and for less money.

To get more in-depth details about the Japanese translation cost, read our related article What might affect the Japanese translation rate.

4. Find The Proper Japanese Book Translation Services 

Choosing the best Japanese book translation agency for your project can be quite a challenge because there are more translation companies than ever before. Especially with book translation, you should be more concerned about the ability to keep the author’s tone or localize the meaning accurately without breaking cultural barriers. 

Therefore, to find a professional Japanese translation provider, you should pay attention to the these 3 points.

Customer and Translator Evaluations 


You can learn a lot from people who have expertise working for or with translation companies. If a translation company frequently gets complaints about the accuracy, speed, or communication of its texts, you should steer clear of it. Examining the reviews made by translators who have worked with that translation company is also highly advised. 

Communication and Reaction

Before beginning any Japanese book translation, it is imperative to thoroughly understand your needs and goals. After that, make sure your Japanese translation partner  is capable of immediately responding to all inquiries.

The Evaluation Procedure


Since reviewers might provide reports based on their preferences, the errors that they will mark are probably preferred. This would result in countless email back-and-forths, justifications, and revisions, which would impede your efforts to expand internationally and add time to the translation process. So, an open and transparent customer review procedure is highly preferred. 

As you can see, your chances of getting error-free Japanese book translation are better if you engage with a reputable translation agency that has expertise in translating Japanese content for your book localization.

If you’re looking for a reputable Japanese book translation business that will give you all the assistance you require, GTE Localize would be a fantastic choice. We only work with native Japanese speakers with at least five years of experience for all Japanese translation projects. They are also adept at working with a variety of Japanese translation resources and have in-depth knowledge of a particular subject.

To make sure you get the highest-quality translation, our project supervisors actively conduct an internal LQA round and/or an XBench QA round for each project. Additionally, clients can come back to us for free document editing services after our lifelong guarantee expires.

In order to start your Japanese book translation, contact us right away!