Calligraphy for the Digital Age Morisawa Inc. IP

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Morisawa brings balance and harmony to on-screen Japanese

Our manner of speaking can often convey as much information as the words we choose. This is also true for written communication, where an elegant or stylish typeface can convey a sense of artistry and sophistication. Morisawa is a firm that is bringing a sense of traditional Japanese aesthetics to digital screens.

Morisawa has been creating fonts and typefaces since 1924. The company’s team of skilled artisans and designers are its main selling feature; their talent for creating exquisite kanji, hiragana and katakana characters reflects a consistent aesthetic vision. This is one of the reasons that the company is a top choice for creative professionals in the Japanese market, explains Akira Himei, Morisawa USA’s vice president.

Morisawa brings a sense of traditional aesthetics to digital screens, courtesy of Morisawa Inc.

Akira Himei, Morisawa USA’s vice president

The quality of the firm’s products is evident at first glance. Each typeface is hand drawn, then digitized using the firm’s own patented software methods. Japanese uses more than 20,000 characters, so it was still painstaking work that went into the more than 600 OpenType Japanese fonts that Morisawa offers in its yearly subscription product known as the Morisawa Passport. The fonts can be set horizontally or vertically, and must fit in their own uniformly sized box. As is the case with calligraphy itself, a harmonious balance needs to be achieved in typesetting, even when rendering these fonts for display on a wide variety of today’s digital devices.

Local Roots, Global Reach

For most of its history, Morisawa has created fonts for the Japanese market. However, thanks to demand from large international clients in the US and Europe, the firm has branched out globally. In October 2015, it announced a partnership with American software giant Adobe to provide Morisawa and TypeBank fonts for Adobe Typekit. In addition to its locations in Japan, Morisawa also recently established offices in Taiwan, South Korea and the U.S., and launched the web font service TypeSquare in Taiwan and South Korea.

TypeSquare for Taiwan, courtesy of Morisawa Inc.

Himei himself has been based in San Francisco since January. “One of the big reasons for the move was that we needed to respond to our global clients. And in the font market, there are very few big players, but they didn’t have many Japanese fonts,” he explains.

Typefaces for Tomorrow’s Digital Devices

Himei believes that mobile applications, web services, wearables, and even Internet of Things applications can create opportunities for Morisawa to expand its reach into the enterprise and creative pro markets worldwide over the next years. In addition, through the TypeSquare business, the firm hopes to move further into type design for other languages. Morisawa’s strong patent base in font digitizing and online font distribution already give it an edge for those applications where the convenience of digital screens doesn’t need to mean a compromise in aesthetics.

“There are lots of companies seeking business opportunities in Asia,” Himei points out. “They will want to have very professional looking design-oriented services or products. They will need to have good fonts.”

Based on interview in December 2015

Website: Morisawa Inc.External site: a new window will open.