UK design studio johnson banks has come up with this brilliant take on Japanese katakana that combines the phonetical reading of the character in the font.
They call it Phonetikana.
The font came out in 2009 but for some reason Japanese and other blogs have just discovered it. It’s a nice idea for making Tokyo signage more accessible to foreign visitors at the 2020 Olympics.
Multiple trips to Japan and constant frustration at being unable to read the language has sparked off an unusual typographic project at johnson banks. Earlier in the year we started seeing if we could combine the English language and Japanese script in some way.
One of the three typographic styles that is used in Japan is essentially phonetic, and is called Katakana. We’ve been attempting to find ways to incorporate phonetic sounds with the Katakana letterforms.
Here is the full syllabary.
Here is Uniqlo.
And some of the Phonetikana are also pictographic. Here is “big apple”.
Here is “cheese”.
“Superhero” borrows a motif from a certain American comic book character.
This is “dokidoki”, an onomatopoeia for expressing excitement, here cleverly rendered inside a heart.
Sheep and cow sounds.
“Big in Japan” is literally inside the Japanese flag.
“Niko niko” — meaning laughter.
“Kurukuru” — meaning spinning around and around.