Question: I'm currently taking a Japanese History course, and typing up (what I believe to be) a very pretty set of course notes. However, I'm having trouble finding an appropriate font. I'm currently using one of my Chinese fonts which has a medium calligraphic style to it, however it doesn't have great Japanese support. I am strongly preferential to free fonts, for the obvious reason of being a poor university student.

I've searched for Japanese fonts across the internet but I'm having significant trouble finding a Japanese font that matches my body text (EB Garamond). If anyone can point me in the right direction that'd be amazing. enter image description here (Please pay no attention to the grammatical/spelling errors, this is from the latest class period and hasn't been edited yet)

OP's comments: This was originally on the Japanese SE website, but they quickly closed and deleted it without consideration of the fact that their community was probably the single best resources for this topic.

  • I agree that being a good sight-reader in Japanese is a requirement for answering this question. That person will also need to have some limited typographic background (my father can't tell the difference between Times and Garamond unless pressed on the subject). That said, you use the word "calligraphic" which, to my mind, means "handwritten." Garamond is decidedly NOT a caligraphic style.
    – horatio
    Sep 27, 2012 at 15:27
  • Just looking at typefaces for english can show you there is a ton of room for variety in letterforms, but this link ( nihongoresources.com/language/writing/typefaces.html ) has a basic intro to japanese typographical usage (unvetted by me as I am ignorant of Japanese writing and typography).
    – horatio
    Sep 27, 2012 at 15:35
  • @horatio, I am well aware that Garamond is not a calligraphic typeface, however, I find that the font weight and the style of the j's, Q's, tend to match a more calligraphic CJK font, like the one that I'm using. Most other fonts are very square, and stick out like a sore thumb. Nice link (nihonogo), thanks!
    – EricR
    Sep 27, 2012 at 16:20

2 Answers 2


My computer seems to have Kozuka Mincho Pro, which has a huge base of glyphs. Even some white-on black kanji and a large selection in both hiragana and katakana. The font came, as far as I know, with my copy of Adobe CS3.

Kozuka Mincho Pro selection

A Google made me find it available for free both at http://fontpark.net/en/font/kozuka-mincho-pro-r/# and http://www.azfonts.net/load_font/kozgopro_regular.html. I have no experience with either site, though.

Edit: I forgot the 'calligraphic' part of your question. My apologies. A good alternative might be DFKai-SB. It's not as thorough or deep as Kozuka, but I guess it will do the job you want it to.

DFKai-SB selection

I was able to find it for free here: http://fontzone.net/font-details/DFKai-SB/

  • Thanks for the first set, those are good to know about. As for the second, I think that's exactly perfect for my needs. I'm going to leave the question open a bit longer for other answers first.
    – EricR
    Sep 27, 2012 at 16:21

I have seen a number of books successfully pairing Garamond with such a Japanese font. This style of font is called kyōkasho tai (kyōkasho = "textbook", tai = "typeface") and is used, as the name would suggest, in Japanese textbooks. Its shapes are not stylized as in the minchō fonts (right):

enter image description here

and resemble the character that is actually written by hand. (Very much like the single-storey "ɑ" is handwritten and the double-storey "a" is used in most stylized fonts; similarly for "ɡ" and "g".)

Of course good Japanese fonts are almost never free. You can see if the sample of the Kyotai font by Motoya contains all the glyphs you need. (You may have to sign up to their newsletter to download the sample.)

The font DFKai-SB (right images) suggested by @Vincent is a good approximation, but seems to be based on the Chinese shapes:

enter image description here

(Most of the circled parts would be considered incorrect (for Japanese) by Japanese standards.)

If the sample font doesn't contain all the glyphs you need (and you don't want to spend $100 to purchase it), you may be able to find other similar fonts searching for kyokashotai.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.