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English language proficiency is a tricky subject with Japanese people. There’s always an excuse about why they can’t understand it, from, “I’ll never use English,” and “It’s not interesting,” to the catch-all, “It’s too hard.” Well, it’s a good thing the Ministry of Education isn’t looking to adopt any new fonts for their textbooks as a little-known computer font developed back in 1998 is gaining some notoriety for being absolutely impossible to read by native Japanese. You might be able to read it, but can your Japanese friends?

The font is called electroharmonix and it’s throwing Japanese speakers for a loop. Anyone who has studied the Japanese language should be able to see why this English font would be difficult to read, but for someone whose first language is Japanese, it’s downright illegible.

Although the font was designed about 17 years ago, it’s been making the rounds on Japanese websites recently and caught the eye of YouTuber, JapaneseManYuta. He explains that this font resembles the written characters of the Japanese katakana syllabary so much that he can’t get his brain to focus on the fact that the font’s text is supposed to be English letters.

▼ The first example from Yuta’s video

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If you can read Japanese, or at least katakana, you can probably sympathize with Yuta. Try it with any of your friends from Japan or who speak Japanese. If you show them something written in this font, the Japanese language part of their brain will trigger and they won’t be able to see any English letters in front of them.text 3

There is also a more confusing font that uses Japanese characters to create shapes that only barely resemble English letters and we have to admit, it’s pretty hard to decipher.

▼ Our brains hurt!

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If you haven’t been raised in the Japanese language, you will probably be able to figure out which character represents which letter after a while, but just think about how hard it must be for people in Japan. Actually, the more we look at it, the more confusing it gets. Let’s just stick with Times New Roman…

For more interesting insights into things Japanese, make sure you head over to JapaneseManYuta’s YouTube page where he has plenty of other videos that ask questions you might have always wondered yourself.

Source, images: YouTube/ThatJapaneseManYuta