How can I translate a Japanese PDF?
December 15, 2014 5:24 PM   Subscribe

I need a quick translation of a pamphlet in Japanese. It doesn't have that much text, but has several pages of annotated pictures. The text is part of the image and I can't highlight and copy it. Normally, when I need a translation, I use a service called Gengo, but they only take text. Does anyone know a) how I could extract Japanese text from a PDF or b) where I could find someone to quickly (even roughly) translate this? Thanks!
posted by three_red_balloons to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you host the PDF on Issuu or Google Drive or something so that we can see it?
posted by Nevin at 5:36 PM on December 15, 2014

Are there any Japanese OCR tools that you can use?
posted by applesurf at 6:34 PM on December 15, 2014

There are PDF to word-document converters on the internet, maybe see if it works on your document and if so you will be able to copy and paste the text somewhere.


just screenshot all the text parts and hunt around the internet for someone to translate them. Places like here or a japanese subreddit or even a japanese lyrics translation website or japanese translation forum might be able to help.
posted by hejrat at 6:52 PM on December 15, 2014

I've been happy using and they accept a wide variety of formats, including images and pdf's. They charge per word, with no minimums or other service fees (which seems to be ~$0.08 per word for Japanese -> English right now).
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 7:23 PM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would steer clear of fivver. E-J Translations I've tried there were terrible or were canceled. I know a reputable couple on Memail if you want a specific referral.
posted by Gotanda at 8:57 PM on December 15, 2014

Japanese OCR exists, and is a maybe doable option if you read enough Japanese to not feed it garbage. Otherwise, a human translator who just reads the PDF is your best bet.

I have made a career out of a Few Weird Tricks, and extracting translatable text from munged-up complex-script PDFs is one of those tricks. I'd be happy to crack it open and take a look; feel free to memail me a link if you don't want to share your PDF with the world. But, from what I know about your document from your description (and working styles of Japanese designers in general), I'm betting that going with one of the suggested human translators already mentioned upthread is your only solution.
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 10:38 PM on December 15, 2014

I would translate it i you can wait until tonight.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 11:35 PM on December 15, 2014

Use Google Translate on an Android phone? It has a camera option so you just point it at the text, and highlight the stuff you want translated with your finger.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 6:29 AM on December 16, 2014

Capture2Text is free/open source and looks like it can handle Japanese.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:14 PM on December 18, 2014

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