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Hibiscus Interactive Translates Websites to Japanese without Cultural Blunders

Hibiscus Interactive says it translates websites from English 
to Japanese without the cultural blunders that often happen
when others do a simple word-for-word translation.

You may want to reach Japanese customers by translating your website, but be careful, because a simple translation may do more harm than good.

“You’ll get lost in translation if you translate word by word,” says Ted Saihara, owner of Hibiscus Interactive, a local company that takes culture and language into account when creating websites for its Hawaii, mainland and Japanese clients.

“We don’t just translate English copy,” he says. “We update and translate their brand and assist with how to go about reaching out to the Japanese market in a clever and proper way. By doing this, Japanese people can tell that my clients are making an extra effort to offer their goods and services.”

Mike Joy, owner of Visionari and Dulce Photography, has appreciated the benefits of working with Saihara since 2007.

“We went through four (web) designers before we met Ted,” Joy says. “Some designers don’t have that business mind. Ted’s strong point is responsiveness with his clients and professionalism and service.” Today, 60 percent of Joy’s clients are Japanese.

Mi Kato, one of Hibiscus’s translators, says that, “Sometimes, American clients do not understand differences in how Japanese people communicate, so it is challenging to explain why Japanese translation and copywriting can change a little bit.”

Saihara works closely with each company, learning its needs and goals, and coordinating his team to meet expectations and deadlines. “With Japanese anime and dominant Japanese female consumers, people tend to think Japanese people like the ‘cute’ look,” he says. “But professionalism and sophistication are also key features that Japanese consumers look for in businesses.”

By the time the project is done, he knows the client’s business inside and out. “That’s why I say I’m not just a Web designer, I’m your business partner.”

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Hawaii Business,January