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This guide doesn't give the information I need, saying only:

Please be aware that japanese is not possible on purely console mode, unless you have an advanced text mode AND a special software.

Surely I don't need to create my own custom consolefont to show hiragana on the Linux console?! Or do I?

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found this, though a lot is out-of-date: also found the Debian kon2 package but it only works if one does not switch to a high-res console at boot. still looking... – jcomeau_ictx Jan 21 '12 at 7:04
decided to build my own using the 'nafe' package at sourceforge, which converts console font files back and forth between binary and text formats. – jcomeau_ictx Jan 22 '12 at 9:06
I suppose you speak Japanese. Also, I suppose the Japanese are proud enough to even have Kanji on their consoles (If they could fit CJK characters on NES games, which had 2KiB RAM, a console shouldn't be the hardest thing in the world). Maybe a japanese site has some info? – Camilo Martin Feb 12 '12 at 4:43
no, I don't speak more than a few words. Kanji would be really difficult with an 8-pixel-wide font; katakana easy, hiragana barely do-able. my goal with it: to make a diagnostics display of processes that resembles the Matrix "code" screens :^) – jcomeau_ictx Feb 12 '12 at 5:22
Ghost in the Shell is pretty damn awesome, and though I like Japanese animation, I think it could be enjoyed by even those who aren't used to the style. Oh, and since the original was released in 1995, but remastered in 2008 as Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (not to be confused with the (also enjoyable) sequel, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence) to enhance the graphics and audio, you may want to look for the original if you want to feel retro (Still, they didn't mess with the movie's plot, just retouched the graphics and audio and added some CG). By the way, I have to recommend you "V for Vendetta" too. – Camilo Martin Mar 26 '12 at 15:56

Most of the text consoles are not designed to show CJK characters. To display CJK characters, try zhcon, which is a virtual console environment that can display double-byte CJK characters.

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if any fonts are here: /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts/, they need to be passed to mkinitrd to apply at boot. do not expect good reflowing, but in general it will be spelled letter by letter and readable.

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