“Our way. Or the highway.”

The Intrigue

First things first. I first became intrigued—or perhaps more accurately, obsessed—by highway signage in Japan during a business trip there a few years ago. This was during my Adobe years.

The Discovery

I attended ATypI All Over 2021, which took place from 2021-12-02 to 2021-12-04 as an online conference. One of the presentations that took place on the first day of the conference, Empirical Study of the Legibility of Arabic Highway Signs by Dr Shaima Elbardawil, brought back this memory of the variant form of 州. The presentation abstract describes the problem quite succinctly:

The Analysis

Noting errors or inconsistencies in typeface designs, particularly East Asian ones, is something that I have been doing for decades. Furthermore, as someone who has 30 years of experience developing East Asian fonts as a profession, I can confidently state that no typeface is without errors. This typeface is no exception, though it is not clear whether the inconsistencies that I discovered are unintended or due to inconsistencies in the actual highway signage that served as the basis for its glyphs. In any case, the following image shows some inconsistencies in the shapes of some components, with the first row representing what appears to be the intended component shape (because a larger number of glyphs exhibit the shape), and the second row representing an example of an outlier with a different shape, with the relevant areas highlighted:

The Conclusion

Exploring the glyphs of this font in greater detail is something that I highly recommend, and speaking of recommendations, I also recommend installing and using the OpenType/CFF version, because it includes glyphs for a few more kanji than the TrueType version. As far as I can tell, the OpenType/CFF version includes glyphs for the following 1,235 kanji, which you can Copy&Paste:


About the Author

Dr Ken Lunde has worked for Apple as a Font Developer since 2021-08-02 (and was in the same role as a contractor from 2020-01-16 through 2021-07-30), is the author of CJKV Information Processing Second Edition (O’Reilly Media, 2009), and earned BA (1987), MA (1988), and PhD (1994) degrees in linguistics from The University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to working at Apple, he worked at Adobe for over twenty-eight years — from 1991-07-01 to 2019-10-18 — specializing in CJKV Type Development, meaning that he architected and developed fonts for East Asian typefaces, along with the standards and specifications on which they are based. He architected and developed the Adobe-branded “Source Han” (Source Han Sans, Source Han Serif, and Source Han Mono) and Google-branded “Noto CJK” (Noto Sans CJK and Noto Serif CJK) open source Pan-CJK typeface families that were released in 2014, 2017, and 2019, and published over 300 articles on Adobe’s now-static CJK Type Blog. Ken serves as the Unicode Consortium’s IVD (Ideographic Variation Database) Registrar, attends UTC and IRG meetings, participates in the Unicode Editorial Committee, became an individual Unicode Life Member in 2018, received the 2018 Unicode Bulldog Award, was a Unicode Technical Director from 2018 to 2020, became a Vice-Chair of the Emoji Subcommittee in 2019, published UTN #43 (Unihan Database Property “kStrange) in 2020, became the Chair of the CJK & Unihan Group in 2021, and published UTN #45 (Unihan Property History) in 2022. He and his wife, Hitomi, are proud owners of a His & Hers pair of acceleration-boosted 2018 LR Dual Motor AWD Tesla Model 3 EVs.



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Dr Ken Lunde

Dr Ken Lunde

Chair, Unicode® CJK & Unihan Group—Almaden Valley—San José—CA—USA—NW Hemisphere—Terra—Sol—Orion-Cygnus Arm—Milky Way—Local Group—Laniakea Supercluster