Whilst reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, I noticed mild differences between it and the British version. (Sherbet lemons became lemon drops. Motorbike became motorcycle. Etc.)

Of course, this was done to make it more accessible to Americans, but it got me wondering if they regionized it elsewhere, namely Japan.

I can imagine, if regionized, that the food at the banquet scenes must be quite different, however, assume there are changes, there must be more substantial changes than just food, like the names of creatures to things more recognisable to an Asian audience, perhaps instead of Trolls they have Oni?

So, are there any significant changes between the Japanese and British versions of Harry Potter, and if so, what are they?


1 Answer 1


One of the biggest changes they had to make (not just in Japanese, but most other languages) was Hagrid. In the UK, we all recognise his accent as "West Country" and his slang as the kind of thing you'd hear around Bristol and Somerset. However, in other countries, this doesn't mean anything, so his accent and slang had to be reworked to be better understood by each individual country. In Japan, this meant changing his language to specifically speak the Tōhoku dialect of Japan, their equivalent of the rural "country" farmer accent.

In addition to this fact, there is a whole host of translation quirks for Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese (both mainland and Taiwanese) that can be found at
Bathrobe's Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation

One of the more significant changes was that in Japanese, they actually maintained the name of 5th year exams as O.W.Ls, calling them fukurō (Japanese for Owl). This meant that they had to explain in detail what the exams actually were and what O, W and L stood for.

Overall, because of Katakana, proper nouns, such as the names of people, places, spells, and even "Pāserutangu" (Parseltongue) are all very well preserved and haven't really been changed. If you want significant changes to HP for the purposes of localisation, as well as translation errors, look at the Chinese version.

  • 11
    what about Tom Marvolo Riddle aka Lord who must not be named?
    – user13267
    Jun 16, 2017 at 11:49
  • 27
    As I said, they're able to preserve proper nouns in Japanese, so Voldemort is ヴォルデモート (Vorudemōto), Tom Riddle is トム・リドル (Tomu Ridoru), and "You Know Who" is translated as 例の「あの人」(rei no "ano hito"), which hilariously means "that one that we both know we are talking about but don't want to mention, yeah THAT person." Jun 16, 2017 at 12:50
  • 14
    The "I am Lord Voldemort" wordplay that so brilliantly gave us Tom Elvis Riddle in French cannot be achieved when translating into most Asian languages, and is therefore lost completely. Jun 16, 2017 at 12:51
  • 2
    @disturbedneo "brillantly"
    – Patrice
    Jun 16, 2017 at 17:02
  • 6
    @DisturbedNeo It was not Riddle, but "Tom Elvis Jedusor" (= Je Suis Voldemort)
    – EMBLEM
    Jun 16, 2017 at 20:38

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