This page was last modified 10:50, 4 October 2018 by Mars2000you. Based on work by Rderooy and Tvalenca and others.



A Kanji-ROM is a ROM with Kanji characters coming from the Chinese language and used in the Japanese language.

There are two different Kanji-ROMs available for the MSX:

  • Level 1 (JIS1): 128kB ROM with roughly 3000 characters
  • Level 1 & 2 (JIS1 + JIS2) : 256kB ROM with more than 4000 characters

In addition some systems or cartridges also have MSX-JE which is an input system for Kanji.

All MSX2+ and Turbo R systems have the Kanji ROM built-in. In addition some of the more advanced Japanese MSX1 and MSX2 computers, particularly those with a built-in word processor, also have one of these roms built-in. There are also cartridges with generally only provide Level 1 (JIS1), and cartridges where in addition to a Kanji ROM there is also some other software like a word processor.

Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji

The Japanese writing system consists out of Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji characters.

While the number of Hiragana and Katakana characters is comparatively small, the number of Kanji characters is in the thousands. The current Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) for Kanji has over six thousand characters.

All Japanese MSX systems have a character set containing Katakana and Hiragana characters. But Kanji requires an additional ROM. Kanji Level 1 (or JIS1) requires a ROM of 128kB which was quite expensive at the time. Kanji Level 2 (or JIS2) requires an even larger ROM of 256kB. As such early Japanese MSX systems do not have Kanji characters, and software developers used either Latin or Katakana and Hiragana characters.

Adding a Kanji ROM to a non-Japanese system will not add the missing Hiragana and Katakana characters. This can typically be seen as various high ASCII characters being displayed where Japanese writing would have been expected. Likewise, since Hiragana and Katakana characters are part of the regular Japanese MSX character set, non-Japanese software making use of some of the less common characters in the character set may be shown as Japanese Hiragana or Katakana characters on a Japanese system.


  • Practically no games require JIS2. The only known exception being Super Shang Hai Dragons Eye.
  • Many games correctly display the Kanji and/or katakana/hiragana characters on machines without Kanji-ROM, simply because these characters are drawn on a graphic screen.

Computers with built-in Kanji

Product Generation Level Extra/Remark
Aucnet NIA-2001 Turbo R
Hitachi MB-H70 MSX2 JIS1
Kawai KMC-5000 MSX2 JIS1
Kimoan KimoHachi MSX2 / 2+ JIS1 Kanji-ROM is optional
Misawa-Van CX-5 MSX1 JIS1
Mitsubishi ML-G30 Model 1 MSX2 JIS1
Mitsubishi ML-G30 Model 2 MSX2 JIS1
Mitsubishi ML-TS1 MSX1 JIS1
Mitsubishi ML-TS2 MSX2 JIS1 + JIS2
Mitsubishi ML-TS100 MSX2 JIS1
Mitsubishi ML-TS100M2 MSX2 JIS1
NTT Captain Multi-Station MSX2 JIS1 + JIS2
National FS-4000 MSX1 JIS1 Kanji Dictionary
National FS-4500 MSX2 JIS1 Kanji Dictionary
National FS-4600F MSX2 JIS1 + JIS2 MSX-JE
National FS-4700 MSX2 JIS1 Kanji Dictionary
National FS-5500F1 MSX2 JIS1
National FS-5500F2 MSX2 JIS1
Mini IQ-3000 MSX2+ JIS1
One Chip MSX MSX2 / 2+ JIS1
Panasonic FS-A1F MSX2 JIS1
Panasonic FS-A1FM MSX2 JIS1
Panasonic FS-A1FX MSX2+ JIS1
Panasonic FS-A1GT Turbo R JIS1 + JIS2 MSX-JE
Panasonic FS-A1ST Turbo R JIS1 + JIS2 MSX-JE
Panasonic FS-A1WSX MSX2+ JIS1 + JIS2 MSX-JE
Panasonic FS-A1WX MSX2+ JIS1 + JIS2 MSX-JE
Panasonic VW-KT300 (*) MSX2+ JIS1 Kanji Dictionary
Sanyo MPC-25FK MSX2 JIS1
Sanyo PHC-35J MSX2+ JIS1
Sanyo PHC-35JN MSX2+ JIS1
Sanyo PHC-70FD MSX2+ JIS1 + JIS2
Sanyo PHC-70FD2 MSX2+ JIS1 + JIS2
Sony HB-11 MSX1 JIS1
Sony HB-F500 MSX2 JIS1
Sony HB-F750 MSX2 JIS1
Sony HB-F900 MSX2 JIS1
Sony HB-T600 MSX2 JIS1
Sony HB-T7 MSX2 JIS1
Sony XV-J550 (**) MSX2
Sony XV-J555 (**) MSX2
Sony XV-J770 (**) MSX2
Sony XV-J777 (**) MSX2 JIS1 + JIS2 MSX-JE
Toshiba HX-32 MSX1 JIS1
Toshiba HX-33 MSX2 JIS1
Toshiba HX-34 MSX2 JIS1
Victor HC-90 MSX2 JIS1
Victor HC-95 MSX2 JIS1
Zemmix Neo MSX2+ JIS1

(*) MSX2+ appliance - (**) MSX2 appliance

Printers with built-in Kanji

Product Generation Level Extra
Casio MW-24 MSX1 JIS1 Word Processor
Panasonic FS-PA1 MSX2+ JIS1 + JIS2
Panasonic FS-PC1 MSX2+ JIS1 + JIS2
Panasonic FS-PK1 MSX2 JIS1
Panasonic FS-PW1 MSX2 JIS1 MSX-JE, Word Processor
(exactly the same firmware as in National FS-4600F)

Cartridges with Kanji

Product Generation Level Extra
ASCII Japanese MSX-Write MSX1 JIS1 MSX-JE, Word Processor
ASCII Japanese MSX-Write II MSX2 JIS1 + JIS2 MSX-JE, Word Processor
HAL Halnote (*) MSX2 JIS1 + JIS2 MSX-JE, Word Processor, Graphical Operating System
Konami EC-702 MSX1 JIS1 Sold with Word Processor EC-701
National CF-SM003 MSX1 Kanji word processor unit
National FS-SR023 MSX2 JIS1 + JIS2 48 dot font for the FS-4600F
Panasonic FS-SR021 MSX2 JIS1 + JIS2 MSX-JE, Word Processor
Panasonic FS-UV1 MSX2 JIS1 + JIS2 Video superimpose
Sony HBI-J1 MSX2 JIS1 + JIS2 MSX-JE, very similar to firmware in HB-F1XV
Sony HBI-K16 MSX1 JIS1
Toshiba HX-M200 MSX1 JIS1
Toshiba HX-M220 MSX2 JIS1 + JIS2
Victor HS-R6001 MSX1 JIS1
Victor HS-R6002 MSX1 JIS1 + JIS2
Yamaha YRK-50 MSX1 JIS1 Kanji Dictionary

(*) Lauching from provided system disk(s) including MSX-DOS1 - AUTOEXEC or HN on the command line