The Praia History

Praia KK was established by Paulo Berwanger four decades ago. Born in southern Brazil of German, Austrian and Spanish ancestry, he came to Japan in 1974. He soon received a scholarship to study business administration at Sophia University in Tokyo. During these years, he also developed fluency in Japanese.

While Praia is incorporated in Japan, its international management and staff make it unique in many ways. Our offices in central Tokyo are the hub of a leading communications group with broad-ranging capabilities geared to a world without borders. Along with helping clients expand overseas, we are drawing on our expertise, information and human resources to open new paths.

Praia’s growth has been driven by constant innovations in handling multilingual communications and an ability to stay ahead of the technology curve. Not simply meeting client needs, we consistently go beyond expectations.


We entered Japan’s translation market during an era of rapid economic growth. Initially we concentrated on voluminous documentation for international bids and specifications for overseas factories. Our clients have included all the leading Japanese trading companies and manufacturers of electric and electronic products.


During the early years, our translators used electric typewriters, although some of them could produce text faster than the machines. The introduction of electronic typewriters offered immense relief as well as higher productivity.


In 1984, Praia was commissioned to handle translation and narration for all 15 presentation videos at Tsukuba Expo ’85 in Japan. It was an extremely complicated task requiring coordination in 17 languages. By then, we had G2 fax machines considered the state of the art at the time. While our CPT® word processors were suited to European languages, the narration text in Chinese, Hindi and other languages still had to be written by hand.


Soon afterwards, PCs and 1,200 bps modems were released. We immediately set up an electronic bulletin board available day and night. It was a major advance in building real-time links with translators and copywriters in the corners of the world. Along with shrinking geographical distances, we could meet tight schedules by turning different times zones to our advantage. This system has evolved so we can deliver print-ready data instantaneously to clients around the globe.


In the late 1980s, we acquired a Macintosh® computer. Its graphic capabilities led our move into DTP in Japanese and European languages. Not only could we work faster than traditional typesetters, but our rates were much more competitive. This experience laid the foundation for our current services in website design and maintenance.


In the drive to offer data output in all written languages, we regularly developed our own solutions. We could modify available fonts in some cases, but several projects called for creating new ones. This experience was a springboard to adding font design and software customization to our services.


Months before Apple® released its Chinese Language Kit, we had already found an answer. Through trial-and-error experimentation, we combined elements of the Chinese and Japanese systems to create a hybrid for printing traditional and simplified Chinese characters on the same page as Japanese. The next step was adding Korean to our PostScript® printing services.


We have localized a range of software applications for world markets. These projects include the Portuguese translation of Microsoft Word® and software in traditional Chinese for Olympus® digital cameras.


The early 1990s saw a wider reach and more solutions. While we could handle Persian, Arabic and Urdu text, layout alongside another language was problematic since they are written right-to-left. To overcome this limitation, we developed an original system that combines text written in opposite directions on the same page.


There were increasing challenges for our output services as we added languages that are used less widely. Vietnamese and Burmese, which have a space between words, posed obstacles for data input. Still more complicated were the line-feed difficulties of layout in Lao, Khmer and Thai since they are written without spaces. We also had to grasp the lack of a period between sentences in Thai. The only answer lay in recruiting people with specialized linguistic abilities.


The range of our services reflects the multilingual capabilities of our staff. As we expanded, we brought in specialists from Ireland, Chile and the Netherlands. They were soon joined by Korean and Chinese personnel. To handle materials in Southeast Asian languages, we hired a Vietnamese and a Thai in our Tokyo offices.


Over the decades, almost a thousand communications specialists across the world have helped us serve clients better. With the unusual breadth and skills of these human resources, we took a new direction in 1996 when we received Japanese Ministry of Labor license number G13-04-0294 to send temporary staff to clients’ offices.


In the late 1990s, our services expanded to include multilingual subtitling of DVDs in the Sony® format. Since a DVD can hold audio tracks for eight languages and subtitles for 32 more, it is an ideal presentation tool for companies seeking a worldwide presence.


In close contact with clients, we produce the range of marketing tools, from presentation materials to electronic newsletters. Particularly in an era of globalization, our familiarity with local markets and languages is vital. With this background, we can work out effective strategies to build a client’s brand and take sales to the next level.


From planning to staffing, we handle all aspects of event management. Our work in this growing field includes production of audiovisual materials, posters, leaflets and scale models for trade shows. Praia’s personnel are available at trade shows to set up displays, panels and reusable folding frames with spotlights.


At the core of Praia’s network is a multilingual staff who handle a dozen languages in-house. Our account managers and coordinators also draw on longstanding relationships with translators, designers, illustrators, narrators, copywriters, editors and planners. While some assignments require only one associate, we often assemble teams for multilingual publications and major events. Even in the most complex projects, our thoroughgoing in-house controls maintain absolute consistency and the highest standards of quality.


Praia’s management and staff are committed to helping clients expand their operations and sales in overseas markets. With our expertise in the cultural side of communication, we can open doors and add another dimension to our clients’ sales and brand loyalty. As they grow, they have found that our international reach and local resources can make all the difference.


For a short list of our direct clients in the state/public sector, please click the button below.

Praia has served hundreds of other organizations through a range of channels.

*Registered trademarks are the property of their respective holders.