You have three options here:
1. Learn Japanese
2. Reload the OS, using Format and Install, and set the main language to English
3. Go to the System Preferences.
We'll deal with #3 first.
Open System preferences, icon in the dock looks like a light switch with an Apple on it. Open the International Pane, icon is a flag, choose the Language Tab, the left hand tab, and set the language to English. this option may not be available if the previous owner decided not to load the extra languages during the initial install. However, if the OS is the one that was originally installed on the machine, it will have ALL the extra languages on it.
Choose the middle tab and set the date format and currency. Choose the right hand tab and set the input device to US keyboard.
Theoretically, that should set everything back to English (the American version anyway) and you should now be able to understand what is going on. If the keyboard has Japanese symbols on the keys, it will have to be replaced with an English one. However, if you can already type without looking at the keys, you might be able to get away with not changing it. They are cheap enough to just replace.
Option # 2 is a little more drastic. Using the OS X install disk, boot the machine and allow the installer to run. First problem you might come up against is the Administrators password. Do you have that??? Without it, you may not be able to boot the machine in from the CD. Never mind, you can change that. Once the installer is up on the screen but before you actually start the install procedure, go to the file menu at the top of the screen (it could be the Installer Menu)(Check them all) and select Reset Password. Follow the instructions and change ALL the passwords on the machine. Reboot. Start the installation process and choose English, or whatever, as your main language. Continue the install choosing Format and Install as the option. WARNING: ALL your existing data will be destroyed! If this is ok, continue with the install. if not, you need to exit the installer, reboot the machine and backup everything that you want to save.
At the end of the install procedure, you should have a machine that is just like the day it first came out of the box.
Option #1. Take a look at Berlitz.com for their language CD's
I was wondering if someone can help me with reseting my Powerbook to it's factory conditions. This is my first Mac; the keyboard, and the OS X is in Japanese, so I really have no idea what I'm doing. Is there a way to change the OS to English, or do I need to go buy an english version? There's not really any information I need on the laptop, so I don't need to deal with making a backup of the HD or anything. I'd really appreciate it if someone could give me some step by step instructions. Thank in advance :o)