Yoon Ha Lee scripsit:

> Don't you often find hiragana glosses in *really* tiny characters above
> kanji in manga sometimes, especially for younger readers?

They are called "rubi" in Japanese, oddly enough from the old English term
for 5.5 point type (before the point system was developed).  In English, this
size is typically used for stock-market quotations in newspapers.

The same typographical mechanism is sometimes used in Chinese, either to
give a bopomofo spelling, or to provide a simpler character of the same
general meaning.

When writing vertically, of course, the rubi go on the left of the characters.

John Cowan                              <[log in to unmask]>    
                Charles li reis, nostre emperesdre magnes,
                Set anz totz pleinz ad ested in Espagnes.