Japanese Language Tools

Here are some programs that I think are helpful for learning Japanese and looking things up.  If anyone has any other online tools or downloadable software to recommend, please let me know so I can add it to my list! =D

Rikaichan Firefox extension — Install this extension (and the dictionary file) for Firefox browser.  Once activated, it displays pop-up definitions of mouse-overed words.  It even has a look-up bar in which you can type kanji, kana, or english words to look them up in the dictionary.  The only bad thing is that it’s so easy to just rely on it solely when reading things because it’s quick and simple.  I have to limit myself to only using the kanji portion of the dictionary and not the vocab/word portion (I think you can set it up to only display individual kanji info) so I still need to guess at things the first read-through.

Wakan — A word processor, dictionary, and vocabulary management tool, all in one simple package.  You can search for vocab in English or Japanese, by kun yomi or on yomi.  It only works for Windows though, and no Mac OS version is planned.  Still, it’s got the stroke order for I think all of the Jouyou Kanji, and features a word processor that shows the english on the bottom of the kanji and the furigana on top.  Really great.  The one downside is you can’t look things up by radicals.  I’m not sure on this, though, so if anyone knows how to look up radicals on this program, please tell me!  The coolest thing about Wakan is its ability to look up kanji quickly from vocab words and then add those words/kanji to vocab lists.  You can also look at more than 6000 kanji and mark them learned or unlearned.

JWPCE – I think there’s a way to use this on Linux and Mac, too.  It’s also a portable program, so you could extract it to a thumbdrive and just use it wherever =D  Great for word processing in Japanese on computers that don’t have Japanese text support.  Really simple to use.  The best thing about this is  if you don’t have a tablet to draw in unknown kanji or a really good electronic jdictionary, JWPCE has a dictionary that lets you look up kanji by radicals.  I mostly use Wakan on my main computer, but I take jwpce with me on my thumbdrive so I can write Japanese text on other computers too.

JQuickTrans — This is a good Japanese dictionary that also does sentence parsing much like Wakan does.  It’s a bit faster with the translation, I think, but it’s shareware and not exactly my favorite program.  It’s too cluttered for me.  It does have a lot of different features, though, so if you don’t mind spending $10 to activate the extra features, it’s pretty good too.

Best thing I ever did was by a Casio XD-GW9600 Japanese-English electronic dictionary, though it was very pricey and broke my budget for an entire year >__>.  Now I find myself using JWPCE and Wakan less and less, and using the dictionary and rikaichan to look up everything I need (because the gw9600 doesn’t have english meanings for each individual kanji, and it’s just faster to look up the on/kun yomi on rikaichan and check).  Still, those who can’t justify the cost of getting an electronic dictionary can use the tools above and still be very efficient.  =D

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