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Kanjilish- Learn Japanese and Kanji While Reading English

Posted by on January 26, 2010 in Japanese Study Methods, Japanese Study Tools | 12 comments

In the last few years there have been quite a few tools coming out to help students learn Japanese. One of my favorites is Rikaichan. Rikaichan is an add-on for Firefox that will give you the readings and definitions for Japanese characters when you mouse over them. It is a great tool for anyone learning Japanese or for someone who wants to read a Japanese website.

But what about a way to learn Japanese when you are reading websites in English? That’s where Kanjilish comes in. It is another add-on for Firefox that, when active, changes the first letter of English words into the equivalent Japanese Kanji. For example, the word “new” will become “新ew”.

Now to be honest I wasn’t really thrilled with this idea. I felt it is better to learn Japanese by studying Japanese. However, after a recommendation from @zirchi  on twitter, I gave it a try. It turns out it is a great way to review the meanings of Kanji and a great companion to Remember the Kanji.

Kanjilish gives you options of which word meanings you would like to choose based on a few popular systems, Kanji in Context, Remembering the Kanji, KanjiDic, and remembering Traditional Hanzi.

The only bad thing I have to say about it, is that it does require slightly longer for pages to load. Not ridiculously long, but longer.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. Combined with Remembering the Kanji and Rikaichan, I think it’s a pretty good tool for learning Japanese.



  1. i love japanese.

  2. Vanessa,

    Thanks for your comment. It’s great to have that attitude. That will make learning it much easier.

  3. yeah. i want to learn how to read, write, and talk in janpanese. sometimes movies have no english subtitles and its very frustrating to not know what they are saying. i did learn a couple words just by watching anime shows.

  4. Hi there,
    This add-on looks like a great! I hope it helps me learning Japanese which, by the way, is a language that I really love. So thank you for the tip and keep up with the good work!
    Thanks from Brazil!

  5. Vanessa, if you are willing to put in a bit of time, then learning should be no problem at all. Also, the better your reason for learning the easier it will be to stay motivated.

  6. Charles,

    Thank you for your comment. The add on won’t help you learn to read the kanji, but it does seem to help with recognition. It’s pretty cool as a fun to use tool.

  7. Thank you for your response.
    One think that makes me happy about learning Japanese is that there are many sources that you may use in order to make your knowledge broader. You know, there’s a lot of stuff like anime, songs, games and websites such as this that are available for learners. On the other hand, for languages like German (I take a German course) it is quite hard to find tools that are helpful.

  8. Charles,

    It used to be that way for Japanese as well. When I first started learning it seemed there was almost no study materials and very few books, most of which were outdated. Over the years though a lot of tools have been created. Especially in the last few years.

  9. …I would love to learn Japanese, but right now I’m just focused on being able to draw kanji symbols. I want to translate English to kanji so I can put it in some of my drawings i do. So far I know peace and destruction, and music. I want to use a translator to get self mutilation, too but I can’t find one. …Do you know of a free, no download service where i can do that?

  10. One simple thing you can try is http://jisho.org/. You put in the word and it will give you the Japanese words and kanji.

  11. yeah, this file seems to have gone missing, is there a different download for Kanjilish? or is it just gone altogether?

  12. Matt,

    It seems that it isn’t working for me either. Maybe they have taken it down.