Kanjilish- Learn Japanese and Kanji While Reading English

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.


Rikaikun (Rikaichan for Chrome)

I have written about Rikaichan before and how it is one of my favorite tools for reading and learning Japanese. It allows even a someone with a basic understanding of Japanese to read like a pro. Well, for all those who use Google’s chrome, a port has been made called Rikaikun.

Since the current release of Chrome doesn’t handle plugins you will need to install the beta. It will ask you to do this if you try and install the plugin.  Give it a try and let me know what you think. I’ve got it downloaded and it seems to work just fine. In fact it was easier than Rikaichan because all I needed to do was one click.

Rikaikun Plugin

Learn Japanese with Firefox and Rikaichan


In the last couple of days we have covered Anki, an easy to use flash card program that will help you learn Japanese words and kanji quicker. We also discussed Denshi Jisho, a great Japanese dictionary. Today we will discuss two tools for reading and learning Japanese online (let’s face it, we spend a lot of time on here). Firefox is a browser and RIkaichan is an add on that will give you the meaning and reading for any word you mouse over. Rather than write a long post, I have listed links to two other posts describing both Firefox and Rikaichan in detail. There are also instructions for installation.

Using Firefox to Learn Japanese

Reading Japanese Words with Rikaichan

Download them and try them out. Rikaichan is an amazing tool that everyone learning Japanese should have at hand!

Reading Japanese Words Like a Pro with Rikaichan

Rikaichan screenshhot

In the last post: Using Firefox To Boost Your Japanese Learning Online, I talked about why you should use Firefox as the browser of choice for learning Japanese on the web. If you haven’t read that article yet, please do so and get Firefox installed before moving on. Today, I will be showing you a truly amazing add on for Firefox that will allow you to read Japanese, even if you can’t read Japanese. The add on is called Rikaichan, and  it really is an excellent Japanese learning tool.

There are two ways to install Rikaichan (you can find the other method here). The easiest is to go to the Rikaichan website and click on the files.. Firefox will automatically recognize and install them.

  1. You can find the Rikaichan website here: http://rikaichan.mozdev.org/.
  2. Under the Download/Install section, click on Rickaichan.
  3. A popup will appear at the top of the screen asking if it is okay to allow this site to install the software. Click “Allow” and then click install.
  4. Then do the same thing for the words dictionary that matches your language. If you are reading this then it will probably be English-Japanese. You can also add a names dictionary (though it isn’t necessary) to get readings of Japanese names.
  5. Once you ave finished installing, restart Firefox.

Now, to make Rikaichan easy to toggle on and off, you probably want to add it to the toolbar . Don’t worry, this is very easy to do.

Right click on your tool bar (if you are having trouble finding the correct place to click, simply click on one of the icons you would like to put it next to, ie: the home button) and choose customize. Now all you need to do is drag the little red happy face on to the bar where you want to add it. You can also add the “lookup bar” which will allow you to open a Japanese dictionary in your browser. Now you are all set and ready to read Japanese. You can also edit Rikaichan’s settings by going to Tools>Add-ons>Extensions> Clicking on RIkaichan and choosing preferences.

So navigate to your favorite Japanese page. If you don’t have one yet, then check out Asahi news to find a whole list of topics. Once the page has loaded, click on the little red smiley face icon you added to your toolbar. A little star should appear on the icon. Now put your pointer at the beginning of any word/ character and you will get a reading, definition, and a whole ton of other info! To turn it off, just click on the icon again.

Used diligently, this add-on has the potential to dramatically increase your reading ability and character recognition. While at the same time allowing you to navigate Japanese websites and articles. It can even be used to read e-mail. If you use webmail then it works like you are reading any other webpage. You can also add it to the Mozilla Thunderbird mail client the same way you did to Firefox.

I hope you enjoy this add-on and use it as often as possible. Let me know if this is helpful or if you have any problems with installation.