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    Read the Japanese web with Rikaichan

    By thomas | September 22, 2008

    Here’s a great tip for reading Japanese websites, courtesy of Ryan Coffey and Move To Nanaimo.  It’s about a Firefox plug-in called Rikaichan.  If you use Firefox (I do), and you study Japanese (I do), then you should definately have this plug-in installed (I do).  In Ryan’s words:

    Hi Thomas, (and everyone)

    I think I have a hack that would be of great use to anyone living in Japan. Having spent four years there myself (that’s right, I had to leave in order to preserve my sanity) I can apreciate how hard it often is to do simple things due to cultural and linguistic differences. Well, this hack is in the linguistic category. I have found a plugin for my browser that allows me to handle kanji and new words in general, at least while online.

    The plugin in question is called “Rikaichan“. I have it for firefox in both my mac and my pc. I’m not sure if it’s available for explorer and honestly I don’t care because I find explorer to be about as efficient and productive as an Eikaiwa Manager’s meeting.

    Once you’ve installed Rikaichan, you’ll need to decide what language you want to use. You can have Japanese and English, Japanese and German, Japanese and French or Japanese and Russian. You’ll need to download and install the dictionary before you can use it. There is a dictionary for recognizing names as well. I suppose this is so someone named “Tanaka-San” doesn’t come up as “Rice Paddy Middle-San”. Which though a little amusing, doesn’t help us know how to address people!

    Using Rikaichan is really easy. All you have to do is go to your tools menu and click on Rikaichan and then go to a Japanese site and run your mouse over some Japanese that you need help reading. It’s smart enough to recognize that certain groupings of kanji signify one word rather than a couple. It’s not perfect at this, but it does a much better job than I can!

    Granted, due to the grammatical differences and what I would describe as a different “headspace” or “world view” inherent between English and Japanese, the more Japanese you already speak, the more complete your understanding of the written Japanese will be. Having said that, even if you’re still struggling trying to understand what station the place you’re trying to go to is at, or what the name of a certain store or organiation is, this plugin can help you a great deal.

    Good luck!

    Rikaichan is awesome and I often use it for reading random Japanese wikipedia articles (a great way to practice reading, btw).  It’s really easy to use, and pops up definitions on mouse-over.  Way faster than using a paper dictionary or even a denshi-jisho.

    In case you missed the links above, you can get Rikaichan at the official site or from its Firefox add-ons page.

    Check it out! Thanks Ryan!

    Do you know any cool Japanese add-ons/plug-ins? If so, let me know in the comments or drop a mail to the address in the sidebar!

    Like this post? Give me the Thumbs Up!

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    Topics: Japanese Computer | 5 Comments »Trackback

    5 Responses to “Read the Japanese web with Rikaichan”

    1. Shane Says:
      September 22nd, 2008 at 12:36 pm

      Great tip! I use Rikaichan almost daily and my Japanese skills are beginner level at best. That and Babel Fish will help you glean a lot of information from Japanese language sites.

      They are not perfect but they do come in handy!

    2. Lucas Says:
      September 22nd, 2008 at 3:26 pm

      I frequently use a tool on OSX called Language Aid. It has OS level support for translating japanese via wwwjdict. This is great for websites as well as the items in dropdown menus and almost any text in any application. Not completely free but wel worth it.

    3. bernat Says:
      September 23rd, 2008 at 2:33 am

      I prefer MOJI for firefox
      is based on the same dictionari as rikaichan but it accumulates the words that you search for and allows you to export them in EDICT format for later review, which I sometimes do

    4. Haf Says:
      September 23rd, 2008 at 4:18 pm

      I’m still surprised about how many Japanese-learning people don’t know about this great tool!
      And another cool extension for practising your reading skills is Furigana Injector, which you can get here:
      http://code.google.com/p/furigana-injector/
      I did the German translation for this tool. :)

    5. Daily J » Topic » Jim Breen. Japan-related tools Says:
      September 23rd, 2008 at 11:47 pm

      […] think that tools have been overlooked some lately on the J-web (Nihonhacks’ post about rikaichan is a pleasant exception). Or maybe they are just taking new forms (like JapanSoc as an example of a […]

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