Learning Japanese kanji

Here are a few links that I found to help me learn Japanese kanji:

Denshi Jisho is the best Japanese-English dictionary I’ve found on the internet. Actually, it’s the only one. Once I found it I didn’t need to look for another. Particularly useful is the “find kanji by radicals” search, where you can select the various components that make up the kanji you’re looking for, and it gradually narrows down a list of potential candidates. Which is much easier than trying to draw the kanji with the IME Pad, specially for the more complicated ones where you have no idea what the correct stroke order is.

Wiktionary is good for looking up Kanji characters or phrases. It doesn’t give as much information as Denshi Jisho but the kanji pages often have a nice animated GIF showing how to draw them.

Read The Kanji and Kanji Box are both good for kanji training. At the moment I’m finding Read The Kanji more useful for building up vocabulary rather than actually remembering the kanji characters. Both allow you to select your skill level, and keep track of your progress so you can see how well (or badly) you’re doing.

Read The Kanji

For the iPhone and iPod Touch there are a couple of pretty good free dictionary applications: Kotoba! and WA. Both include built-in dictionary data, so they work even when there’s no internet connection. I tend to use Kotoba! more often, and only revert to WA when I want to look up a kanji using the SKIP method. It’s also worth mentioning that Denshi Jisho has a fully featured iPhone optimised version (which requires internet connectivity, obviously).

The iPhone and iPod Touch don’t (as yet) support Japanese handwriting recognition, but you can get around that by enabling the Chinese Traditional handwriting in the keyboard options. It’s not a perfect solution because there are differences between the Chinese & Japanese, but it’s recognised nearly everything I’ve tried to write.

Finally, this Bimoji (beautiful handwriting) training software (and others like it) could be a good reason to invest in a Nintendo DS (or the newer DSi). On the other hand they are all aimed at Japanese people, so they might be a little too advanced for my abilities and I’d probably only end up being able to write beautiful characters but not know what they mean.

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4 Responses to “Learning Japanese kanji”

  1. Tom Says:

    Hmm, I use the Goo Dictionary mostly since I have always used it, but there is also an extension for FireFox so you can search from the search box.

  2. David Says:

    Thanks for the tip, Tom. Goo is all in Japanese though, and unfortunately my Japanese isn’t good enough (yet) to be able to use it as effectively as Denshi Jisho.

    BTW Denshi Jisho also has a Firefox plugin that adds EN->JP and JP->EN search options to the search box.

    Rikaichan is another useful Firefox (and Thunderbird) plugin. It gives you translations of words when you hover the mouse pointer over them.

  3. john turningpin Says:

    I used to use the Goo dictionary, but switched over to the Yahoo dictionary at http://dic.yahoo.co.jp/ a few years back. It uses 大辞泉 (which I personally prefer) rather than Goo’s 大辞林 dictionary, though you can also cross-check results in 大辞林 if you like, which is pretty nifty. It also allows for simultaneous multiple-dictionary searches, meaning that a single search will return the all-Japanese 大辞泉 result as well as 類語 (synonym) and 英和・和英 results. I usually scan all three and sometimes pop over to the 大辞林 entry to see if they have a different take. It’s a pretty cool resource.

  4. Matt Jackson Says:

    Thanks for the Iphone dictionary tips, need to find something like this.

    Great post,

    Thanks for sharing

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