Super Resources for Learning Japanese

Very often I get emails asking how to do such and such with Japanese on the computer or where can I buy a keyboard with all 2000 kanji so I can type in Japanese, etc. I just got one (more former than latter) and thought, “You know, I should just write a blog post and be done with it!” So here I am almost done with it.

Rikaichan is a FireFox extension that is simply a must for Japanese learners. I suppose it is the singular reason why I use FireFox most of the time. I still use IE for a few sites that require it and of course for testing how my sites look in both browsers, but having the ability to mouse over any kanji and have its definition and reading appear ‘magically’ is simply awesome—this is exactly what Rikaichan does.

For years, there have been websites that when loaded allowed people to surf the Net with instant lookups, but Rikaichan makes this insanely easy. Jisyo Pop and Rikai (on which this extension is based) were the main ones.

Jim Breen’s Site Anyway, back to Rikaichan. Like 99% of the online dictionaries out there it is based on Professor Jim “the Godfather” Breen’s EDICT project.

Here are the features of Rikaichan as told on its website:

  • Simple to use, just hover the mouse on top of a Japanese word.
  • Automatically de-inflects verbs and adjectives.
  • Has an optional toolbar that allows you to manually type the word to lookup.
  • Detailed kanji view shows meaning/keyword in English, on/kun readings, and other information.
  • Hiragana, katakana and half-width katakana are treated the same making it possible to lookup stylized/emphasized words.


  • FireFox: If you don’t use FireFox, consider trying it out if only just for Rikaichan.
  • Download the Plugin: Go here, scroll down and click below “The main extension“. It should automatically install.
  • Download the Dictionary File: You can choose between J-English, J-French, J-German and J-Russian

That should be it. Now go forth and explore!

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