Sunday, March 12, 2006

[Flash] English-Japanse Matching Quiz

Actually designed for Japanese junior high school students to review the English words they are learning, but still interesting for us Japanese learners. ^_^

[Lessons] A Japanese guide to Japanese grammar

Truly fantastic step-by-step guide to beginning Japanese grammar. If you're trying to learn Japanese, START HERE.

[Resource] My TODO List

Resources on my to-check list that I haven't had time to investigate properly yet.


GenkiStar's organized list of Japanese Language Resources.

JGram: The Japanese Grammar Database

ManyThings Words from Japanese Newspapers in Order of Frequency

Japan Culture Study Group

Study in Japan Comprehensive Guide

Teach Yourself Japanese

Rikai Use to learn Japanese Kanji or as a Japanese Dictionary

Kantango Kantango is a free site devoted to teaching Japanese vocabulary.

CrissCross Forum Adds hiragana to the kanji on websites

Learn Japanese Now V9

Wakan This is a crazy amount of resources right here.

Japanizer Japanizer is software Japanese-English dictionary based on edict database.

Bisqwit's Japanese language related tools

Dictionaries: (as seen in posts on Hongfire)
(Begin quote from landau)
A Japanese dictionary is a-must while playing j-games. Some of you may be using JquickTrans. However, it is not free. Below is the link of Jim Breen's website in which you can find a lot of info about free Japanese electronic dictionaries that use Breen's edict files:

One can also find many free edict clients on

The edict and kanji files can be downloaded at:

I have tried many of the free edict clients. Below are the three clients that I am happy with:
(1) JLookUp
An excellent easy-to-use client. It has bulit-in kana IME. Highly recommended. However, the English->Japanese is not very convenient.

(2) Trayamslator:
A very good client. The con side is that it is written in VB and not very stable.

Follow the instruction in the readme file. Do not use the EUC-SJIS convertor which comes with Trayamslator. Some kanji cannot be converted correctly. Just delete the SJIS.exe file and use the T-converter instead:

(3) Mini Japanese Dictionary:
The program itself is of very small size and efficient. However its search function is not as powerful as Trayamslator.

I haven't tried JWPce, since it is not a stand-alone dictionary client. For the commerical one, I use Dr. Mouse. It has OCR function and it works in some games.
(End quote from landau)

(Begin quote from tribalsushi)

Now if you guys want REAL dictionaries ..... I love Jim Breen to death, but there are certain structural limitations with the EDICT format ....

Sanseido Web Dictionary
--has access to Sanseido's Daily Concise Kokugo Jiten (Japanese-Japanese), and Daily Concise E<->J. and
Someone already mentioned, but I thought it deserved repeating ... and PopJisyo is pretty nifty too. You can do Chinese and Korean with these puppies too.

Goo Dictionary
Has access to to Sanseido's Daijirin (one of Japan's big traditional dictionaries, equivalent of maybe Merriam-Webster's), as well as the Daily Concise Shingo ("New Words") Dictionary and the EXCEED E<->J dictionaries.

livedoor Dictionary
Has access to Shogakukan's Daijisen (again, up there as one of the best Japanese dictionaries) and the Shogakukan Progressive E<->J dictionaries.

This one's accessed through the search box near the top of the page. Eijiro is an open source dictionary, much like EDICT, except made by Japanese people. It's strong point is its usage examples -- if you ever come up against a phrase you don't quite understand, it's quite likely this dictionary will help. Number of entries has recently topped out at over 1.3 *MILLION*

And not quite dictionaries but will still come in handy....

Wikipedia Japan
There's stacks of good Japanese encylopaedias out there (Mypedia, Encarta(j) etc) but this is still the best free one. Not as good as the English one, but still pretty damn useful :-P

The name is taken from the shingo dictionary published each year called Imidas. This is a great reference for erotic words :-P

Have fun guys!!
(End quote from tribalsushi)

[Article] All about Japanese Grammar (well, not quite)

Basic Word Order
I believe that one of the key fundamental aspects of understanding a foreign language is also understanding the grammar used to assemble (or disassemble) sentences. To start with, Japanese basic word order is...

Subject -- Object -- Verb

For example, the English sentence,
"I play KiCL." -
would be rearranged as...
"I KiCL play."
where "I" is the subject (who is doing it?), "KiCL" is the object (what is being "done"?) and "play" is the verb.
(Note that in Japanese pronouns are often omitted if they are understood by context, so in this case if the subject I is already understood, then it's perfectly fine to say, "KiCL play.")

Another important part of Japanese grammar is particles. Particles are used to indicate a words function in a sentence. Japanese also does not have equivalent words for "a, an" or "the" (called "articles").
Basic examples of particles are as follows:
(note that this list is not complete and does not list every possible use for each particle)

- Pronounced "wa" but written "ha", it is used to indicate the subject of the sentence (special note about this under ) Example:
あなたは 日本人 です (anata ha nihonjin desu)。 
You are Japanese.
This particle can sometimes be thought of as "as for".
("[As for] you, you are Japanese.")

- Means "also" or "too", as in "me too".
あなたも日本人です (anata mo nihonjin desu)。 
You (also) are Japanese.
この漢字も難しいです (kono kanji mo muzukashii desu)。 

- Possession or sense of belonging. Sometimes "of", "belonging to" or "about". Can make nouns into adjectives. Some uses for this particle are:
わたしのほん (watashi no hon)
"My book"
あかいのほん (akai no hon)
"Red book"
*Note these sentences can also mean "My books" or "red books".

- Pronounced with barely any "w" sound, it is often romanized as "o". Marks the direct object of a sentence - the object that receives the action of the verb. For example,
ほん を かいました (Hon wo kaimashita)
"I bought (the, a, some) book(s)." The book is the thing being bought.

- The particle ga can be used to introduce a subject for the first time in the dialogue the same way ha/wa (above) is used and is also used to mark the object in a sentence.
わたしは ほんが すき。
I like books.

- Ni has several uses...
    * Time or date of action
    (今日にかいました {kyou ni kaimashita} "I bought it today")
    * Person at receiving end of an action in sentences with the verb give
    わたしは あなたに ほん あげます。 (Watashi ha anatani hon agemasu)
    "I give you a book."
    * Giver of an item with verbs meaning "receive"
    わたしは あなたに ほん を もらいます。 (Watashi ha anata ni hon wo moraimasu)
    "I received a book from you.)
- He indicates direction (west, right, forward) or destination (Japan, Europe, my house) of travel.
I came to Japan to study.

- Indicates person with whom an action is completed and joins nouns in a complete/finite list. だれと? dare to? "With who?" 
私は本と漫画と雑誌がすきです。 (watasi ha hon to manga to zasshi ga suki desu.
"As for me, books and manga and magazines are likable" ->
"I like books, manga and magazines." 
*Note that "ga" is not required in this sentence.

- "Ya" acts like "to" except the list is not complete - like a list where you might add "etc..."
私は本や漫画や雑誌がすきです。 (Watashi ha hon ya manga ya zasshi ga suki desu.)
"As for me, books and manga and magazines, etc... are likable." -> "I like books, manga and maganizes, etc..."
*Note that "ga" is not required in this sentence. 

から - When placed at the end of the first clause it makes the sentence have the idea of "because".
私は上手じゃありませんから あたらしいです。Watashi ha jyouzu jya arimasen kara atarashii desu.) 
"I skilled am not (because) new am" ->
"I'm not skilled because I am new."

なら - When places at the end of the first clause it makes the sentence has the idea of "if". あなたはアメリカ人ですならアメリカにいますanata ha amerikajin desu nara amerika ni imasu "If you are an American you are in America" (this sentence not always true :p) It is also correct to say やすいならかいます yasui nara kaimasu "Cheap (if) buy" -> "If it's cheap, buy it." because the pronouns can be understood from context, and you don't use adjectives in this case (the adjective being やすい)

ね - A colloquialism, sort of like "You know?" or "Isn't it?" used liberally at the end of a sentence (practically any sentence ranging from ですね? It is, isn't it? / It is, you know? to あなたは上手ですね You're skilled (at this) aren't you?)

よ - Adds emphases to a sentence, similar to an exclamation point. 大きいの本ですよ! ookii no hon desu yo! "It's a big book!" (I guess in this case you might say "It's a huge book!")

Phew. I'm not done, and will edit this post with more information (and corrections/etc as listed above) later. Hope you enjoyed this! ^_^ Please practice your Japanese - look for new verbs and new nouns to practice with, write what sentences you know how to write and play with what you have. IMO, the best way to learn is by doing, and if you don't use it, you'll lose it!

Thanks to Willuknight for help with formatting

(by Aikeru)

[Audio] Pimsleur

Pimsleur [info]
Good for listening and speaking practice. It's expensive, and you just use audio CDs, no separate textbook or anything. Sometimes this causes problems if you mis-hear some of the vocabulary. However, it is well-paced (or slow), and you get a lot of practice. It can take you from absolute beginner to...well, intermediate beginner. Enough to start having basic conversations (which is where the real learning begins). Unfortunately, as the difficulty ramps up, you can't listen to them and do other things (like drive). You really have to focus on what you're studying.

[Book] How To Tell The Difference Between Japanese Particles

How To Tell The Difference Between Japanese Particles: Comparisons and Exercises Naoko Chino [info]

What is it with Japanese language instruction books and TOO-LONG titles? Seriously!

[Book] All About Particles

All About Particles: A Handbook of Japanese Function Words Naoko Chino [info]

[Book] Learn Japanese Verbs and Adjectives Using Memory Mnemonics

Learn Japanese Verbs and Adjectives Using Memory Mnemonics Ryan McDonald [info 1] [info 2]

(This Book Needs A Shorter Title)

Ryan is a fellow JET and keeps a rather interesting journal at

[Book] Remembering the Kanji

Remembering the Kanji James W. Heisig [info] [preview]
Learning the Kanji before learning Vocab (and doing it Heisig style, keywords first, then readings later) has REALLY helped me a lot. It's a method that may not work for everyone, though.

[Software] Linkword

Linkword came with my Language Advantage set (bargain bin, baby!) but that collection is out of publication. It has some mistranslations, but it's mostly good, and the mnemonics help a lot.

Unfortunately, the Japanese version never extended past the first level, so it's pretty limited. However, if you're JUST starting out, it's fairly good.

[Software] Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone
Immersion-type program. No instructions in English (none needed). You are presented with four [pictures, spoken sentences, written sentences] at a time, and you have to match the current [spoken sentence, written sentence, picture], and all combinations thereof. Extremely simple to pick up. Vocabulary builds logically, and you are often introduced to new words and concepts well before they become critical. Rosetta Stone is expensive, but the company is really decent. When I updated my computer (and the old Rosetta Stone program didn't work anymore), I sent them an e-mail and they sent me (at their expense) an updated CD. How cool is that?

[Resource] Collin's Page

Collin's Japanese Language & Culture Page KanjiLab (great flashcard program), J_Inflect (verb inflection/reverse conjugation software), Self-Study guide, and a WHOLE MASS OF LINKS.

[Article] Easy-peasey, Japanesey

Easy-peasey, Japanesey Tips on how to learn it from scratch. Some good advice here.

[Game] Kanji

Kanji Game Quiz yourself on kanji/kana with this multiple choice game.

[Game] Yookoso! Concentration

Yookoso! Concentration Based on the Yookoso! textbooks.

[Game] Java Kana-Matching

Java Hiragana-Katakana game Match Hiragana with Katakana. It's easy at first, but it gets harder. Round 20 is my goal..

[Game] Usagi-Chan

Usagi-Chan's Genki Resources has katakana and hiragana drag-and-drop games.

[Dict] JquickTrans


From the site... "JquickTrans combines a powerful Japanese dictionary program, Japanese translation aid, advanced kanji lookup and radical breakdowns, study list building and flashcards into one interface."

A must for anyone with slow Internet or just the desire for a computer dictionary without bothering to use a browser. Give it a try, I highly recommend it.

(from Aikeru)


Note: Despite the name, this is a dictionary, not translation software.

[Dict] Freedict

Freedict Results in romaji


[Trans] Animelab

Japanese to English translation
input in romaji or kana or kanji
output in romaji and english
"Please note, this system is in need of serious development and can translate simple phrases or give you the general subject of a sentance. It will NOT give you a translation in proper english simply because the japanese language cannot be translated in such away without artistic influence."
(from Willuknight)


Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Results in kana/kanji


[Trans] Excite

The Japanese Excite page has an excellent translation service. It seems to be a little more accurate than the other services.

[Trans] Google Translator

The translation isn't as good as I'd like it to be. Can you make it more accurate?

The translation you are seeing was produced automatically by state-of-the-art technology. Unfortunately, today's most sophisticated software doesn't approach the fluency of a native speaker or possess the skill of a professional translator. Automatic translation is very difficult, as the meaning of words depends upon the context in which they are used. Because of this, accurate translation requires an understanding of context, as well as an understanding of the structure and rules of a language. While many engineers and linguists are working on the problem, it will be some time before anyone can offer a quick and seamless translation experience. In the interim, we hope the service we provide is useful for most purposes.
(from their FAQ)

[Trans] Babel Fish

AltaVista's eminent translation service. Uses SYSTRAN.

[Flash] KanaCards

has katakana and hiragana flash cards. Great interface.

(from Willuknight)

[Flash] DoCoMo's Digital Library

DoCoMo's Digital Library
All in japanese. Looks like it might be quite comprehensive.

(from Willuknight)

[Flash] Kids Web Japan

Kids Web Japan
Hiragana Picture Matching game

(from Willuknight)

[Flash] MLC

Various varity of lessons, about 20+ flash lessons and 15+ pdf versions.
Looks extreamly comprehensive, but unchecked.

(from Willuknight)

[Lessons] Nihongo Webcomic

Nihongo - The Webcomic
Unfortunately appears to have been abandoned.

[Lessons] Pizza Cats

Learn Japanese with the Pizza Cats
Type: English descriptions, examples in romaji.
Extra: kana, pronunciation
Comments: 22 lessons. Good place to start, informative about Japanese, not extremely comprehensive

(from Willuknight)
(note: Pizza Cats is an old TV show)

[Lessons] Nihongo o oshiete

Nihongo o oshiete
Type: English descriptions, examples in romaji.
Extra: kana
Comments: Seems to start basically, lessons organized by subject.
74 lessons so far.

(from Willuknight)

[Lessons] The Foreigner

The Foreigner
Type: English descriptions, examples in kana/kanji and romaji
Extra: Teaches kana and pronunciation, Useful Phrases, Kanji
Comments: Excellently organized lessons, comprehensive.

(from Willuknight)

UPDATE: This link now redirects to:

[JLPT] Spurry Moses

Spurry Moses' JLPT Level 4 Study Page has level 3 stuff also. Not just kanji either.

[JLPT] The Kanji Site

The Kanji Site has levels 4-2 of the kanji, and the kana (in case you haven't learned it yet).

[JLPT] Kanji Project

The JLPT Kanji Project has all 4 levels of kanji.

[JLPT] WikiBooks

WikiBooks' JLPT Guide has vocab and kanji for level 4, and a vocab list for level 3.

Monday, August 22, 2005

[Game] Knuckles in China Land

Name: Knuckles in China Land
Abbr: KiCL
Author: André Dirk
Forum: YES
Platforms: Windows
Summary (from site):
Knuckles in China Land is a Learn Japanese Game combined with a console-style RPG (Role-Playing Game). It is designed to make certain aspects of Japanese, German, and Indonesian language-learning a bit more enjoyable.

  • Multiple languages
  • Lengthy storyline
  • Extensible vocabulary
  • Free

  • Windows only
  • No sound

You find yourself in China Land and have to learn the language of dreams (whichever language you chose at the beginning) in order to return. It's more complicated than that, but I don't want to reveal any surprises. There is a LOT to this storyline.

What can I say? It's a fan-game; a tile-based RPG with the graphics based on SEGA characters (the artists can be found in the credits section of the help file). Unfortunately, full-screen only.

None. Alas.

Standard RPG fare. You have a main goal, and current sub-goals (find an item, find your way through the maze, etc). There's no overworld to make things easier, so you may get lost at some point. You also don't level-up from battles, so the role-playing element is a bit limited. A great feature of this game is the vocabulary list builder. Don't like the built-in list? Make your own. Studying from a particular Japanese book and want a list to accompany it? Make your own (I did). Want to learn a different language? Make your own list. The storyline remains the same (and is itself not yet expandable), but you can add just about any kind of list you want to play against.

Flash-card based. See the card, type the answer (or one of the answers). Flash cards can be text or graphical. New cards are introduced at a fairly rapid pace (perhaps too rapid, and no apparent means to slow it down). A bit repetitive after a while, but the storyline may keep you playing after the battle-boredom sets in.

A decent game, and you can't beat the price (free). It has a way to go before it earns a regular place in my toychest, but fortunately the author is making frequent updates. Suggestions posted to the forum are implemented regularly. Definitely worth checking out.


[Game] Project: LRNJ

Name: Slime Forrest Adventure
Author: Darrell Johnson
Forum: NO
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Status: Various Registration Levels ($10-$99) *Currently, only the 'limited' free version is available, and that is what is reviewed here.
Summary (from site):
The goal of Project LRNJ is to make LeaRNing Japanese fun and easy with a retro-style RPG: Slime Forest. The game is still under development, but many students already find it useful, and it can currently teach you katakana, hiragana, and over a thousand kanji, essential character recognition for reading Japanese.

  • Multiple platforms

  • Not free
  • Short storyline
  • No sound

Slime Forrest Adventure is an RPG that helps you learn or review the different Japanese writing systems.

Sell potatoes. Save the princess. Nothing to write home about.

Fans of old-school tile-based RPGs (eg early Final Fantasy) will feel right at home. The graphics are pretty basic, but functional. Remember, this is a one-man project; there's no separate graphic artist.

None. There's no separate sound artist either.

Pretty much standard RPG fare, although somewhat limited. There's not much story to this game. You start with the goal of selling your potatoes, and end up trying to save the princess. There's not a lot more to it than that, although there is a bit of a side-quest involving spicing up your home-cooked food. The point of the game is not the graphics, sound, or gameplay though. The point is the battles.

Your enemies are various types of slimes. You start out against kana slimes and work your way up to kanji slimes. This is the part of the game that really shines. For learning the kana, this is the program to use. Some might say it's little more than a fancy flash-card system, but it is. The time pressure of seeing a kana and recognizing it and typing it in before the slime can attack does tend to focus one's concentration more than a simple flashcard would. The kanji slimes only have a keyword. You are given no stroke-order information, nor ON/KUN readings, nor multiple meanings. You are given a mnemonic to remember the keyword, and you can pick them up pretty fast (for some reason, 'well' really sticks in my head as a great example. Look it up in the game).

The game is good, but not great (ie, not worth paying for, at least not yet). I was dismayed to see it teaching obscure kana that are no longer part of Japanese, but there are few of them, and it's easy enough to learn them with the others. Learning the kanji through keywords is the same concept used by the fantastic Heisig books, but that series eventually teaches readings as well. Unfortunately, you can't mix Heisig and SFA, as the mnemonics differ and it gets confusing. The story is not compelling enough, and the rewards are few and far between. This is not a game that is impossible to put down (on the contrary, it's quite easy). This game will not teach you the Japanese language. However, if you are just starting out and need to learn the kana, use this.