Useful Links Related to Learning Japanese
 
There's a wealth of information on the Internet related to learning Japanese, and we thought we'd collect some of our favorites and list them here for you.
 
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1. Japanese Language FAQ
A good place to start if you're just beginning to study Japanese is Ben Bullock's Japanese Language FAQ ("Frequently Asked Questions") site, which contains the answers to questions ranging from "should I use ga or wa?" to "What is a tanuki?" Incidentally, Ben's site is the FAQ for the sci.lang.japan discussion group on Usenet, which is a good place to go and hang out on-line with people who are interested in the Japanese language.
 
2. Jim Breen's Japan Links
Probably the best single source on the internet for information about Japan and learning the Japanese language is Jim Breen's page of Japan links, which is constantly updated and which contains links to scores of valuable tools. Most of the links on this page are also on Jim's page; we just thought we'd present you with some of the ones that we've found most useful. See also his dictionary page listed below.
 
3. Japanese WordMage
One software program that some of our students have found very useful in their studies is Japanese WordMage from Lavasoft, a program that includes a Japanese word processor, a large reference dictionary, and a flash-card system. The most amazing thing about this package is that it doesn't require any Japanese operating system to run. The latest version will also allow you to view Japanese web pages. It's available for both Macintosh and Windows.
 
4. Canon Wordtank
Another tool that some of our students have found to be very useful is the Canon Wordtank, a very powerful but very portable English-Japanese and Japanese-English electronic dictionary which (unlike most such products on the Japanese market) can be configured to operate with English menus, and which comes with an English manual. Note: if you're in Tokyo, it's probably cheaper to buy a Wordtank in Tokyo than abroad.
 
5. Japanese-English / English-Japanese Dictionary
If your computer has a Japanese operating system installed, then a great resource is Jim Breen's WWWJDic, a comprehensive and free English-Japanese and Japanese-English web-based dictionary.
 
6. Basic Japanese characters
If you're just starting to learn Japanese characters, then two useful sites are the Joyo 96 page and Blake Sterzinger's Kanji Page, both of which use web graphics to teach a limited number of basic Japanese characters.
 
7. Advanced Japanese characters
For more advanced students of Kanji, Professor Saeko Komori of Chubu University has developed a web site which teaches the correct stroke order for all of the Joyo Kanji using Quicktime movies of a person actually writing each character. Very impressive.
 
8. Context-Sensitive Web Dictionary
If you have a web browser which is capable of displaying Japanese text, then go to Rikai.com, where you can type in the address of a Japanese web page. Rikai.com will then rewrite the page in active HTML and send it to your web browser. When reading the Rikai-modified page, you'll find that when you move your cursor over a Japanese word, an English translation will appear. (It works in reverse, too, for Japanese readers who want help with English-language pages.) Note: sometimes pages can take a very long time to load.
 
9. Browse in Japanese without extra software
If your computer doesn't have a Japanese operating system and can't display Japanese fonts, you can still browse the web in Japanese using the ACCESS-J server at Monash University. The server translates each Japanese character into an individual graphic so it can be displayed on any browser. Another great tool from Jim Breen.