Kanji Reading Aids

So, you want to read real Japanese websites? You know basic grammar, you know what words are doing, but you don’t yet know that many kanji readings? Have no fear, two tools can come to your rescue.

The first, and my favorite, is Hiragane Megane (hiragana.jp). Go there, copy and paste the URL (of the website you want to read) into the main box at hiragana.jp, and badabing, like magic, there’s hiragana on all the text-based kanji on the site. I used to use this quite a bit, especially on newspaper sites like the technology section of the Yomiuri Shimbun.

Edit: Hiragana Megana is automated. Human language is not. As such, it does sometimes give incorrect readings. But, speaking from experience, you generally will be fine.

The second is popjisyo.com. Among other things, this site provides a Japanese-English pop-up dictionary. Like with hiragana.jp, all you need do is copy and paste the link into the box, and all the individual words on the site will be translated whenever you roll over them with your mouse. The last time I checked, you could also select what’s being highlighted in order to get more accurate matching/translation.

Since I recommend getting away from using English in your study of Japanese as soon as possible, you could, quite frankly, live without popjisyo.com. Hiragana.jp, on the other hand, is pretty valuable. Of course you can’t go your whole life depending on furigana and you will eventually outgrow them. No doubt you are also mining your reading material for kanji readings. But, sometimes you just want to read something, and to that end, being able to get furigana is really quite cool.

Oh, P.S. — For you geekheads out there, you can paste the following text: “trans.hiragana.jp/ruby/” in front of the URL to any website you want to have furigana attached. Navigate to that modified link, and let there be hiragana!


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  12 comments for “Kanji Reading Aids

  1. April 24, 2007 at 23:36

    You shouldn’t forget the Rikaichan Firefox extension, also. It’s easier to just toggle the support on or off instead of having to copy and paste URLs.

    www.polarcloud.com/rikaichan/

  2. khatzumoto
    April 24, 2007 at 23:44

    Oh! Thanks, Alex. I haven’t used reading aids in a while (blows on fingernails and brushes them on collar). Thanks for letting people know about a better option :D.

  3. Joe
    April 25, 2007 at 04:51

    Rikaichan is great when reading things online, but hiragana.jp is the way to go when you want to print something for offline work. And here’s another tip for using hiragana.jp:

    Thanks to the miracle of bookmarklets, you don’t even need to go to the trouble of loading up Hiragana Megane and typing/copying in the URL. All you have to do is this (using Firefox; I don’t know if it works in IE or other browsers): go to your bookmark manager and create a new bookmark, then paste in the following as the “Location”:
    javascript:void(document.location=’http://trans.hiragana.jp/ruby/’+escape(document.location))

    I put this in my Toolbar with the description “Hiragana Meganize”. Now when I wind up at a Japanese page with kanji, I simply click my “Hiragana Meganize” bookmark on the toolbar and presto: the page is reloaded with furigana. Very, very slick.

  4. khatzumoto
    April 25, 2007 at 07:26

    Thanks, Joe! More stuff I wish I’d known about.

  5. Saru Sponge
    April 25, 2007 at 08:49

    That doesn’t quite work, Joe. Is that a direct paste of what you have in ‘Location’?

  6. Joe
    April 25, 2007 at 09:43

    Hmmm, looks like my paste got cut off. There should be a second closing paren at the end.

    If you want, you can cut and paste it from my entry at www.joewright.org/var/archives/2006/11/help_for_the_ka.html

  7. JDog
    April 30, 2007 at 04:43

    So is it safe to use readings generated by hiragana.jp and post them into your SRS?

  8. khatzumoto
    April 30, 2007 at 07:03

    >So is it safe to use readings generated by hiragana.jp and post them into your SRS?
    Always confirm them using a dictionary. If still in doubt, skip the senence. Hiragana.jp mostly fails/is incorrect on personal and place names (Tanaka Masahiro[田中正弘], etc.)

  9. カズヤ
    April 6, 2008 at 23:45

    Wow.Thanks Joe,I just tried that and it worked perfectly.I’m even more happy that I switched to Firefox now.You rock!

  10. Chiro-kun
    July 14, 2008 at 12:46

    理解ちゃんよりもWAKANっていう奴はどうだ?
    俺の愛用だし、コピーペーストだけで単語の意味を分かれるし…まあ国語じゃないけどね。

    みんな、けっぱれ!

  11. Dagur
    September 19, 2008 at 04:05

    There’s a bunch of language learning extensions for Firefox out there (see addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/browse/type:1/cat:37?show=100&sort=updated&exp=on)

    Have you guys tried them and can you recommend any of them?

  12. Bobo
    November 10, 2008 at 12:28

    Hey guys right I’m using “Furigana injector” which is an addon on Firefox its excellent! Download it at addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/search?q=kanji+injector&cat=1%2C37

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