6 Sites All Japanese Learners Should Bookmark

Hello and Happy New Year to everyone! Did you see Mt. Fuji, a hawk and an eggplant in your first dream of the year? …yeah, neither did I. Let’s hope for a good year anyway, ね?

Today I’m going to share a collection of websites that I think are absolutely amazing resources which everyone learning Japanese should know about. A few of them I don’t use (because I’m already fluent in Japanese), but they’re all sites that I either have used, currently use, or wish I had known about when I was still at the beginner-intermediate level.

This is my first link-roundup article, and in general I dislike link-roundup articles, so you know that I wouldn’t write it unless I thought it was truly a worthwhile collection.

I hope that at least one of these links is helpful to you.

1. Furigana Webglasses

I’ve had this link in this site’s sidebar for a long, long time. Hopefully some of you have discovered it already.

Furigana Webglasses (http://www.hiragana.jp/en/) is a site which can add furigana (you know, the little hiragana pronunciation guides over the top of kanji) to any website you want. It’s not perfect (especially when it comes to personal names), but it’s damn good and a real lifesaver for learners. And it’s free.

Of course, it can’t add furigana to text embedded inside images, but that’s to be expected.

2. Alc.co.jp

(http://www.alc.co.jp/) This site is an advanced learner’s/translator’s best friend. Different from a dictionary, it searches an index of short translations. It always seems to give you plenty of useful results, often including some context that helps you better understand the meaning and usage. You can even search things like proverbs and multi-word expressions.

The site itself is in Japanese, but you can search both English or Japanese and get great results.

3. Imabi.net

(http://imabi.net) Looking for free lessons on any topic, offering awesome detail and tons of examples? I found this site a few months ago, and it’s impossible not to be impressed at the sheer volume of what’s available here. I’ve seen a lot of sites that offer free Japanese lessons, but nothing that compares to this.

It’s designed as an ordered course that will take you from absolute beginner to Japanese nerd-master (seriously, the lessons even get into classical Japanese eventually). If you’re familiar with the content or have a little patience, you can also locate some specific topic or lesson you’re interested in.

The guy who made and maintains the site (a prodigy/student from the University of Texas) is really helpful too, so you might want to sign up for the forums.

4. Japanese.stackexchange.com

(http://japanese.stackexchange.com) This site is the ultimate learner’s Q&A forum. Need a question about Japanese answered? I’ve not found a better platform for getting a quick and satisfactory response than this site. You don’t even need to register in order to use it.

Of course, you’re often in the dark about the qualifications of whoever answered your question, but from what I’ve seen on the site the information is generally very accurate.

5. Google Japan Image Search

(http://www.google.co.jp/imghp?hl=ja&tab=wi) Google Japan image search can be extremely helpful for words (or phrases, even) that you’re having trouble understanding.

For example: 殺風景 (sappuukei). The dictionary defines it as “tasteless, dreary”, but it’s hard to get a real grasp of the meaning until you actually see some images which are described as being 殺風景 (click here to see the results). Think of it as the world’s biggest picture dictionary.

6. Wikipedia

Yeah, I know. You’ve already got this one bookmarked. Why even mention it? Well, whenever I need to know the correct Japanese rendering of words like “Los Angeles”, “Mila Jovovich” or “The Emancipation Proclamation”, I first look it up on English Wikipedia, then switch to the corresponding Japanese page (the language links are in the sidebar on the left).

So I use it as a dictionary of proper nouns, or of words that aren’t in the dictionary, if that makes any sense. Remember this trick the next time you need to know the title of  “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” in Japanese.

Final word

I didn’t include Nihonshock on this list, since quite honestly my site isn’t a massive resource in the same way as the others are. And I know you have me bookmarked already anyway, right? ;-)

Do you have any sites you’d add to this list? Please leave a comment and let me know!


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