Japanese Language & Culture



Screenshot of Kana Complete      

Kana Complete

A complete kana learning tool for the iPhone. Now available on the iTunes store.

Provides you a feature-rich learning experience, including:

  • A fun, dynamic drill which will help you recognize kana, learn their sounds with a native speaker, and track your progress in recognizing them. Choose one of several beautiful Japanese scenic backgrounds to keep you calm and focused.
  • Flashcards for when you want to slow down and take time to study kana one by one.
  • Learning to write kana using the proper stroke order and the shape of natural written forms. Kana Complete's writing models are based on the way Japanese actually write kana, not on kana fonts which are quite different. Learning to write kana is one of the best ways to remember how to read them.
  • Lots of detailed information about Japanese writing, and how kana is actually used as part of writing Japanese. No other kana app in the store has this kind of guide.
  • Hiragana and Katakana tables complete with native speaker pronunciation: tap the kana, hear the sound.
  • A comprehensive Japanese pronunciation guide with many speech samples to highlight important pronunciation concepts. Learn what you need to know to sound good in Japanese.

Click here for more info and complete screenshots!

KanjiLab 0.5.2 Beta Release (KanjiLab.zip for Windows, 684 KB)
Updated 6/9/04. A kanji flash card program where the student types in the readings. Features mastery score tracking, example compounds tied to readings, and example sentences for many compounds. To install, just download and unzip. To enable the example sentence feature, download the sentence file below. If you have a previous installation and would like to keep your history and notes, copy your "user_profile.klu" and "kanji_notes.dat" files into the new installation folder. Double-click KanjiLab.exe to run it. Documentation is included. This version requires that Japanese fonts be installed. These come with Windows 2000 and XP, but may require separate installation.

Example Sentence File for KanjiLab (KanjiLab_Sentences.zip, 7 MB)
Updated 6/9/04. This file is a supplement to KanjiLab which enables its example sentences feature. Unzip the sentences.dat file in this archive and place it in the installation folder to allow KanjiLab to find example sentences for the example compounds. Note that adding the sentences will cause an increase in startup loading time by about 30 seconds (more on computers slower than 900 MHz) as the file index is built.
Replacement Kanji Data File in German for KanjiLab
Added 2/28/07.
Replacement Word Examples File in German for KanjiLab
Added 2/28/07.
These files were created and generously provided by Denis Scheither.
Some features:
  • Readings drill shows you the exact number of readings of each type that it expects, and reveals each one as you guess it.
  • Fill-in drill shows you a compound with all the readings except for the target kanji. You fill in the missing reading. This is similar to the drills in the Bojinsha book series.
  • Mastery score tracking. Presents kanji you are weakest with more frequently. Score decline mechanism keyed to your past level of mastery provides automatic, graduated review.
  • A large set of common example words keyed to individual readings. Selecting an unrevealed reading shows these compounds without the reading and gloss, to give you a contextual hint. Now also includes a vast set of example sentences keyed to the example compounds.
  • Optionally hide the meanings of the kanji until you click on them.
  • User-customizable study list allows KanjiLab to present kanji in the order you want to study them. Comes with a Jouyou grade ordered list as the default, but has replacement lists for the Bojinsha Basic and Intermediate Kanji Book series and Kanji in Context.
Changes in Version 0.5.2 Beta
  1. There is now a way to mark example readings so as to force their interpretation as on-yomi or kun-yomi. This is used for those cases where there are matching on-yomi and kun-yomi for a given kanji.
  2. Typing "nn" will now convert completely to kana 'n' rather than leaving "n" in the buffer.
  3. All examples from the examples_pool file, including cases of implicit okurigana have been migrated to the examples set.

My own verb inflection/reverse conjugation software for PC and Mac.

JFC Sifter 2.0 (jfc_sifter.zip for Windows, 144 KB)
Updated 2/28/02. A simple little utility to create smaller practice sets from a larger JFC-ready EUC file. I thought that I wouldn't need this with the new features in JFC, but JFC isn't quite capable of effectively drawing a randomized set of cards from a larger deck, so I still prefer to break the practice sets out myself. This new version has been set up to create non-overlapping cardsets for more evenly distributed practice on a large word file.

ScanJFC (ScanJFC.zip for Windows, 92 KB)
A simple little utility to search a JFC-ready EUC file. I created this to search for words in the accent-marked vocabulary drill file below. The presence of the accent markings makes it difficult to search with a WP, but this program ignores the markings.

JFC is an excellent free Japanese flashcard program which you can get here.

Note: I consider the following two utilities to be obsolete. Strictly speaking, they do not sort in correct kana order. Now that my vocabulary file is in a database, queries are a much more powerful tool for extracting subsets.

EUC Sorter (euc_sorter.zip for Windows, 83 KB)
A simple little utility to do line-by-line sorting of EUC encoded text files.

JFC Sorter (jfc_sorter.zip for Windows, 93 KB)
A simple little utility to sort a JFC-ready EUC file. Sort by kanji, reading, or meaning. Program can also filter to find verbs, adjectives or entries containing a particular piece of text in the meaning field, such as EDICT codes: (an), (a-no), (vs), etc.

My Notes and Files

Japanese Verbs
Updated 12/8/02. Added Japanese text and revised some of the examples and usage notes. My notes on the conjugation and use of Japanese verbs. Discusses the method I found to be most useful in learning the basic inflection forms. Take all usage notes with a grain of salt, as I am not an expert.

Japanese Adjectives
Added 5/5/02. My notes on the conjugation and use of Japanese adjectives.

Forms of "da", "de aru" and "de gozaimasu"
Added 3/11/02. A table of forms for the so-called Japanese copula.

Feminine and Masculine Language
Collected instances (incomplete) of language that is typical of feminine or masculine speech, to help serve as a guide as to what to imitate and what to avoid imitating in what you hear from native speakers. Added 5/28/01.

Kana Tables
Tables of hiragana and katakana characters. You can download a set of the images used for the kana representations here: kanapix.zip

Guide to Japanese Self-Study and the companion Materials and Methods Summary
Updated 10/24/02. My methods and opinions on studying Japanese for the student deprived of formal instruction.

Japanese Audio Practice
Added 9/8/02. This will become a collection of annotated audio examples for use in listening comprehension practice. One news story is available so far.

Accumulated Vocabulary
Updated 12/15/02. A JFC-ready drilling file containing 3500+ words and set expressions. The JFC-sifter program available above may be useful to break it into smaller drilling sets. File includes pitch accent markings in the readings.
Abbreviations and markings listed here.
This file is encoded with EUC and is in a format compatible with JFC.

Japanese Learning Database (Japanese.mdb)
(MS Access 2000 database, 2.3 MB download)
Updated 12/15/02. This database replaces the former Excel file for vocabulary. It is the file used to generate the drilling file above. This file has alternate kanji, usage notes and examples (few, but will be growing). In addition I have begun adding topics in Japanese (similar to a FAQ, but still in heavy need of editing), and have added a cross-referenced grammar table (has no real data yet).

Phrases and Sentences
These are phrases and sentences collected mostly from unit I of the Pimsleur tape programs. This file is encoded as EUC and is in a format compatible with JFC.

Books on Japanese Language and Culture
A listing, including ISBN's, of my Japanese library. If you're considering aquiring any of these, feel free to ask me about them. (I'll put some descriptions and ratings up at a later date.)

The House That Jack Built In Japan
Added 9/5/02. Fun with relative clauses.


Indispensable Resources for Students

  • JapanesePod101
    Free Japanese lesson podcasts, including beginner lessons, intermediate lessons, culture lessons, and survival phrases. All very fun to listen to. Paid basic and premium services allow access to lesson notes and a learning center.

  • Jim Breen's Japanese Page
    One of the most indispensible Japanese resources on the Web. Home of the WWWJDIC online dictionary (based on Jim's JMDict/EDICT projects) and related resources.

  • WWWJDIC Word Search Direct Link

  • Space ALC featuring Eijirou on the Web
    The Eijirou dataset, though occasionally beset with some strange English, is a fantastic way to find phrases and sentences which demonstrate the usage of words, and to find translations of common phrases in English.

  • Online Sanseido Dictionary
    Featuring kokugo, wa-ei, and ei-wa lookup, this is the dictionary I turn to when I really want to understand a word in detail.

  • Excite Translator
    Let's face it — no machine translation is good, much less perfect. But Excite's machine transation is less bad than some of the alternatives, and it is useful sometimes to help suggest ideas in composition or reading. Just don't rely on its accuracy for anything critical and always follow up with another source.

  • Rikai
    Reading help and instant word lookup for Japanese websites. Enter a Japanese website in the box and Rikai will bring up the page with mouseover popups for each Japanese word showing the reading, meaning, and even a breakdown of the kanji.

  • Sasuga Japanese Bookstore
    You can't find good books for Japanese study in most bookstores. You can find more on Amazon, but they often don't have everything you need, especially if it was published in Japan, as many of the best learning materials are. What to do? Turn to the online version of Sasuga Japanese Bookstore in Cambridge, MA. Even if they don't have it, they can special order it if it's available in Japan.

  • Google Language Tools
    Working at a more advanced level, sometimes its useful to observe a word in it's native habitat: in the context of sentences produced by many random native speakers. That's when I turn to Google Language Tools. Set the language to Japanese, and search away.

Other Favorites

  • Radio Mukashi Banashi
    Japanese fairy tales (mukashi banashi) read slowly and deliberately. Great for listening practice.

I have removed the many other links that were here. Lots were stale, many weren't linking to very good stuff since I had never sorted through it, and at least one site had turned into porn.

I have captured everything with a hint of usefulness to my Delicious bookmarks, which you can find here. Use the tag "Japanese" for language related links, and "Japan" for everything else.

Eventually I will restore the best links to this page with better explanations.

Collin McCulley
cmmcculley AT charter DOT net
Last updated July 4, 2009.