Category Archives: japanese

Learn Japanese kanji the smart way

The first book I ever bought for learning Japanese was a kanji book. This was long before I had visited Japan or knew any Japanese. Little did I know that my long battle with learning the kanji had just begun. To the beginner, there is something intimidating about the prospect of learning these characters. To many, memorizing 2000 seemingly random squiggles to reach functional literacy sounds like an impossible undertaking.
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More good books for learning Japanese

We got some good feedback for our best 10 books for Japanese post so we thought we would add some more to the list of worthy study aids for Japanese. The books we present here are somewhat more advanced than the previous post. If you are just starting out, we recommend you check out the books in the top 10 post before getting these.
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Perapera Japanese 9.0 Finished!

Sorry it’s taken this long, but the updated Perapera popup dictionary plugin for Japanese is now finished and has been approved by Mozilla.

Bugs fixed, broken features in latest Firefox unbroken, and the same popup themes the Chinese Plugin users have enjoyed have now been added along with the ability to customize the colors. Enjoy!

Look forward to everyone’s feedback. More good things to come soon!

Our 10 best books for learning Japanese

In the 6 years of Japanese study we have bought many many books always looking for the one to rule them all. It became almost a weekly habit and an obsession, so after all that here is what we think are the best ones we would recommend to others starting the journey.

A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar

There’s a reason why this book is known as the “Yellow Book” or “The Bible” among Japan expats. It is probably the best Japanese learning resource I have ever come across. Clearly and thoroughly written with great example sentences. If you are at a more advanced level, check out the “Blue” and “Red” books by the same authors.

Kodansha’s Furigana Japanese Dictionary

Best Japanese-English dictionary out there. Lots of example sentences.

Pimsleur Japanese

Not strictly a book, but it’s a great audio course for starting out in Japanese. Gets a bit too corporate for my liking towards the end of the 3rd series, but you will remember and be able to use what you learn with Pimsleur.

Remembering the Kanji, Volume 1: A Complete Course on How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Japanese Characters

An invaluable book for mastering the kanji. Required reading for all serious learners of Japanese. I haven’t used books 2 or 3 much but some people seem to like those too.

Kanji Study Cards

Kanji study cards that accompany James Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji (above). It is definitely nice having all 2048 kanji with their readings in one set and it saves you the effort of making the cards/notes yourself. If you’re lazy like me it’s a no-brainer!

Kanji in Context

Wow..I guess I have a lot of kanji-related books! This book allows you to build a strong vocabulary after using Heisig’s book. Might be hard to get outside Japan, but I also recommend the accompanying workbook.

The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary

Great kanji reference. Used this so much it brings back good memories of my first stint in Japan.

Remembering the Kana: A Guide to Reading and Writing the Japanese Syllabaries in 3 Hours Each

In this book James Heisig applies his mnemonics method to learning to read and write the Hiragana and Katakana. I found it helpful when I was starting out.

How to Sound Intelligent in Japanese: A Vocabulary Builder

This is a very useful Vocabulary Builder but more importantly, just owning it makes me feel smarter :)

Making Out in Japanese
Had a lot of fun with this book! Not a serious one but definitely had a lot of laughs with it.

So there you have it. There are probably more (I have spent $$$s on Japanese books over the years) but those are the books that stood out for me. Enjoy!

Update: We have since posted up some more helpful books for studying Japanese. Check them out here.

FF 5.0 Update

Man FF is annoying, they do a point release without adding any new features but still decide to have it break all the extensions. Anyways, the dictionary files are updated, but since mozilla is taking forever to allow the dictionary files to be added to their mozilla extension site allowing automatic update, you need to manually reinstall the dictionary files below to have Perapera work on FF5.0. The plugin itself should not need any kind of reinstall.

Japanese-English Dictionary

Chinese-English Dictionary

Chinese-German Dictionary

Firefox 4.0 Dictionary Files

***Update: Japanese dictionaries dont work now because the people who maintain those decided to change the dictionary format to a completely new format which requires rewritting the whole thing just to make it use this format, so for now only Chinese is functioning.

Just a reminder, but here are the links to the dictionary files needed for Firefox 4.0.

Chinese-English Dictionary
Chinese-German Dictionary

If you are having problems, try removing the add-on and reinstalling it from the Mozilla add-ons page:

Perapera-kun Add-on Page

Perapera-kun 2.1 Released

Here are the updates for 2.1:

  • Added a checkbox to change to an alternate flag for Chinese in the “Chinese” tab in the add-on’s options dialog
  • Added one click to toggle on/off if only 1 language is installed
  • Added toolbar icons (right click on the toolbar, click ‘customize’ and you can drag them from here to the toolbar)
  • Added a ‘Perapera-kun’ entry to the right-click popup menu, and to the ‘Tools’ menu
  • Fixed issue where all of the Chinese definition wasnt being displayed from the CC-CEDICT
  • Fixed issue where some incorrect meanings were displayed due to some Simplified hanzi having a different meaning in the Traditional character set
  • Tweaked the logo a little bit

I uploaded it to Mozilla today and it usually takes about 2 weeks before it will update everyones automatically so if you don’t want to wait until then, you can get it here:

*Note: Since there were 2 versions existing before I unified Japanese and Chinese in 2.0, if you installed the Chinese version from the site, installing from the above link will cause 2 versions to be installed at once. Simply remove the old one and all will be fine.

Perapera-kun 2.0 Now Live on Mozilla!

Mozilla has finally got around to approving the new version after sitting 2 weeks in the queue. So for those who haven’t yet, here is the link the pages on the mozilla add-ons site where you can download and install the latest version. Although the Japanese and Chinese versions have now become 1 plugin, I left them both up on separate pages so people who already had them installed would get the update automatically.

I have already been working on the next release, so look for that to appear in the download section on this blog soon (alot sooner than the time between the last update, I promise!! hehe) Since it takes mozilla around 2 weeks to approve, you’ll have it that much sooner from here. Enjoy!

Perapera-kun 2.0: or

How to install and use