Browsing Japanese Websites Made Easy

4 Dec

My Japanese is far from fluent, but I vastly enjoying surfing Japanese websites. Perhaps your Japanese isn’t so good or you want to know how to surf Japanese websites without having any knowledge of the language at all. No problem! There’s a lot of tools and tips that will help you to do this. In addition to being really fun, surfing these sites will actually help to improve what lingual knowledge you do have if only because of your constant exposure to foreign writing. Regardless of whether or not that’s your goal, browsing a website in a foreign language is not as daunting as it seems when you have some basic knowledge and some fun web widgets to help you out!

Google JP IME

If you can read or write any Japanese whatsoever, you should have a Japanese IME (Input Method Editor) installed which will allow you to type in Japanese. Basic home editions of your operating system come with a Japanese IME, but it is not installed by default. Please refer to Declan’s Guide to Installing the Japanese IME. Alternatively, you can try out Google’s  Japanese IME Beta, which I am personally coming to enjoy using more than the default one for Windows. I do not intend to write a guide on using the IME in this post, but there are many places on the web which can teach you how to do so. It’s easier than you may think!

Rikaichan in Action

In addition to keeping Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC in my bookmarks bar, I use a really fantastic Firefox plugin called Rikaichan. This addon is essentially a dictionary that, when activated, translates words (in glorious detail) when you mouse over them. I much prefer to use Rikaichan to translate individual words or kanji over putting an entire webpage or paragraph into Babelfish and letting it generate rubbish. Ever since I discovered this addon, I cannot live without it. It is amazing. Download it now. Seriously. (You may also be pleased to know that it comes in other languages!)

Even if you don’t know Japanese, you will begin to learn some simply through clicking through websites over and over again. Artist websites in particular tend to have the same basic bare bones structure in that almost all of them have an “About” page, a “Gallery” page, a blog and a page that references their professional work or doujinshi. I can assure you that after you click on 日記 (read as “nikki”) 100 times on varying websites and are always sent to a blog of some sort, you will eventually forever recognize those kanji as being exactly that – a blog or diary link. Isn’t symbology great? For what it’s worth, here’s a little handful of common words you’ll come across and what they mean. Even if I didn’t tell you what they are, I’m sure you’d eventually come to recognize them due to their heavy, repeated usage across the Japanese web:

プロフィール – Profile

イラスト – Illust. (Short for “Illustration”.)

ギャラリー – Gallery

オリジナル – Original

版権 – Copyright (Often refers to Fan Art.)

ゲーム – Game (Usually video games.)

その他 – Other (Refers to other subjects.)

18歳 – 18 years (of age. If you found this, it means that page probably has porn on it. Good find, bro! ^_^b)

Trust me; you’ll recognize these and many other words in no time. Even so, a great deal of Japanese sites have their navigation in English, so browsing them really should be simple. The reason I strongly suggest you also use a Japanese IME is for search purposes. When you’re at places like Pixiv or Yahoo and you want to search for sites or images of a specific series, subject or character, it’ll make life so much easier to write it in Japanese. Romaji isn’t going to get you very far, and your other option for Japanese input is  to copy and paste (yuck!). ;)

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