November 03, 2006
Help for the Kanji-Illiterate
One of the biggest helps to learning and practicing Japanese is reading, and the biggest obstacle to literacy is the kanji: until you know them, you can't read Japanese.
Of course, reading Japanese material with furigana (small hiragana over the kanji which show their readings) is a big, big help...but most Japanese web pages don't give you furigana.
Now, thanks to Hiragana Megane, Japanese learners can read web pages. At Hiragana Megane you type in the URL of a page with Japanese and the site redisplays the page with furigana over the kanji. Very helpful!
But wait, there's more! 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 bookmarks and create a new one, and paste in the following as the "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. Now THAT'S cool.