How to use Free Software to learn Japanese, and more.

This page lists articles in chronological order. You may want to read Table of Contents instead.

Understanding monolingual definitions

January 06, 2022 — Tatsumoto

A typical entry in a monolingual dictionary looks similar to this:

あした [3] 【明日・朝】 (名)

Every dictionary usually has its own, unique system of notation. On this page I primarily use 大辞泉 as an example. If you need help finding monolingual dictionaries, see the Dictionaries resources section.


How to type in Japanese

December 28, 2021 — Tatsumoto

Japanese keyboard

Ever wondered how Japanese people type? No one knows the answer. Some people say that they use huge keyboards with hundreds of keys like on the picture. Luckily for us, we don't have to imitate Japanese people and buy a keyboard like that. There are programs called Input Method Editors (IMEs) that help us do the same thing on a regular computer keyboard. With an IME you type Latin letters and the software automatically converts them to Japanese characters.

Typing words in a dictionary, searching the web or talking to people who pretend to be Japanese on the Internet all require being able to input Japanese characters. If you're serious about learning Japanese, you need to learn how to do it.


JLPT Tango N2 Anki deck

December 21, 2021 — Tatsumoto


2500 Essential Vocabulary for the JLPT N2, also known as JLPT Tango N2, is a textbook to prepare for the JLPT N2. It contains ~1,500 Japanese sentences and their English translations. The book includes vocabulary found commonly on the JLPT and often used in everyday life.

With the help of our chat members, we have created an Anki deck specifically for the JLPT Tango N2. We took sentences from the book, downloaded audio from the publisher's website and combined them to make this Anki deck.


Sentence mining

November 30, 2021 — Tatsumoto

Sentence mining is a process of extracting sentences that contain unknown words from the content you read, watch or listen to in your target language and adding them to Anki in a form of targeted sentence cards (TSCs). You put an example sentence in the question field and the definitions, pictures and pronunciations in the answer field.

Sentence mining and immersion are the two most important components of our method. Immersion provides you with new vocabulary to be mined, and mined sentences become fuel that advances your language learning.

Finding your own sentences is much more fun than learning from a premade deck, or, god forbid, a textbook. Because you're creating Anki cards out of vocabulary found in your immersion, you're always learning what is relevant to you. Once you reach this stage, it is way harder to quit Japanese, as the foundation is already in place.


Retiming subtitles

October 13, 2021 — Tatsumoto

Japanese subtitles can be found in many places. Often after downloading an archive with subtitles for your show you find that the subtitles are not in sync with the video files you have on your computer. In this article let's discuss what you can do to sync them.


Setting up Qolibri

September 29, 2021 — Tatsumoto

Qolibri is a Qt-based dictionary viewer. It lets you search multiple dictionaries at one time so for every word you look up you immediately get multiple definitions. Qolibri remains one of the most widely used Japanese dictionary viewers for GNU/Linux.

By itself, Qolibri is just a viewer. To utilize it, you need dictionary files. The dictionary files Qolibri reads are called EPWINGs. EPWING (electronic publishing WING) is a dictionary format that was allegedly utilized in portable electronic dictionaries.

Qolibri is much better at searching a big number of dictionaries at the same time than Yomichan. If you try to use more than 5 dictionaries with Yomichan, it quickly becomes very cluttered and hard to navigate. Qolibri lists all dictionaries you have on a sidebar. It is easy to jump between them if you need to.

If you haven't started using Japanese to Japanese dictionaries yet, feel free to skip this article for now. Though Japanese to English dictionaries for Qolibri exist, their number is not very large. The main reason you want to use the program is to browse monolingual dictionaries.


One target sentences

September 10, 2021 — Tatsumoto

Let's define a "target" as any unknown piece of information in a given sentence in a foreign language. It can be either a word or a grammar structure. We can divide all sentences we encounter while immersing in our target language into three groups:

  1. 0T, zero-target. Sentences that don't contain anything you don't already know.
  2. 1T, one-target. Sentences that contain one unknown piece of information.
  3. 2T+, MT, multi-target. Sentences that contain multiple unknown pieces of information.


Ankidrone Sentence Pack

September 07, 2021 — Tatsumoto

Ankidrone Sentence Pack is an Anki deck that contains over 44,000 Japanese sentence with native audio. This deck is not to be learned from back to back, its purpose is to aid you in finding example sentences for your targeted sentence cards.