Category Archives: 日本語

Ruby Switch

July 12th, 2023

Ruby Switch is a web browser plugin that I developed to make toggling the visibility of ruby text such as furigana more convenient. To further my study of the Japanese language, I frequently visit Internet sites for language learners or young native speakers. These sites typically show how vocabulary using kanji is read. Sites, such as NHK‘s site, feature news written in simple Japanese and make it easy to toggle between showing or hiding how to read kanji. Other sites do not offer that feature, and toggling ruby text requires going into a web browser’s development tools to modify the CSS.

The following image shows Ruby Switch pinned to the Mozilla Firefox toolbar and renderings with and without ruby text of a page on Mainichi Newspaper for elementary school students.

Ruby Switch allows practice in reading Japanese. This simple plugin allows language learners to conveniently toggle the visibility of furigana to allow reinforcing vocabulary that is recognizable while also allowing them to confirm their readings when there is uncertainty.

The following is a sampling of sites that work with Ruby Switch:

Two Years with WaniKani

May 13th, 2023
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After almost two decades after taking two years of college classes on the Japanese language, I have been using for the last two years a tool that is helping me overcome a major obstacle on the path toward language proficiency. Up until this second anniversary, WaniKani has helped me recognize and read more than 2,657 words composed of kanji.

It has taken me about two years to reach level 45 out of 60 offered by WaniKani. I did not expect to experience burnout, but I did at levels 20 through 23. I needed more than half a year, or 25% of my time with WaniKani, for just those four levels. If I maintain an average of 17 days per level going forward, I will have been exposed to all review items in eight months. It is possible to rush through the last 15 levels in four months, but my experience with burnout is encouraging me to enjoy the process and continue at a moderate pace.

I am pleased with my accuracy and the balance of items between various SRS stages. A review item requires six months to transition from “enlightened” to “burned.” To become burned, an enlightened review item’s meaning and reading must be remembered correctly after it has not been reviewed for six months. A review item is demoted to a lower SRS stage, if it is not remembered correctly. In theory, 3,773 burned items have become part of my long-term memory. Remembering these items is reinforced by studying higher level textbooks and consuming native material. For example, music videos for anime songs provide lyrics containing kanji. Reading anime song lyrics reinforces my ability to recognize and read those kanji.

WaniKani has made studying intermediate textbooks and consuming native material more enjoyable for me. Less time is spent looking up common words in a dictionary. This has allowed me to focus on the actual content of the media. I have no regrets signing up for a lifetime WaniKani membership, and I recommend it to anyone interested in learning Japanese.


April 2nd, 2023
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We must make decisions based on what is right as human beings.

Tobira Kanji and WaniKani

December 5th, 2021
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Tobira Gateway to Advanced Japanese Learning through Content and Multimedia assumes 297 kanji are already learned by its potential readers. Tobira presents many words using these kanji without furigana. Learning the statistically most common kanji on- and kun-readings through WaniKani makes Tobira more accessible.

The following table shows what percentage of these prerequisite kanji are covered at particular WaniKani levels:

Level 5: 40%
Level 10: 76%
Level 15: 92%
Level 20: 97%

Only nine prerequisite kanji are introduced by WaniKani after level 20: 職違質授痛貸婚汚遅. The other 277 required kanji are covered in the first 20 levels.

The following snippet, with furigana as provided in Tobira, is extracted from page 5 of the textbook:


Working through level 20 on WaniKani will not give language students the ability to know all vocabulary in the above text. However, they will be able to make good guesses at how to read words such as 都道府県 and use online dictionaries like Jisho. Several words with furigana included by Tobira, such as 他, 大阪, 広島, and 戦争, should be known by WaniKani users at level 20. If Tobira is a gateway to advanced Japanese, then WaniKani is a great tool to develop vocabulary and reading skills needed to pass through that gateway.

The above percentage data was derived from output of a JavaScript program, wktobira.js, which maps Tobira prerequisite kanji to WaniKani levels and is an example of using the WaniKani Web API.

Manipulating Raspberry Pi GPIO Ports with C#

September 18th, 2021
Posted in 日本語 | No Comments

Quarantine and working from home because of COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for me to take up Japanese again. I studied Japanese for years in high school and college, but I was unable to consume media intended for a Japanese audience. I hope that I can practice reading Kanji with posts like these.

This is the first post in which I try to translate snippets of technology articles written in Japanese. I hope that I can provide translations for longer snippets as my Japanese language skills improve. The following snippet is from Let’s Manipulate the Raspberry Pi GPIO Ports Using C# by Ken Takae:

C#とえば、Windows環境かんきょうだけとおもわれがちですが、.Net CoreをLinux環境にインストールすれば、C#で開発かいはつしたアプリケーションが動作どうさします。また、Raspberry Pi(ラズベリーパイ)でも、C#を使つかってIoT開発をおこなうことができます。

My translation:

Although when speaking of C# one tends to think about only the Windows environment, if .Net Core is installed in the Linux environment, applications developed in C# operate [in the Linux environment]. Moreover, even with a Raspberry Pi, it is possible to use C# and carry out IoT development.

~がち: a suffix to express an undesirable tendency in someone or something. Formed by Verb-masuがちだ or Nounがちだ.

Source: C#でラズパイのGPIOを操作しよう~LEDを点灯させる
Reference: Makino, Seiichi and Michio Tsutsui. A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar. The Japan Times, 2001, pp. 47-50.