Firefox – The Japanese learners browser.
The browser of choice for learners of Japanese has to be Firefox. Maybe because it’s logo is inspired by Godzilla! I resisted it for a long while because I quite liked Omniweb. Since Omniweb
stopped development was in a period of slow development/on the back burner and caused my system to go to a crawl I looked at Firefox again. The only complaint I have is Firefox doesn’t support the Mac systemwide contextual menu.
The enormous plus of Firefox is the add-ons.
The most popular for Japanese learners is probably Rikaichan. This took the feature available at Rikai.com of inserting pop-up translations of words and freed it of Rikai.com. Hence the name. It makes reading Japanese webpages easier or even text files by inserting this modern English pop-up furigana. The only drawback is it can make you lazy and be a bit of a crutch.
For those more adventurous (or studious) Furigana-injector provides help without using pop-ups or English. It inserts furigana into Japanese pages. Making it much easier to read kanji. You can also set it only to inject furigana when you want it on a page. As you learn kanji readings you can add your known kanji to a list so only unknown kanji will have furigana. Very clever.
My only worry is that it might get the readings wrong, but I’d guess this would be rare.
On mixi it changes this
To make Furiganainject work you will need HTML Ruby or HTML Ruby Support. My preference is HTMLRuby. It is simple and seems to render ruby consistently. HTML Ruby Support allows much more customisation but for me it sometimes disrupted the rendering of a page.
Using AdBlock Plus and AdBlock Plus: Element Hiding Helper means I can kill ads but more importantly cleanup some of the more annoying aspects on my favorite sites and BBSes in an out-of-sight out-of-mind sort of way. I can kill the huge pictures some people like as signatures on BBSes. I can transform JapanesePod101 from this
and keep my sanity in the face of ads about Jpods features I’m already aware of. (I love these guys but they should really look at usability studies)
More esoteric add-ons
are were Characterizer. This replaces the first letter of an English word with a Kanji. I believe the original idea was by the author of The Kanji Handbook. (Although this now seems to have disappeared from the add-ons repository. June 2010)
It’s interesting but I prefer straightforward Japanese myself.
Do you have any recommendations for Firefox and Japanese?