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Learning kanji by reading manga

03.17.10 | admin | In Japanese

One of the more difficult aspects of learning Japanese as a foreign language is learning the writing system especially the thousands of kanji characters necessary to be considered literate.  One must strive to practice reading the characters one has already learned and attempt to learn new ones.  In Japan manga is popular for people of all ages not just children.  They can also be a fun way to practice Japanese.

But constantly looking up unknown kanji by radical and by number of strokes can be quite time consuming.  And so furigana, also known as Ruby text, can be of great assistance to any student of the Japanese language. Furigana is hiragana written in a small size next to a kanji character that will show you how to pronounce the word or sometimes give an alternate translation.  The Firefox browser has a great plug-in called Furigana Injector which can insert furigana next to kanji characters in any webpage.

Many manga books for young people, shounen/shonen for boys or shoujo/shojo for girls, will have furigana.  For example any title from Shonen Jump, Dragon Ball, everybody’s favorite Doraemon, Inspector Conan (Meitantei Konan), and Ranma 1/2.  While it may be easy to find translated copies of these in your country you want to read the original untranslated Japanese.  If you can’t find them locally you may have to resort to importing them from Amazon.jp.

And while there are many websites where you can read scanned and translated manga online it’s harder to find RAW scans that haven’t been translated.  Unfortunately rawmanga.com and mangahelpers.com are both down.  If you know of any alternate resources please leave a comment!

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