Frequently Asked Questions about the Frequently Asked Questions


This page is a collection of answers to questions that I've been asked more than once by email or to the forum.


Please tell me what this vase/tattoo/seal/painting says / translate this message for a tattoo

Regretfully I am unable to supply translations. You may be able to get an answer at a web forum.

Can I obtain the kanji recognizer software?

No, it's not available for download or purchase, it's solely a web program. I'm trying to continually improve it based on user inputs, so I'd rather keep it just as a web program.

There are several open source handwriting recognition systems, including Detexify, Hanzi Lookup, Kanjipad, Tegaki, Tomoe, Zinnia.

A good kanji recognizer is built into Microsoft Windows as "IME Pad", part of the Japanese language environment.

Can I get the English-to-Katakana conversion software?

No, it's not available for download or purchase, it's solely a web program. I'm trying to continually improve it based on user inputs, so I'd rather keep it just as a web program.

If you need a lot of words converted, send me the file of words and have me convert it for you, for a fee. Any common format such as a plain text file or Excel file is OK.

Will you make the kanji page recognize hiragana and katakana?

I could do, but is it really necessary? It must be ten times quicker to type them in as romaji. Also note that the kanji page is basically intended as a front-end for kanji dictionaries.

If you are really unable to type in hiragana and katakana, as a last resort you could try the "software keyboard" feature at To use this page, select the option "Accumulate characters as a string" on the options page.

Note also that Shapecatcher recognizes hiragana and katakana.

Do you have an API for page X?

No. I don't allow programmatic access (API access) to anything on the sites. API accesses produce too many errors. However, some of the software on the site is available as open source. The kana to romaji and romaji to kana conversions are based on an open source Perl module called Lingua::JA::Moji which you can download from CPAN. I put this on CPAN due to requests by users of the FAQ pages. The date and numbers pages are also based on CPAN modules written by other people.

Can I download a complete set of kanji illustrations?

Yes, you can download the complete set at the KanjiVG website.

The English-to-Katakana conversion is wrong!

The English to Katakana converter isn't a dictionary of Japanese ways to write English words. It uses English pronunciations to guess the katakana. See How do I write an English word in Japanese? for details of the algorithm. Because it's based on pronunciation, words like "lemonade", "Australia", or "coffee" don't come out as the katakana forms found in dictionaries.

How does the kanji recognition system work?

The algorithm is private.

If you're interested in creating your own system for recognizing kanji or other handwriting, there are many existing open source projects. See the answer above for a list.

The kanji site doesn't work

If the site is not working correctly, try these:

  1. Check that you are not using a proxy site. If the site is viewed via a proxy page like Google Translate, which copies the content then sends it on, the site doesn't work.
  2. Clear the browser's cache by reloading the page. When the site is upgraded, people sometimes access an old version of the site using a cached page, causing errors.
  3. Send a screenshot. If you are able to take screenshots, send a screenshot of the site and your message saying what is wrong. If you cannot take a screenshot, then please just email me (my email address is at the bottom of all of my web pages.)

The site occasionally goes out of order due to circumstances beyond my control.

Is the sci.lang.japan FAQ part of the EDRDG?

No, the sci.lang.japan FAQ is not part of the EDRDG (Electronic Dictionary Research and Development Group), and the current FAQ maintainer is not a member of the EDRDG. However, the websites are the default locations for the English-language kanji lookup pages, and for several years, from around 1999 onwards, the FAQ pages were mirrored, then hosted, on Jim Breen's web pages. Some of the answers were also contributed by Jim Breen. However, there is absolutely no formal association or shared responsibility between the EDRDG and the sci.lang.japan FAQ.

How can I donate to the sci.lang.japan FAQ pages?

Please contact me by email for a link to a donations page. As mentioned above, this website is not associated with the EDRDG, but a lot of the material here is based on EDRDG materials. You can donate to that organisation at this page.

I have a great idea for a new software project!

Thank you for sharing. But I already have many ideas. The thing which I lack is the time and the ability to implement the ideas I already have.

External links

If you have questions, corrections, or comments, please contact Ben Bullock or use the discussion forum / Privacy policy

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