How to Read Japanese on Social Media with Reading Support Tools

For the Japanese people in my generation, reading "real English" used to be something from another world for a long time. "Real English" means the one which the native speakers use. We knew all English sentences in our textbooks are not "real", because it was written only for students. And we did not have any access to the "real" English, except Hollywood movies. So, when I visited Canada thirty years ago, I was not sure if I can communicate with the "real" English speakers.

But thing are different now.

When a Japanese teenager takes his or her smartphone out of the pocket, the "real" English is just some taps away. Twitter is full of inspiring stories, jokes, or hoaxes. They are truly "real".

So, for the foreign language learners, I recommend to access those "real" language from the very beginning stage, instead of irrelevant sentences you find in the textbooks.

The easiest way is to search in Instagram. I advised you before to search with the Japanese keywords related to you, such as your nationality or profession to connect with Japanese people. But if you are not ready to connect with them and you are interested only in reading the "Real" Japanese, then, you can use any keywords. Rather, I recommend you to use something you love, even though you are not familiar with, such as names of Japanese towns you find in your favorite Anime.

The reason I recommend Instagram is, as I wrote it before, you can use the photos as visual aids. Even if you don't understand the Japanese sentences written as captions, you can estimate the meaning with the photos.

But, what if you haven't started learning Japanese yet?

No problem. You can use tons of reading assistance.
I will share with you just three examples of them below.

1. Google translation

If you are totally a beginner of Japanese language, I recommend to install the Google Translate extension into your Chrome.
Just highlight and right click the part of the web page you are reading, and you can get the result in another window. You don't have to even copy and paste the text.
The upside of this extension is you can translate a whole sentence, or even a paragraph if it is needed.

2. Google  Dictionary

The downside of Google translate is that it opens in a new tab. Sometimes it takes half a second, which is too long in this digital era.
So, if you are looking for much faster extensions, I recommend Google Dictionary.
It opens in a small pop-up. You don't have to wait until a whole new tab opens.

3. Rikaikun

The third option is Rikaikun. If you are a FireFox user, the extension is called Rikaichan. But they are basically same.
Once you install this extension, you don't have to even click the word you want to look up. Just place your mouse pointer over the word you want to look up, then you will see the blue pop-up window in which the meaning and pronunciation are displayed.
The upside is its speed. It's amazingly fast, comparing with google translation or Google Dictionary.
The downside of Rikaikun is that you cannot use this tool for any other language. It works only for Japanese language learning.

We, language educators, call these tools PLEs which stands for "Personal Learning Environments".
If you are equipped with these PLEs, you are ready to join in any Japanese groups in Social Media.
In my next post, I will share the simple and proper way to introduce yourself in the Japanese groups.


Find Japanese groups in Facebook.

I'm going to write how to find Japanese groups in Facebook today.

The basic strategy is same as I wrote in my previous post.
Search with Japanese keyword which is related to yourself, such as your nationality, your profession, and so on.

For example, if you are Canadian, "カナダ" which means "Canada" in Japanese is one of the best keywords to find Japanese group where you can meet Japanese people who would be interested in you.

However, there are things to be considered to find a good Japanese group.

What you have to look for in a Japanese group is, the size and the rules of the group.

If it is a small group, then, you don't have to worry about it. Usually, the group is like a family and people get to know each other pretty soon.

The problem is, when the group has a large number of members and the rules of the group are not written in the group description. In these groups, the administrators are tend not to be engaged in the group so much, and people are enjoying their freedom. The freedom itself is OK, but it allows some people to act like a final boss. I don't want you to be in a dangerous group like that before you equip a weapon that is Japanese language in this case.

So, when you found an interesting group, I recommend you to check the description of the group. You don't have to understand everything. But if it is too simple or too short, you have to be more careful. The big green Wart might be waiting for you there.

On the other hand, when lots of rules are written in the description, you can say that the group is well-managed in general. The administrators are deeply engaged into the group, and when they find any problem, they respond as soon as possible.

Now, I would like to show you two examples of those groups.

The first one is "The Nihongo Learning Community".
About 20,000 people are learning Japanese here with more than 300 professional teachers. You can ask questions, or answer the quiz provided by their teachers. There are some Japanese people who are not professional teachers, but they are not allowed to act as teachers such as answering questions about Japanese language.

The Administrators of the group are Mr. Yoshikai and Ms. Nojima. When they find any post violating the rules, which are written to protect the learners, they boot the violator out of the group. So, I can recommend this group even to high school girls.

The second group is "海外旅行好きサークルwith国際交流".
The name of the group means "Group of people who love traveling abroad and who want to build international friendship".

In this group, people are mainly sharing the pictures they took on their trip. Some of non Japanese members share the pictures they took in their own countries. Basically they communicate only in Japanese, but you can find some pictures taken in your country even if you live in small country far from Japan. For example, there is no Japanese language class in Kosovo, but you can find some posts by whom visited there.

As I wrote in my previous post, it is essential to find somebody who would be interested in you, to learn Japanese through social media. In this sense, this group will be important to you, even though teaching language is not their primary reason to be there.

So, this is the way to find Japanese groups in Facebook. If you have any question, please ask me in the comment.

In my next post, I will write about how to read Japanese on social media. Don't miss it!


Use Japanese Hashtags in Instagram

Have you tried what I wrote in the previous post?
If not, please write your profile in Japanese first.

If you have done it, let's proceed to the next lesson.

It's the hashtags.

Before you start posting something with Japanese hashtags, please note that there are some rules to use Japanese hashtags as learning resources.

If you use hashtags to find something to read in Japanese, then, it's easier.
Search any keyword you like, such as #君の名は。(You name), #聲の形(A Silent Voice), #この世界の片隅に(In one corner of this world), #甲鉄城のカバネリ(KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS), and so on.

But if you would like to communicate in Japanese, I recommend you to use hashtags more related to yourself, such as your nationality or your profession.  The reason is that you have to find somebody who would be interested in you. For example, if you are a Hungarian, find Japanese people who are interested in Hungary. If you are a graphic designer, use #グラフィックデザイン, which means "Graphic design" in Japanese. If you live nearby any sight-seeing spots such as Niagara Falls, then it might be a very powerful keyword. If you are a Muslim, you can find lots of Japanese using the keywords like #イスラム(Islam) or #モスク(Mosque).

So, the main idea about using hashtags to find Japanese people to communicate with, is that you have to use Japanese keywords which are related to yourself. You can use whatever you like to find these keywords. Personally, I use Google translation in such cases, but it doesn't matter what you are going to use. If you like printed dictionaries, that's fine. It's up to you.

The next question is "which social media you should use?".

If you are novice in Japanese, photo sharing service such as Instagram is the best. In Instagram, you always have visual aids to understand the Japanese words written as a caption or comment. This will be a great support in your earlier days in learning Japanese.

I will write how to comment in Japanese later on. If you can't wait commenting, you can start it right now, by using Google translation. But if you feel shy, it is completely all right to have a certain period for just looking at the posts by Japanese people. Or, you can react to them by tapping "like" buttons at least.

If you can't find useful Japanese hashtags to learn Japanese, please ask me in a comment. I will try to find it out for you.

In my next post, I will help you to find useful communities to learn Japanese in Facebook. Don't miss it!


Write your profile in Japanese.

If you would like to learn Japanese using social media, you have to write your profile in Japanese before you start following them. Generally speaking, some of Japanese people are very shy, and they will not follow you back when they don't understand what is written on your profile. So, making your appropriate profile is the very first key to start learning Japanese through social media.

First, I recommend you to write what you love about Japan.

Most popular pattern is "ハマってます" .  (Hamattemasu)
Original verb "hamaru" means "fall into something" or "caught into something so that it can't move".
But if you use this word with something you love, it means that you love something too much, you are addicted to something or you are into something. This usage is very colloquial, so it is usually written in Katakana, not in Hiragana.

Into "Attack on Titan".

Into "One Punch Man".

If you would like to say something else, all you have to do is just to fill in the blank in the following pattern.

Second, I recommend you to write about your identification.
Of course, you don't have to disclose your full name, phone number or street address. 
But at least, your nationality or cultural back ground will be needed to have Japanese followers.

These following patterns describe your nationality as well as the country where you came from and that you are eager to learn Japanese language.

(nihongo benkyouchuuno ____jin.)
Fill in the blank with your nationality, then it means "I am __ who is learning Japanese."
"-人" (-jin) means person, so, "Nihonjin" means Japanese, and "Kanadajin" means Canadian.


  1. 日本語勉強中のカナダ人。I am a Canadian learning Japanese.
  2. 日本語勉強中のハンガリー人。I am a Hungarian learning Japanese.
  3. 日本語勉強中のフィリピン人。I am Filipino learning Japanese.
  4. 日本語勉強中の韓国人。I am Korean learning Japanese.
  5. 日本語勉強中の中国人。I am Chinese learning Japanese.
  6. 日本語勉強中のインドネシア人。I am Indonesian learning Japanese.

If you don't know how to write your nationality in Japanese, just copy and paste from this page.

But be careful not to paste all of the word, if you find some Kanji character after Katakana in your country name. It means something like "Republic", "Kingdom", and so on. The word "人", or "person" does not follow these Kanji word. So, just paste a Katakana Part.

  1. アメリカ合衆国 The United States of America
  2. アメリカ人 an American (person).
I can't say that "アメリカ合衆国人" or "a person from United States of America"is grammatically wrong, but I have never seen such an expression.

Third, if you live in a big country like Canada or China, you can add your town, too. 
It is super easy because you just add "在住" (zaijuu) after the name of your town.
Here is the examples.

  1. エドモントン在住。Live in Edmonton.
  2. カルガリー在住。Live in Calgary.
  3. トロント在住。Live in Toronto.
  4. モントリオール在住。Live in Montreal.
  5. バンクーバー在住。Live in Vancouver.
  6. 北京在住。Live in Beijing.
  7. 上海在住。Live in Shanghai.

If you live in Canada, and love watching "Attack on Titan", then your profile will be like this.

A Canadian learning Japanese. Into "Attack on Titan".

If you have any question, please don't hesitate to ask me. Feel free to add your comments.


Yes, I'm in.

My Challenge

I decided to participate to 30 Days of Blogging Challenge.
This challenge is created by AJ. Juliani, who wrote an amazing book "Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom". This book is about Genius Hour in which students make their own learning plan, and share the final products. I have a self-directed learning class in our Japanese language institution as an instructor, so, I like this book and agree with his opinion.

In the 30 days of Blogging Challenge, you have to share your blog URL, and declare how many words you write a day, and how many times you publish a week. Actually, I don't know how many words I can write a day right now, but I guess it will be about one hundred words so far in this article, so, 200 hundreds will be enough. Mr. Juliani says he will write 500 words a day.

One of the reasons I participate to this challenge is that I am going to work in Canada from May. I have a long experience of working abroad, but never worked in English speaking countries for 30 years since I worked in Banff Springs Hotel in 1987. Now, I don't feel so much difficulty in reading English, but writing is completely another thing. One of my new year resolution is to brush up my writing skill in English. So, it was really an amazing co-incident or "serendipity" to find this Challenge.

Then, what shall I write?

Actually, I have very clear vision of what I will write in the next 30 days. I wrote a book for Japanese teachers and students how to learn a foreign language with social media. But it will be useful for English speaking people too, to use this method to learn Japanese as a foreign language. So, I'm going to share how to use simple Japanese to make Japanese friends. I hope it will be interesting to English speaking people, too.

My 2017 blogging goals

  1. Write 200 words per day.
  2. Publish twice a week.