Making the Kawaii Japanese Forums More readable

If you are having trouble reading the Kawaii Japanese Forums, here are a few tips to help make it easier.

1. Increase the size. On a personal computer, the site will comfortably enlarge by at least 3 increments (not all sites will, but it works quite well here). Press Ctrl (cmd on a Mac) and the plus key 3 or 4 times and see how it looks.

In Firefox you can also set the zoom to adjust the size of the text only – without messing up the rest of the page.

Go to the 表示 menu (“View” if you still have your Firefox in English), scroll to the ズーム (Zoom) popout and check the last item, 文字サイズのみ変更 (のみ is written-instruction-speak for だけ), which will be “Change character size only”, or something like that, in English.

Do you know why books for small children have such large print? It isn’t because they have poor eyesight! It is because they need to clearly recognize the shape of each letter in a way people who are more used to the alphabet and the written language don’t.

You will also notice that while the very large print is only for small children, children’s books up to the age of ten or so have larger print than most adult books. It takes a long time to become fully proficient at recognizing letters and words at smaller sizes and there is a sliding scale of familiarity determining how closely the eye needs to examine the characters in order to read comfortably.

So the “younger” you are in Japanese, the bigger the print should be.

2. Use Rikaisama if you need it. You may be nervous of it, and with reason. “Rikai-skimming” with English definitions turned on is a bad habit to acquire. How much help you need clearly depends on your level. If you are a beginner punching well above your weight in reading a certain post at all (good for you! えらいね!)then use all the help you need.

If you are intermediate we would suggest that you set Rikaisama into Sanseido mode (J-J definitions) by default. Go to Configure > Startup > Check Sanseido Mode. Optionally toggle off definitions by pressing D while a Rikai window is up (or turning them off by default in the settings – you can still restore them with D). With this set-up you can use Rikai as “on-demand furigana” for unknown kanji. Look at the Japanese definition if you are still in doubt and only go to the English definition if you are really stuck. O toggles between Sanseido and English definitions.

These two techniques should help you to read the Forums more easily.

Back to Forums


On a mobile device, don’t forget to hit the link at the very bottom of the page to switch to the mobile version.

If occasional English definitions turn up in Sanseido mode it doesn’t mean Rikaisama is broken. Unfortunately the Sanseido dictionary is a little limited, and where a J-J definition does not exist Rikaisama uses the English one. This is another argument for having definitions off to begin with.

One thought on “Making the Kawaii Japanese Forums More readable

  1. On the question of print size, I find I can read English in tiny print or low light, but I can’t do the same with Japanese, and not with French or Spanish either.

    I told this to my Japanese Okaasan when I was in Japan and she was incredulous. She could see why kanji and even kana required more recognition-clarity when one is less familiar with them, but 「スペイン語もローマジだね!」Spanish is in Romaji isn’t it? I think she really believed I was making things up!

    But it is perfectly true. In a very familiar language we use things like context-expectation and general shapes of words to supplement letter recognition.

    In fact:

    Arinocdcg to rencet rseaerch, the hmuan brian is plrectfey albe to raed colmpex pasasges of txet caiinontng wdors in whcih the lrettes hvae been jmblued, pvioedrd the frsit and lsat leetrts rmeian in teihr crcerot piiotsons.

    Try reading that in a language you don’t know inside-out!

    So yes, the newer you are to a language the more recognition clarity you need, and that goes double for languages that use a different “alphabet” and triple for those that also use kanji.

Comments are closed.