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Current version: 1.67Last update: 03/21/08

(wakan) is a versatile tool for students of Japanese or Chinese. It features a character dictionary, a word dictionary, a text editor, a vocabulary management utility, many printing options (character flashcards, vocabulary lists, text including furigana), and a text translation tool. will allow you to read real Japanese or Chinese text with minimum knowledge of characters and vocabulary.

Visit project forum. See list of latest updates.

License & copyright

is freeware. It is completely free for non-commercial use. Its database is built from several freeware dictionaries available on the web:

Project purpose

The primary purpose of is to help students of Japanese or Chinese. It exploits the fact that although the two languages are very different in structure, grammar and pronunciation, they both use (at least partly) Chinese characters for writing. So the central feature of - the character dictionary - can be used by students of either language. Since the program interface is practically the same whether you use it in Japanese or Chinese mode, is an ideal tool for students learning both languages, or for students who are primarily learning only one but may want to have some insight into how a particular character or character compound is used differently in the other.

One of the main goals of this project is to enable students to read Japanese or Chinese text with minimum knowledge of the language. You can paste Japanese or Chinese text from a website or a document into . While browsing through the text, displays not only the meaning of the word the cursor is on, but also displays information about characters, adds furigana to text and allows you to print the text with the furigana. When you encounter a word or character you would like to learn, you can add it into vocabulary or get to know additional information about it. When you enter some Japanese or Chinese text into the editor, automatically displays relevant dictionary entries and lets you choose the right character conversion. These features enable you to learn the language and build a vocabulary in a natural way: By coping with the real texts written in the real way (with all the characters) without becoming frustrated with the difficult writing system.

It was once believed that Japan and China would have to abolish the use of characters as they posed a serious problem for computers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Not only is it no problem for computers to display and use Chinese characters, but computers in fact help to use Chinese characters effectively. For example, using a computer dictionary to locate an unknown character is incomparably more efficient than using a paper dictionary. And using a computer to write characters is a very easy task in comparison to writing them by hand. One of the purposes of is to show you that Chinese characters are not only an amazing cultural heritage to be admired for their beauty, but also very practical to use and a great aid in reading and learning. I think that many students would say that Chinese characters are one of the main reasons why learning Japanese or Chinese is so interesting and such great fun.

The first versions of originated from my need for some aid in learning Japanese. I was not satisfied with the available tools and wanted to make something that met my needs. I gradually added more and more features to the project and soon realized that it could be useful to other people. I made some changes to the user interface and named the project JaLeT (for Japanese Learning Tool). It then occurred to me that it could also be interesting for students of Chinese. Thus the project needed a new name, and so it was renamed , which means Japanese-Chinese in Japanese; in Chinese as well, the two characters are used for Japanese-style and Chinese-style respectively.

If you find this program useful, please help to make it better by posting bug reports or feature improvement suggestions to the forum. You can also send me email, but the forum will help more since other people will have a chance to react to your suggestions.

Thanks & acknowledgements

Many thanks to all the people who helped with testing development versions of JaLeT, primarily to Petr Sojnek who also invented the name . Many thanks to Tony Horowitz for proofreading, testing and help with documentation. And finally big thanks go to Akiko Crowther for showing me the beauty of Japanese calligraphy (she has a gallery named Yu-Yu on Mala Strana in Prague, so if you are living nearby you can pay her a visit) and finally I gratefully acknowledge Jim Breen's work in making the most useful free Japanese-english dictionary on the web - EDICT.

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