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Just the FAQs

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Questions about

How do you get the avatar picture to appear under your username?

You can upload an avatar on your Edit Profile page.

The avatar has to be 100x100 or smaller, and in either a format of .jpg, .gif or .png. If its not that small or the wrong format, then you can stick it in paint and adjust it that way. It should also be 20kb or smaller, this may be a problem with animated gifs.

If your image does not fit the regulation size, it will appear as a broken image. If you are having trouble with the image and one of the dimensions is 100px, try changing it to 99px. Also be sure that its file type is the same as given in the file name (renaming .art to .gif does not make an AOL picture into a .gif one).

How do I make a signature with a picture?

First of all you have to have a picture that fits the space allowed (100x400 pixels).

When you have a picture you want to use in your signature you have to upload it to an image hosting site. There are many free sites on the internet where you can upload and host your image. For instance:

When you’re done uploading your picture you get a link. As an example:

or something like that.

Edit your signature on your Edit Profile page, add the following code (using your link of course):


Remember that sig. graphics on the forum are limited to 100 pixels in height and 400 pixels in length. If you upload a larger image, you will quickly get messages asking you to alter or remove it.

What is the Shoutbox for?

Read about the Shoutbox here.

What are the Forum rules?

Read about the Forum posting rules here and Forum Etiquette.

Questions about using Japanese on my computer

Setting up a Mac OS X for Japanese

Japanese is built-in, and already loaded. You just have to activate it.

Navigate to [apple logo] -> System Preferences -> International -> Language

If you don't see "日本語" listed under the "Language" tab, click the "Edit List..." button. Scroll through the list and check the box next to "日本語".

Next, click the "Input Menu" tab. Scroll through the list and make sure the box for "あ Kotoeri" is checked. Also, at the bottom, there is an optional box "Show input menu in menu bar" that you can check to see the currently running input method next to your clock.

This only applies to OS X. For the steps on OS 9, please refer to Nihongoweb's Instructions.

Windows Instructions

Installing the Japanese IME is the best place to look for good instructions. GMAN: Windows XP Japanese Input is also very thorough.

A detailed tutorial with screenshots for Windows XP IME can be found here. You can also read more directly at Microsoft's website.

Setting up Windows XP for Japanese

Navigate to Start -> Control Panel -> Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options -> Regional and Language Options -> Languages Tab

Check "Install files for East Asian languages" -> Details -> Add

Select "Japanese" from the drop down list and press OK

Click Language bar. Check "Show language bar on desktop". Click [EN] (English) and change it to [JP] (Japanese). Click "Input Mode" and change it from A (Direct Input) to あ (Hiragana) or ア (Katakana).

A good guide about setting up language and using the language bar is here

Using a Japanese Keyboard


Some instructions for Windows users:


Mac supports Japanese keyboards out of the box with very little/no configuration.

Linux / XWindows /

Linux also supports Japanese keyboards out of the box, but if your mapping is incorrect, it's a simple fix.

If your keyboard mapping is wrong in Linux, edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf as root with the following command.

sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Look for the InputDevice for "Generic Keyboard". It should look like similar to the following:

Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier      "Generic Keyboard"
        Driver          "kbd"
        Option          "CoreKeyboard"
        Option          "XkbRules"      "xorg"
        Option          "XkbModel"      "pc105"
        Option          "XkbLayout"     "us"
        Option          "XkbOptions"    "lv3:ralt_switch"

Change the "XkbModel" and "XkbLayout" options to Japanese layout like so:

        Option          "XkbModel"      "jp106"
        Option          "XkbLayout"     "jp"

Save the file, and restart the X server by rebooting or hitting <ctrl>+<alt>+<Back Space>

Windows Mobile 5

For this system, you will need Bagoj's Japanese language pack, and if your PDA's display is QVGA, also the QVGA files.

Except for needing to decompress the QVGA files on a PC, all the following work is done on the PDA itself.

1. Download and install the cab. If you have a VGA device, skip to step 4.


2. Download and decompress the QVGA files.

3. Place these files in the Windows directory, overwriting the files with the same names from the main cab. I did this by simply decompressing these files to a folder on a memory card my PDA can accept, and copying them with the file manager on the device.

(ALL DEVICES Continue)

4. Reset your device.

You will now have a window that can be moved almost anywhere on the screen. the first button turns the IME on and off, the second selects the type of character to input when in keyboard or character recognition modes.

Multibox will allow you to directly input your character by drawing them in the boxes. Stroke order seems to be important.

Radical List allows you to select Kanji by radical.

Stroke list allows you to select Kanji by number of strokes.

Character Autocomplete allows you to draw a partial Kanji, and select the appropriate one from a list. Stroke order seems important.

Some of these may display a security warning initially, saying that it requires running a program from an untrusted publisher. Simply tap yes to get that specific editor. Normally, this only will happen the first time an editor is run, also, this will normally only affect the QVGA devices.

Download the main cab here.

Download the QVGA files here.

How do you type ゐ ゑ ヰ ヱ?

It depends on your IME.

IME Type This Get This
Anthy xwi
Anthy xwe
use F7 to get katakana versions
MS IME* wi
  • Note that with MS IME you must henkan (type space) after entering we / wi to get desired character.

MS IME romaji table

ARRGH! I just can't enter Japanese.

If, for whatever reason, you can't install an IME then there is ...

"How do I say or write '....' in Japanese?" questions

You can try the wiki page How do I say "...." in Japanese?.

You can also try a dictionary.

Alternatively, you can search the Tanaka Corpus through WWWJDIC.

These kinds of questions are very common. If you can't find an answer on the linked pages, do a forum search and you might well find the answer.

Questions about learning Japanese

Where can I learn Japanese?

Here. That is from this WagaWiki (look at the Main Page and the categories Practice and Grammar). Also TheJapanesePage.Com (look at forum posts, articles, lesson links from the navigation bar etc).

Can somebody teach me Japanese?

Nobody is going to do everything for you for free. Post sensible specific questions in the forums and people will probably answer them. Practice writing Japanese in the forums and people will probably correct it. Don't forget the option of textbooks (see Selecting a Japanese Textbook) and taking classes.

What should I study first?

Hiragana first. It is the absolute basic thing to learn. It's easy enough to understand and utilise within a week or so and it goes very far to help you understand Japanese. Katakana is usually the next step. Katakana phonetically spell out foreign words in Japanese. Both syllabaries have the same sounds, but different characters. After that, learning is much easier.

Do I really have to learn Kanji?

If you want to be able to read and write passably in Japanese, yes. Kanji aren't difficult, but learning them is time consuming. They also help to make the spoken language easier to understand because it clarifies how words share the same roots in the Japanese mind.

Learn to love them early on and it will make your learning swifter and far more pleasant.

What about Manga and Anime?

see: Learning Japanese from media

Where can I find some audio files of Japanese?

  • Japanese Pod 101 has daily podcasts with Japanese lessons.
  • Japancast has weekly lesson podcasts, and links to humorous video clips.
  • NHK has weekly lesson broadcasts in a number of languages, which are archived on their website.

Why are some words written in a combination of kanji and hiragana? Why not in all kanji or all hiragana?

Originally, Japanese was written in all kanji, but Japanese, unlike Chinese, is a highly inflected language, and inevitably certain kanji started to be used purely for phonetic value to represent the verb and adjective inflections and the particles. Eventually, these became simplified in a couple of different ways, resulting in the katakana and hiragana syllabaries.

In childrens' books, Japanese is written in all hiragana, but the use of kanji makes words easier to distinguish, especially for foreign language learners with small vocabularies.

How to know when to use kanji and when to use hiragana? A mixture of experience and esthetics. Many words that can be written in kanji are usually written in kana in modern Japanese. Also, Japanese try to maintain a balance between kanji and kana for esthetic reasons.

What's the difference between on and kun readings, and how do I know when to use them?

On readings are the way the Japanese heard the kanji pronounced when they borrowed them from Chinese. They are usually used in compounds and suru verbs.

Kun readings are native Japanese words to which the kanji have been applied according to the meaning of the kanji. The are usually used in stand-alone kanji or in conjugated words (-i adjectives and verbs.)

Since there are often two or three on and kun readings, and sometimes up to a dozen kun readings for a kanji, the only way to be sure how to read a word containing a kanji is to learn the word and the reading it uses.

Questions about TheJapanesePage members

Is anyone here Japanese?

The short answer is yes. The more complex answer depends on the reason for asking this question. In general, unless studying very advanced Japanese, there are plenty of non-Japanese members that can answer any question accurately. The native Japanese usually only step in to answer if one of the other members answers incorrectly. Just remember that asking specifically for a Japanese person to answer a queston is usually considered rude and can alienate other members.

If a Japanese person is needed to fill out some kind of survey, then these requests are more tolerated. Follow standard survey practices, otherwise some who might be willing to take the survey may lose interest.

Finding Penpals

If on the other hand you are looking for a penpal it is better to use one of the standard pen pal connection venues. These are some links to sites some members have used.

A few notes about penpals:

  • Don't trick a penpal into thinking you have a higher level of Japanese ability than you do. In other words, don't post to the forum asking for entire e-mails to be translated (either way). Stay within your level of Japanese -- if your Japanese is almost nonexistent, then get a penpal who knows English.
  • Don't post the penpal's private e-mails to you onto TJP unless you have gotten your penpal's permission to do so.

What are these people talking about?

Over the years, a few threads and posters have become legendary and the subject of various in-jokes that act as shibboleths. Unlike normal shibboleths they are not meant to exclude, but they do confuse people from time-to-time.

Questions about Japanese culture

Tattoos and Japan

Recommended reading material

Some of your questions have already been discussed on the forums. Please check these threads.

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