One of the most difficult aspects of learning Japanese for any level of ability, is reading Japanese texts. In particular Japanese that’s written for native Japanese people. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at vocabulary, kanji, and grammar that you haven’t studied will appear.
This often means that reading is slow and difficult as you spend a lot of time looking up words and kanji. Then you have to take your notes and vocabulary and learn them!
Putting the time and effort into doing this is a HUGE benefit to your Japanese abilities, but it’s also a chore, and even I’ve been guilty of dropping doing this after a week!
That’s why the Koipun Reader is SUCH an amazing program! I honestly don’t know why no one’s thought of doing it before.
Koipun Reader is an online program that’s still in its Early Adopters Edition, which means it has basic features and needs a lot of work. But a lot of work has already and is still being put into it!
Ok… but what is Koipun Reader?
Simply put it’s a program where you can upload Japanese text (“books”) onto your personal account (“library”) to read them.
So what’s special about that?
The magic thing about Koipun Reader is it shows you the furigiana (readings) for all the kanji AND the definitions for words when you hover over them.
Hovering your mouse over a word doesn’t just show you it’s meaning, it shows you another example sentence, AND breaks down the kanji for you!
You can turn furigana on and off for the whole text AND/OR for individual words.
You can even save new vocabulary you come across then export your custom vocabulary list to Anki, a free flashcards software, to review later either at home or while on the go.
The Anki vocabulary flashcards you export includes the original sentence in which you saw the words, so that you can review vocabulary in context. It even comes with definitions and kanji readings in case you forgot them.
That’s the simple breakdown of Koipun Reader.
That’s the simple breakdown of Koipun Reader.
Why Koipun Reader is So Clever
It seems pretty self-explanatory as to why this is so clever. This allows people of any Japanese ability (as long as they can read hiragana and katakana) to read the majority of Japanese texts easily.
It allows them to turn furigana on and off for words and kanji they know, instantly look up the meanings for words, and export all new vocabulary for consistent study.
When I do this now I have Rikkai-kun activated, but he sometimes spazzes out when I scroll over a text. Then I have to copy and paste the word/reading/definition into excel to export to Memrise later. This means that reading sometime online specifically for studying can take time.
I tried out Koipun reader and my reading/vocab study time was cut in HALF!
Early Access Issues and Future Developments
First of all this IS an early access version. It’s nowhere near finished but enough has been done to get the basics out of it.
Right now you can only upload short articles to the website. And these articles are broken up into short paragraphs. This is great for using on a small screen (like a mobile device) but not so great on the computer.
Other limitations include the limited size per “book”. This is simply because the program Gabriel’s developed scans the text and has to look up words and readings from a database. The longer the text the more time this takes. So you can’t go uploading entire novels!
But this does mean it’s great for wikipedia, news articles and blog posts on various topics.
Since I started playing around with Koipun Reader Gabriel has programmed a way to change font size.
If you go onto the reader it’s entirely FREE right now! You can give it a play and there’s a message box in the corner where you can send Gabriel feedback and ideas.
The idea is that this will be a paid service in the future (maybe after Spring 2018), but if you go one there right now it’s all free.
2018 planned development includes a Japanese-Japanese dictionary, OCR import, a personal teacher, and weekly homework.
Koipun Reader is FREE & Usable Right Now!
Koipun Reader IS free and you can use it RIGHT NOW. As mentioned, this is an early access edition. You can pay for it or keep using the free version in Spring 2018 (despite what the website says).
Message from Gabriel, creator of Koipun Reader:
Koipun Reader will continue to be completely free until the final version is released in Spring 2018.
After the final version is released, you will receive an extra month to evaluate Koipun Reader. When that additional evaluation period ends, you can choose to subscribe or switch to what will be a free version of Koipun Reader.
Early adopters will be rewarded with a special discounted rate.
Gabriel has put into hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of hours into developing Koipun reader. And he’s working hard to put in hundreds of more hours to get it perfect!
It’s a work in progress but an amazing tool that could be invaluable to anyone studying Japanese.