A long time ago, I made the switch from using Rikaichan to Rikaikun because I changed my browser (Firefox to Chrome) and had no choice. It was recently brought to my attention that the dictionary data used by Rikaikun is very out of date. With this, I started looking into a Rikaikun alternative. Here’s what I ended up switching to.
This new (at least for me) extension is called Yomichan, and it’s available for both Chrome and Firefox.
You can find the website here: Foosoft Productions: Yomichan
Yomichan has options
One thing that sets Yomichan apart from some of the other extensions that show Japanese meanings/readings is that it doesn’t come with anything preloaded. That’s right, you have to import the dictionary data yourself. Having said this, it’s one the greatest Rikaikun alternative I’ve found that improves on it.
It’s a little troublesome at first, especially if you are using it on multiple computers. However, you are free to load up what dictionary files (available on Yomichan’s website) you need. In addition, the dictionary data is further up to date than the one included with Rikaikun. There are also additional dictionary databases you can install for slang, names, etc.
I forgot to mention that for most common words, you can even have Yomichan play audio so you can hear a native speaker say the word. It’s a nice touch.
Another difference between Rikaikun and the other Rikai extensions are the shortcuts/actions needed to turn on highlight mode. Most people are used to clicking the icon at the top of the browser and then hovering over some text. With Yomichan, you have to hold down shift and then hover over text. However, you never have to worry about toggling it on/off.
EPWING, the format you should know about
But wait, that’s not all. Yomichan offers the ability to import “EPWING” dictionary databases. This format is used by companies that produce authoritative dictionaries for portable electronic dictionaries in Japan. So if you wanted to use a Japanese-Japanese dictionary, pitch accent information, or some other paid dictionary option, that is possible in Yomichan.
Honestly, the default dictionaries you can download free with Yomichan are perfectly fine and most people probably won’t need to bother with the ipwing dictionary files. However, if you’re an advanced user or just curious, you can check out this resource on YouTube for information on how to get ipwing dictionary data. (Which may or may not be free)
Best alternative to Rikaikun? Your thoughts
Okay, so I was blown away by Yomichan and think it’s probably the best extension for dealing with Japanese. However, I want to know what you think. Let me know in the comments what your preferred extension is and why.