Japanese bookmarks

I’ve been some years learning Japanese, during the learning process I’m using many tools, tutorials, resources I found on the net. In this post I will list which I consider the best bookmarks everyone should know if you are in the process of learning Japanese.


  • Guidetojapanese: the best web I know to learn the basic Japanese grammar. The author uses a very clear and direct style.
  • Jgram: is a big grammar database/dictionary.


  • Alc: the best Japanese-English dictionary. It’s based on the commercial dictionary called EIJIRO.
  • EDICT: is the one I use everyday.
  • Goo: used by many Japanese, has many search options and examples with each result.
  • Ruigo: Japanese thesaurus.


  • Kanjisite: there are only around 1.000 kanjis but I love the simple interface and the selected words for each kanji
  • this is the best site/application to learn kanji on the net that I know.
  • Kanji practice: this one has even videos showing the correct calligraphy for each character.
  • Kanjiaday: one kanji featured each day.


Which are your favorite sites to learn Japanese and languages in general?

History Japanese

Shells, Kanjis and Money

There are many places where in the old times shells were used as currency. India and China used them during thousands of years and their shell-coins gradually entered the Japanese islands. It is interesting that even nowadays there is a Japanese and Chinese character that means “shell” but if you add strokes to it the meaning changes to “money”.

The Japanese character is 貝(kai) and the simplified Chinese is 贝 (bei / bu). Both are pictographs (They are supposed to look like a shell) and evolvee from and original character that you can see in the next picture:

Picture from Shirakawa.

The character evolved during thousands of years and it became this:


It doesn’t really look like a shell, but if we look at the shape of some money created from shells:

Picture from Shirakawa.

Look at the toothed hole in the middle, it looks like the lines that divide the body of the character 貝.

Picture from Shirakawa.

The character 貝 means “shell”, for example, 二枚貝, a word composed by three kanjis (two, thin things, shell) and it means bivalve, if you change the first character with 1 it becomes 一枚貝 that means univalve… Sometimes I’m amazed with the Japanese language “simplicity”, “intuitiveness” and representative power.

If you add extra strokes to the 貝 it looses the “shell” meaning and acquires the “money/exchange/commerce” meaning. Look at next kanjis where you can easily identify the “shell” part inside them and they all have meanings related with money:


There are many kanjis created from “shell” and they are used to build hundreds of words related with value/money. For the people who is studying Japanese here there is a list of some of the most common words constructed with kanjis with “shell” radical. For Chinese students from this link you have all the derived characters.

: savings, store / 貯まる: saving money, 貯金: savings.
: fortune
: sells / 販売: to sell, marketing
: freight, property
: to lend
貿: trade, exchange / 貿易 foreign trade
: buy
: precious, prize
: rent, fare, fee / 家賃 rent payment
: cost, expense
: poor, insubstantial / 貧しい : poor 貧乳: insubstantial breasts 🙂
: data, materials / 資料: data, documents 投資: investment
Other characters I can remind: 貼, 側, 測, 賄, 賂… If you want more info about these words and kanjis I recommend using JDic