Japanese -> English Bookmarklet for Google Chrome

The only part of Firefox that I really miss using is the awesome Rikaichan plugin.  I’ve managed to emulate it, poorly, by using a Json call to a dictionary I setup on my server.

To use this, drag the link below into your Bookmark bar.  Select some text and click the “Translate” button; you will get a translation, if it can find one.


I can imagine a few benefits to doing it this way, over the long term.  Mainly, keeping the information in a DB somewhere means someone can aggregate the information and provide you with additional services (“You are constantly misunderstanding X kanji”, for instance).  I can’t say anything about privacy implications.  

This is free for your use.  The backend is dirt simple and I’m using the Edict dictionary for the translations.  I’ll publish everything once I find a suitable place to do so.  Sorry for the speed (my server sucks – if anyone else has a better place, or even one that I can use Tokyo Tyrant with, I’d appreciate a message :))

You can download the Javascript source here.  You can download the php backend code here.  I did it all in one sprint from 2 AM to 10 AM, so please don’t bother me about the lack of comments, I’m sure you are smart enough to understand what is going on.

Okubo Revisited

It is a cruel reality truth that foreigners in Japan have a hard time finding a place to stay.  I paid my dues while looking for a real place to stay with a 1 month stay in Okubo, the infamous “Korean town” of Tokyo.  Although centrally located, real estate values here can’t compare to neighbouring Shinjuku.  This is undoubtedly due to the (minimal) crime in the area.

Oddly enough, my stay in Okubo was quite good.  The location was clean, there was a Halal grocery around the corner, and I was never accosted (even when walking outside late at night).  Unfortunately, the shared house was sold to someone else and I had to move out.  I have a wealth of stories from my time here (like the time I ran outside in my underwear to help a woman who was attacked by a purse snatcher), but they will have to wait for another time. :robot: 

A Dog in Yokohama


Not much of a view out the front door.
Not much of a view out the front door.

My life here started in Yokohama. I resided in two desirable locations; first with a friend and his family in Nishi-Ku, and then in a “Weekly Mansion” in Kannai. Circumstances require discretion in regards to my misadventures at my friend’s house, but no such requirement exists in regards to my time in Kannai.  

A Weekly Mansion is a sort of middle-term apartment lease, usually measured in weeks.  These sorts of premises are all routinely tiny, and vastly overpriced.  My apartment was 8-11 m2, but it cost nearly a thousand dollars to rent.  Weekly mansions are somewhat infamous for suicides; not surprising since the people there are generally the kind that can’t get a regular apartment, or had to find a place at the last moment (read: kicked out of the house).

My neighbours were  salarymen and a dog stylist next door. The contrast was delicious; Grey, stern salarymen, constantly depressed looking, locked in tiny cages and forever using nothing but keigo.  Attractive, nubile 18 year-old Japanese girls in pinki mini skirts, with giant, gorgeous leather sofas for their “clients”.  While the dogs next door were getting ready for their bubble bath, the salarymen were busy  making desperate phone calls to the company (working from home).   The sheer subborn willpower that they showed towards their country’s well being could even entitle them to the rank of hero, save that the results of their actions are of such a trifling insignificant quality that one would run the risk of sounding sarcastic.  Yet, sarcasm’s long shadow will not be deny me my ode to the Yokohama Salaryman-Warrior-Hero.  

Sacrificing his vitals for his company and his nation, seldom complaining, and maintaining decorum at all times.   Bitter and unedible fruits from his labours are of no bother, nor is his inconsequence to the world.  A tiny apartment is where he begins his life (as everything before starting work is of no value), and then a grand palace (40 m2) that he never has time to see.  In his king’s court, he is betrayed by his wife and 1.2 children, neither of whom can stand how disgusting he is.  When his battle with stress inevitably reaches its end, a few mumbled platitudes and a pre-packaged funeral and then his ashes released to pollute the air. Magnifique!

The salaryman might be a hero, but I’d rather be a dog in Yokohama.  Give me the 18 year old chiq barber over the 38 year old hostess any day.