Learning Japanese ancient characters with your smartphone

Learning Japanese ancient characters with your smartphone

App allows users to learn to read Japanese from the Edo period and exchange knowledge on kuzushiji

Mar 9, 2016

The Graduate Faculty of Letters in Osaka University has developed KuLA – the Kuzushi-ji Learning Application. This application is designed to allow anyone with a smartphone or tablet device to study kuzushi-ji easily.

This application has three sections: Learn, Read, and Connect. The Learn section allows users to study 278 different hentaigana and cursive-style kanji and features images taken from Japanese historical books. Study progress can be checked with the included kuzushi-ji test feature. The Read section lets users test their ability further by reading images of Japanese classical texts written in kuzushi-ji. The Connect section allows users studying kuzushi-ji to interact with one another. Users can take pictures of difficult characters and ask others for help, or share their study progress with other users.

Databases holding images of pre-modern Japanese books and other historical materials are currently in rapid development. The National Institute of Japanese Literature plans to make 300,000 images of historical materials available online over a 10 year period starting from 2014 as part of its Project to Build an International Collaborative Research Network for Pre-modern Japanese Texts. However, whilst researchers in Japan outside of the field of literary studies and researchers of Japanese studies outside of Japan are able to access pre-modern materials more easily, there is still a lack of knowledge as to how to utilize these materials.

This application was developed as a tool to aid researchers in fields outside literature and researchers outside of Japan to use these image databases more effectively.

1: The main menu of KuLA

2: Usage examples for a character shown in the Learn section

3: The test feature of the Study section

4: Reading practice in the Read section (the text displayed here is from H ōjōki by Kamo no Chōmei)

To download KuLA app, click the links below.

Related links

Technical Glossary