KameSame’s server costs are about $80 per month, help cover them at our Patreon page
Hello, Internet! KameSame is a free Japanese learning tool that is designed to offer a fast, streamlined user interface and a robust feature set that provide users with a variety of ways to learn Japanese. Because it features a complete dictionary, it can be your primary Japanese learning tool for years to come.
- Four ways to do lessons for over 10,000 kanji and over 180,000 vocabulary:
- From a list (e.g. N5 vocabulary, Top 10,000 Words, or Level 11-20 WaniKani Kanji)
- From your WaniKani progress [Requires WaniKani API Key]
- From free-from Japanese language content (i.e. pasting in lyrics, transcripts, articles)
- From searching for any item and starting a one-off lesson
- Study both production (typing in Japanese) and recognition (providing English definitions) skills
- Audio recordings for every reading of every word (around 300,000 recordings)
- Keyboard navigation and shortcuts for nearly every user interface action (see them with
- A mobile-optimized Progressive Web App experience
- Customizable Japanese spellings and English definitions for every word
- An experience point (XP) system as you do reviews spanning 100 levels
- Resource links for every word to other dictionaries, image searches, example sentences, and news articles
- An “alternate match” system so that you aren’t marked wrong when you provide a Japanese word that also means what the system was expecting
- One-click study actions like undo, mark-as-failed, learn/burn (and unlearn/unburn), skip, and block items
- Every page is safe to reload the page and navigate back & forward in the browser history
Here is a 45 minute walk through of basically everything you could ever need to know about the app:
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I type Japanese?
KameSame requires you to use a real Japanese software or hardware keyboard for production cards. The goal of the system is to teach you how to actually type words, kanji-and-all, exactly as you would in every day life. If you need help setting this up, Tofugu has a good tutorial on it.
Isn’t it cheating to produce a kanji by [typing X instead of Y]
No, it isn’t cheating. If you want to produce the kanji
委 and you choose to type
委託 and then hit backspace to delete
託, that is not cheating yourself. You just learned how to produce a single kanji in an efficient way. This is something that Japanese people have to do all the time, too! Particularly because it’s a little unusual to be typing a standalone kanji, since that’s not how they’re actually used in language. That said, if you want to challenge yourself to practice kanji cards with a handwriting recognition keyboard, or by using your IME to look them up by radical or stroke order, feel free to do so. It’s up to you!
Major release notes
KameSame’s been in development for a little over two years now, so there have been a lot of updates over time:
Original AnnouncementHowdy everyone!
I just wanted to share this app I’ve been working on in my spare time:
Here’s a demo of the initial release:
As a language-learner, I find that I hit a wall when I’m not forced to produce the target language when I’m studying. My conversation partners help, but I’m often scratching my head to think of the word I want, even in cases where I’d automatically be able to recognize the Japanese word and produce English (as WaniKani trains you to). So, for the last 18 months, I’ve wanted a reverse WaniKani app with a more robust UI and ruleset than the (very much appreciated) KaniWani.
In particular, KaniWani treats synonyms as “wrong”, when it’s just a matter of course that lots of WaniKani items all translate to something common like “Actually”. KameSame cross-references each intended meaning against all the synonyms it can find, so if you give a valid answer that just happens to not be what the app is looking for, it won’t count for or against you—the app just tells you what it was looking for and gives you another try.
I hope some of you will try it and find it useful!
Major Update #1: Search## Major Update #1
Thanks to all the tremendous feedback in this thread, KameSame has come a long way in the 9 short days since the app went live. Lots of bug fixes, fine tuning, and tweaks. Today, I pushed the first major new feature addition: Search.
Here’s a demo of search:
It might not immediately be apparent, but I feel search is even more important in an app like KameSame than it is in WaniKani, because the problem KameSame solves is to help you answer the question “I know that I know word X, I just can’t recall it”, and enabling you to search for the word and in a single step add it to your review queue is a great way to ensure you won’t forget it again!
Major Update #2: Alternate Japanese Spellings## Major Update #2
The most common large feature request so far in this thread has been the ability to create custom strings that KameSame will mark correct, just like the Meaning Synonym feature of WaniKani. In KameSame, I’m calling these “alternate spellings” instead, since they’re not synonyms so much as other acceptable ways to type a word or phrase.
Here’s a demo of how to use that feature from the item detail page as well as while you’re studying:
This feature also supports “official” spellings that I’ve manually marked as correct and will immediately apply to everyone. If you have any suggestions for official alternate spellings, please let me know (here or at email@example.com) and I’ll review and add them. So far I’ve added a couple obvious ones: 見つける (for 見付ける) and 子ども (for 子供).
Major Update #3: Progressive Web App (PWA) / Add to Home Screen## Major Update #3: Progressive web app (PWA) support for iOS
KameSame can now be “installed” like an app, which eliminates browser chrome, reduces the amount of keyboard show/hide jank, and confers permission to launch other app links (e.g. Midori & Japanese) without asking every time.
I had to shelve this update for a while until iOS 12.0.1 was released and PWA support was good enough to be work-aroundable.
Major Update #4: Account Management & Password reset## Major Update #4: Account management & password reset
Since I wrote KameSame primarily for my own use, I didn’t bother with a bunch of typical things you might expect, like:
- Field validation that name isn’t blank, email is unique, or that WaniKani API is valid
- Ability to change name, email, or password
- Ability to update WaniKani API key (if you regenerate it)
- A password reset feature
Well, KameSame has all of that now. It was every bit as annoying and laborious as I expected. Check out the new goodies in the account page:
Major Update #5: Levels, experience points, progress page## Major Update #5: Levels, experience points, and updated home page
I spent most of my holiday break working on KameSame. 7 days and 71 commits later, I’ve merged in the XP system I’d been hoping to build since I first started work on KameSame in May.
Here are some highlights:
- Introduce a new level system. If you’ve been using KameSame, you already have a level, and now when you login you get to see what it is! There are currently 100 levels in the app, and reaching level 100 means you’ve burned the vast majority of content from WaniKani.
- You level up by earning XP during reviews
- XP is rewarded for each correct answer (exact or reading) that reaches a new maximum rank for a given item. For example if you get
大体to SRS stage 4 for the first time, you’ll get roughly 20XP, but if you get it wrong on a subsequent review (SRS rank 3) and then correct review (back to SRS rank 4), you won’t earn more XP.
- You get an inline XP notification animation each time you answer correctly. This can be disabled in settings if you find it distracting or unmotivating
- Higher SRS ranks award more XP than lower ones
- XP is rewarded for each correct answer (exact or reading) that reaches a new maximum rank for a given item. For example if you get
- The home page is completely redesigned. It now shows your current level, a number of statistics, and noteworthy items. Those are:
- Started studying - lessons you completed most recently
- Frequently failed - items you get incorrect in reviews most often
- Reading reliant - items for which your correct answers are most often via the hiragana reading as opposed to the exact kanji
- Likely leeches - items where you most often answer with an alternate match before ultimately getting it right or wrong. Items with lots of synonyms will show up here, as will items you might have a leech between two items
- Tons of little bug fixes to the SRS system and the stat tracking already in place
I’m sure there will be a few bugs here and there, but overall this is a massive release and I think it dramatically improves the usefulness of the app. Enjoy!
Animated review summary page:
XP + SRS rank notification during reviews:
New setting to hide animations:
RailsConf Presentation about creating KameSame## Not an update but still cool!
So I’ve been busy on other things so far in 2019, but one of them was actually to build a conference talk about my experiences creating KameSame, which I’ve now finished and performed at RubyKaigi in Fukuoka and RailsConf in Minneapolis.
If you’re interested in my thinking about KameSame and some of the things I learned while making it, I’d love for you to check it out on Vimeo:
Would love to hear from you if you take the time to watch it!
Major Update #6: Incorporation of 180,000 JMDict dictionary words## Major Update #6: KameSame incorporates all of JMDict's vocabulary
Ever since launching KameSame I’ve had a problem. The pattern repeats like this:
- I’m watching a TV show, listening to a podcast, or having a conversation in Japanese and I encounter a word I don’t know
- I fumble between one of half a dozen translation apps to look it up
- I confirm it is, indeed, a word
- I do not learn the word
Because I’ve become so hooked on specifically Wanikani and KameSame as game-ified, authoritative, and (most importantly) pleasant-to-use user interfaces for memorizing Japanese words and concepts, here’s what I’ve always wanted to be able to do (and as of today, we can):
- Hear a new word
- Open my KameSame PWA from my phone homescreen
- Search for the word
- Click learn
- Type the word and get it into my SRS queue
That’s right! KameSame’s search engine now returns not just WaniKani’s content, but everything in JMDict as well. What’s that mean for you and your weekend? Well, for starters, if you type “pants” into the search, just check out how many words you can start learning:
It doesn’t look like much, I’m sure, but accomplishing this has taken over half a dozen major preparatory features over the last several months (e.g. decoupling the concept of an item from WaniKani, removing reliance on a WaniKani assignment for creating new study cards, etc). But this has really been a ton of work and I can’t wait to start dumping some of the 712 items I’ve been saving in Japanese.app for the last two years into KameSame and actually, finally, learn them all.
While I’m going to develop KameSame at the same pace either way, I really appreciate anything you’re willing to contribute to our Patreon account to help defray the server costs. They’re steadily rising with usage and approaching ~$100/month, which I expect might increase with the added heft of the JMDict corpus.
[By the way, if you’re not familiar with JMDict, it’s the basis for just about every software-based Japanese-English dictionary. I remember studying Japanese in college and relying on Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC, which at the time was easily the best online searchable dictionary and — while other tools like jisho have a slicker UX, just about every tool in our ecosystem is based on JMDict’s incredible corpus of content. 's off to them!]
Major Update #7: Practice recognition skill as well as production## Major Update #7: The un-reversed WaniKani edition!
Phew, this one was a lot of work. Up to now, KameSame has existed as a “Reverse WaniKani” tool, but once I started using it, I really wanted to be able to use KameSame for words that weren’t part of the WaniKani corpus (hence pulling in JMDict’s 180,000 words in Update #6). As a result, however, any words you study in KameSame from JMdict will be a little one-sided—I’m already finding that there are words I can recall in conversation thanks to KameSame but literally can’t read when I see them on signs or in articles due to a lack of recognition practice.
To recap these terms, in KameSame:
- Production: English prompt, Japanese answer
- Recognition: Japanese prompt, English answer
So! With this update, you can now study your ability to recognize Japanese words by providing a valid English meaning. There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s start with the feature and work backwards to setting it up how you need.
Studying recognition skills
When on a recognition card, the study UI does the obvious thing and swaps English for Japanese:
You provide the right English response, and you pass the lesson or review:
That’s about all there is to that. When you complete a set of reviews that encompass multiple skill types, the results will be annotated with
あ badges to indicate whether they were recognition or production skills, accordingly.
Recognition and Production as separate cards
In WaniKani, we practice both meaning recognition and reading production, and the two are a “package deal” for purposes of tracking your knowledge of an item. If you get either wrong, you fail the whole item. The item isn’t complete until you get both right.
KameSame works differently. For the skills you have enabled, each one is learned and then tracked completely separately. It’s possible to have burned recognition on one card while still an apprentice in production, for example. You can see your progress towards each on the item summary page:
Enabling and disabling the feature
By default, recognition will be enabled for all users doing ad hoc & content-based lessons based on your enabled types (e.g. if you have vocabulary enabled but kanji disabled, only vocabulary recognition will be toggled on). However, if you’re sure you never want to practice recognition with KameSame, you can disable it entirely from the accounts settings like this:
Batching by question type
If you don’t have “Batch studies by type” enabled in settings, I strongly urge you to turn it on as a quality of life measure:
When enabled, you clear all of your reviews that require an English keyboard first, allowing you to toggle back to a Japanese keyboard for production just once per session. If you’re using a physical Japanese hardware keyboard or otherwise comfortable toggling rapidly between keyboard modes, maybe experiment with turning this back off for greater surprise/variety during your reviews.
Learning recognition of WaniKani items
Even though the overall feature is enabled by default, you will still only get production lessons via the WaniKani lesson interface unless you opt-in to study both, since you (presumably) are already getting recognition practice for the word using WaniKani.
No such thing as too much practice, though!
There are a few consequences of this feature you may or may not notice:
- So as not to make it too easy to earn a weekly star, each star requires 50 lessons across unique items each week. So if you learn 50 production cards, you’ll get your star. If you learn production & recognition for the same 49 items, you won’t earn your star even though you’ll have completed 98 lessons.
- There are no “reading correct” or “alternate match” answers for recognition cards. Just right and wrong.
- Like WaniKani, you don’t have to type a recognition answer perfectly to be marked correct. The typo distance is relaxed as the meaning gets longer so you’re not having to sweat typing really long meanings too carefully
- Because many JMDict items have long parentheticals in their definitions (e.g. “To run (to a store, etc)”), the scoring mechanism will accept either an exact answer or an answer with all the parentheticals removed. That means if one meaning in JMDict is “To travel (in a vehicle) away from (your own) home” then “to travel away from home” will be an accepted answer
This feature is going to necessitate a lot of follow-on work over the next few months. I imagine we’ll need to:
- Clean up the home/progress page to differentiate different skills across items (right now you’ll see duplicates) [Update: ]
- A synonym (“alternate meaning” to go along with “alternate spelling”) system so that you can type shorter, more memorable meanings—also tie these back to alternate matches of production cards, potentially [Update: ; they’re called Definitions]
- A vocabulary list feature, featuring either or both of curated and custom lists to study from. I’d like to make it really easy to start plugging away at the top 10,000 words, for example. Same goes for studying all the words by JLPT level. [Update: mostly , see below]
Major Update #8: Study from curated lists## Major Update #8: Learn lessons from curated lists
Today’s a big day and represents the culmination of months of toodling about refactoring KameSame’s data model to enable more general purpose language study than merely being a mirror of WaniKani, without (a) stopping being that, or (b) sacrificing any of the speed or function of the study/quiz UI to do it.
Starting today, the lessons tab will kick off with lists to study words from. For now, there’s 1 list, based on the 10,000 most frequent words assembled by NINJAL. But soon after we’ll have JLPT N1-N5 vocab lists added. Eventually, we’ll add a KanjiDict import in addition to JMDict so that we can also have N1-N5 kanji lists to work from
Here’s what the feature looks like:
If you expand the details view, you can see just how many items you’ve started and their progress, to get a better idea of how close you are to completion:
I’m really excited about this and think it’s going to blow the doors wide open to people being able to use KameSame for general language study.
- Enable sign-ups without a WaniKani API key; require the key only to use the WaniKani lessons feature (which depends on your assignment status to determine unlocks)
- Allow users to create custom lists
- Allow users to report problems with lists (for now just email me
- Make more lists
- Make the lists more good
Major Update #9: Undo review answers, Mark items as failed
Major update #9: Undo review answers & mark-wrong after the fact!
Two huge, frequently requested features just went live tonight. All these features only apply to reviews, not lessons.
Let’s break it down
I added a “Fail” button added to the results screen, so if you get an answer right or if you get an alternate match and realize you really don’t know the answer, you can click
Fail and KameSame will roll back your previous answer and then apply a wrong answer to it, as if you’d gotten it wrong in the first place.
For example, say I answer 意外 but the word KS wanted was 思いげない. If i know I don’t know 思いげない, I can save myself the hassle of waiting to see it again, getting it intentionally wrong (so that KS records the failure), only to ultimately get it right. Instead, I just click fail:
And if I click back in the browser, I can see that it was overwritten with failure data:
Now this one is really interesting. If you answer a review incorrectly (suppose there’s a synonym that you hadn’t added yet, or you just mistyped a character), you can now undo your response, and the card will be rolled back as if you hadn’t answered it yet. You can also undo correct answers and alternate matches as well, though I imagine that’ll be used less often.
The button is on the right side of the review action bar:
And if you hit back in your browser after undoing, you’ll see that the results have been scrubbed:
However, there’s a catch! The most important thing to me (other than maintaining integrity of our data, which was tricky), was to prevent myself (and by proxy, you) from abusing this feature by marking a bunch of wrong answers as correct after the fact.
So, how does it work? Well:
If you didn’t fail the review, you can undo your answer as many times as you like. Feel free to undo all the correct and alternate match answers you want
If you failed the review, you must use what I’m calling an “undo credit” to rollback the response and get a second chance at answering it correctly.
And how do undo credits work? I’m glad you asked!
Every user starts out with 3 undo credits. Once they’re used, you can’t undo any more answers for failed reviews
For every 50 reviews you complete, you’ll earn 1 additional undo credit.
You can carry a maximum of 3 undo credits at a time.
Here’s what this looks like in practice. Say I get “sneeze” wrong, like this:
I’ll see a 3 next to “Undo” and if I click it, I’ll see a 2 the next time:
Once these credits are exhausted, the jig is up! You’ll have to do more reviews to earn more credits to avoid failing reviews mistakenly.
Major Update #10: Keyboard shortcuts
KameSame now features a great many keyboard shortcuts, which you can find by hitting the
/ key on your keyboard. In study mode, the modifier key is
CTRL for Apple platforms and
Alt for non-Apple devices:
In addition to these keyboard shortcuts,
k also navigate to
previous items in most pages of the interface, highlighting major sections and buttons on each page, where
shift-tab can be used to highlight other UI elements like forms and links.
These shortcuts allow you to navigate and use the app entirely without a mouse in the vast majority of cases
Major Update #11: Audio recordings## Major Update #11: Audio!
Hey team, fun news! I’ve built an integration between KameSame & Amazon Polly (which added Japanese support a few days ago) to generate native pitch accurate audio for EVERY READING OF EVERY WORD in KameSame.
It’s currently processing the corpus now, but this is going to end up being about 300,000 recordings throughout the app.
Here’s a video I posted to Twitter: https://twitter.com/searls/status/1248804987259555840?s=20
For now the recordings are on the item page, but I’ll be adding them to the question result pane as well. I’m also going to make sure we have keyboard shortcuts for playing them!