Tenkara: Searching the Internet with Japanese Terms. Part 1.

I have played around searching the Internet for Japanese language Tenkara websites or videos using Japanese phrases for several years. I do it because I find it fun and challenging. It is a language I do not speak or read. Or only read a little. Over time I have learned several words, learned a little about Japanese sentence structure that helps me translate, more or less correctly, what I find with the help of Google translate. Sure ever now and again I search for Tenkara website in English. But that is a little boring and not much of a challenge.

It has come to my attention that at least a few people would like to do this too. But aren’t quite sure how to go about it. I have learned a few tricks that help me do this that might help others. Like most people I started out by collecting a list of Japanese phrases that I could later copy and paste into the Google search window. I started out by only knowing one Japanese word. テンカラ. Using that as my search term I soon found other Japanese phrases to save and use again later. I rarely do this any more. It is much faster to just type the phonetic of the Japanese terms I want to use into the Google translate window to get the Japanese terms I want to search with and start the search for the topic that I am interested in.

Finding Japanese language Tenkara websites is the easy part. You can learn a lot just by looking at the pictures or diagrams. Translating the Japanese to English accurately is much more difficult. Google translates some words or phrases in a very weird ways. Some pages translate fairly well. Others are almost impossible to figure out. The only conclusion I have arrived at is that it has to do with the writing style of the author. That being said, learning a little about Japanese sentence structure can often help. And I have a few tips for common odd translations that may help and a few tips about Japanese that may help some too.

It will really help you a lot if you learn hiragana. And later learn katakana. Along the way you will learn a few Kanji. Maybe not how to pronounce it but know what it means. I think being able to speak Japanese is a different skill from knowing how to read it. Though of course if you know how to say it that will help you to remember it.

Basically hiragana (ひらがな) is the Japanese text for native words. Katakana (カタカナ) are a second set of text for the same syllables that are mostly used for non native words. Though there are exceptions. One of the mysteries is why Tenkara is more commonly seen written with katakana. Kanji (漢字) are basically Chinese text or pictograms adopted into Japanese. If you know the Japanese kanji it will mean the same thing in Chinese, or Korean or Vietnamese. Only the spoken word will be different. Many Japanese are uncertain how to say a given kanji. Furigana (ふりがな) are text in hiragana or katakana written in small font above the kanji to help you know the meaning of the kanji or now to pronounce it. Lastly there is romaji (ろーまじ) Roman alphabet for the Japanese word. Close to the phonetic for the word but not always the same. Later I will give some recommendations for learning hiragana or katakana.

I use Google translate. There may be better options, but that is what I use. This web page:  https://translate.google.com/

Open the web site and set the left side window for Japanese from the drop down menu. Set the right side to English. Or whatever your native language is. It will look like this:

Please notice the little icon in the lower left corner. It looks like the hiragana for “a” あ. And also notice the little down arrow just to its right side. Later this will be very useful to free you from having to keep a list of Japanese words or phrases. If you click on the down arrow you get a drop down menu with two options. You will be able to type the phonetic for the Japanese word and if before you hit enter, if instead you touch the space bar, you will be given a list of several Japanese characters to choose from. If you have learned the Japanese word you want to use you can click on it and that word or phrase will be written into the left side window. The Google translation into English will show up in the right side window.

This is what it will look like when you click the down arrow next to あ.

Or you can choose the other option. It is an icon that looks like a small pencil next to Japanese -Handwrite. Click on it and a popup window will open and you can use the mouse to draw a Japanese kanji that you don’t know. This is useful for simple kanji. Not so good for the more complex kanji. It is also useful for a kanji that you remember what it looks like and what it means, but you don’t remember its phonetic spelling that would permit you to write the kanji into the left window by typing it.

Actually the above screen shot shows a hint of some of the other useful functions that you can find on the Google translate window. If you clicked on the down arrow and the left side screen was empty or didn’t have any of the characters already written in that window you would only see the drop down menu. But in the screen shot you can see several Japanese characters printed below the drop down menu.

When I took the screen shot I must have had the word Maki , (巻き) written and highlighted in the left side screen. Maki is one of the Japanese words meaning to Wind a fly. If you highlight a Japanese word or phrase written on the left side of the screen in the lower right corner you can see Translation of 巻き. Below that it states it is an adjective, curly. However in this case it is really a verb, to wind the kebari.

Notice also on the left side it says See Also – followed by a list of alternate words. You can highlight them and then copy them into the left side Japanese text window and see what they translate into in the right side English translation window. Mostly hidden behind the drop down menu are other Japanese words that were written into the left side window. You can see Kebari-m just to the left of the drop down menu. Which indicates that I had kebari maki written in Japanese in the left window when I clicked on the drop down menu arrow and made the screen shot. This gives a hint of the useful options you can find to use on the Google translation page.

If on the drop down menu you choose the top option - あ konnichiwa à こんにちは

You will be able to type the phonetic to get the Japanese word you want to use. As an example if you type in “ tenkara” it will appear in hiragana characters as てんから.

After you type in – tenkara – you can just hit enter and enter てんから on the left side screen. Below the left window on the phonetic line you will see the phonetic Ten kara. Below that you will see written - Did you mean: テンカラ. You can click on テンカラ and it will be move into the left side screen and replace てんから . The phonetic below the window will change to tenkara. The English translation in the right side window will stay the same and say Tenkara. Alternately, if after you type in  てんから if you don’t hit enter and instead touch the space bar. You will get a popup window giving you 9 optional Japanese words to choose from. Click on the word you want and it will be written into the left side window. From experience I know that Tenkara can be written in at least 3 ways. As option 1, 4 or 6. Unfortunately I cannot capture a screen shot of what this popup window looks like. Hitting the keys to make the screen shot makes the popup window close. But the list on the popup window is printed below.


1. テンカラ

2. 点から

3. 店から

4. 天から

5. テンから

6. てんから

7. 転から

8. 展から

9. 典から

Here is a short list of Tenkara related words to play with. They are listed in this order – Japanese  (phonetic) the default Google English translation in the left side window. Later I will provide more Japanese words, and other hints on how to use the Google translate window. I don’t want the blog post to be to long and this is already at 5 pages. I may have to submit two, three or four post. Try typing in the phonetic without spaces to get the Japanese word or phrase you want to do a Google search with.

 テンカラ,      (tenkara)     Tenkara

竿 ,  (sao)  Pole

ロッド,(roddo) Rod

レベルライン, (reberu rain) level line (a hint, when you type in rain, type the n 2x)

けばり, (ke bari) Fly

毛鉤 , (kebari) Fly

毛バリ, (kebari) Bali hair

毛針 , (kebari, sometimes kehari) Fly

逆さ毛鉤,(Sakasa kebari) Upside down fly

花笠毛鉤,( hanagasa kebari) Hanagasa fly

毛鉤巻き,( Kebari-maki) Fly winding

ライン巻き仕掛け,( Rain-maki shikake) line winding mechanism(trick)

キャスティング, (kyasutingu) Casting

釣り,(tsuri, sometimes dzuri) Fishing

結び目, (musubime) Knot

自作, (jisaku) Self made, homebrew, own.

源流, (genryū) Head waters

渓流, (Keiryū) Mountain Stream.  But (Kei-ryū) Mountain Flow.

本流, (honryū) Main Stream (hint – when typing in ryu, type the u 2x to make the u into ū.

Try combining terms to do your Google search. Google may give you a drop down menu of optional phrase choices that it likes better. Have fun experimenting. More information will be in the next post.