Flashcard and FC are no longer supported, and this page is provided only for historical interest. Recent development has been focused on Anki, which has an improved scheduler written in Python, and a GUI interface.

Flashcard is an emacs-based flashcard program, featuring interchangable backends (including support for the Supermemo algorithm), and a configurable user interface.

FC is a wrapper around flashcard and the Supermemo method. It aims to provide an easier to use interface that even people with no emacs experience can use. You can use flashcard without FC.


Download the following three files, then read the instructions in fc.el or below.

A ChangeLog is available for flashcard and fc.

For studying Japanese

JLPT vocab decks

There are vocab lists for the JLPT tests floating around on the internet. Personally, I recommend you study based on words you enter yourself, as words you encounter while studying are much easier to remember than random words from a list.

But if you do want to use the JLPT decks, I've generated two decks for each of the levels - one with all the entries marked as common in edict, one with only the uncommon entries. There are two entries for each word - kanji -> kana + description, and description -> kanji + kana.

You'll need to run gunzip/winzip on the files before trying to load them in flashcard. All files are in UTF-8.

Note that some of the entries in the original lists are incorrect. The lists were gathered from http://www.thbz.org/kanjimots/jlpt.php3 - please report errors in the lists there, and not to me.

Common Uncommon Missing description
jlpt-4 jlpt-4 jlpt-4
jlpt-3 jlpt-3 jlpt-3
jlpt-2 jlpt-2 jlpt-2
jlpt-1 jlpt-1 jlpt-1

Japanese mode

People studying Japanese may wish to switch the user interface from English to Japanese mode. Add the following line to your ~/.emacs:

(setq fc-default-lang 'jp)

The Japanese interface looks like this:

Installation instructions

The following is a copy of the instructions at the top of fc.el.



First, make sure you're either using Meadow 3.0 or a recent version of Emacs. XEmacs won't work. On Windows, you'll want to use Meadow to get Japanese IME support. Also if you're using Windows, make sure to use unix-style paths (c:/foo not c:\foo).

If you don't have Meadow installed yet, the easiest way is to use the pre-built binaries available on http://ichi2.net/flashcard/.

Next, download the following files and place them in a directory somewhere - maybe c:/meadow on Windows, ~/jp on unix

Now create an empty .emacs in c:/meadow/_emacs or ~/.emacs

For Meadow, at the bottom of the file, add these lines, and make sure to remove the leading semi-colons.

(setq fc-base "c:/meadow")
(setq fc-default-lang 'en)
(add-to-list 'load-path "c:/meadow")
(load "c:/meadow/fc")

For unix, add the following lines

(setq fc-base "~/jp")
(setq fc-default-lang 'en)
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/jp")
(load "~/jp/fc")

If you want to see the Japanese user interface instead of English, change `en' to `jp'.

After you start emacs again, the following files will (eventually) be created:


fc is configured for studying Japanese by default. When you hit [F7], it prompts you for a kanji compound, the hiragana reading, and an English description. If you want to use fc to study something other than Japanese, try and create your own version of `fc-add-entry'.

[F7] Adds a new word to tango.pending. If you make a mistake in the entry you can hit C-g to abort, or you can edit tango.pending before you start a quiz, to change your entry.

[F9] Starts the quiz (automatically importing any pending words).

When you want to stop the quiz, just close the window. Saving should be automatic. You may be prompted to save the deck - just say yes.

When the quiz begins, you'll see a question. You can type the answer if you want, but you don't have to - I just say it aloud. When you're ready to see the answer, hit enter. You'll be shown the answer and prompted to enter a number from 0-5, indicating how well you remembered. The numbers are as follows:

0: didn't remember at all 1-2: remembered a little/half remembered 3: almost remembered (made a mistake, but was close) 4: remembered (maybe after thinking for a while) 5: remembered easily

Customizing colours and fonts

To make the question & answer faces bigger, put the following lines in _emacs/.emacs:

(set-face-attribute 'flashcard-question-face nil :height 1.5)
(set-face-attribute 'flashcard-answer-face nil :height 1.5)

You can change the number to make the font bigger or smaller.

The default colours and fonts are pretty difficult to see, especially under Meadow. To change the foreground/background colour, type: 'M-x customize-face default'. Select a different foreground and background and 'save for future sessions'.

To change the colours of the question and answer face in the same way. Type 'M-x customize-face flashcard-question-face' or 'M-x customize-face flashcard-answer-face'. You can change the height (try 1.5), and the colours (HTML colour codes like "#cca" work).

Automatically starting the quiz

If you don't use emacs/meadow for anything else, you can get it to start quizzing automatically when you start it up. Add the following lines to the bottom of _emacs or .emacs:

(setq inhibit-startup-message t)
(load-file "/path/to/tango.deck")

JLPT word lists

I've generated word lists for the four JLPT levels - you can download them from http://ichi2.net/flashcard/

Note that I really recommend entering your own words, as words learnt in context tend to be remembered a lot easier.

To use the word lists, unzip the files, place them somewhere, then type C-x C-f /path/to/one-file, instead of hitting [F9].


The fastest way to reach me is as `resolve', on irc.openprojects.net, channel #nihongo. You can also email me if you'd like.

Damien Elmes (contact)