Best Japanese Dictionaries 2019 | Paper / Electronic / Apps / Online Dictionaries – Review

Looking for a Japanese dictionary to help with your studies? This article summarizes and reviews the BEST paper, electronic, and smartphone app Japanese dictionaries in 2019.

Posted by on July 30, 2019 – Japanese Study

A good Japanese-to-English dictionary is a must-have tool for all Japanese learners – it helps us to learn Japanese faster and more efficiently.

In this article, we will be reviewing the most popular Japanese dictionaries across categories – from paper dictionaries to smartphone apps.

Paper Japanese Dictionaries
Electronic Japanese Dictionaries
Online Dictionaries & Apps

Paper Japanese Dictionaries

 

Traditional paper dictionaries have been used by people since many years ago. Because they are printed – they are a reliable source of the most accurate and detailed explanations for words and sentences.  Here are our recommended paper dictionaries for Japanese learners.

 Kodansha’s Communicative English-Japanese Dictionary

Widely referenced as the most comprehensive English-Japanese dictionary available. It has an all-inclusive word bank of 22,000 words with the support of 190,000 sample questions. It includes Japanese translations for common words, technical terms, and even slang. Additionally, phrasal verbs, specific expressions, idioms, and related grammar points are also included. Most importantly, there is furigana to ensure users the ease to read.

In conclusion, this is a well-rounded paper dictionary suitable for all levels of Japanese learner.

Kodansha’s Furigana Dictionary

If you are an absolute beginner in Japanese and would like a dictionary that matches your beginner level. We recommend you use this. It is a basic English-Japanese and Japanese-English dictionary with 30,000 applicable basic Japanese words.

As its name suggests, there is always furigana on top of every kanji in the dictionary to assist the user as they read.

Despite having a smaller word bank, the explanations for each term are precise and comprehensive. For example, words are explained with thousands of examples of sentences. Differences in the usage of similar words are clarified in the dictionary. In conclusion, this is the first Japanese dictionary for beginners.

Electronic Japanese Dictionaries

 

If you feel that it is too troublesome flipping through thousands of pages on a paper dictionary, you may consider getting an electronic one.

Electronic Japanese dictionaries are portable, fast and with useful features such as kanji writing recognition and integrated audio. Some may also have multiple dictionaries stored. This allows you to avoid the trouble of carrying a heavy book around.

Electronic dictionaries have one big weakness – most Japanese electronic dictionaries are built for Japanese English learners. Therefore, the user interface is in Japanese most of the time. If you are a beginner in Japanese, we do not recommend you to get one. (Jump to online dictionaries and apps)

The price of an electronic dictionary depends on its features and the number of dictionaries stored. While older models with basic functions cost less than 40 US dollars, some newer models have more features and bigger word banks are priced up to $500.

Because of the convenient translation websites and apps today, it is almost pointless to spend money on simple electronic dictionaries. As such, we advise you to purchase a newer model with better features. Specific models we recommend is Casio’s ED 9800 Series. It is the comprehensive English-Japanese dictionary series with the latest features. The latest model has the largest word bank supported by 20 English-Japanese dictionaries and 11 Japanese-Japanese dictionaries.

Online Japanese Dictionaries and Apps

 

If you are looking for an easy solution that is also free – we recommend you use an Online dictionary / App dictionary.

Online dictionaries and apps only need require your phone or laptop and an internet connection (some are even available totally offline). They are extremely convenient, easily accessible and are suitable for most people.

Here are our recommended online dictionaries and apps.

Weblio

Weblio is the largest Japanese dictionary website with about 11,370,000 words recorded. You can simply search for the English explanation of a Japanese word or either way round. Detailed explanations from different dictionaries will be listed with example sentences, phrases, and related words. However, because of the Japanese UI, this website is only recommended to upper beginners and above.

Jisho.org

 

This is a powerful English Japanese online dictionary with a simple user interface and easy-to-use functions. Advanced search options allow you to search for Japanese translations, Kanji, example sentences, and names.

You can also look for words by their radicals, drawings and even voice input in both Japanese and English. And what is really great for Japanese learners is that you can identify words based on their JLPT level. Kanji from the words will also be listed on the right with their pronunciations and meanings. This online dictionary is extremely suitable for self-learners.

Dictionary App for Android

Japanese Dictionary Takoboto (Android)

Rated the highest on Google Play, this is one of the best free offline Japanese dictionaries for Android. You can search for words using romaji, kana, kanji or alphabets. You can also search for the translation of complete sentences – just like jisho.org, you can search for kanji by their radicals. Other useful features such as flashcards and custom word lists – which make it even more convenient for use by learners.  If you are using an Android device – we highly recommend this app.

 

Imiwa? (iOS)

“Imiwa?” is a popular free offline multilingual Japanese dictionary for iPhone. Like the one introduced above, this app also has a strong search engine that allows you to search by meaning, romaji, kanji or alphabets. Of course, you can also search for a kanji by radicals or drawing it out. Animated stroke order diagrams, pronunciations, and definitions of the kanji will be shown in many languages.

For revision, you can review the words in your search history and create your vocabulary lists.  It is very highly rated and often suggested online.

Japanese(iOS/Android)

“Japanese” is a comprehensive offline Japanese dictionary for both Android and iPhone. It compiles every useful feature you can find in other Japanese dictionary apps. There are over 175,000 entries and 58,000 example sentence in this app, covering every Japanese word you would see. Moreover, it is more than just a dictionary. For users sitting for the JLPT or the Kanji Kentei, it has ready-built study lists for each level, getting you prepared for the tests.

Looking for apps to learn Japanese? Check out these 20 apps for Japanese learning!

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