Electronic dictionaries!

Disclaimer: I realize I have a phone with a dictionary and the Internet.

But does anyone still use a 電子辞書 and really use it more often than looking it up online? I travel very often and don’t always have internet access, and I’ve heard that they can be much better at looking up kanji when on the go. What are good models these days?


I still use 電子辞書. I’m not sure about which models are good or not, but I think it’s a choice between Sharp and Casio. There are others of course but these two are the most common I know.

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A lot of the flagship models use Kenkyusha’s (研究社) dictionary, which is supposedly one of the best J-E dictionaries.

Of course, the dictionary itself is only one feature that electronic dictionaries offer, and those features vary significantly, so it’s worth browsing.

Wikipedia lists some of those (Kenkyusha-based) models:


One of my friends swears by them and says it has really upped his Japanese skills. Another friend sees them as essentially worthless with the internet and offline dictionaries like Imiwa. I’m undecided but thinking about buying one.

the most popular 電子辞書 among my students and teachers who are learning English are Sharp ‘Brain’ and Casio ‘Ex-word’
Not sure about which models but they tend to run at about ¥30,000 for the newer models.

I’ve always considered one, especially when I feel as if I will be in areas when I know i’m offline. Possibly when I go to Japan?

The people in this thread are correct though, sometimes it seems pointless to invest in sometimes a 200$+ dictionary when there are free and readily available options already.

I do kind of want one though. At the very least I will be able to use it at my job to look up words without looking like I am just playing around on my phone. Personally I will probably buy mine second hand to avoid paying that much though…

Also some of the dictionaries also include things like Japanese encyclopedias and such as well. So it might be worth the investment.

I actually didn’t realize all those other things were included like encyclopedias and stuff. Sounds pretty handy to be honest. I’m definitely going to research and add one to my wishlist. Maybe pick one up in Japan next year when I can find some cheaper options, probably.

If you do, let us know which one you get and how you like it. :slight_smile:

The free dictionaries that are available for phones are ok if you’re looking for J → E, but they tend to be really bad for E → J. This is because pretty much all of them are based on JMdict/EDICT, which is only a Japanese → English dictionary, and so the definitions are based around the Japanese words. When looking up an english word, they just search the definition strings for the English word you’re looking for and return all the results. This often gets you some strange and obscure results, as the words might not be all that related to what you’re looking for, or they might list an obscure or less common version of a word before the common one you are actually looking for.

I still have yet to find a good E → J dictionary for my phone, and sometimes I need to go back to my trusty paper volume, but electronic dictionaries have proper English to Japanese dictionaries.

It’s not free, but Kenkyusha has their J-E/E-J dictionaries on Android and iOS. The one below has both J-E and E-J, plus audio pronunciation.

I haven’t used it in this form (mobile app), but I have it on PC.

The Android one:

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