How do I search the meaning of a kanji if I don't know how to read it?

I bought a manga to try to read in the future (maybe in 2-3 months I’ll give it a try), but I was perusing it and seeing all these different unknown kanji for me and a question got into my mind: if I don’t know a kanji, and there’s no furigana to help me at least know how it sounds, how do I search for its meaning?!

I have here a wonderful JAPANESE-PORTUGUESE (I’m Brazilian btw) dictionary, but if I want to find a word I have to know how it sounds. But if I don’t know how a kanji sounds and how it sounds when it’s in a vocabulary, what I’m I to do to search for it? If the kanji were in digital form, I could try to copy and paste it (something that it’s impossible if I’m reading a digital manga btw), but and in the case of a real printed manga?!


Go to and look it up based on its parts.


Try using the OCR from Google Translate App from phone. It is very accurate.


Or handwriting entry, Google Translate again. For that you’ll need to get the hang of stroke order, though.

You can also buy print kanji dictionaries, with lookup by main radical.


Jisho also allows handwriting entry as well as radical search

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Thank you people, Jisho seems like a good place, since you can draw the kanji in question!

WOW, I just tried it, IT’S GREAT!!


Drawing on jisho does not work from my experience. But drawing on the Midori iPhone app works really well.


I’ve never had issues drawing on Jisho, but Jisho also has the “build from radicals” thing so there’s that too.

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Google phone OCR até parece mágica, né?

I bought the midori app on iOS after some recommendations and it works really well. Drawing the kanji by hand works better for me than in Google Translate


It’s important to note that Jisho uses the traditional 214 radicals, not the ones you’ve learned with WK (although many of them are the same, especially in early levels), so it can take a couple tries to figure out how to make Jisho spit out the info you want. However, I’d still recommend it with no hesitation! It probably takes me less than a minute to look up any given kanji even if I have to try multiple combinations of radicals, and usually I can get it on the first try. Good luck!

Yeah, I tried a really simple one, the 大, drawn it many times and I couldn’t make jiisho to recognize it!!

Sim! Muito show!

You have to use the correct stroke order.

Look how badly I wrote it and Jisho had no issue. Not sure what happened with you.

What I’m I doing wrong?

This is a real problem. We don’t learn the stroke order here in WK and if it’s a kanji that I don’t recognize, how will I even know de stroke order BTW?

What is that strange loop doing on top? :slight_smile:



Tofugu has an article on stroke order fundametals. Just apply those generally and it will get what you meant.

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