Japanese dictionary help

So how does one use jisho.org or similar app? I tried putting in (by drawing) a character that I already know for practice (the kanji for “think” if you’re curious. I don’t know the vocab yet so し isn’t bringing it up so I don’t know how to type it apparently. Apologies) and the results weren’t even close to what I drew. Does stroke order matter? When I look it up by radical it wasn’t coming up but maybe I picked the wrong one?

This all started because I have a physical book in Japanese and I was playing around with what I could read (starts out with 血 apparently. Lots of it) and wanted to try looking up some of what I was seeing but it’s really hard so I apparently need advice. This happened both on jisho.org and a Japanese dictionary app I have on my phone.

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Jisho requires the correct stroke order. But Googletranslate does not.

Good to know! Any advice on looking up by radical? That’s where I started.

Usually when using jisho or something similar, the difficulty depends a bit on what you’re trying to look up. Ordered from easiest to hardest:

  1. If you’re reading something digital, you can copy paste it. This is by far the easiest, but it of course only works for digital text you can copy.
  2. If you know the kanji appearing in the word, you can make a guess as to what the reading might be. If you can guess the reading completely, that’s the easiest, just use your IME and type in the text. If you can’t, but you know other readings or other words using said kanji you do know the reading of, you can use those to type out the kanji, then concatenate the kanji to form the complete word. As long as you get the characters in, the way you got them there doesn’t really matter.
  3. Radical search. Starting from the most complex radicals, then marking whatever small parts are missing is usually the easiest approach here. For example, for 血, I would start with 皿 (after which the kanji already appears as the second option), then add the small missing part separately. The more complex radicals tend to narrow it down a lot faster, meaning you’ll have fewer options to choose from, making the search easier. Although sometimes it might take a bit of trial and error to get it right.
  4. Search by drawing. This one is by far the least accurate. It’s really sensitive to small differences between how you drew the kanji and how it’s stored in the database. Radical lookups tend to be a lot easier.

Looking up words takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get a feel for what radicals would get you to the kanji you want, looking up by radical tends to be the easiest for unknown kanji.


„Radical“ in the sense of Jisho is not necessarily the same as what WaniKani calls „Radical“…

I usually just open the dropdown and search around until I find something that fits, and then I skim through the list of matching kanji until I find the one I‘m looking for.


思 should come up if you select 田 and 心. What did you select?


Unfortunately し is one of the more common on’yomi readings, so it’s not surprising you couldn’t find 思 from that. It can be a bit hard to find kanji using readings alone until you know a fair bit of kanji and vocab, because you often need to type multi-kanji words (such as 思考 / しこう) if you don’t know the kun’yomi reading.


I’m honestly not sure anymore. I was trying to type out what I was trying to draw was what started all that. I think I was looking for 田 but I was looking for a smaller version. Whoops.

Thanks for understanding what I was trying to type. Could NOT get it to come up for the life of me!


That explains a lot, thank you!

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Sorry, no. I usually copy and paste since most stuff I’m reading are from the web or ebooks. If I can’t copy and paste, I draw on Google translate which is very forgiving, and then I copy it to Jisho. I searched by radicals just a few times and did not notice that the radicals were ordered by the number of strokes which made my life harder then.

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