OCR application?

Not sure if this properly belongs here - if it doesn’t, could I impose on a mod to move it where it needs to go?

So, I am trying to get more Japanese reading in by playing one of my favorite JRPGs in Japanese. (英雄伝説:零の軌跡, if anyone is curious). The plan was to play on my PS4, and use my cell phone and an OCR application to grab unknown kanji and vocab, with the goal to eventually get them entered in an Anki deck. As it turns out, the OCR / character recognition apps I tried (Google Translate, Yomiwa) did not work so well for the purpose - recognition rate of kanji is awful unless I am precisely at a right angle to my screen and hold my phone just right. Perhaps one of you good folks can recommend a better tool for what I’m trying to accomplish?


I find the OCR capabilities of Google Translate to be fairly decent, actually. However, you have to remember to set the first language to Japanese, and not auto detect. In addition, make sure that you have the camera function set to ‘scan’ and not ‘real time’. Finally, don’t use the OCR function for one kanji at a time! Try capturing the entire sentence, or at least make sure that you use the scan function on a kanji from a bit of distance. If you’re too close to the screen, then the scanner won’t work as well. Hope this helps, as I can’t think of a better OCR app off the top of my head,

The Google Translate one is what I would have recommended, but video game fonts are notoriously hard to parse. (聖剣伝説 on the SNES was pretty tough)

I’d honestly recommend you get used to using 部首 to look things up in Jisho. It will help you improve your recognition immensely. Especially when they do things like use handwriting shortcuts.

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Distance might be my problem - my own visual apparatus requires me to be pretty close to the screen to make out the kanji (damned disability…). I’ll try from farther away.

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That was actually my plan B - I am still fairly competent with bushu from a brief stint at Japanology classes back in university. And the more I fiddle around with Jisho, the more I think that should be the plan A to start with :slight_smile:

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If you have a supported phone, give Google Lens tranlation a try, I find it works better with screens than Translate. Additional… if you’d be able to take screenshots, you can import images in Google Translate, which typically works a lot better (but adds some work…)