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Looking to get a physical Japanese kids dictionary. For those that have or used one, what are the difference between the Kanji ones and the Japanese language ones?

Are the Japanese language ones everything that kana only?

Which one do you find yourself using more?



Edit: deleted the links cause I could get them to show up as a nice box. They were the Rainbow ones on Amazon Jp

They are different.
Entries in a kanji dictionary are individual kanjis. You get their readings, usual meanings, and some examples of words using them.

Entries in a Japanese (国語) dictionnary are Japanese words, and you get their definition.

I use word dictionaries way more than kanji dictionaries, but again, they have different purpose and cannot be used interchangeably.


Some kanji dictionaries will list every word that starts with that kanji (within reason). But then the words that end with that kanji are of course scattered all over the book in other kanjis’ entries. And definitions tend to be no more than a short sentence. As Naph said, the focus is on the kanji itself, not the words as much.

An example of what you’ll see in a kanji dictionary is


I see guess I will grab a 国語 one first.


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These are both physical dictionaries for elementary school I have; I tried opening both on a related entry.

As you can see, the kanji one will have a lot of kanji-related explanations the kokugo one doesn’t have, such as radicals, stroke order and origin. Since it is a kids oriented one it also has a box explaining the difference from another kanji that has the same reading and a close meaning (街), what is very³ useful. It does try listing the most common vocabularies with that kanji, but of course it is 1. impossible covering everything and 2. each entry is a raw line that doesn’t help you that much.

The kokugo one, on the other hand, is the same thing you call a dictionary in other languages. Each entry is a word (note that it treats 街 and 町 as the same word since the meaning is so close, and unfortunately doesn’t go over the difference), but one word can have several meanings. Since it is meant for kids, they usually have plenty of example sentences, what is very³ useful, specially with verbs. Even if you know the meaning of a verb, you might feel lost about what particle to use and checking the sentences helps a lot.

As @Leebo said, searching a specific word in a Kanji dictionary can be a hell, because you literally don’t know where it is. It’s meant to be used for searching kanji, not words. About you question, I think both are written pretty much the same way, using kanji but with readings for everything.

As your first dictionary, I would recommend a kokugo one, too.


Thanks. The pictures really give me a better idea of how they compare.

If you dont mind, which specific dictionary are those? The Kanji one is 例解学習?

Edit: Typo

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Well, if the name of it has 国語 in it it wouldn’t be a kanji dictionary, right?

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Good catch. Typed it wrong

Its 例解学習

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Yes, it is indeed 例解

The other one is Kumon’s 国語辞典, because I used to study there. Mine is this cover, but I think there are newer editions by now, because the one I have is like from ten years ago:

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End up getting the 例解 Kanji one since it turns out they have a nice app of the 例解 国語 one.

Is there a list somewhere of some common japanese dictionary verbiage that I could prestudy to help ease comprehension? Im assuming since they are aimed at kids, the style of defitions would be similar throughout the book.

As of now, I just plan on using it to look up as many things as possible and see where it gets me

It won’t take you long to get used to the format of dictionary entries and common words.

For instance

物事 (ものごと) - things (general word for not specifying a particular noun), usually abstract or non-physical things
事柄 (ことがら) - matter, circumstances
〜こと - used to make a noun phrase
〜さま - the state of (used in adjective definitions)

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This link may help

There’re some other useful articles in Jalup about using a monolingual dictionary, those might be helpful as well :+1:


Thanks for the link. Im starting to realize what I may truly be missing are the conjunctions and expressions that are usually written in kana. Theyre probably words that Japanese kids hear daily

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