Study Japanese language, Kanji; learn about Japanese travel, culture, life, music (JPOP) and more


Writing & Viewing Japanese Characters on Western Computers

Writing in Japanese in popular Microsoft products (Office, Outlook) has become fairly easy—just install Microsoft’s Global Input Method Editor (IME). For detailed instructions, see this useful Coscom article as well as my own short article of tips for typing in Japanese.

For a pretty good (though not at all simplistic) overview of the various Japanese language encoding schemes, check out “Japanese Text Encoding” by Ka-Ping Yee (creator of Shodouka). Or check out “A complete introduction to Japanese character encodings.”

Electronic Dictionaries

Years ago—before the smartphone era—I wrote a couple of articles about choosing an electronic dictionary (電子辞書 [でんしじしょ] or 電子辞典 [でんしじてん]). Those articles are outdated but thankfully now there are some great dictionary apps for your smartphone. The two I like the most are unfortunately only available for iOS:

I don’t use my Android tablet very often, and never for Japanese study, so I am not the best source for Android apps but I do have the JED app installed. I have read it is not being actively supported, though it seems that Aedict3 ($7.17), Japanese (by Spacehamster), and Jsho seem to be recommended by many. If anyone has alternative Android app recommendations, please send them to me

In general, the following features are worth considering:

  • Number of words (Japanese and target language)
  • Example sentences for vocabulary
  • A “jump” feature to allow a quick lookup of words you don’t know from within a definition or example sentence from a prior search
  • Easy and thorough kanji lookup, including pronunciation, definition (including for compound kanji), radical lookup, stroke count lookup, etc.
  • Handwriting recognition (most do not offer this feature, but it is nice to have; iOS also offers a built-in Kanji stroke recognition if you use the Traditional Chinese keyboard)
  • The ability to save searches for later study (nice to be able to export to Anki if you use that)

I need to get around to doing my own thorough investigation of apps, but for now here are a few links that roundup useful dictionary and other apps:

Internet Access [1 Post]

PDA Technology [1 Post]