Choosing Japanese Dictionary

If you study Japanese long enough, you will likely considering getting a Japanese dictionary.

While there are many free dictionary sites that you can find online, it never beats the idea of having your own copy of dictionary by your side.

Online dictionary sites provide only basic definition of the words that you are searching. They usually don't give examples on how to use the words in different contexts.

It's also difficult to search for meanings of common Japanese phrases using the online version.

In my case, after studying for half a year, I found that my knowledge of Japanese words were limited to those taught in the lessons.

Without enough vocabulary, you tend to repeat using the same set of words when creating your own sentences. That's when I started thinking of getting my own Japanese dictionary.

Disclosure: Please note that some links on this page are affiliate links. That means I will receive a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through those links, at no additional cost to you.

Paperback Dictionary

Japanese English Dictionary

I bought my first paperback Japanese English Dictionary after doing some research. It's the Kodansha's Furigana Japanese Dictionary (Kodansha Dictionaries).

This dictionary lets you check the meanings of words from Japanese to English and English to Japanese.

Although this dictionary is also split into two, namely, Japanese to English version and English to Japanese version and sold separately, I still prefer this dictionary which combined two versions together.

Below are some advantages and disadvantages of owning a paperback dictionary:


  1. Reasonably priced.
  2. Provides more examples compared to the online version.


  1. Bulky.
  2. Limited words compared to the electronic version.

Look for a series of books called "Japanese Dictionary" through There are lots of good dictionaries related to learning Japanese available.

Electronic Dictionary

Japanese electronic dictionary

Although paperback dictionary is better as compared to the online version, it's still cannot quench my thirst for more vocabulary.

Moreover, I was so passionate about the language that I would like to know what the words meant immediately wherever I went. But I couldn't carry the dictionary around because of its bulkiness.

The solution to solve the above problem was to get a handy Japanese electronic dictionary.

Below are some advantages and disadvantages of owning an electronic dictionary:


  1. Light-weight and handy.
  2. Have more words and phrases than the paperback version.
  3. Capacity to hold many different sets of dictionary, like katakana, kanji, proverbs, etc.
  4. Some models support extra functions like touch-screen inputs and digital sound pronunciations.


  1. More expensive compared to paperback version.


The electronic dictionary may cost more than the paperback version. But if you consider the advantages it provides, it's definitely worth paying the higher price.

I highly recommend those who are passionate about learning Japanese to get a Japanese electronic dictionary. At least get a cheaper model if you can afford it.

If you really cannot afford an electronic dictionary at the moment, get the paperback Japanese English dictionary. It will benefit you in learning Japanese.

And because kanji is an important part of Japanese language, you might want to get a copy of kanji dictionary too.



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