If you’ve been studying Japanese for long enough, you’ve probably considered investing in a Japanese-English electronic dictionary. Ubiquitous in Japan and full of more (and better) resources than you could ever have on your phone, it makes sense to have one if you’re serious about your study. But with so many models each with different functionalities, it can be hard to pick one out.
We did the research and compiled a list of the top 7 best Japanese-English electronic dictionaries. For a well-rounded device that's great for learners, we recommend Sharp's Color Electronic Dictionary Brain High School Model. Aimed at students, it contains a wide range of topics as well as study tools to help with memorization. See the rest of our picks below. And if you're having trouble deciding, our buying guide is full of tips and information to help you out.
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Table of Contents
Because there are so many different functions on a Japanese-English electronic dictionary, we figured it’d be most practical to pick out the most important ones and talk about them one by one.
Depending on your level of Japanese, you may want to have multiple different dictionaries available for you to reference. Different dictionaries will have different numbers of entries, making some options more thorough than others.
Electronic dictionaries include multiple dictionaries and will often specify the maker. For Japanese-English translation, keep an eye out for Kenkyusha’s Shinwaeijiten, which is one of the most thorough dictionaries available. New Progressive and Kodansha are also good options.
For English-Japanese translation, the Randomhouse Daijiten, Genius Daijiten, and The Modern Reader’s Dictionary are among the best you can find.
For Japanese-Japanese lookup, Daijiten and Daijisen are some of the most thorough, but Koujien and Meikyou are also good options.
If you’re focused on studying kanji, look to see if the dictionary has the Kanji Kentei Kanji Jiten, which is the standard for the Kanji Kentei Exam. Depending on your goals, it might be helpful to have dictionaries that cover idioms and sayings as well.
There are also dictionaries that specialize in business terms, medical terms, formal and written Japanese, student learning, and more. Many electronic dictionaries allow you to purchase additional dictionaries as add-ons.
Instead of scrolling through lists of radicals or guessing at readings, wouldn’t it be easier just to write the word? Many electronic dictionaries have touchpads where you can input characters by hand, saving you time and energy.
There are plenty of electronic dictionaries aimed specifically at students, which tend to have more built-in study tools.
Click to purchase
Color Electronic Dictionary Brain High School Model
Talk, Listen, Write, and Read
Ex-word Electronic Dictionary
A Dictionary With Resources for Reading Practice
Compact Electronic Dictionary Brain
Quick Translations for Travelers
Touch Panel Japanese Electronic Dictionary
A Health-Focused Electronic Dictionary
Japanese Electronic Dictionary Brain Model
Great for Japanese High School Students
For Simple Word Lookup Only
Electronic Dictionary Medical Model
For Doctors, Nurses, and Medical Professionals
Use this electronic dictionary at home, at school, or on the train. The 360-degree screen can be rotated sideways so you can hold the device with one hand. Aimed at high school students, it covers topics across six different subjects that are useful for daily life and exams.
It also features a memorization tool to help you learn words and terms to prep for tests like the TOEIC or TOEFL. A couple of reviewers said the sound quality was low. Still, other reviewers said it was a useful dictionary for their school kids. They found it to be easy to use with a solid range of words.
This electronic dictionary is built for lifelong learners, from high school through university. It has over 2000 works of Japanese literature as well as recorded phrases you can listen to. Use the screen to draw kanji, hiragana, and katakana. It's also great for studying, with a feature to create your own flashcards.
Reviewers tended to purchase this electronic dictionary for their student-aged children and said it worked well for their learning needs.
This electronic dictionary is great for travelers. In addition to multiple English and Japanese dictionaries, it also features the Encyclopedia Britannica International Encyclopedia to look up more information on a variety of subjects.
There is also a travel conversation section that can help you in English, Italian, French, Spanish, German, Korean, and Chinese. While it doesn't have handwriting capabilities, it does support voice.
Some reviewers said the monochrome screen was difficult to see, especially in lower light. However, other reviewers liked how compact this device is, and said it was lightweight and easy to use.
Marketed as a lifestyle-focused electronic dictionary, this little machine includes several health-related resources and tips. Aside from that, it also has a great range of dictionaries and learning resources in subjects like Japanese history, world history, and various foreign languages.
One reviewer noted that the handwriting function doesn't always work smoothly. Still, reviewers agreed that this device has a solid library of resources and can be very useful.
This electronic dictionary is aimed at Japanese high school students, with resources divided into six different genres of study. It has an intuitive touch screen and a separate screen for handwriting. It's also equipped with a key to switch from Japanese-English to English-Japanese.
Reviewers found this device to be easy to use and great for students. They were pleased with the number of features and dictionary functions it contained.
Reviewers noted that this dictionary is more suited to Japanese speakers who are learning English and recommended it only if your Japanese is intermediate or above. In general, they found it to be easy to use and liked that it had a cover.
For those in the medical field who need to quickly look up and translate terms, this electronic dictionary from Casio is made just for that purpose. It includes content from eight different medical books, covering specialty medicine, pharmaceutical explanations, and more.
One reviewer complained that the search was lacking in functionality. On the other hand, another reviewer said this dictionary made it easy to carry multiple books at once and found it to be quite useful.
In this age of smartphones, it might seem redundant to have an electronic dictionary. However, once you become comfortable using it, you may find that it's better than a phone for translations and definitions! Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your electronic dictionary.
Secondly, get comfortable with the keyboard. Once you get the hang of typing your searches, you’ll likely find that it’s much faster to type on an actual keyboard input than on a touchscreen.
Whether you're trying to learn a new language or are looking to improve your current skills, it never hurts to get better at communicating. Check out more of our favorite products for language learning below.
By Jacqueline Oshiro
No. 1: Sharp | Color Electronic Dictionary Brain High School Model | PW-SH6-W
No. 2: Casio | Ex-word Electronic Dictionary | XD-K4800WE
No. 3: Sharp | Compact Electronic Dictionary Brain | PW-NA1-B
No. 4: Sharp | Touch Panel Japanese Electronic Dictionary | PW-A7300-G
No. 5: Sharp | Japanese Electronic Dictionary Brain Model | PW-G5300-A
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