Tools Review: 4 – Dictionaries Part IV – Add-ons, Phone Apps, ect. (multilingual)

There is a surprisingly large number of dictionaries now available as add-ons, phone applications as well as dictionaries available for your Nintendo DS, PDA, and other hand-held devices. This review page will be slightly different. Rather than writing pros and cons, I’m simply going to list the items and their descriptions to save on reading space. The pros/cons will be obvious I think. ^^

Nintendo DS

If you happen to have a Nintendo DS then you’re in luck when it comes to studying Japanese. Not only is it not region coded (meaning you can buy games from all over the world in any language and the DS will play it, no matter where you bought your DS), but it has become very popular in the educational department. Lots of dictionaries, study aids, and games geared for learning have been made. I just happen to have one myself and its a lot of fun. I’ll get into more detail about using the DS as a learning tool in another article, for now though, I’m going to talk about a few very popular dictionaries.

漢字そのまま:らくびきじてん / Kanji Sonomama: Rakubiki Jiten

This dictionary is my number one recommendation for DS Japanese multilingual dictionaries. Though it was originally made for Japanese people to learn English with, I find that it’s an amazing tool in reverse as well. Also, I know all the Japanese is correct too!  Even though the interface is in Japanese, it’s very straight forward and you can use it without knowing any Japanese.

The following features come with it:

*Handwritten kanji/kana lookup   *kana tables,  *qwerty keyboard,   *words looked up will show kanji and kana however in the description the dictionary does not have furigana,  *saves several words looked up for easy backtracking,  *sample sentences/usages,  *text size change,   *jump feature (kinda helps knowing Japanese to use this feature, ジャンプ is the button to press to use it).

Sadly though the jump feature will only jump through English words and not Japanese ones, so it’s not necessarily all that helpful. Neither is the feature to sound out English words. It also does not have many onomatopoeias, as well as sometimes there isn’t a clear definition of a Japanese word but rather just it used in context.

This dictionary is a great starting spot I feel because it helps get you in the monolingual mindset, which is where you want to be ASAP! I bought mine cheaper from Play Asia, even though I linked Amazon so you could compare.

My Japanese Coach

This is a very popular study tool out there, though I personally do not like it for its constant romaji. The dictionary attached with it however might be what you’re looking for with +/-12k words for roughly $20 could be useful to the beginner who may feel overwhelmed by the dictionary from above. It’s best feature is that you have audio of the words spoken by a native. That in itself is very valuable.

Sadly for the DS these are the only two multilingual dictionaries currently available for Japanese. There are more covered in the Monolingual page.


Tagaini Jisho:

Tagaini Jisho is a free, open-source Japanese dictionary and kanji lookup tool that is available for Windows, MacOS X and Linux and aims at becoming your Japanese study assistant. It allows you to quickly search for entries and mark those that you wish to study, along with tags and personal notes. It also let you train entries you are studying and follows your progression in remembering them. Finally, it makes it easy to review entries you did not remember by listing them on-screen or printing them on a small booklet.

Tagaini Jisho also features complete stroke order animations for more than 6000 kanji.


rikaichan is a pop-up Japanese-English/German/French/Russian dictionary extension for Firefox.


  • Simple to use, just hover the mouse on top of a Japanese word.
  • Automatically de-inflects verbs and adjectives.
  • Has an optional toolbar that allows you to manually type the word to lookup.
  • Detailed kanji view shows meaning/keyword in English, on/kun readings, and other information.
  • Hiragana, katakana and half-width katakana are treated the same making it possible to lookup stylized/emphasized words. (

I love using Rikaichan myself, though I normally keep it disabled to save load times until I need it. Here is a pic of the pop-up.


Though probably less well-known than the others, this little add-on is really nice because it doesn’t just go from Japanese to English, but English to Japanese. It’s a pop up hint dictionary that you can save words to a list and later practice with a game called PenPen. It is also compatible with Korean and Chinese.


This is a really new add-on that’s hit the Mozilla world just this past December. It is very similar to the others as it is a pop up dictionary that also has the ability to add words to a study list. So far its been updated well, though there are claims that the names dictionary has issues. I could not find more specific information on it except that it uses a lot of the same dictionaries as Polarcloud.

If you know of anymore cool add-ons let us know in the comment box!


There are so many phone applications out there that are just crazy! A lot of them come standard with the phone (like the Droid) and some you have to pay for extra. If you are not studying with your smart phone then you need to get with the age! haha, these little buggers are an awesome tool for study Japanese.


There are tons of iPhone apps out there that are great for dictionaries. In fact, I found a site that already goes into great detail about various Iphone Japanese Dictionaries. Since the site also has great pictures of all the programs, I think it’d suffice it to just let you go look there. The dictionaries covered are: iEijiro, Kotoba, Japanese, PRG Eng-Jpn, ptsEjiro Viewer, ptsWeaijiro, SlovoEd Compact E-J/J-E, and Wisdom E-J/J-E.

Droid Dictionary:

Reference dictionary with the following:

Droid & Nexus One Support
Text to Speech Keywords
Dictionary & Wiki as backup!
Dictionary Words Update Online
Dictionary find closest match

Hand-Held Platforms

Whether it be a phone, pda, or something I don’t even know, there are a few dictionaries out there that are very versatile.

MSDict Oxford Beginner’s Japanese Dictionary:

Though the link above goes to the Android’s app, supposedly this one can go no all sorts of hand-held platforms.

The Oxford Beginner’s Japanese Dictionary is the perfect tool for adult language learners who need basic vocabulary at their fingertips fast.

  • Two way: Japanese-English/ English-Japanese;
  • Over 10,000 words and 14,000 translations;
  • Carefully selected vocabulary, suited to beginner level;
  • Clear, accessible layout helps you find information easily;
  • Handy explanations show you which translation to use;
  • Japanese script throughout included;
  • Extra information on grammar an usage;
  • Plus a complete Learning and Lifestyle Kit to accelerate your learning and enjoy the lifestyle.

The Oxford Beginner’s Japanese Dictionary is here presented in MSDict electronic format. MSDict offers best experience in mobile reference and is available for any handheld platform.

  • Quick dynamic search of words while you type
  • Transcriptions facilitating pronunciation
  • Hyperlinks between different related words
  • History to see the last 50 words you have looked up
  • Support of multiple dictionaries installed at a time
  • Support for memory cards

I couldn’t find any reviews about this product, but $15 isn’t a lot to pay for it to test it yourself.

There are tons more multilingual dictionaries out there, these were just a highlight. If you’re looking for a dictionary for your smart phone, ds, pda, or such, simply type “your device’s name” and “Japanese dictionary”. Don’t get to caught up in this simply because you’ll want to convert to monolingual as soon as you’re comfortable.

2 Responses to “Tools Review: 4 – Dictionaries Part IV – Add-ons, Phone Apps, ect. (multilingual)”
  1. Oliver says:

    I just stumbled onto your site, nice content on methods.
    You may be interested in my Kanji Wordsearch iphone app, which is a unique and enjoyable way to study kanji – check it out!

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