Mobile app Japanese dictionary
There are many Japanese – English or multilingual Japanese dictionaries for the mobile phone available, and it is not easy to find a good one. The dictionary I use and am very happy with is a multilingual Japanese dictionary Imiwa?. It works on iPhone and iPad only, however.
Why use Imiwa?
Imiwa? works offline and all features are free, without a necessity of further in-app purchases.
It has a useful feature called ANALYSER. If you see a kanji or Japanese word that you don’t know, you can copy it and then when you open the app, it automatically brings up the definition of the word you copied. But not only that. If you copy a whole sentence, on application launch, it will automatically break down the sentence word by word. It is not, however, a translator. For the translation of the sentence, you would need to use Google Translator or other similar online translator.
Imiwa? offers several systems for looking up kanji. If you know the ON or KUN reading, you just type it in romaji and it will show relevant option. Or you can pick any radical of a kanji and look up all the other kanji that use that same radical. Or you can use the SKIP pattern to narrow the options and find your kanji. I usually use the multi-radical search. Imiwa? however, doesn’t have a recognition tool of hand written kanji. If you like using that, there are other good dictionaries offering this tool such as Japanese.
It has an easy vocabulary lookup using romaji, hiragana, katakana or kanji. The dictionary shows not only the best matches but also many close related expressions. When you choose the result that matches your need, the dictionary will show the reading in hiragana and romaji, meaning, category and grammar notes, examples sentences and kanji decomposition.
Let’s have a look at an example. We are going to look up the word ‘arrival’. Imiwa? offers 12 exact matches and 20 additional results for this term. Let’s choose the first option 到着「とうちゃく」. The MEANING section informs that the meaning is “arrival”, it is a common noun (futsuumeishi), which can take an auxiliary verb する and possessive particle の. You can go deeper and see how the verb 到着する conjugates – it’s present, past, conditional, passive, potential, and so on. It is not that big deal in this case because even the beginner usually know how する conjugates but it can be handy in the case of other verbs you are not that familiar with and, for example, not sure if it is a -u verb or -ru verb.
EXAMPLE SENTENCES are always good to check as it helps to understand how the word is used. Imiwa? offers many example sentences but some of them look too difficult to understand for a beginner. At least they look difficult to me.
KANJI DECOMPOSITION shows meaning and other information about the kanji that compose the word. In this case, the word 到着 is composed of two kanji 横 and 着. The second one is one of the kanji people learn pretty soon and means either to wear or to arrive. Let’s have a look at the second one. After clicking on the kanji, you will see a condensed information enclosed in a square and then all the detail information. It shows that 横 means arrival, proceed, reach, attain, result, it’s on’yomi reading is トウ, kun’yomi reading is いた, it is required for N2 JLPT test, its frequency is #1032, grade 3, the number of strokes is 8, and the SKIP code is 1-6-2. This information is enough and even more than you will usually need to know.
I use Imiwa? practically daily and like it very much, but there are more good and useful dictionaries available both for iPhone and other types of phones. Please, share with us your experience and tips on the mobile Japanese dictionary you use!