Guide: The best Japanese dictionary and translation apps

Translating Japanese is hard but with a good Japanese dictionary you will get far. English to Japanese translation is difficult even for the best translation apps and sites out there since the grammar structure between the two languages are so different. But there are some pretty handy tools you can use. Here are some of the most popular apps with slightly different areas of usage. There is a difference between dictionaries and translation apps, but both serve their purpose. And since they are free – try them all and find the best English to Japanese dictionary or translation that suits your needs.

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Weblio: Great dictionary – if you know Japanese

Weblio is website with a good Japanese dictionary for English to Japanese translation. The only catch is that everything is in Japanese, so you need some knowledge of the language to use it. If you do it’s great for looking up single words. Just type the English or Japanese word in the search box and hit enter. Just like traditional dictionaries you will get the translation, but also example sentences and synonyms.

Go to weblio


Imi Wa: Great Japanese dictionary for your Iphone

This is one of the most complete dictionaries out there. Not only can you do easy Japanese to English translation, you also have tons of information to help you understand Japanese better. Stroke order, on’yomi, kun’yomi and examples, it’s all there. You can also easily paste any text you find online and get a translation of the whole thing. The approach is a bit different from Google Translate. Where Google Translate just translate the whole thing and shows you the “answer”, Imiwa will translate and explain all parts in the text. Like what part is a noun, what is a particle and so on, and you will also get a list of synonyms. Unfortunately this Japanese dictionary is only for Iphone.

Alternatives for Android are amongst others: Jsho, Takoboto and Aedict.


Google Translate: Great for all translations

Google Translate is steadily becoming better and better at translating English to Japanese and the other way around. Sure, if you paste a long text the translation will be far from correct, but you will definitely understand the meaning. If you also know some Japanese it’s a good compliment that will help you a lot. Other smart functions are that you can draw kanji you don’t know or use the voice recognition. It even has realtime translation of Japanese text using the camera, although this function is still a bit rough. You can download any language for use offline. Best of all: It’s free! Oh, and if you don’t want the app, just type “translate” on Google.

Although Translate is a great app it lacks some functions that other more specific dictionaries have, like on’yomi and kun’yomi readings, stroke order and example sentences. But as an English to Japanese translation app, this will get you very far.

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Want to learn Japanese? Here are some great free apps to get you started by learning hiragana and katakana.

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