woman using japanese dictionary app

Top 12 Japanese Dictionary Apps to Download Now [iOS / Android]

After mastering hiragana and katakana and learning the essentials of Japanese kanji, you’ll need a Japanese dictionary app. 

I am here to help you find some of the most reliable dictionary apps to use inside or outside of Japan. I’ll explain their most important features, plus what they’re best used for. 

The 12 dictionary apps below will cover all your needs—whether you’re a beginner or advanced learner, you simply want survival phrases for travel or you’re looking to practice your kanji.

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Best Overall: Takoboto

Available on: Android

Price: Free; $3.90 / month for extra features like word lists

takoboto japanese dictionary app logo

Takoboto is a favorite among Japanese learners. Aside from having a sleek, easy-to-use design, it’s a powerful dictionary app, and it’s constantly being updated—users can even upload their own translations and comments.

While it started out as an English-Japanese dictionary, you can now access a growing set of translations into other languages, plus monolingual dictionary entries. Each entry has an extensive list of example phrases and kanji breakdowns with stroke order.

One of its most unique features is having human audio for most of the entries (most Japanese dictionary apps don’t have this!). 

Best for Kanji: Akebi

Available on: Android 

akebi japanese dictionary app logo

Price: Free

This app is a great all-around dictionary. Its powerful kanji tools can be used for study, and the fact that it works offline will prove to be extremely helpful.

Words can be searched for in different conjugations (eg: You can search for 買います/かいます and be directed to 買う/かう, the plain form).

Each kanji character is broken down by its radical, difficulty, JLPT appearance, stroke count and animated stroke order. In case that wasn’t enough, Akebi Japanese Dictionary allows you to create kanji sets and quiz yourself with flashcards.

Best for Video and Audio Support: FluentU

fluentu-logo

Available on: Android || iPhone

Price: 14-day free trial; subscription at $29.99 / month

FluentU can be used as a personal video-based dictionary for those studying Japanese.

FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

It naturally and gradually eases you into learning Japanese language and culture. You’ll learn real Japanese as it’s spoken in real life.

Just take a look at the wide variety of authentic video content available in the program. Here’s a small sample:

learn-japanese-with-short-videos

You’ll discover tons of new Japanese vocabulary through these great clips.

Don’t worry about your skill level being an issue when it comes to understanding the language. FluentU makes native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts.

learn-japanese-with-songs

Tap on any word to look it up instantly.

You’ll see definitions, in-context usage examples and helpful illustrations. Simply tap “add” to send interesting vocabulary words to your personal vocab list for later review.

learn-japanese-with-movies

FluentU even uses a learning program which adapts to your specific needs to turn every video into a language learning lesson and get you to actively practice your newly-learned language skills.

practice-japanese-with-adaptive-quizzes

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Best for Flexible Lookups: Shirabe Jisho

Available on: iOS

Price: Free

shirabe jisho japanese dictionary app logo

Looking up Japanese words can take some getting used to, but Shirabe Jisho makes the process very easy.

Aside from the usual search options, it can handle conjugated words, and it has a cool wildcard search feature. For example, you can look up a word with missing characters—the dictionary can still find it for you. Checking new kanji is convenient too because the app can often figure it out even if you get some strokes wrong.

It also doubles as a study tool since you can practice writing kanji and even review JLPT flashcards.

Best for Niche Vocabulary: Aedict3 

Available on: Android

Price: Free for basic use; around $1 / month for features like quizzes and SRS 

aedict3 japanese dictionary app logo

Aedict3 is one of the most long-standing Japanese dictionary apps, and it just keeps getting better each year. Aside from having very thorough entries, you can download add-ons for free, such as specialized dictionaries about Japanese science terms, Buddhism and even proper names. The app covers ten languages.

Compared to other dictionaries, you can get very specific with your searches here. Aedict3 lets you search through example sentences or even filter results to show only common words or certain parts of speech.  

Best for Fast Searching: imiwa?

Available on: iPhone 

Price: Free

imiwa? japanese dictionary app logo

imiwa? is one of the most popular dictionaries available on iPhone.

This app is great for those of us who aren’t quite sure how to search kanji by radicals. Users can search for kanji characters simply by drawing the character directly on the screen (or if you want to look up a word by its radicals, stroke order, kana or romaji, you can do that too). imiwa? also lets its users practice writing Japanese characters.

Kanji is provided with furigana, and definitions come with example sentences. By tapping a new word, users can hear native pronunciation.

Other features include verb conjugation charts, notebooks to keep track of your favorite words, JLTP vocabulary lists and more.

Best for Reading: Nihongo – Japanese Dictionary

Available on: iPhone

Price: Free for basic use; $3.99/month for features like reading assistant and photo lookup

nihongo japanese dictionary app logo

If you’re an iPhone user who wants to practice reading in Japanese, then Nihongo can be your go-to dictionary app. It has a nifty reading assistant that adds romaji or furigana to Japanese text, and you can tap on each word to get its meaning. Pair this with the app’s OCR (optical character recognition) to make your way through manga and even novels!

Nihongo also automatically makes flashcards based on what you’ve read or looked up so you won’t easily forget vocabulary. Plus, all of the dictionary entries are labeled based on how much they’re used in daily life.

Best for Photo Lookups: Yomiwa

Available on: Android || iPhone

Price: Free for basic dictionary use; one-time payment for photo lookup feature

yomiwa japanese dictionary app logo

Yomiwa is just the app you need to read anything in Japanese. This is a Japanese translation app that allows its users to snap a picture of text with their phone camera, and then defines words and characters—whether they’re in kana or kanji.

Having no sense of direction or knowledge of station names, I love using this app while trying to read sign boards and street signs.

You’ve got this! Now you’re ready to read and define just about anything that comes your way. Don’t know what all those buttons mean on a Japanese toilet? Pssh. Easy. Your phone can tell you that with a simple snap of the camera. Just make sure the shutter is on silent!

Best for Advanced Learners: Sanseido Dictionary

Available on: Android || iPhone 

Price: Around $12

sanseido japanese dictionary app logo

What’s awesome about this dictionary app is it has an extensive list of example phrases and vocabulary taken from diverse Japanese media. As a monolingual dictionary, it’s great for learning the authentic usages of words and finding difficult words. Since it’s completely in Japanese, I’d recommend this only for advanced learners!

Like iOS’s built-in dictionary, you can also use it to select a word while web-browsing and displays its definition in a pop-up box.

Best for Beginners: Learning Language Dictionary

Available on: iPhone 

Price: Around $13

learning language japanese dictionary app logo

Learning Language Dictionary is actually child-friendly (as in great for beginners). It has a dictionary option for elementary school students specifically and includes kanji exams taken by actual Japanese in schools.  

Definitions are kept on the elementary-level side while kanji can be converted to hiragana. Learning Language Dictionary also includes a kanji-trace feature, stroke order and includes the number of strokes in kanji to strengthen your reading skills.

More advanced speakers might enjoy 大辞林 (だいじりん), which is regarded as the Japanese Webster/Oxford dictionary for your iPhone!

Best for Offline Use: GogoNavi Japanese

Available on: iPhone 

Price: $2.99

gogo navi japanese dictionary app logo

GogoNavi Japanese is a pretty straightforward dictionary with a lot of useful features, the most outstanding of which is its ability to operate offline.

This may not seem like a big deal, but despite Japan’s high-tech toilets, punctual bullet trains and eye for all things cute, you can spend an entire day searching for free wifi.

Aside from this, GogoNavi lets you search for words by kanji, kana and romaji.

Each word is accompanied by audio pronunciation and example sentences. Users can tap on kanji to quickly look up its meaning, and words saved on your “favorites list” can be synchronized between all of your devices.

Best for Foodies: Japanese Food Dictionary

Available on: Android 

Price: Around $1 

japanese food dictionary app logo

Japan has hundreds of delicious specialties, but having so many mouth-watering plates can make it difficult to memorize what’s what.

The Japanese Food Dictionary provides you with hundreds of common restaurant and street food from 塩ラーメン (しお らーめん — salt ramen) to キクラゲ (きくらげ — a mushroom-like fungi found in tons of delicious soup dishes).

Food items are split into restaurant types (eg: ramen shop) and categories (eg: seafood). Kanji and kana appear in each entry with a picture of each food item. This app will have you ordering Japanese food like a pro by using the audio provided with each definition.

 

A trusty dictionary app is a must-have when you’re learning a language (or traveling), and the Japanese dictionary apps above make looking up new words very easy. They can even help you pick up JLPT vocabulary, read books and review with personalized quizzes.

So go choose one (or a few), and try it out on your phone! It just might become your constant companion on your Japanese learning journey.    

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