japanese translators

12 Absolute Best Japanese Translators [Updated for 2024]

Sometimes, we want to say something in Japanese or decipher a Japanese sentence in a book, but looking up every word in a dictionary is tough!

This is where Japanese translators come in.

But there are so many available, all at varying levels of quality—so which is best for you?

In this post, we’ll give you the 12 best Japanese translators for different needs and budgets, so you can sit back, translate and enjoy.


1. Best for Detailed Japanese Translations: RomajiDesu


Available on: Browser

Price: Free

This website translates kana to romaji as well as kana to English—especially useful for those focusing on spoken Japanese.

Translating kana to romaji via software is notoriously difficult. This translator breaks kana into different parts to determine the romaji translation.

RomajiDesu is also excellent for learning sentence structure and particles, since it includes spaces between words and highlights particles in blue. You can even hover over any word to see its translation, form, romaji and furigana.

Can view both romaji and kanaNot available as an app
Provides details on particles and word formsCan only translate from Japanese to English

2. Best for Simple Japanese Translations: J-TalkJ-Talk

Available on: Browser

Price: Free; can pay for longer translations and no ads

If you need to translate a sentence or phrase quickly, or you want to understand a particular kanji, try this translator.

Simply paste your kanji phrase and select “Convert,” then you’ll see the romaji and English definition. To view the hiragana, click on “Kana” in the upper left-hand side of the screen.

There are options for viewing romaji, kana, tables of word types and more.

Includes notes on word formOnly available on browser
Can choose to view hiragana, romaji, etc.Doesn't provide further examples for word usage

3. Best for Specific Searches: JishoJisho

Available on: Browser

Price: Free

This translator allows for really specific searches, like common words that end in a particular kanji, organization and family names and even kanji with a specific number of strokes.

You can search by drawing kanji, speaking a word or phrase or selecting kanji radicals, wildcards and hashtags. Hashtags are specific categories, like words in the JLPT exams and many others.

You can even search using English and Japanese at the same time, for those times you can only remember one kanji in a word!

Offers various input methods (drawing, speaking, etc.)Word-by-word translation only
Provides example searches to showcase all featuresNo mobile apps available

4. Best for Specialized Japanese Vocabulary: Tangorin

TangorinAvailable on: Browser

Price: Free; $2.50/month or $30/year for no ads

Tangorin is ideal for learners who want more than a basic English-Japanese dictionary.

You can search for translations using English, kanji, kana and romaji, or even by Japanese radicals. Tags make it easy to narrow down your searches to exactly the right translations, and all translations include example sentences.

Tangorin also provides conjugation tables and kanji diagrams, katakana of names and a specialized terminology dictionary if you need specific Japanese words for a certain field or business type.

Provides in-depth kanji informationAds can be distracting on free version
Offers multiple search functions for Japanese to EnglishSentence input may return word-by-word translation

5. Best for Instant Japanese Translations: Rikaikun

RikaikunAvailable on: Browser (Chrome)

Price: Free

Rikaikun is an incredibly handy Chrome browser extension for Japanese learners who want an on-the-spot translator.

Once you add and activate the extension, just hover over the text with your cursor to translate a Japanese word or phrase. A translation will pop up; hit Shift+Enter to see a more detailed explanation of the selected kanji.

This translator will help you look up unfamiliar kana quickly and easily, and is ideal for advanced learners who read Japanese text online.

Instant translations on desktopSimply mousing over the page will automatically pop up translations
Offers detailed kanji explanationsOnly available for Chrome

6. Best Free Japanese Translator: Google Translate

Google TranslateAvailable on: Browser | iOS | Android

Price: Free

Google Translate lets you translate anything simply by pointing your smartphone camera at it.

While Google Translate is pretty notorious for not always translating Japanese kana into English properly, that’s some innovative technology—it’s still one of the best free Japanese translation apps!

And if you’re willing to overlook the occasional odd translation or two, there are plenty of other cool features. You can translate speech and listen to translations, as well as see related words and how often a word appears in Google’s document database.

Popular brand with lots of functions and supportMay struggle with technical and/or specialized vocabulary
Camera translation feature available on appsKnown for sometimes providing awkward translations

7. Best Contextual Japanese Translator: Linguee English-Japanese Dictionary

Linguee English-Japanese DictionaryAvailable on: Browser | iOS | Android

Price: Free

This translator contains no ads, is available offline and features a simple, user-friendly design.

Linguee is a bit more like a dictionary, because full sentence searches will return word-for-word translations for you to construct the translation yourself.

However, with Linguee, you can search English to Japanese or vice-versa to enjoy nearly a billion translations, plus a massive amount of context for every search. You’ll see real sentences from around the internet as well as related words and synonyms.

No fees and no adsOnly provides word-by-word translations
Offers contextual information for every wordNo options for flashcards or favorites

8. Best Document Translator: DeepL Translator

DeepL Translator Available on: Browser | iOS | Android

Price: Free; DeepL Pro available from $8-$69/month

DeepL, the creator of Linguee Dictionary, also has a translator that can quickly convert any Japanese writing into English! It was created with workers and businesses in mind.

The free version allows translations of up to 3,000 characters, three documents per month and access to 10 dictionary entries. The pro version is great for translating a multitude of documents, as well as enhanced security and customization.

Either way, the quality of DeepL’s translation is often considered on par—or even better—than the classic Google Translate.

Known for high-quality translationsPuts limits on free usage
Ideal for big companies with large translation needsMore expensive than similar apps

9. Best Japanese Learning Support: Japanese English Dictionary+

Japanese English Dictionary+Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free; can pay $1.99 to remove ads

This app doubles as a dictionary and language-learning tool, and is a great addition to any beginner’s study regiment. Plus, it’s totally free!

There are tons of features, including detailed kana definitions, example sentences, flashcards and various font sizes. Also included is an advanced sentence analyzer, which breaks down sentences into individual words and components—a useful addition for Japanese learners.

Uniquely, this translator also features British English support for UK-based learners out there.

Includes a variety of language learning toolsSentence analyzer requires some knowledge of Japanese grammar
Provides examples and contextual informationPaying fee doesn't provide extra features

10. Best Browser Extension: Mazii

MaziiAvailable on: Browser (Chrome) | iOS | Android

Price: Free; premium and lifetime access available for purchase on apps

While available in app form, Mazii really shines as a Chrome extension. It works similarly to Rikaikun but has more customization, like the ability to control pop-up speed, enable different features and more.

Once Mazii is installed, just double-click on any Japanese word to see a translation, or hold down Alt and click to select an entire sentence to translate.

You can also translate from Japanese into 13 different languages, including French, Chinese, Korean, Russian and more.

Includes various customizable settings on desktopLimits free usage
Provides language learning tools like flashcardsMany unique app features require a subscription plan

11. Best Industry-specific Translator: SYSTRAN Japanese Translation

SYSTRAN Japanese Translation Available on: Browser

Price: Free for simple translations; Pro available from $5.49/month

This resource offers translation services to and from a number of languages, but the Japanese translator can quickly turn any kana words or sentences into English.

SYSTRAN is ideal for businesses, public organizations and educational institutes with Japanese to English translation needs, and can even translate entire domains in fields such as technology, e-commerce, gaming and more.

SYSTRAN’s translation technology is open-source, and they pride themselves on being a “community-based translation solution.”

Basic translations are freeCan get pricey depending on translation needs
Particularly good for full website translationsNot available in app form

12. Best Language Input Options: Yandex Translate

Yandex Translate Available on: Browser | iOS | Android

Price: Free

Well-known for its awesome European language translations, Yandex offers numerous language input options which allow you to translate text, sites, documents and even images into Japanese.

It works well for Japanese sentences containing kanji, so you can easily use it to double-check a translation from elsewhere. With pure hiragana you might need the help of other translators as well, as poetic phrases and idioms sometimes get lost in translation.

Offers translations for basic, beginner-level sentencesStruggles with technical and complex Japanese
Helpful for translating kanjiNot great with hiragana only

Japanese Translator FAQ

What is the most accurate Japanese translator?

This depends on your needs! For simple vocabulary translations or industry-specific terms, for example, it’s best to select a Japanese translator designed for that purpose.

In general, however, DeepL is considered a highly accurate, top-tier translator that excels at everyday sentence-level translations between Japanese and English.

How can I translate Japanese accurately?

Use a mix of machine- and person-based translation.

Once your text has been translated by a translator application, double-check it using your own knowledge of Japanese vocabulary, grammar and politeness rules, as well as context.

Because Japanese to English translations can be difficult for software, if you have the option, it’s always beneficial to ask a native Japanese speaker to confirm machine-based translations.

How can I improve my Japanese?

You can take Japanese classes, either in person or online, or you can create a Japanese self-study routine to improve your knowledge of the language!

Bettering your Japanese will require improving the four language skills—reading, writing, listening and speaking. You can do this on your own, with a Japanese tutor or via a language learning program.

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

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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You’ve got quite the arsenal of awesome Japanese translators now! Find one or two that you’re comfortable with and that suit your needs, and keep them handy.

Good luck!

And One More Thing...

If you love learning Japanese with authentic materials, then I should also tell you more about FluentU.

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

FluentU has a broad range of contemporary videos as you'll see below:


FluentU makes these native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts. Tap on any word to look it up instantly.


All definitions have multiple examples, and they're written for Japanese learners like you. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.


And FluentU has a learn mode which turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples.


The best part? FluentU keeps track of your vocabulary, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You'll have a 100% personalized experience.

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.)

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