Handhelds mini-FAQ

This is the tentative beginning of an FAQ about hand-held Japanese
language aids: dictionaries and the like. At this stage it is a largely
unedited collection of postings from sci.lang.japan

Jim Breen
(Last updated: 16 September, 2004)
From: David Chien 
Newsgroups: sci.lang.japan
Subject: Re: E-dictionaries for palm
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 17:35:03 -0700

DB wrote:
> I just recently aquired a Sony Clie palmtop computer.  I was wondering
> if there are any good Japanese dictionaries for Palm OS 5.x and/or any
> good Japanese character input programs (like the "Graffitti 2" it came
> with for English)?

Search www.deja.com for many past posts on this topic - it's all been
covered before.
This is really a case where the Japanese version of a PocketPC PDA would
have opened up a huge range of J/E & E/J & J/J dictionaries beyond
what's avail. for the Palm.
PocketLingo has their Kenkyusha E/J J/E dictionaries that work like
what's on the lower end seiko electronic Japanese dictionaries, but
you'll have to install J-OS for Sony or some other Japanese display
utility to read anything in Japanese (or for lookups).
Japan has their ATOK for Palm, but don't recall if it works for Sony -
a input program.

All of the Sony Japanese models have inputs (IME) built-in, and most
have some rudamentary J/E E/J dictionaries -- this may have been the
better buy if you wanted Japanese.
There's the free EDICT for Palm, Dokusha, and various other programs, too.
I'm lazy, so I'll just repost myself (www.deja.com for others):

Mukei wrote:

> Hi I'd like to know if someone know on which PDA it's possible to use
> the handwriting to write japanese.
> So write japanese without using the IME. Actually, it would be really
> useful to use the PDA as a dictionary.
> Please tell me if you've done it on which configuration, with which
> program and how ?
> Thank you !!!!!! :)

Ask in sci.lang.japan, or simply visit www.deja.com and search on
'japanese pda' or 'japanese dictionary' etc. and find hundreds of posts
on your exact topic.
Basically, Sharp Zaurus PDAs made in Japan allow entry of handwritten
Japanese (not printed, but actually handwritten Kanji) into their PDAs
for direct lookup into the dictionaries they have built-in.

For sure works on the Sharp Zaurus MI-506DC I have and most of these
older MI-xxx series PDAs from a few years back (dirt-cheap for ~50-100
in Japan nowadays used); most likely will as well on the latest Linux
Sharp models such as the SL-C860.

Don't forget that some EJD's have pen input as well.

eg. Canon Wordtank V70

> What are your experiences with new electronic dict. like Canon &
> Sharp?
> Is a PDA a good alternative?

Cost aside:

The Toshiba and Zaurus are good starters, with the Zaurus sl-c860
being the more powerful choice of the two as it has a built-in bilingual
EJ translator that'll translate entire web pages into either language
for an all-in-one PDA that you don't add anything to for the
functionality you receive while the Toshiba is better for the
expandability in 3rd party dictionary sets.. (see below)

That said, both have sufficient number of entries to get you started
if you're in the intermediate level.

For beginners, you may find both of them to be a bit limited due to
the lack of sufficiently detailed entries.

eg. the PDAs tend to use concise versions, so shigoto is listed simply
as work, rather than a longer entry.  (does vary from PDA to PDA, so
test in person)

However, you can load up a few 3rd party commerical dictionaries on
any of the Japanese Windows PDAs:

PDA's do give you pen input, so that's a big plus!  eg. with the
Toshiba, simply write the unknown kanji/word, and you can look it up in
the dictionary. None of the higher end electronic Japanese dictionaries
(EJDs) have this with the exception of the top-of-the-line Canon
Wordtank V70; only the basic models with very brief entries.


This site gives you a good overview re: the EJDs:
With any PDA, you can load up the EDICT and other freeware
dictionaries, but keep in mind that they won't necessarily be as
extensive with each entry page as a real EJD.

> What would be a good place in Osaka to get one?

No idea.  Akihabara or contact www.conics.net (they're in Japan) for
tips and purchases.

> How about support in English (manuals)? Is there a workaround for
> that?

Most are easy enough to figure out w/o a manual.  Otherwise, you'll
have to get a Japanese friend to translate the basics for you once
you're back.  None of them, except the Canon Wordtanks, have English menus.

> How about examplesentences, is there a device that can also show them
> in kana instead of mostly kanji's?

Seiko RM2000 Romanji JE dictionary is the only one that has this in an

Otherwise, learn Kanji!  Or realistically, have a dictionary such as
the Sharp PW-S7100 (or most other high-end models or PDAs) that have a
JUMP feature, where you highlight unknown words and you can look up the
pronounciations and dicitonary entry.

Here, you'd want the JUMP feature to go to the Japanese to English
dictionary, not just the Japanese to Japanese dictionary, for a proper
explination in English of the word/phrase you're looking up.

Also, make sure you can look up more than one Kanji (eg. a whole
phrase)!  Higher-end EJDs allow this, and it really helps to know what a
2, 3, or 4 Kanji word combo means altogether.

> About Zaurus i heard from a friend

If you just want a simple dictionary and a basic Kanji pen input
portable, the older Sharp Zaurus PDAs, such as the MI-506DC I have can
be bought used for <50 USD and they work well for just this.

> (just to avoid someone pointing out that i should "google" ;-)
> I'm interested in your experiences/views.

I'd point you to my 'google' posts, but basically, it's like this:

1) PDA - limited by the built-in dictionaries, but you can certainly
load them up with a few 3rd party commercial and freeware dictionaries
to make them more useful.

Pen input of Kanji makes lookups a breeze.

Cheaper, older Zaurus models are a good deal for those that can
deal with having just a basic dictionary set.

Can be expanded with bilingual text translators such as the
Transland EJ/JE for Pocket PC to match the Sharp SL-C860:

and many other dictionaries (others around, search for them):
Can be expanded with camera, GPS mapping, Office editing, email,
wireless LAN & LAN, etc. to make them multifunctional - practically an
office in your hand.

Tends to be simpler to use than Windows PDAs in general, although
the market pricing may change anytime:

Never tried these, nor heard of any reviews since they're just out,
but the Palm (Japanese OS models) + free EDICT + 3rd party dictionaries
are available now:

eg. PocketLingo Kenkyusha EJ/JE dictionaries:

eg. Sony Clie PEG-TH55 with basic EJ/JE dictionaries:

More limited set of 3rd party commerical dictionaries vs. Windows
PDAs.  And once you start getting into GPS mapping, and higher-end, CPU
& memory intensive apps, Windows PDAs tend to do better.

2) EJDs - no setup required.  high-end models have everything and the
kitchen sink built-in for the hard-core Japanese student.  Literally
every useful dictionary out there that most will need, everything to
look up obscure Kanji to Japanese phrases, etc.

Models such as the Sharp PW-S7100 even have dual-time zone clocks,
calendar, basic PDA functionality, Japanese business and occassions
letter templates and letter maker (yep, simply pick the occassion, and
it'll show you what you have to write for that occassion to make a
complete letter), calculator with currency and metric/us converter, etc,

Of these two choices, EJDs will give you far more dictionaries and
more comprehensive dictionaries for the money (eg. a nice Sharp PW-S7100
for <200); PDAs are easily hundreds of dollars to start (400+ USD),
and then you add more dictionaries to the pile.

PDAs do give you far more expandability and programmability, so if
you're into customizing and so forth they're the way to go, esp. if you
want just one device that'll do Office work as well.

None of these devices, with the exception of the Seiko Romanji EJD and
perhaps the Canon Wordtanks with their English menus (but definitions
are the same as on any other EJD), are geared for the English learner of
Japanese!  THey're for the Japanese learners of English.
The Canon Wordtanks, the higher end models, are the only models in
existance that I know of which will give you stroke-by-stroke animations
of how to write a Kanji.  (Wordtank G50 for sure; don't recall for the
V70 with pen input)

Very, very useful for those that don't already know how to write Kanji.
In the end, I'm using a multitude of dictionaries here because none
meet my needs:
1) Sharp PW-S7100 = main dictionary, does JUMPS on unknows, first
thing I consult.
2) Seiko SR950 = secondary dictionary, used when the Genius EJ/JE
dictionaries on the Sharp can't find anything/can't give me a good
definition, and I need access to the Kenkyusha EJ/JE dictionaries on this.

(yes, there are words you can find on the Genius but not on the
Kenkyusha and vice versa - very frustrating for a learner)

3) Sharp MI-506DC = unknown Kanji lookups.  While I can count strokes
and find them on #1 and #2 above, it's far faster to just write it in
and get the Kanji instantly on this PDA.
Ask me today?  Money no concern: The Toshiba Genio if you want PDA
expandability and Kanji pen input and can add more dictionaries and
bilingual translators (albeit for more money spent); otherwise, the
Sharp PW-S7100 (or any high-end EJD from Seiko or Canon) for the
extensive built-in dictionaries, cheap.  The 3rd party dictionary
add-ons for the Genio will cost you however (eg. Brother set is 9,240
Yen), and you will easily go 3x+ more expensive than any good, high-end
EJD in the money spent (PDA + dictionaries add-ons).

I'd try the Sharp SL-C860 (haven't here) to see if the dictionary and
bilingual translator works well enough as a stand-alone EJD to get
things done in a no-fuss, out-the-door, but only if you're comfy
spending so much (600+) on a Linux PDA.  No setup required on this one
however for all of the features it has (bilingual translator &
dictionaries, office applications, web browser, high-res 640x480 screen,
etc).  More for the hacker, tweaker, or power-user however....

I'd also try the Palm PDAs + PocketLingo if you want a cheaper PDA
and if anyone in Japan has them running for demo -- they're cheaper than
the Pocket PC PDAs for a low-end color Palm, and they definitely work
fine with EDICT, King Kanji, and Dokusha (Palm PDA kanji learning
programs/dictionaries you can; see respective web pages or
www.palmgear.com) as well as the Kenkyusha PocketLingo dictionary sets
(not bad at 3,780 Yen).
Oh, doesn't everyone already know?!?

places like www.conics.net can buy any EJD off Yahoo Auctions Japan,
and send them to you (if you're not already in Japan to buy one in
person at the same low prices; akihabara and other places).

eg. you can get a Sharp PW-S7100 today for 19,000 Yen (179 USD)

eg. a wordtank G50 for 22,300 Yen (211 USD)

Lower end ones like the Seiko SR960 can be had even cheaper around
9,000+ Yen (~100 USD).

Buy them at the Japanese bookstores in the USA and you =will= get
ripped off with 250-300+ prices on lower-end models!  (ie. don't buy at
a bookstore!  too expensive!!)

> Basically, I'm after a PDA that covers these criteria:
> 1) Handwritten kanji input method.  _Strong_ preference for one that is
>    minimally picky about stroke order.

The only one I know of with it built-in are the older Japanese Sharp
Zaurus PDAs such as the MI-506, MI-610, MI-10, etc. series.  You can buy
the MI-506 for about ~50 USD used today in Japan for example.

You can easily write in Kanji/Hiragana/Katakana and it will recognize
and automatically translate it into the correct computer character.  You
can also handwrite (cursive) Kanji into these babies, taking the usual
shortcuts to combine multiple strokes into a few, and it will easily
understand and translate it into the right Kanji.

You can compare the MI-506 (which I have and use) to the other Sharp models:

MI-506 has color screen, digital camera option, built-in modem, web
browser, telnet, daily planner, dictionaries, word processor,
spreadsheet, world time, and more.

Other models maybe only grayscale/B&W models, but have longer runtimes
as a result.
Other than that, you can add ATOK to the Palm PDAs so you can handwrite
Kanji directly into them.

I haven't tried the accuracy of the touch-screen extensively, but a
mini-notebook such as the touch-screen Fujitsu P1000 for 1000 running
Japanese IME or OS with the IME pad up can do it as well.

These babies run all Windows 95/98/etc./Linux software and can be used
ala a big PDA.

> 2) A Japanese-to-English (and English-to-Japanese) dictionary, either
>    or as a common software/hardware upgrade, with of course the
ability to move
>    the results of the IME directly to it.  The dictionary would have to be
>    something that's useful to a native English speaker.  After dealing
>    JWPCE's edict for ages, I've decided that the two things I really
need which
>    it doesn't currently provide are: a) a more thorough dictionary, and b)
>    example sentences per definition.  Particularly the latter, for, as
>    most people, I learn best by example.

Zaurus was designed for Japanese, so their dictionaries include Japanese
to English, English to Japanese, Japanese On/Kun, and Japanese phrase
lookups geared thusly.  You do need to have a grasp of which of the
options are most appropriate for your use to fully use the Zaurus, and
it won't give you the pronounciation for the Kanji displayed unless you
look them up as the next step.

They are as good as most of the Japanese electronic dictionaries that
are commonly used by Japanese however, and my Japanese friend has no
trouble scribbling in her fast handwritten Kanji and bringing up the
same thing she sees on her Seiko Japanese electronic.

See how to use one with screen shots here:
Sadly, nothing on the Palm PDAs yet as good as the Oxford Chinese to
English dictionary

The free EDICT and etc. dictionaries are mostly geared for English to
Japanese lookups, but nothing going in reverse that is as good as those
on the Zaurus or Oxford yet.

Even then, the Oxford dictionary is best for people who have some
knowledge of the language beyond the basics as they usage tends to be

Dokusha has a lot of potential:

It only gives you the briefest meanings of the characters, but the
lookup is quite quick if you just count strokes or use one of the
non-written lookup methods (Skip, 4 corner, etc.), and if you've got a
Japanese OS installed like J-OS, you can lookup a character inputted
into the clipboard directly.

Of course, no examples limits it to a basic level of use.

See palmgear.com for more Japanese dictionaries as they become available.

Believe there are a few Japanese-geared Palm dictionaries in Japan, but
don't know how well they'll work with English learners.


If you use a mini-laptop, then any available dictionary will run on them.

You can even run many of the available translation software as well, so
you can read a Japanese text, then mouse-over unknown words and bring up
the translation, etc.

Here's a few translation software:

KanjiPop is one example of a popup dictionary that let's you select
words to translate:

There are free ones in Japan, eg. DokoPop:

Roboword, translator, dictionary, speech, etc.:
For English learners of Japanese, the 'best' handheld dictionary I've
found that does E->J translation with lots of easy to understand
examples and sentences is the Seiko RM2000 Kenkyusha electronic
dictionary, but no Kanji entry:
(has examples & screenshots to view)

It's nice enough that you can easily learn quite a bit just looking up
the Japanese equivalents of various words, then reading the examples (in
both Romanji and Kanji sentences).

But oddly, it doesn't have all of the common slang in English - eg. it
has an entry for father, but forget pop.
PDIC for Windows:

does a pretty great job going from English into Japanese as a portable,
free electronic dictionary for mini-notebooks, but depends on free
dictionaries and needs Japanese OS.

> 3) SOME way to have at least some English menus.

Zaurus - nope.
Palm - yep.
Mini-Notebook - yep.
Seiko Electronic - yep.

But thankfully, the Zaurus is quite easy to pickup and you can learn to
navigate the dictionary in about 1/2 hour.

> Far as I know, the only way (at all) to cover criterium #1 is to import a
> Japanese model.  I could be quite mistaken.  It's entirely possible that
> somebody has figured out how to install a handwritten kanji input
method onto a
> non-Japanese model.  I am at least fairly certain no USA-marketed PDA
has such
> a function built-in.

You can do it on any Palm & Mini-Notebook today. No need to import

> Stroke order... Well, there are "rules" about how kanji is written,
and then

Time to pickup :


Learn to Write Chinese Characters (Yale Language Series)
by Johan Bjorksten 14.00

This baby is concise enough and geared perfectly for the English
learner to learn how to write Kanji correctly (and with decently written
examples to follow as well - not some yucky messily written characters).

You WILL need this book.  Gives you the rules used to write Kanji and
if you don't learn/know these, you'll be hampered later.  Think of it as
a must if you learn Japanese or Chinese.  Just no way to get away w/o it
as you advance.

> freely admit I do not, then it's a good idea to TRY to find an IME that is
> not all that picky about stroke order.  Otherwise, one will probably
end up

Sharp Zaurus is pretty good at it, and if you pick the wrong one, you
can go back and change it to one of the closest matches it brings up.

On a mini-notebook, MS IME Pad lets you get messy as well.

Haven't tried the ATOK for Palm, so can't say.

> The dictionary?  Well, example sentences have to have English
> And ideally, said counterparts should not be "Engrish", which is to
say they
> should be perfectly valid English translations/interpretations of the

Only one I've seen that does this decently and is commonly available
is the Seiko electronic dictionary.  The rest, well, ....

Oddly enough, on a side note, if you pickup the numerous English
language tutor books for Japanese such as:

(both available at Kinokunya bookstores in USA)

Let's study daily conversation with a CD by Beth Myers-Yamamuro
ISBN 4-7916-0270-6

My wordbook
ISBN 4-8061-1689-0

They have better examples of sentences that are written naturally (ala a
native speaker) in both languages vs. the usual textbooks.

Of course, these are not dictionaries but textbooks and short tutors on
how to say the common phrases in E/J, but they are worth examining if
you've got the chance.

They'll show you how much you have to learn before you become a native
speaker - so many things seem easy to say in Japanese, but in actuality,
they use a different form or way that it's not obvious when learning
from the usual college textbooks on Jpn.

> After all, how many English books on learning Japanese are 100% IN

Not many.  But "Japanese for Everyone" pretty much gets you into full
Kanji/hiragana mode by the fifth lesson.  Nothing written in English
except the meanings and dialog translations by then.


All in all, I haven't found an ideal dictionary like what you're
asking for either.  I would love to have one that does it all, but right
now, I'm running off of multiple dictionaries just to survive and to get
a decent translation.

The Starter Oxford Japanese Dictionary
by Jonathan Bunt (Editor), Gillian Hall (Editor)

For the basic English to Japanese lookups of what's this word in Japanese?

Sharp Zaurus MI-506DC for the Kanji -> English & on/kun lookups.
Faster than anything else - and nothing like being able to lookup words
I don't know how to pronounce.
EDICT when the above fails running on a Libretto 110 mini-notebook.
(http://www.silverace.com/libretto/ for the latest info on Libretto
I don't have the Seiko yet, but still wondering if I'll need it given
the above.
Interestingly enough, with the Palm emulator running on my Libretto, I
can easily run EDICT for Palm on the Palm emulator while running other
programs at the same time, such as the Basilisk Macintosh emulator (yep,
Windows 98 + Mac OS 8.1 (yep, Japanese OS, too) + Palm Pilot (yep, eng &
japanese palms in emulation) all running simultaneously on one 2lbs
Toshiba Libretto mini-notebook).  Mostly a geeky show-off thing, but
it's still pretty cool.  Also, I'm a sucker for PocketChess, so nothing
like blowing away time diddling with that after learning some Japanese... ,)
From: awh@awh.org (Drew Hamilton)
Newsgroups: sci.lang.japan
Subject: Re: E-dictionaries for palm

In article , DB wrote:
>I just recently aquired a Sony Clie palmtop computer.  I was wondering
>if there are any good Japanese dictionaries for Palm OS 5.x and/or any
>good Japanese character input programs (like the "Graffitti 2" it came
>with for English)?

I didn't see David's message that Jim replied to, and I'm also 
about a week late replying to this, but I'll talk about my experiences
in case anyone is interested.

This information relates specifically to the Palm Tungsten T, thouh
it is probably applicable to other PDAs running Palm OS 5.

1)  Japanese Support.

If you have a North American Palm 5 device, it will come with no
Japanese support built in.  I use Hacker Dude-san's J-OS for 
Tungsten T available here:


He also has versions for other Palms as well.  They add Japanese
ability to the Palm, including an IME, and including Japanese-language
menus if you want (I don't use the Japanese menus).  The Japanese
mode is switchable in case you are looking at something with European 
accents that mistakenly show up as Kanji.

The IME is accessed by tapping the "keyboard" icon that's in the
corner of the grafitti area.  Japanese is entered by inputting 
Romaji in the graffiti area, which gets converted to kana, and then
when you input a space in the graffiti area the candidate window
is displated.

The Palm 5 devices have 320x320 screens which, for the purposes of
Japanese text display, is a night-and-day difference over the old
160x160 devices.  Basically, in the old devices if you didn't already
have a pretty good idea hat the character was, it would be very 
difficult to look up because the characters were quite blurred in such
a low-resolution display, but with the new hi-res displays even kanji
with many strokes are usually readable.

2.  Dictionary Support

A good dictionary program for palm is KDIC which is available from:


KDIC is not a Japanese-specific dictionary program; rather it is
a generic dictionary display program that does not come with any
dictionaries.  You must obtain the dictionary files separately.

For japanese dictionaries, I have some Perl scripts that make
three kdic dictionaries out of edict and kanjidic:  A J-E
(indexed both on kanji and reading), an E-J (rather imperfect, since it
has to "reverse" edict and can't to a great job of it), and a 
Kanji information dictionary that contains one entry per character
in JIS-X-0208 (can't do JIS-X-0212 because the Palm works in 
SJIS and thus can not support these kanji).  Right now these scripts
are built with baling twine and duct tape but if anyone's interested
I could clean them up a bit and put them up on a page somewhere.

There are also some really good English-English dictionary files out
there for kdic thatt may not be of specific interest to a 
Japanese learner but are useful to have around anyway.

3.  Unknown Kanji Lookup

I use Radic available from:


Unfortunately the program as released is buggy and doesn't support the new
High-res devices very well (ie, at all).  I have fixed this and mailed the fix
to the author but he never published my fix.  if anyone's interested let
me know and if enough people are interesed I'll stick it up on a web
page somewhere.

At one point I have also installed the GoGo Pen trial on a PalmOS 3.5 
device but I have never installed it on a Palm 5 device so I don't
know if it will work.  But Radic is good enough to look up unknown kanji.

4.  Kanji/Vocab Flashcards

King Kanji, available from:


Works well enough, but since it includes its own Japanese font,
it looks terrible on the high-res devices when compared to the 
other apps that all use the system font.  Also, it takes up a lot of
room on the device because it has to store an unnecessary font.
Still, it works okay, and it's easy enough to make your own 
flashcard sets.

Hmm, that's about all I can think of to say right now.  Anyone else
got anything to add?


From: Dale Walker 
Newsgroups: sci.lang.japan
Subject: Re: E-dictionaries for palm
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2004 00:16:01 +0100

On Tue, 27 Jul 2004 20:04:15 +0900, awh@awh.org (Drew Hamilton) wrote:
>Hmm, that's about all I can think of to say right now.  Anyone else
>got anything to add?

For IME's you can also try...

ATOK: http://www.justsystem.co.jp/atok/atok_palmjg/?w=at Love to know
what this is all about but can't seem to get hold of a copy to play
around with and my Japanese is too appalling to work out it's
specifications from the website. (anyone know of anywhere I can
download a demo?)

CJKOS: http://www.dyts.com/en/index.html (Get the free 1.0b2 J-OS IME
to use on top for input. This works out cheaper than the full J-OS and
as far as I can work out, uses less memory as well).

Yomeru: Freeware but limited Japanese character display system. Needs
J-OS IME to input characters.

More things to add
GogoPen: for handwritten kanji input

HiroHira DA or hirapa2: for handwritten kana input

KDIC: has downloadable GENE dictionaries for better E-J translations
Palmdict: Limited to edict but is fast and searches both sides of the

LearnAlpha: kana/Kanji testing application. Works well with single
kanji but doesn't cope with compounds out of the box. Have to home
brew those yourself which is a pain.

I don't like King Kanji myself. It doesn't remember the kanji you got
right or wrong and is therefore pretty useless for coping with trying
to remember large amounts of kanji.

Wish they'd do a Stackz for the Palm. Actually seriously thinking of
jumping ship from Palm to PPC for the only reason that there's no
decent kanji flashcard program. Palm wipes the floor over the PPC in
most respects when it comes to the standard PDA functions but it's
starting to lose it's grip with decent vertical applications.

OK, all I really need my PDA to do is the bog standard contacts/diary
thing and then as a Japanese dictionary/study aid. Maybe would use it
for WiFi web browsing/Email. Finally, A nice Terminal Services app to
do remote administration of several Windows NT servers I have to
manage pretty much 24 hours a day. I was waiting for the Palm T4 (if
that's what the Wifi T3 will be called) but to be honest, I've been
waiting too long and I've seen Stackz working on a HP PPC and it looks
very nice indeed.

However, I've fallen hook, line and sinker for the Sony VGN-X505
I walk past a shop selling them every day and even after two or three
weeks, I still spend 5 minutes looking at the thing in utter lust.
The eye watering price is the only thing putting me off but I have
seriously considered getting a loan out. There's not been much in the
way of gadgets recently that has made me think that way in a long
time. Sure it's not a PDA but it's small enough to fit into pretty
much any bag and at only 0.8 kg it's light enough not to notice.


From: David Chien 
Newsgroups: sci.lang.japan
Subject: Re: English - Japanese Electronic Dictionary
Date: Tue, 07 Sep 2004 11:08:38 -0700

Yes, J-J dictionaries are useful if they have a jump feature that allows
you to look up unknown characters in the other dictionaries, esp. the
J-E one.

However, even then, you'll also need a 'slang' dictionary if you really
want to look up all of the 'common' words -- eg. ossu is not in most J-E
dictionaries, and it's very common to hear in everyday life.

Anyways, my picks?

The latest Casio backlit models; the latest Sharp models; the latest
Seiko models - these all have enough dictionaries to keep you happy for
awhile, esp. their top models with 10+ dictionaries each.

I would look at the differences in jump mode as well as speed of
retrieval.  The Casio models, IMO, are the fastest, and there's no
significant delay at all.  Simply press to lookup and the machine goes.
The others are quick, but all have a slight (very small) delay that's
longer than the Casio models.  Nothing annoying unless you're expecting
these to repsond as quick as a PC.

Jump differs between all of these models, with some automatically lookup
up a character across all available dictionaries, others forcing you to
choose a dictionary first before it'll see if an entry is in there.

Also, the keyboards will make or break you if you're sensitive to that
-- here, the latest Seiko keyboards are too tough to press for me and I
don't like the response.  The Sharp's are a little better, though not as
good as the excellent Casio's, where my fingers can fly on character
entry and the lightest tap is always a sure entry.

Some of the Casio models, and one of the Canon model, has touch-screen
Kanji pen input -- here, you simply write to enter the character to be
Here, I'm running both the Sharp and Seiko models noted in the article
above.  The Sharp is used for the Genius J/E,E/J dictionary sets, the
Seiko for the Kenkyusha sets.   Both of them are necessary as you learn
because so many entries that are poorly defined or not found in one
brand is found in the other (Genius vs. Kenkyusha).

Clearly all of these EJDs are still targeted towards the Japanese
learner of English, not the opposite.
Don't forget about the long thread on PDAs in this forum a few months
ago (search www.deja.com).

Some PocketPC PDAs from Japan have built-in pen input of Kanji
characters to lookup in their built-in dictionaries, and you can add a
whole slew of 3rd party PocketPC J-J, J-E, E-J,etc. dictionaries as well.
here, I'll just copy and paste my old posts:


As I recall from a few months back, there was talk about buying a PDA
that had Japanese dictionaries and Japanese input.  As it stood then, it
was some sort of PDA (Palm or WinCE) + EDICT access in some form.
(search www.deja.com for past threads on this)

Today, besides the previously released Sharp SL-760C which had a limited
5 dictionary set, the Toshiba Genio e550DT adds to a standard WinCE PDA
the full dictionary sets of Daijirin and Kenkyusha's E/J & J/E
dictionaries - basically everything one needs as a Japanese learner
(except single Kanji lookups).  Very nice is the pen input for all
characters/words, so you don't have to know how an unknown word or
character is pronounced in order to quickly find the definition.

PDF brochure:
Naturally, you can still load JWPce onto this PDA and retain full access
to EDICT as well.

Can be expanded with bilingual text translators such as the
Transland EJ/JE for Pocket PC to match the Sharp SL-C860:

and many other dictionaries (others around, search for them):

From: kila_gani@yahoo.co.jp (Tore)
Newsgroups: sci.lang.japan
Subject: Re: English - Japanese Electronic Dictionary
Date: 10 Sep 2004 06:55:26 -0700

I just thought I add my opinion to the discussion. I recently bought a
Seiko SR-T5030 and I am very pleased with it. It contains Koujien,
Genius e-j and j-e, Consise Oxford Thesaurus, Oxfords Advanced
learners, Kanjigen, Personal Katakana Jiten and some converstion
dictionary. It is very fast and has metal housing and nice buttons, no
squeeky plastic. As en extra bonus it also has Zhong-ri/Ri-zhong
cidian in it. For me that was quite important but I guess not everyone
has a need for that. Other third languages are also available.

For many years I was using my Canon IDJ-9000, and there are some areas
where the Seiko is looisng. The word registory/study function was
better in the Canon, and being able to show all compunds for a
specific kanji was also very useful. However, the dictionaries are
just so much better now.

The bad news is that I have no idea if it is available outside Japan.
I bought it in Akihabara, 25000 yen after som bargaining, so check it
out if you are coming over here. Good hunt,

From: David Chien 
Newsgroups: sci.lang.japan
Subject: Re: English - Japanese Electronic Dictionary
Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 15:53:02 -0700

> There are a number of sites that sell them, and I bought my one from an 
> e-Bay storefront.  So I think it's entirely possible to buy them outside 
> Japan via the Internet.

www.conics.net Yahoo Auctions buying service can usually get any of 
these EJDs for you cheap.

also, in major metro cities with large Japanese populations, the 
various local bookstores as well as the free weekly paper publications 
will have listings for such shippers.
From: Peter Ludemann

(Some of this is mentioned briefly at 

I was given an older Sharp Zaurus PDA (MI-C1-S) by a co-worker 
and it's the best e-dictionary I've found. There are various 
Zaurus models; as far as the electronic dictionary and Kanji 
input are concerned, they all seem to be similar. [Note: this 
is the plain Japanese PDA, not the Linux PDA.] It's cheaper 
and better than the dictionary-only devices that I've seen 
(e.g., Casio, Canon).  I have seen older models for around 
Y9000 at a discount camera store in Shinjuku (latest models 
are around Y50000) and also used ones in Akihabara (I forget 
the name of the store; it's one that sells all kinds of used 
PCs, PDAs, and digital cameras and has about 20 branches in 
Akihabara, each branch selling a different range of stuff).

I only use the PDA as an electronic dictionary; the great 
thing about it is that it accepts hand-written kanji and does 
a pretty good job, even for a gaijin (much better than Casio). 
The Japanese-Japanese dictionary is pretty good; the 
Japanese-English is just adequate (Gakken's). You have to do 
cut&paste to go between the Japanese and English, which is a 
bit annoying; but at least you don't have to re-enter things.

If you're going to use it for Kanji input, you *must* know 
stroke order. Other than that, it does a decent job, even for 
cursive-writing. It's English alphabet input is awful; but 
there's a typewriter-style input for handling English.

You can look up individual Kanji, but they only give 
pronunciation and not any meaning. From a single Kanji, there 
is a link to words containing the Kanji, and it shows all 
compounds, not just those which start with the particular Kanji.

(Because it's a PDA, you can also keep a file of 
words-to-learn, which is handy. Again, it's slightly 
cumbersome with cut&paste of both English and Japanese.)
Jeff Blum has a very good article about choosing an electronic dictionary.
From: Jean-Noel Simonnet

Padict on Palm SD card
Now I thought I would share with you the work I did to make your PAdict
work on an SD card on Palm.

The key is having installed MsMount, a utility which loads the required
files into Palm memory dynamically. You can get MsMount from
http://www.geocities.com/nagamatu/MSMount/index-e.htm and it is free.

I have been using this trick with Pleco dictionary, as well as Collins
French/english dictionary as well.

You need to make sure that you have enough Palm main memory available at
the time MsMount will copy files to it, otherwise it will fail.

Once MsMount is installed, you need to create a directory on the SD card
(mine is PALM/Programs/MsMount (If I remember well, it may be created at
the time you install MsMount). Otherwise, you can create this on a PC
where you have a SD card reader attached.

You place the files (i.e. the .PDB files and the .PRC ) in this
You make sure in prefs that Msmount is enabled.

You then have an icon on the SD card which can launch the dictionary and
it works.

I thought I would share this with you as it may be useful to other
people wanting to use your dictionary and found they are short on

You just have to pay attention that overtime if your main memory is
reduced because you have installed new applications, your applications
can still load in the available main memory (I have this problem from
time to time with the red guide, which is over 3 MB in size).

From: Olaf Dabrunz 
Newsgroups: sci.lang.japan,japan.lang.japanese
Subject: Re: Best electronic gadgets for Japanese study?
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 1999 09:29:50 +0200
Organization: University of Hamburg

For what it's worth:

I have been comparing products that help one learn Japanese (and help one look
up words even after you are quite fluent) for some years now. I feel
authorized. Please listen. ;-)

I guess you know that there are many fine dictionaries available in book-form,
for the Japanese and the foreign reader. Many of them are better than most of
the electronic dictionaries. The translations are more accurate, they provide
more examples or better explanations and more entries. There are some
exceptions, though.

The best value-for-price you get is the Canon Wordtank IDX-9500. It is the
largest of the old Wordtank series, but the people I know who bought one of
the smaller ones where reaching its limitations too often after a while.

Canon now sells the newer Wordtank IDJ-9000, which contains almost the same
dictionaries as the IDX-9500 but has one plus and one minus point:

+ it contains far more compounds in the Kanji dictionary: 119,879 instead
of 35,875 - other numbers are almost the same.

- the main display's height is halved from 64 to 32 dots. This means that
the characters of compounds will be displayed in a 16x16 dot matrix (the
display has two lines). This may not be a problem for many Kanjis, but
for a learner this can be awful. As an example, try to look up the
Kanji compound for yuu-utsu [gloom] (yes, this appeared in a standard
middle-tier Japanese class). A *single* Kanji can be displayed as large
as on the IDX-9500.

I have been using the Wordtank IDX-9500 for about 5 years now and it is still
one of my favourites. But it was and is best used for Kanji and compound
lookup, and Canon improved one side while making it a bit awkward on the other
side. I'm a little sad about this.

The dictionaries are compiled by Gakken, a company with very good
Japanese-Japanese dictionaries (their classical Japanese literature
compilations and annotations are outstanding, as far as I know). But sometimes
the English translations could be better, e.g. "kenkyuu" translates only to
"study"; "research" and other meanings are not mentioned (I have seen worse,

Other points:
- I like the Japanese explanations and examples. Although these were
primarily written for Japanese users and for a learner it can be quite
difficult to read them, the jump function makes the process of wholly
deciphering an explanation quite interesting and worthwhile. It helped
me learn to associate related Japanese words and meanings by reading
- The batteries are standard types and last quite a long time.

Sharp sells several dictionaries. The interesting ones are the two bigger

The PW-5000 is made for learners of English, since in addition to a
Japanese-English and an English-Japanese dictionary it contains 2400 TOEIC
questions, an English Thesaurus and *no* Kanji lookup.

The cheaper PW-6000 would be the runner-up for the Wordtank IDX-9500. It
contains more English-Japanese meanings (about 92000 as compared to about
60000) and Japanese-English meanings (about 80000 as compared to about 61000)
with more examples. The examples often are sentence to sentence translations,
which are invaluable to grasp the customary usage of a meaning (the Wordtank
does typically not provide these). (The term "meaning" is my hunch at
translating "shuurokugo" [registered word] - this usually counts all
sub-entries for a word that explains some of its meanings in addition to the
main entries.)

The Kanji and compound mode is comparable to the Wordtank IDX-9500. It has an
additional search mode which is quite interesting: by entering the reading of
a Kanji's components one can find the Kanji. E.g. the readings "ito", "kou" and
"kokoro" should find you the Kanji "sou" [general] of "soukaku" [overall
stroke count]. The Wordtank IDJ-9000 has far more compounds, though (see above).
The kanji display has the same size restrictions as the IDJ-9000 (with 24-dot
display only for a single Kanji), which can be awkward for learners.

There are two reasons why I would rather not recommend the Sharp PW-6000:
- To my knowledge, the PW-6000 has no function that compares to the
Wordtanks' Jump function. This is one of the most important functions,
and thus the PW-6000 cannot replace a Wordtank.
- If you have a Wordtank and want to acquire a better dictionary, an even
better choice available (than the PW-6000).

For the above reasons I still consider the Wordtank (either IDX-9500 or
IDJ-9000) to be the best electronic dictionaries available for the beginner to
advanced learner. But if you feel you need an electronic dictionary that goes
beyond the Wordtank, the only real choice today would be one of the top Seiko
Instruments dictionaries.

These are the SII TR-9500 and TR-9700 (same contents - different case). While
there are other electronic dictionaries who claim to have some more entries in
one of the English-Japanese or Japanese-English categories (for example the
Sharp PW-6000, and *maybe* the Casio XD-450 - I don't understand how they
count), the SII dictionaries excel because of two reasons:

- The English-Japanese/Japanese-English dictionary base has good quality
(at least in my opinion). For any main entry one will find accurate
translations and definitions, as well as subentries with categorizations
and translations of meanings. Additionally there are the grammar and
usage hints and example translations (often sentences) that build a good
dictionary. The base dictionaries are Kenkyusha's "New College"
dictionaries. The most famous Kenkyusha dictionaries are the much bigger
ones without the "College" in their names. But for a pocket dictionary
the "New College" dictionaries are very usable.

- The Japanese-Japanese dictionary is the famous Koujien. It is the most
widely used Japanese general study and household dictionary. With
220,000 "registered words" it is also quite big. The quality is
unquestioned.  There is just one drawback: about 9 months ago a new
edition of the Koujien has been published. To my knowledge there is no
SII dictionary version of that edition available yet.

The TR-9500 and TR-9700 are (much) more expensive than most other
dictionaries, but since it is for advanced learners, "fluent" people and
native speakers, it will most likely satisfy all of your needs. I bought mine
about half a year ago for 26,000 Yen.

Some features of these dictionaries are:

- they have a Jump function, but it only works for English words.
- the text of the Koujien can be enlarged to 24x24 dots for four
characters at a time.

About four years ago I also bought the (now obsolete) Sharp Zaurus PI-4500.
The Zaurus is definitely too expensive for a dictionary, and since I don't use
it's other functions a lot, I would not recommend anyone to buy it. But the
Kanji recognition is quite amazing, and for that function I still use it more
or less often. It is helpful when I cannot find a Kanji in some other

The English-Japanese and the Japanese-English dictionaries are comparatively
small and I don't use them that often. When I found a Kanji on the Zaurus I
usually look up the compound's meaning in the SII. Jumping between the
dictionaries is not difficult, though. Just mark the word you want to look up
with the pen and press on "maruchi" [multi]. Then select the dictionary where
you want to look up the word.

Last but not least there is the CD-ROM version of the Nihon Hyakka or
Encyclopedia Nipponica. I have seen it for about 40,000 Yen and its worth
every Sen. But you need a computer with Windows or MacOS (and a CD-ROM drive,
of course). Not that I would expect this to be a problem... (I'm using Linux
though - and I am thanking god for the opportunity tu run Windows under VMWare).

Just let me also mention these:
- Jim Breen's EDICT and KANJIDICT files -- look for the apps
- using a word processor can help finding spelling errors
- any type of game - computer or not - helps. Just start with the simpler
ones (i.e. don't forget to have fun learning).
- Listen to the TV (even to _that_ TV) - it helps. I still can repeat some
of the commercials I saw.
- Did I already say: blah, blah blah?

While there is much more to this theme -- utilities to learn Japanese -- I am
afraid I have to stop here (for now).

Have fun with Japanese,
good bye,

Olaf Dabrunz


For  the  last  couple  of  months I have been using what I believe is a
viable alternative to the  Canon  Wordtank  as  a  hand-held  electronic
dictionary.  I  have  decided to put together a detailed posting on this

The system I have been using is the HP 100LX Palmtop PC, a hand-held and
fully functional PC measuring about 16x8cm.  Onto this I have loaded  my
JDIC  &  JREADER  programs and the EDICT,  etc.  dictionary files.  JDIC
performs well on this system,  to the extent that  I  now  only  use  my
trusty old WT (8500 plus upgrade card) on the rare occasions when a word
I want is not in EDICT. (It usually isn't in the Wordtank either).

A  few  words  about  the  Palmtop.  It  comes with many Mb of preloaded
software: Lotus123, database, editor, HP Calculator.  CCMail, Phonebook,
Appointment manager, XTREE-like Filer, Stopwatch, etc.  All this is in a
"D:"  drive  in ROM.  The basic systems have 1M of CMOS of which 640K is
DOS's memory and the rest a RAMdrive (C:).  In an  expansion  slot  (A:)
goes  a  8x5x0.5cm "Flashdisk";  I have a 10M version,  which comes with
Stacker installed,  so there is plenty of capacity  for  JDIC  etc.  The
processor  is  an 80186,  which seems to perform at about the speed of a
12Mhz 8088.  There is an Application Manager which looks after  programs
through  Icons and pop-down menus,  or you can run programs from the DOS
prompt.  Curiously,  powering the system off only turns off the display,
the applications stay there. I have only rebooted twice.

The  Palmtop has a CGA display.  Unlike earlier models,  the 100LX has a
full 80x25 line screen,  i.e.  640x200 pixels in high-res  CGA.  I  have
always found the aspect ratio of high-res CGA pretty poor for display of
the 16x16 kana/kanji, but the crisp LCD of the Palmtop combined with the
rather  flat  aspect  ratio  make  the  display  every  bit as good as a
monochrome VGA.

The Palmtop  has  a  serial  port  and  built-in  Kermit,  Xmodem,  etc.
protocols.  An  optional  Connectivity  Pack  enables files to be copied
back and forth between a PC and a Palmtop,  and for them to access  each
others files.  It also contains PC versions of many of the applications.

Of course,  the keyboard (full QWERTY) is tiny, and you can forget about
two-handed touch typing.  I have developed a one-handed  "hunt-and-pick"
which works well, particularly as it has a "sticky" Shift key.

With  the  Palmtop  and CGA in mind,  I have made some format changes in
version 2.4 of JDIC and JREADER (now in beta-test),  mainly to  get  the
maximum  information  into  the  reduced screen size.  Also I added some
features which I understand have also appeared  in  the  latest  (8xxx?)
version of the Wordtank.  Among them are: saving & retrieval of the last
10 search keys, a "jump search" where the key comes from a display line,
and  the  ability  to log entries to a file for later review.  The kanji
selection via bushu also now has an option to specify the stroke count.

So how do they compare?  Well I have not seen the latest Wordtank, which
I hear is quite improved,  so this comparison is largely limited to  the
earlier models.

SIZE:  almost the same.  The Palmtop is a bit thicker (about 2.5cm), and
heavier,  and has the typical tough HP case.  It runs on a  pair  of  AA
batteries, & has an external 110/230V adaptor which can charge NiCads in
situ.  The  Palmtop  screen  is  more than twice as large,  and with the
smaller size of displayed characters packs a lot more information.

PRICE:  not surprisingly the Palmtop is quite a bit  more  expensive.  I
don't know the US price,  but extrapolating the Australian,  I expect it
is about US850,  plus a couple of hundred more for the Flashdisk.  Bear
in  mind,  though,  that  for  this  you  get  a  LOT more than a just a
Wordtank,  you are getting a PC with a  lot  of  built-in  applications,
including a copy of Lotus123.  JDIC, EDICT, etc. are, of course, free.

DICTIONARY:  EDICT  & KANJIDIC total about 3.5M,  which is somewhat less
than the  Wordtank's  claimed  dictionary.  However  the  7200/8500  had
separate  E->J  and  J->E  dictionaries,  which  was wasteful.  JDIC can
access the full JIS 1 & 2  sets,  whereas  many  are  missing  from  the
Wordtank.  From my observation,  there is not much in the Wordtank which
is not now in EDICT,  and EDICT's English  translations  are  much  more
complete.  Both can access kanji via reading, bush and/or stroke counts.
JDIC  also  accesses  by  JIS  code,  KUTEN,  Nelson  and  Halpern  nos.
KANJIDIC's collection of readings seems  much  more  comprehensive  than
those  in the Wordtank.  Also,  JDIC,  EDICT,  etc.  are being regularly
upgraded, and thus the Palmtop option can improve for no extra outlay.

SPEED:  the Wordtank is much faster.  The typical  word  search  on  the
Palmtop takes an average of 4 seconds (cf 2.2 on my 16Mhz 386). This may
reduce  if  Stacker  were disabled.  Kanji searches take about a second,
but  a  full  screen  takes  about  3  seconds   to   paint.   This   is
understandable,  given the general nature of the Palmtop vs the ASICs in
the Wordtank.

OTHER APPLICATIONS:  The address book,  phone-list and calculator in the
Palmtop  are  infinitely  superior to those on the Wordtank.  Really the
applications do not compare,  as the Palmtop is packed with  goodies.  I
find the Appointment system very impressive,  particularly in the way it
can migrate the details back and forth between the Palmtop and a  PC.  I
often carry my Palmtop in my coat packet, and find it very convenient to
use  the  built-in editor (Memo) for jotting down notes,  drafting text,
etc.  I have also loaded the JREADER program on board,  and to prove  it
was  possible,  downloaded  a copy of the Genji Monogatari.  A bit meaty
reading for train journeys,  but feasible.  I also installed a  copy  of
MOKE,  which  is  the  only  wa-puro I know of for vanilla PCs which can
function on a CGA.  MOKE works fine.  It gave me quite a buzz  to  enter
kanji  and  kana  text  on such a tiny system,  but it does it well.  (I
believe there is a localized version of the HP Memo program available in
Japan, but I have no details of it.)

I realize this  is  partly  blowing  my  own  trumpet,  but  I  strongly
recommend  that  people  who  are  thinking  about  buying  a  hand-held
electronic dictionary consider  the  Palmtop  as  an  alternative.  With
JDIC,  etc  installed  it  performs,  I  think,  every  bit as well as a
Wordtank,  and in some aspects a lot better.  Also  it  is  a  far  more
versatile system, with all the potential of a full PC, as well as having
many  good application packages.  I think HP have done an amazing job of
packing so much into such a small container.  After all, can you imagine
a  Wordtank  that is also  Japanese word-processor, runs Lotus and has a
full-function HP Business Calculator.

{Author's note: I wrote this article in November 1993 while on sabbatical
in France, and posted it on the sci.lang.japan newsgroup. Since then the
HP100LX has moved on, with the 2Mb model, and now the 200LX. Versions 2.4
of JDIC and JREADER were released in February 1994, and included a few
features which made them friendlier on the Palmtop.]

Jim Breen
Monash University, Australia
August 1994.

From: Keith Finch 
Newsgroups: sci.lang.japan,japan.lang.japanese
Subject: Re: Best electronic gadgets for Japanese study?
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 11:57:03 +0900

Olaf Dabrunz wrote:

> Canon now sells the newer Wordtank IDJ-9000, which contains almost the same
> dictionaries as the IDX-9500 but has one plus and one minus point:

One other disadvantage / advantage trade-off has to do with searching
for words.


With the 9500, if you enter a kanji and then do a search for compounds
containing that kanji, only compounds in which that kanji is the FIRST
kanji will appear.  The consequence of this is that if you want to look
up a compound you don't know, you must enter the first kanji in order to
find it.

With the 9000, if you enter a kanji and search for compounds containing
it, ANY compounds containing that kanji will appear.  This makes it much
easier to search for compounds.


Both the 9000 and the 9500 have a "jump" function which allows you to
highlight characters and jump to another dictionary to look them up. 
The 9500, however, allows you to highlight multiple characters, so that
you can look up entire compounds easily.  If you highlight a compound in
a definition from the English-to-Japanese dictionary, you will often pop
up immediately at the entry for that Japanese word, so that you will
immediately know the pronunciation.  The 9000, by contrast, only allows
you to highlight a single character at a time.  If you perform a search
on that single character, you'll get a list of ALL the compounds
containing that character, and the compound you're looking for will be
buried in that list somewhere.  Thus, if you want to learn how to
pronounce a word listed in the English-to-Japanese section, you must
wade through a long list of compounds before you find the pronunciation.

The upshot of all this is that the 9000 is better if you're going from
Japanese to English, while the 9500 is better if you're going from
English to Japanese.

Also, the 9000 has a clock with an alarm, while the 9500 doesn't.

In all, I like the 9000 better because of its size.  I can put it in my
shirt pocket.  I used to try to put my 9500 in my pants pocket, but it
was a real annoyance there because it was so big.  Because the 9500 is
smaller, I can take it with me everywhere.  Because I take it with me
everywhere, I use it more.  Therefore, it is better.
From: Charles Eicher 
Newsgroups: sci.lang.japan,japan.lang.japanese
Subject: Re: Best electronic gadgets for Japanese study?
Date: 3 Jun 1999 21:51:23 -0700

In article <37574074.E4055600@unforgettable.com>, Keith says...
>Olaf Dabrunz wrote:
>> Canon now sells the newer Wordtank IDJ-9000, which contains almost the same
>> dictionaries as the IDX-9500 but has one plus and one minus point:
>One other disadvantage / advantage trade-off has to do with searching
>for words.
>With the 9500, if you enter a kanji and then do a search for compounds
>containing that kanji, only compounds in which that kanji is the FIRST
>kanji will appear.  The consequence of this is that if you want to look
>up a compound you don't know, you must enter the first kanji in order to
>find it.
>With the 9000, if you enter a kanji and search for compounds containing
>it, ANY compounds containing that kanji will appear.  This makes it much
>easier to search for compounds.

I will add a note of agreement, this is a very important feature. The Zaurus has
this same feature, it makes searching for jukugo very easy. There are lots of
occasions where its easier to search a jukugo by searching on a kanji that you
already know, and can input easily, even if its the second kanji in the
compound. I especially like UniDict for the Mac, which has these options: Kanji
is first; Kanji is not first; All; None. I haven't figured out what "None" does,
or why anyone would search for jukugo NOT containing a kanji.. Seems like you'd
output the whole dict, minus a handfull of kanji.. hmm..

>Both the 9000 and the 9500 have a "jump" function which allows you to
>highlight characters and jump to another dictionary to look them up. 

Jump feature good. Jump, Canon, Jump!

>The upshot of all this is that the 9000 is better if you're going from
>Japanese to English, while the 9500 is better if you're going from
>English to Japanese.

I concur. I like to use the 9500 in conversations. I can type in words in
English, and show the kanji on the big LCD screen, or let the Japanese speaker
guide me through a list of kanji to show me the best one to use. I also use it a
lot more when writing, to check kanji I mostly know but might want to
doublecheck. But I use my Zaurus more when doing J-E work.

From: Francisco J. Gutierrez 
Subject: Electronic devices that help you study japanese
Date: Monday 7th, July 1999. GMT +1 19:00

I would like to give some more information about the article by Olaf
Dabrunz on electronic gadgets that help people study japanese. I have
myself own one of these devices for two years now and have found it very
useful during my japaense studies and my recent trip to Japan.

The device I would like to compare to the ones described in Olaf's
document is a Sharp PA-Z800. This device is not only an electronic
dictionary, but includes many features wich make of it a very useful
device for a good quality/price relationship.

The main features are:

- World clock (double-time view)
- Calculator (10 digit, not very sophisticated)
- Schedule with multiple views (month, week, day)
- Address notebook
- "Promise" list (things to remember)
- Quick memo (lets you draw anyhing on screen)
- Memo notebook (different memo-forms to write down notes on: diary,
family info., expenses, movies, restaurants, CDs, books, meetings, etc)
- Possibility to protect certain data with password.
- Japanese <--> English dictionary
- Kanji <--> Japanese dictionary
- E-gaki

The "hardware" features are:

- Memory: 512 Kbytes.
- Size: (82mm x 142mm x 14.9 mm)
- Screen: wide dot matrix screen of 159 x 240 pixels
- It has no buttons, but all the functions are shown on screen, in a
touch-pannel (the device includes tocuh-pencil)
- Batteries: 2 LR03 (the small ones)
- Has a 4-pin port and an infrared port to communicate with other Sharp
- Weight : 145 gr.
- Working temperature: 0 - 42C

Altough this Sharp PA-Z800 has very good features, the one I find most
useful is the dictionary, so let's talk about its possibilities:

One of the main points of the dictionary is its 3-way input method for
japanese. You can choose among:

a) A romanized keyboard with only the japanese available sounds (K, S,
T, N, H, M, Y, R, W, A, I, U, E, O), called "romaji-kana",
b) A hiragana/katakana alfabet, with the japanese kana symbols and
c) A hand-writen recognition method that lets you write kanji on the
This is by far the most useful feature I have found in these type of
electronic dictionaries, because it lets the student introduce the kanji
compound into the dictionary even if he doesn't know the japanese
pronunciation. The recognizer is very good, and it quickly recognizes
kanji, kana, alfabet and numbers.

The advantage of this feature is obvious: if you find a writen kanji
anywhere and want to know the pronunciation, meaning, JIS number,
stroke-count, etc. you just hand-write the kanji and there it is. But
this is too good so far, so there must be a drawback, isn't it?

Yes, there is: the main drawback is that this device is thought for
japanese, so although you can hand-write jukugo (i.e., kanji compounds),
it is not translated directly into english, but it only looks for the
first kanji of the jukugo, so you either have to look foreach of the
individual kanji pronunciation to compose the jukugo pronunciation and
then translate it by typing in (or writing in) the kana pronunciation,
or you can look for kanji jukugo once you have typed one of the kanjis
of the jukugo. This is an inconvenient for non-japanese people who don't
know how to spell jukugos, although the jukugo-search once you have
typed one kanji is a help.

Talking about the number of entries, there are 88.650 words from english
to japanese and 20.290 words from japanese to english (yes, I'm also
surprised by this). Compared to the number of entries of the
dictionaries mentioned in Olaf's document, this one is not very good,
but depending on the use you want of it, the hand-writing recognition
and the touch pannel screen may compensate. Of course, there's also a
japanese to japanese dictionary with 23.800 words. To end up, the price
is not very expensive, about 20.000 yens a couple of years ago.

Well, I hope this information has helped you clarify on what model to
decide if you want to acquire a japanese <--> english electronic
dictionary. I myself complement this dictionary with the computer ones,
like EDICT, that has a huge number of entries. Actually, I only use the
electronic one when I am reading japanese books with no furigana
attached to the kanjis.

If you want to know more about this model, please write me and I'll try
to reply as far as I can.
Newsgroups: sci.lang.japan
Subject: Re: the various electronic dictionaries....
From: Address@The.End (Hendrik)
Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2000 12:02:43 +0900

I'll add a few more
specific comments for the benefit of others who are considering buying
an electronic dictionary. As I said before, I have only recently
acquired the IDX-9500, and I have by no means explored all its options
to the fullest yet. But it is already obvious to me that it has features
which ARE of particular use to foreign students of Japanese who know
English and are learning a kanji-based writing system for the first


My approach to learning Japanese has been to focus first on getting to a
functional level of spoken Japanese, based on a solid understanding of
grammar, so that I can COMMUNICATE well at work and when traveling. Now,
as I am entering the second phase of learning, I am turning my attention
to kanji. 

I recently bought the Canon Wordtank IDX-9500 - this is Canon's model
with the largest vocabulary (until very recently at least) - and my
price in my small city's "electronic superstore" was Yen 14500. It came
with a Japanese manual only, so I obtained a copy of an English manual
from a friend who had bought the same model in California.

Whay did I buy the IDX-9500? Firstly, I had read a detailed comparative
review on the "net" some time ago (unfortunately I did not make a note
of the URL), and I remember that this particular model had been rated
there one of the two best dictionaries SUITABLE FOR FOREIGNERS.
Secondly, (likely because of the point mentioned first) several
(considerably more advanced) foreign students whom I know have been
using that model and have recommended it to me. Thirdly, it is a model
that has been on the market for a long time (which I take as an
indication of acceptable quality). Fourthly, its price has been coming
down significantly over the last two years. Finally, what I wanted/want
is a KANJI dictionary (as opposed to a general Japanese dictionary or
encoclypedia) that allows me to figure out reasonably fast what the
possible meanings of a kanji (or kanji group) are whose pronunciation I
don't know.

Hadamitzky's "Kanji & Kana" (which is a book for studying kanji, not
really a dictionary) has been proving most useful in finding the meaning
of kanji whose pronunciation I know or can ascertain easily, for example
by having someone else read it to me. When I don't know a kanji's
pronunciation(s) I use for the lookup primarily radicals and secondarily
stroke count. (I decided not to get used to any of the other methods
that have been successfully employed, such as the SKIP method, because I
prefer to access kanji through references to meaning rather than to
arithmetic patterns. Although this may mean slower learning initially I
expect it to pay of in the long run - and I just happen to enjoy
linguistic and etymological crossreferencing in any language.) When I am
at home I also use Jim Breens JEDICT, both for pragmatic translations
and for study purposes.

Beyond Hadamitzky's book and the JEDICT website, it is the IDX-9500 that
appears to meet my needs in terms of speed and ease of use.
From: Keith Finch 
Newsgroups: sci.lang.japan
Subject: Re: the various electronic dictionaries....
Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2000 22:01:12 +0900

I see everyone's already forgotten my post about the Sony DD-IC100
Digital Data Viewer, which is the best of both worlds, as far as I'm
concerned -- it's smaller than the Wordtank (it truly is "meishi size,"
as Sony says in its publicity materials) and it's got a lot of the same
power as the Electronic Book readers, but it runs fine on batteries. 
Here are two Sony pages which discuss it:


As I mentioned before, it incorporates a "real" dictionary, the
小学館のプログレッシブ英和・和英中辞典, which is quite extensive and has
lots of sample sentences to show context.  (And every single sample
sentence which I've seen has had a perfectly natural-sounding English
translation, which shows that they've had someone checking it over
properly.  None of those screwed-up English sentences like someone
posted recently.)  It has a backlight and fits in your shirt pocket.  I
can't believe I subsisted so long on the Wordtank's perfunctory two- and
three-word definitions.  This little cutie really lets you "grok" any
word you run into.  Just make sure you have a kanji dictionary on you,
too . . .