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How to choose and use denshi jisho

Updated on March 3, 2013

Ok, so you have been learning Japanese for a while and you reached the point, when you need an electronic dictionary. Although it may be very useful, it's quite expensive and probably unavailable in your country, so I assume you would like to make a good choice in the first try.

Maybe first think you would have to think about is:

  • Do I want a colour display?


  • Do I want a monochromatic display?

Although monochromatic dictionary may be slightly cheaper(but not necessarily), I would recommend you the colour one. It's because it'll give you some more features like possibility to upload your own images to dictionary or use any other content designed for new dictionaries. However, even if you are absolutely sure, you prefer monochromatic dictionary, you should take one with highlight option. Believe me or not, but not every device has it and if it so, you won't be able to use your dictionary without additional source of light(so forget about looking for some word in night train or bus etc.). So, do you want a colour denshi jisho now? I hope so, because it's cool!

And remember, this dictionary is in fact something what you will probably use for the next 10 or even more years! It's not the same as a smartphone that you have to throw away after one year, because it's so outdated. My literature professor has been using one for like 20 years, really! It looked like museum artifact, but it was still working. AMAZING! Those days, I still haven't got mine, but I really wanted to. Eventually, I bought this one:

I bought it while being in Japan, but not in a stationary shop. Those available in amazon are much cheaper! Like few thousands yen cheaper, so even if you are going to Japan, I recommend you to ask some Japanese host with amazon account to buy it for you(of course, don't forget to pay him back!). However, I understand that is really hard to help buying it, when you see shining denshi jisho on the store's shelf even though it doesn't much all you requirements,but you can afford it. Fortunately, that time, I went shopping with my fiancé! Later on, I could order much better one via amazon.

Ok, but why I chose that one? Despite the fact it was only 20 thousand yen one, it also has everything I wanted in my dictionary(well, almost)!

And what contents you may want in your dictionary? Check up below link to casio products' table. There are only the newest models of denshi jisho that you can compare, but the list of contents doesn't change too much. Of course, you can buy some of the new models, but as the matter of fact, it will be more expensive.

But maybe, before you start to think about what kind of contents you would like to have in your dictionary, we should go back to some basic points which are:

  • Do this dictionary has "handwriting" option?
  • Do this dictionary has "jump" option?
  • Do this dictionary has "multi-dictionary search" option?

And why do you need all of this? Let's start from the "handwriting" option. What would you do if you see some kanji, that you haven't learnt? Without "handwriting" option, only thing left was to guess the reading. Maybe it's surprising, but not every dictionary has this feature! I think, they loose a lot from their functionality. The other great thing about this option is that you can practice kanji using one of the dictionary's contents(mine has it). It's called "Kanken Puchi Drill" and is designed for Japanese users preparing for kanji test, but you can use it as well. Many of casio dictionaries has this content, but you should be aware that depending on model, there may be "Puchi Drill" only for the hardest levels of that kanji test, so you would rather look for some that has "Puchi Drill" for level 5,4,3 as well. Of course if you are interested in this feature. My "Kanji Puchi Drill" menu looks like this:

And now, what "jump" option does? Well, it allows you to search for words that appears in definition of what you were looking for firstly. So for example you wanted to check the word 「奉る」 . In the definition, there is 「さしあげる。献上する。人を参上させる。」. Let's say you don't know the word 「献上」 and you want to check it. How would you do it, if there wasn't the "jump" option? You had to know the reading of this word or write it in handwriting field(if you had it and you knew kanji of this word). If there is the "jump" option, you simply press one button, and then choose the right word. Let's see how it looks like:

  • Firstly you simply type the word you are looking for, here 「たてまつる」.

  • Now you have to accept some of the results. In this case, the first one is what you wanted to find. So press 「決定」 button, while the word is highlighted. It will move you to the definition.

決定 button

  • Once you have your definition open in full screen, you can press 「ジャンプ」(jump) button, to highlight a word from the definition you want to check out next. Here is how "jump" button looks:

「ジャンプ」 button

  • Now, using arrow keys around the 「決定」 button, you can go to your word, which is 「献上」 in this example. Once you get there, you have to press 「決定」 button again and you will jump to the next definition. Nice, isn't it?

Maybe all this above looks obvious for ones, who already have their own jisho, but if you still don't have one, I think it can show you some nice feature you may like to have in your dictionary, whichever it will be.

I won't paste any pictures of "multi- dictionary search" option, because I'm sure you know what it does even if you never haven't had any denshi jisho in your hands. However, it's very useful option if you don't know in which dictionary(denshi jisho has many of them) the word you are looking for may be.

But the thing you may don't know even if you own some denshi jisho, may be how to reach configuration menu if you haven' read instruction(well, it's only in Japanese...)

To do this in home menu press 「シフト」(shift) button and than 「設定」 button:

Than configuration menu should appear. There are few options:

If you're not sure, you can always go back by pressing 「戻る」 button:


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