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Japanese Studies Reference Tools: Dictionaries

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The New Nelson Japanese-English character dictionary = Shinpan Neruson Kan-Ei jiten
EA Ref: PL679 H33 1997
Based on the classic edition by Andrew N. Nelson.  A 1967 revised edition of  The Modern Reader's Japanese-English Character Dictionary   is also available in East Asian Reference at Duke.

Kan-Ei jukugo ribaasu jiten. = Japanese Character Dictionary with compound lookup via any kanji
EA Ref: PL677.5 .S6 1989 

Kenkyūsha's new Japanese- English dictionary, 5th ed.
EA Ref: PL679 .K377 2003

Kenkyūsha's new English-Japanese Dictionary, 6th ed.
East Asian Ref: PL679 .K39 2002   

Word Dictionaries: Kokugo

広辞苑, 5th edition
EA Ref: PL675 .S491 1998; earlier editions in the stacks.

Nihongo daijiten.
EA Ref: AG35.2 .N49 1995

Nihon kokugo daijiten
日本国語大辞典 14 vols.
EA Ref: PL675 .N46 2000
The most comprehensive dictionary of the Japanese language; 500,000 entries.  Online in Japan Knowledge

EA Ref: PL675 .D342 1995
Also available through JapanKnowledge as Dejitaru Daijisen.

Character Dictionaries: Kanwa jiten

Kōdansha Shin Daijiten
EA Ref: PL677.5 .K63 1993
Includes 21,000 characters. Indexed by readings, numbers of strokes and radical. Includes information on uses in names and the origin of the characters.

Dai Kan-Wa jiten
大漢和辞典 13 vols.
Morohashi Tetsuji
EA Ref: PL677.5  .M6 1966
About 50,000 characters. The most comprehensive dictionary of Chinese characters.  Includes an index to compounds, arranged in gojūon order in the modern kana writing system.  The following dictionaries are related to the Dai Kan-Wa jiten, and are useful resources:

  • Dai Kan-Wa jiten goi sakuin
    EA Ref: PL681.C5 M634 1990
    Indexes for the Dai kan-wa jiten.
  • Kō Kan-Wa jiten
    広漢和辞典 4 vols.
    EA Ref: PL677.5 .M6 1981
    A selection of 20,000 characters and 120,000 words from Morohashi's Dai Kanwa jiten.  Examples and index are easier to use than the Dai Kan-wa edition.

Online Dictionaries

Jim Breen's Japanese Page 
This page has a wealth of information and links to dictionaries, information about translation software, information about reading Japanese WWW pages using a browser without Japanese fonts.

Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Server: Japanese-English Online Dictionary (Monash University Site) 

Provides English-Japanese, Japanese-English dictionaries online and for downloadings as well as some more specialized dictionaries: computer terminology, terms associated with continuous improvement, marketing and transport. When relevant, the search also goes to the Japanese wikipedia.

Denshi jisho  
Words, kanji and sentences can be searched in either English or Japanese. Includes a bookmarklet which you can drag to the favourites/bookmark bar in your browser and then select a Japanese word on a page, then click the bookmarklet to make a quick lookup on that word.

Goo jisho 

Jeffrey's Japanese/English Dictionary Server 

Plant Name Database 
Several indexes of plant names categorized by scientific classification, but yielding common names in English, Chinese, Japanese et al. Pictures will be included where possible. Botanical expertise not required.

Allows you to paste a URL or block of text into the translator, and it provides the Japanese reading and English translation for words. Does Japanese to English, English to Japanese, English to Chinese, and English to Spanish.

Sanseido web dictionary 
A searchable dictionary site -- includes kokugo, ei-wa and wa-ei dictionaries.

Dictionary translation sites: Excite  and  Altavista (Babel Fish) 
Type in a URL and press go.


Kokugo gogen jiten 国語語源辞典
EA Ref: PL663 .Y3 1976
Spine title is Zoku Kokugo gogen jiten.

Nihon gogen daijiten 日本語源大辞典
EA PL663 .N54 2005

Jikun 字訓
EA Ref:PL675.S57 1995
A dictionary of documenting the Japanese use of Chinese characters used in early Japanese texts. Includes about 1821 words. Useful for studying the importation of characters into Japan and how they were used in Japan.

Kanji Networks 
An online etymological dictionary of kanji. Covers 4,500 Chinese characters as used in Japan.

Featured Database

In JapanKnowledge, see:

  • プログレッシブ英和中辞典  Progressive English-Japanese Dictionary
  • ランダムハウス英和大辞典  Random House English-Japanese Dictionary
  • プログレッシブ和英中辞典  Progressive Japanese-English Dictionary

Current Words

These dictionaries for new/current words provide background information for many current topics.

Gendai yōgo no kiso chishiki 現代用語の基礎知識
 New and current words including ephemeral words. Electronic access available through JapanKnowledge

Older vocabulary: Kogo jiten

Shogakkan kogo daijiten
EA Ref: PL682 .S56 1994
51,000 words from ancient through early modern. Uses older forms of kana.

Kadokawa kogo daijiten
角川古語大辞典, 5 vols.
EA Ref:  PL682 .K32 1982
A comprehensive dictionary of 80,000 older words with illustrations. Includes obsolete terms, current words with a long history and proper nouns.

Hōyaku Nippō jisho and Hōyaku Nippō jisho / Sakuin [Index]
Uniform title: Vocabvlario da lingoa de Iapam. Japanese.
EAC: PL681.P6 V58 1980 and  PL681.P67 V633165 1989
Based on a dictionary compiled by the Jesuits in the 16th century; useful for understanding 16th century words and pronunciation. Definitions given in contemporary Japanese.

Kindai yōgo no jiten shūsei
近代用語の辞典集成  41 vols. + 1 bekkan
EAC: PL685 .K45 1994
A reprint of dictionaries published between 1913 and 1933; each volume has its own catalog entry, giving full details about the author and the content of the individual dictionaries.  Titles for all volumes are contained in the link.

Japanese-English and English-Japanese Dictionary
J.C. Hepburn
EAC: Pl679 .H49 1872
In addition to the print version, Hepburn's Waeigo rinshūsei 和英語林集成  is available online as part of the Digital Archives of Meiji Gakuin University.  An excellent resource for expressions current in Meiji Japan.