Yeah, that’s a real product name. Sounds like something from a bad sci-fi movie and I have no idea how they actually advertise something that long, but anyway… This is for my fellow Japanese language learners. Especially those who are learning via the AJATT or Heisig method.
In the constant struggle for trying to go to a monolingual dictionary, I figured I needed a good dictionary. The online Sanseido concise dictionary is great (and free), but it wasn’t cutting it.
Believe it or not, I am not always online. In fact, when I am studying or dong SRS reps in Anki, I hate being online (too much distraction, I talked about this in my single tasking article). Paper dictionaries are nice, but they are slow, inefficient and not very mobile. I wanted some small and easy to use and sexy as hell. It’s no wonder why 電子辞書 are super popular in Japan.
Also, since my Kanji recognition and writing is better than my Kanji reading (I know 所 is a place, but is it しょ、じょ、ところ、せい、いわ?) I need some sort of input where I can write. If you’re 漢字 reading is perfect, then I would highly suggest just going for a Canon Wordtank (small, loaded with all sorts of words and cheap). If not, then I can highly recommend the Casio XD-SF6300.
Above pic is what comes out of the box. Some CD with extra stuff you can load on, but probably won’t (I didn’t) a marketing flyer for more Casio stuff to load on which you don’t need, and headphones. There is also a big-ass instruction book in more languages than necessary which you won’t bother reading 🙂
Aside from being incredibly sexy, the screen has a fantastic resolution making it very readable (it even has a backlight). If your eyes suck at reading small fonts (like mine) you can of course change the font to three different sizes (漢字サイズ）when necessary.
The 漢字 writing recognition is fantastic, and it can even understand my chicken scratch when doing even complicated kanji such as the 饂 in 饂飩 like you see here.
This is what the list of definitions it comes up with looks like (the screen is really reflective, so you’re seeing my head reflected quite nicely at the bottom there).
Stylus input also works on the screen itself for jumping (ジャンプ) to any word in a definition you don’t understand.
If you’re interested, the Meikyo 明鏡 dictionary has like a billion words and all sorts of numbers which would make your head spin (marketing nonsense, really). Luckily, the definitions it gives are usually very concise (if you pay attention) and easy to understand for intermediate learners. For example:
馬鹿： 1. 頭のは たらきがにぶいこと。Or, more simpler: また、その人 あほう。2. つまらないこと。
It also has a separate dictionary for the readings of most of the common Japanese names. Yes, it also comes with an English dictionary (Shogakukan for Japanese-English and Oxford Advanced and the standard G4 English-English) . But you’re not going to use those, are you? There is also an extensive, really, really extensive 漢語林 dictionary for even obscure 漢字 if you are a 漢字オタク (kanji nerd). You might be one someday, you never know 😉
Another super nifty thing is the Casio Ex-word XD-SF6300 also comes with a collection of a bunch of classic Japanese books to read. And because of he large screen, it allows you to read them quite easily (in the classic top-bottom right to left format).
The Ex-Word also comes with a bunch of other nifty things like a flash card program (but you have Anki, use that!) short cuts, book marks and an np3 player, but seriously, that’s not what I bought it for.
MP3 player? Yeah… but that really means the thing has pre-loaded sound bytes of most of the common words in native Japanese (right next to the definition, just push the sound button, awesome) which can be useful from time to time. But you should really be listening to native Japanese in context by watching Japanese dramas and movies and anime over and over until you’ve memorized them 😉
Of course, it plays back English words too (and it has some hilarious English singalong lessons). But really, you speak English already if you’re reading this article, right?
All in all, I’m super happy with the purchase. If you’re in the market and have the money (approx. ¥15,000-20,000 when I picked it up) I highly, highly recommend it.
Oh, and if you’re still wondering about the CD above or the MP3 player, you’ll probably be interested that it syncs by mini-usb, supports a micro-SD card, and runs on 2 AAA batteries (included) for ages.
I picked it up from the Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara (during my recent trip to Tokyo), which is not entirely possible for most people, but I’m sure you can order it online from somewhere… perhaps Amazon.co.jp* (if their shipping allows it). Otherwise, I really don’t know where you can buy one. If anyone knows where you can order one online and have it shipped out of Japan, let me know.
*Actually, I read tons of reviews for many 電子辞書 dictionaries on the Japanese Amazon site. That is a great way to practice your Japanese 🙂
Give Me One Day and I’ll Give You Amsterdam, Part 1