Using the JLT Dictionaries
An Android phone or tablet can make an excellent Japanese dictionary.
The powerful JLT dictionaries running on the powerful
EBPocket Pro app will help you find or translate anything you want, and
accessory apps can make your device even more useful and convenient.
First, set up your dictionaries.
- Buy and install the EBPocket
Pro app (600円 or the
rough equivent in your local currency; there's a free version but it
lacks the powerful search features needed to get the most out of a huge
dictionary like Eijiro).
- Then, get your dictionaries ready. EBPocket can
use a couple of different formats, but the one we're interested in is
EPWING, which has especially powerful search options for large
dictionaries. The first thing to note is that an
EPWING-format dictionary is actually
an entire folder. Each dictionary folder contains an
file called "CATALOGS" or "CATALOG" and a subfolder, which could be
called anything. It may also
contain a copyright or other file. Do not move, rename,
delete, or try
to directly open anything inside the dictionary folder or subfolder.
If your dictionary came as a .zip file, you'll first have to
on your computer (trying to unzip a large dictionary like Eijiro won't
work on a phone or
- Next, put those dictionary folders into the "EBPocket"
folder on your phone or tablet. Open a file manager app on
Android (most recent devices have such an app built in, but there are
quite a few free ones available, too) and if the EBPocket folder isn't
immediately apparent, you may find it under something like "All Files."
If you can't find it quickly, you can find out where it's
hiding by opening EBPocket and scrolling down in the settings to
"Dictionary Path." If you've downloaded a
dictionary directly to your Android, move it from wherever it
is to that EBPocket folder (making sure it's not zipped).
If the dictionary folder is on your computer, as is most
likely, plug your Android into your computer's USB port, then open the
Android as a
folder on your computer. Navigate to the EBPocket folder and
copy the dictionary folders into it from the computer. One
potential snag: if the EBPocket folder is empty, it may not appear on
your computer. If this
happens, then look at the file manager on your Android device and note
another folder near the EBPocket folder that doesn't have much in it,
and then on your computer copy the dictionary folders into that.
Then, again in the file manager app on your Android, go into
that folder, select the dictionary folders, choose "Cut," then
go into the EBPocket folder and paste them into it ("Cut" rather than
"Copy" because you don't want extra copies of all those dictionaries
wasting your precious memory, and it's faster--do not choose "Delete").
- Finally, you need to tell EBPocket to use those
dictionaries. Open EBPocket on your Android, tap the
Dictionary icon (a bunch of books), and in the Dictionary
menu tap "Edit Group" (Edit Group will be at the bottom). Tap
"Add," then in
the pop-up tap the dictionary folder you want and select the CATALOG or
CATALOGS file and tap OK. Do that for all the dictionaries
you want to add. You can select a dictionary from the list
and tap the up or down arrow key to move it up or down in the order
of dictionaries that will be shown in the menu and in the search
results. When you've got them arranged as you like, tape
"Complete" to finish.
Now, two necessary accessories.
keyboard or keypad input. Most of you can
simply add this from your device's settings menu
(Languages/Keyboards--the exact wording and location differ from phone
to phone), but if your device doesn't
offer this (mine came with only English and Chinese support built-in)
or if you don't like the built-in options, you can add something else.
is cheap and many people like it; I use the free Google
Japanese Input (I use the QWERTY style keyboard, not the
keypad-style input). There are many others--look around and
you may find something you like better.
handwriting input. Again, if you can install
this from your device's settings, great. I used to recommend
Swype for this, but recent changes make it hard to enter complicated
Instead, now I recommend the free Google
Handwriting Input (be sure to download the offline data).
My test is the 30-stroke character 鸞--if a handwriting input
method lets you enter and find that, you'll be able to enter anything.
And some very useful ones:
character recognition (OCR). These apps are
really handy. If you see some printed Japanese, instead of
trying to trace the characters in one-by-one with your finger, just
point the camera at whatever and the app will read the text and look it
up. It generally works best with printed text on a clean,
even surface. I recommend two apps for this.
Translate (free, maybe already on your device) takes an
reality approach--it shows you live video of what it's looking at with
the Japanese text replaced by what it thinks is the right English.
It's good for quick-and-dirty translation and will usually
give you the gist of the text, but it can make a lot of mistakes that
may be important but not obvious. Basically, your math
teacher would complain that it doesn't show its work. It
doesn't show you what part of the text
it's translating into a given English word or phrase, so
when it picks up non-text items like images, text boxes, bullet
points, or stray marks and translates them as characters, or where
it's failed to recognize where one word ends and the next begins, that
isn't always apparent (and there's no way to correct it). You
also can't tell when it has simply misrecognized a character.
But it's quick and easy and usually comes close enough, and
it has a few other tricks worth exploring,
(400円) is much better at telling text from chaff and
knowing where words begin and end, and it also shows you the picture of
the original text, the Japanese characters it thinks that text is, and
the English meaning of it so that when it does make a mistake you can
immediately see it (and easily correct it). When you need it
quick use Google Translate, and when you really need it right use
日本語発音アクセント辞典): As of Sept.
2017, this is very hard to find for Android; it may reappear in the app
stores sooner or later, though, so it's worth checking if this sounds
useful to you. It's meant to
give guidance to the perfect NHK Tokyo accent for aspiring Japanese
announcers, but it can be useful for beginning Japanese learners
outside of Japan who need to work on pronunciation but don't have
regular exposure to native speakers or for very advanced learners who
want to absolutely perfect their pronunciation. I don't think
it's worth the money for people who can already pronounce all the kana
syllables properly or have regular exposure to native speakers (unless,
again, they're so fluent they want to sound better than the natives
around them). The Android app was pulled because of
compatibility problems with Android 7. NHK used to put out
version of the previous edition on CD, and if you can find it, it's
nice to be able
to use it in the same EBPocket app as the rest of your
dictionaries--but as that might mean hunting down an expensive used
copy or a file on a sketchy sharing site, it's probably best to wait
for the new version to appear in the app store again (the new version
has also been expanded and reformatted).