Other Platforms for the JLT Dictionaries

updated March 14, 2015

General Info for All Platforms

The Japanese Language Tools dictionaries are actually just documents in a standard Japanese dictionary and eBook format called EPWING. You can use them on any device as long as it lets you enter and display Japanese and has an EPWING reader program. I've personally used my dictionaries on Windows Mobile PDAs and phones (quite a few different models), Palm OS PDAs (ditto), Windows XP (desktop, notebook, and tablet), and the iPod Touch (works the same as iPhone and iPad). I've also tried out the Japanese input system in Android. I can give you some starters for those platforms; for the rest, you'll have to turn to the net for resources and instructions. As always, I recommend trying out some of my free dictionaries before buying a dictionary from me or anyone else.

Specific Information by Platform

Windows XP. Simply activate East Asian Language support and a Japanese IME from the control panel, if you haven't already, then install the excellent (and free!) Unicode version of the program EBWin. One cool feature most people don't use: the IME pad. Using the mouse or, if you have it, a touchscreen or tablet, you can draw kanji in to enter them just like in the Windows Mobile systems I sell. Some tiny subnotebooks come with touchscreens, making this feature even easier to use.

Windows Vista and Windows 7. Annoyingly, the excellent language support included for no extra cost in all versions of XP now comes only with Ultimate and better versions of Vista and 7 (though you can pay Microsoft extra to add it to lesser versions); obviously, if you get the Japanese version of Windows any version will include Japanese support. However, folks online are reporting that you can install the Google Japanese IME onto the cheaper versions of Vista and 7--you should do some research online onto installing it onto your particular version of Vista or 7, though, because I haven't tried it myself and can't offer any guarantees (I welcome any information users can give me to pass along here, though). Google IME looks and works almost exactly the Japanese support that comes with XP, including the IME pad for handwriting entry (though the dictionary it uses is smaller, meaning it happens a bit more frequently that when you enter hiragana with the keyboard and hit the "convert to kanji" button, the word you're trying to enter doesn't appear--you then have to enter the word one kanji at a time). If you have Vista or 7, you can install Google IME and check it quite easily. Once you've got Japanese going, install the free Unicode version of EBWin as with XP and you're good to go!

Windows 8. Great Japanese support, including upgraded handwriting recognition and better touchscreen support, but unless you get the Pro version or better or you get the native Japanese version of the OS, you'll need to pay extra to get Japanese input.  The Google IME is free but I don't think it has handwriting support comparable to that in Windows, nor input optimized for touchscreens.  Just install the free Unicode version of the EBWin program to use the JLT dictionaries.

Mac OS X. OS X includes excellent Japanese support. As with XP, you just have to enable it from the settings. There are a few different choices for EPWING programs. The best is EBMac, from the maker of the EBPocket program used in JLT Complete Systems and on the iPhone. It's optimized for EPWING, so it's fast and efficient, it offers the complex search options that make EBPocket and EBWin so powerful, and it's compatible with the .ebz compressed EPWING format of the JLT dictionaries. Plus, it's free. It's a new program, so check back frequently for updates, a manual, and maybe an English-interface version if the current installer doesn't offer one. If you want to try something else, I don't know if all of the other Mac dictionary programs are compatible with the .ebz compressed EPWING format--if one doesn't work, try another. Here are a few I've found (but haven't tried): Kamonos (doesn't seem to have been updated since 2004), Kotonoko, Logophile (not free), and JEDict. There may be more.

Linux. I've seen enough to know it's out there, but you'll have to google it yourself. I don't know much about Linux.

Nokia Internet Tablets/Maemo. Ditto. It's there--but you'll have to go get it. I don't know how good the Japanese support is--whether there's handwriting entry or just a keyboard IME, and how well those systems work. My impression from what I saw a while ago is that Japanese support is fairly simple--limited keyboard IME. But there may be something better available now. Again, please check it out yourself before buying anything--my knowledge here is too shaky to base any decisions on.


First, for two reasons, which Android phone you get matters a lot. 

Useful Android Apps

The core apps for a great dictionary system on your Android are EBPocket for Android, which you use to access the dictionaries, and Swype, which includes excellent Japanese handwriting recognition, which is essential for inputting kanji you don't know.  One note for clarity: the JLT dictionaries are not apps; they are documents in a particular format called EPWING.  EBPocket is a dictionary app which uses EPWING format dictionaries.  The combination of EPWING format dictionaries and the EBPocket app is, in my opinion, the best dictionary set-up for Japanese.  It's not perfect, but it works well even with huge dictionaries that would crash other apps and gives you the powerful search options you need to get the most out of huge dictionaries like Eijiro.  Beyond that, there are a huge number of dictionaries out there in EPWING format, and EBPocket lets you use a lot of dictionaries together, multiplying their power.  You can search in many dictionaries at once or one a time, and you can look up a word that comes up in one dictionary in other dictionaries without switching apps.  Swype simply works better than any other Japanese handwriting recognition system for Android and on top of that it's dirt cheap.  See the set-up section below for links to these apps.

As with any Android or Apple, there are a host of apps that can help you learn or function in the language.  There are myriad kanji and vocabulary flashcard and other study apps, and things to suit almost every need and interest.  There are a lot of different features and interfaces and which app is best for any purpose usually comes down to individual taste, so I'm not going to list every app out there, just a few I think users might find especially useful.  

Google Translate: It's probably already built into your device, but if not it's in the play store.  Yes, in terms of translating natural Japanese sentences or anything longer into English, it's a not really something you should rely on (but still better than any Japanese translation program I've seen, and the speech translation can be truly entertaining), but it has one new trick that could be extremely useful: Word Lens (Japanese OCR lookup) .  Point the camera at some printed Japanese text and the app will show you what they mean (sadly, unlike iPhone apps designed exclusively for Japanese and English, it won't show you how kanji compounds are pronounced); as with any Japanese translation system, doing it word by word and putting them together yourself rather than letting it loose on whole sentences at a time will give more reliable results.  I recommend setting it up to work offline so it's not constantly sending photos and video back and forth between your phone and Google's servers, eating a lot of your bandwidth allotment (and it's probably also faster offline).  Don't expect it to work for handwritten Japanese, on damaged or dirty signs, in poor lighting, with unusual fonts, etc., but in the right circumstances it works well.   All but one of the other Android apps claiming to do this get terrible reviews, so this is the one to try.  For hardcore Android geeks, there's a more customizable app designed for reading manga that has a few extra features and is reported to work well, though it doesn't work with the live camera (big convenience issue for using it out in the wild, not so much if you're studying pages of text at a time) and you'll need to know what you're doing to set it up.

NHK Accent Dictionary (NHK 日本語発音アクセント辞典): 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).  It's available for about US$30/3100 yen in the Play store.  NHK used to put out an EPWING version on CD, but it's out of print now, quite expensive, and doesn't work on some Android devices, so unless you've got US$200 or so to risk on a used copy (or don't mind looking for less licit sources, but I don't recommend that option), you're best off sticking with the Android app. 

ATOK Japanese keyboard: This is optional.  For Japanese words you know and for all English, the fastest way to enter text is by keyboard. If you don't like Swype or the built-in Android Japanese keyboard for that, ATOK is your best bet.  It works just like the keyboard on your regular computer. But at around 1500 yen it's not cheap, so do give Swype and the Android keyboard a chance before splurging on this.  It's available on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore.

Setting up your Android as a Japanese dictionary:

  1. Unless you get the Japanese version of your device, you may have to change the system font to a more Japanese-friendly one due to the font problem described below--it really can make reading and looking up Japanese quite difficult sometimes. Samsung and some other makers give you an option to do this in the settings menu, but with some devices it's much more difficult.  See below for more details.
  2. Buy and install the Swype app (even if you get a Japanese version of your device which includes a different handwriting app, you should get Swype--it's much better and, heck, it's only a buck). 
  3. Buy and install EBPocket Pro for Android .
  4. Download the JLT dictionaries, unzip them, and copy the dictionary folders to your memory card if your device has one or directly to some place on your device if it doesn't.  If you have a Samsung Galaxy Note you can find the exact procedure on my Galaxy Note page How you'd copy folders directly to your device is different for every device, so I can't give you any help with that beyond the following hints--usually you can plug a phone or tablet into your computer by USB and use some program that came with it to transfer files, you can use a service like Dropbox, or you can install an FTP client like FTP File Transfer to your Android and an FTP client like FileZilla to your computer and move the files over WiFi.  Important note: downloading the dictionaries directly to your Android and then unzipping them right on the device sounds like a great idea but it almost certainly won't work: Android unzipping apps generally can't handle files as large as some of the JLT dictionaries (pushing a gigabyte) and even if the app claims it can a lot of phones and tablets don't have the processing power and RAM to do it. 
  5. Add dictionaries Open EBPocket, then tap the books icon to open the Dictionary Menu.  Hold your finger on one of the dictionaries (or whatever it says there in place of dictionaries if you haven't installed one yet) until a pop-up menu appears.  In that menu, tap Group Edit.  Now, at the bottom of the Group Edit menu, you'll see buttons with up and down triangles, "del," "add," and "complete."  Tap "add"; this will take you to the file system.  Near the top of the window, you'll see a mini ellipsis, two periods next to each other, on a line all by itself.  Tap it (this is how you go up a level). Now, here's the part that's different on every device.  Again, if you've got a Galaxy Note, go to my Note page to see exactly what to do.  Hunt around in the file system until you find your dictionary folders.  Remember to use that mini ellipsis to go back up a level when you need to.  If you put the dictionaries on a memory card, you'd be looking for something like "extSdCard."  "Storage" and "mnt" are also likely places to look.  There may be something called "SD Card" or "memory card" that isn't really the memory card--the real memory card may be lurking inside "storage" or "mnt" or some other folder.  Once you find the dictionary folders, tap the folder of the dictionary you want to add to open it, and you'll then see a file called "CATALOGS" or "CATALOG"--tap that to choose it, then tap "OK."  If you want to add another dictionary, start again with the "add" button.  When you're done, tap "complete" to save your changes and start using the dictionaries.
  6. Optional but useful.  If you want to change the order dictionaries are shown in the Dictionary menu, go the Dictionary menu, hold your finger on any dictioanry until a pop-up message appears, and tap Group Edit.  Then tap a dictionary (a blue dot will appear next to it), then tap the up/down arrows at the bottom of the window to move it to where in the order you'd like it to be.  You can also tap Del to delete a dictionary from the menu.  You can tap Add to add an additional dictionary without completely reloading all of them, as we did in Step 5, but that's a little more complicated.  Tap Complete when you're done making changes (though if you don't do anything for a while it'll decide you're done and shut down the Edit Group menu on its own).

One important note about Japanese on Android, though--unless you buy you 'Droid from a Japanese phone company, the built in fonts are biased toward Chinese, and some characters, although technically the same, look much different than they do in Japanese font.  That means that however you enter a character, keyboard or handwriting, even if the system finds the correct character, it won't look like the one you were trying to enter and you might not recognize it. The 曜 [you] in 曜日[youbi] is a good example

In standard Japanese the top right part is ヨヨ (looks like two katakana yo characters), but in Chinese it looks almost like the character for feather or wing, 羽 [hane]. A lot of Japanese characters actually do have parts that are supposed to look like 羽 instead of ヨヨ, so 曜 written that way looks like it quite plausibly could be a completely different kanji--for quite a while I thought it wasn't finding the right kanji. To fix this, you have to change the system font (it's not enough to change the font in a particular app).  On Samsung devices, you can do this easily, either through the settings menu or though the font-changing app iFont. Some other devices may also allow this (I'd appreciate any info you readers can give me about your devices).  If your phone or tablet does let you change the system font, stop reading now.  If your phone or tablet doesn't let you change the system font, you"ll first have to root (hack) your 'droid, then install a font changing app (no offense, but if you don't already know what "root" means in 'droidspeak, please look at this before deciding to do it--I had no problem doing it, but my mail from people who've tried confirms everything this guy says).  With different versions of Android, different devices, and different screen sizes, you'll probably have to do a bit of trial and error to find a font that looks decent on your tablet or phone. 曜 is a good test--if it comes out looking Japanese in a font, then it's likely the font will show the proper Japanese versions of all the other kanji, too (if all that isn't clear, just copy the character 曜 and paste into your word processor, then select it and change the font back and forth between Chinese and Japanese fonts to see how it changes).

However, just to make life difficult, more and more apps are refusing to work on rooted devices, claiming "security reasons" (Japanese banks that require the NTT One Time Password tool for mobile access, Barclay's bank, Wi-Fi tethering on some phones, Square Enix games, NFL Mobile; some OTA upgrades, Bright House TV, Wallet, Youtube app on some devices, and more). There are fixes for some of these on the hacker forums, but they generally work only for certain programs on certain devices, they may stop working when either the app or the device firmware is updated, and of course they're only for users with the skillset and confidence to try them.  In short: unless your Droid lets you change the system font, you'll have to root it to make it display Japanese properly, but if you root an Android some apps may no longer work on it. Argghh!

I've got two Android phones and two tablets and, on the dark side, I've got an iPhone 4S and a 5S. I'm constantly trawling Google Play and other app stores, as well as blogs and reviews, to try to keep on top of everything out there on Japanese for Android. I'm sure there's stuff I miss, but I do my best, and when I do find something worthwhile, you'll see it here. So you may want to book mark this page and take a look back here every once in a while.

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