Today, learning Japanese is so much more than just spending hours at a stretch buried in books. Today, convinience is a key factor in every decision we make. So why should studying Japanese be any different? – Well it’s not. The Online education market is getting more competetive by the day, but the Smartphone app market is on a whole other level.
There are already hundreds of kanji apps out there to help with your studies. I use some of them myself daily and to be honest they help me tremendously.
But it is a jungle. Not to mention it’s kind of hard to find good reviews on any of them out there. Therefore I will provide you with a review on some of the top Japanese apps available. Truth is, most of the free ones are in lack of a better word crap. Usually the free ones are only there as a “teaser”. but there are a few exceptions.
IMIWA? (formely Kotoba)
Price: Free (Click on logo to Download)
Pros: The kanji app that every student simply should have. It is very comprehensive but still easy to use. What I like most with this app is the search by radicals feature. As a resident of Japan I run into unknown Kanji usually multiple times everyday. The radicals feature helps you figure them out in no time. The app (unlike many others) will give you all the readings for the kanji as well.
Cons: The downside with this app is its lack of encouragement or entertainment. Many apps are fun to use, this one is not. But to be fair, it is not its purpose. It is there to back you up, not to push you forward.
Pros: Just one, but it is a very good one. This app will allow you take a picture of Kanji and it will look it up for you. Serves the same purpose as the search by radicals feature in the previous app but saves you much more time.
Cons: Can be a bit frustrating to use at times since it is not always accurate. Another downside is the translations. It will not give you all the readings.
Price: $9.99 (Click on logo to download)
Pros: This is my favorite app. If you only want to download one app this is the one for you. Personally, I wanted an app where I can us the touch screen to write a kanji on by hand and then look it up. This one will allow you to do just that. It is a bit picky when it comes to stroke order and number of strokes which can make it a bit hard for the more complicated kanji. But I can live with that considering all the features this app has. This includes JLPT level, name dictionary, search by radicals and much more.
Cons: As I mentioned it can be a bit picky about stroke order and count. Maybe a bit pricey for an app.
Price: $ 5.99 (Click on logo to download)
Pros: Fun! I enjoy it as it pushes you to really try. You can compete against others if you feel like it or just try to beat your old scores on the scoreboard. The design and navigation is very easy to understand. Very easy to create your own sets of flashcards to study. Includes all the rare readings for each kanji.
Cons: Have had some bug problems with this app as it occasionally likes to shut down when I give some specific demands. Hopefully this is just temporary and will be fixed with the next update.
These are the Apps that I use right now and I am very satisfied with them. They each have features that together will help you overcome any Kanji related problem you run into. If you’re only interested in downloading one I would recommend Midori. If you want a free app, I would go with Imiwa?. But I don’t regret paying for neither Midori nor Kanjibox as they make my studies much easier and more fun. 16 dollars is a small price to pay if they can help you save time and encourage you.
If you have an app that you would like to recommend please feel free to do it here or on my contact page. I am always looking for better alternatives!