When studying a foreign language, you need to have the right dictionary in order to make significant progress in terms of building your vocabulary and increasing your translation skills. I started studying Japanese about five years ago, and one of the first tools I set about to purchase was a good dictionary.
At the time, most of my friends and classmates were using electronic dictionaries because they are compact and quick. But those dictionaries are practically useless for beginners who can’t read kanji. After doing a ton of research, I finally decided to buy Kodansha’s Furigana Japanese Dictionary, and I haven’t looked back since!
The Kodansha dictionary was a great choice for several reasons. First of all, it stays away from romaji, yet is still suitable for beginners because of the “furigana”, or kana characters, written above every kanji in the book. This not only helps with pronunciation, but also helps build vocabulary because you can learn new kanji characters even if you haven’t formally studied them yet.
A second reason that this dictionary is head and shoulders above the rest is that it gives numerous sample sentences for nearly every entry. This obviously makes it much easier for you to get a good sense of how to use new words and phrases properly in different contexts.
And finally, I like the size of the Kodansha dictionary. It’s not too big or bulky, and is fairly comprehensive for its size. Yes, there have been plenty of words — both English and Japanese — that I wasn’t able to find in this dictionary, but for the most part, it has suited my needs rather well.
When I purchased this dictionary five years ago, it set me back $60. At the time, I thought that was rather expensive, but I bit the bullet because I was sure I would get a lot of use out of it. I was right, so I can’t complain. Now, however, I see that Amazon.com is selling the same book for just $33.60 plus shipping. That’s a great deal, so I suggest you jump on it now!