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Issue 20: J-Book Review

June 26, 2010


Because everybody should own a paper dictionary!



explanation-3awhitelectronic dictionaries and iPhones are the norm these days to look up words but I believe anyone should own a good ‘ol paper dictionary. You’d pick up extra words by just leafing through it, and no I don’t like to leaf through an electronic word-tank (not satisfactory). I found this dictionary『小学国語学習辞典しょうがくこくごがくしゅうじてん』on Amazon Japan (while browsing for other books actually) and I couldn’t help but be attracted to its charm. It’s a Japanese dictionary aimed at primary school kids, though, don’t let that fool you, it’s completely in Japanese so intermediate learners and above take note.

explanation-3aWhat kind of Dictionary?
Plain (adult) dictionaries are booooooring! Luckily『小学国語学習辞典』is aimed at school kids and it has…PICTURES! If you know me, anything with pictures and I’m sold! Although I’ve seen dictionaries with more pictures (I’ll review another one again soon), this one doesn’t boast an incredible amount, just one or two sprinkled on every page (but that’s enough to keep me satisfied).

This whopping 1253-page counting dictionary is written in a semi-encyclopedia way, meaning, apart from looking up words, you can also find tons of extra information like kanji learning, kanji strokes, trivia, word comparison, synonyms, etc. (Asian dictionaries often squeeze as much info in as possible, I that!). Word entries are written in hiragana followed by the kanji version and then the meaning(s). When closed, red kana and marks on the side of the book lets you know where too look in order to find words. Each page is also divided into three parts for easier navigation (how thoughtful).


Is this dictionary useful?
Since it’s a kid’s dictionary, don’t expect to find uber-complicated words, though 25000+ word entries is way more than the average advanced learner knows. Betcha don’t know words like『本塁打ほんるいだ、home run)』『賺すすかす、to coax, to cajole)』and『竿秤さおばかり、beam balance)』? In any case, the real useful feature here is that almost all word entries have at least one sample sentence (some even have 5 or more!). This is extremely useful because you can immediately see words in context to further understand its meaning and usage. All kanji have furigana and the back of the book has a list with frequently mixed up words and a kanji list up to 6th grade (1006 kanji).


Even in this age of electronic dictionaries there is still room for a good ‘ol paper one.『小学国語学習辞典』is a solid dictionary to look up words and because of its encyclopedia-ish style, also a fun way to just leaf through and pick up extra words and info. If you are comfortable with explanations given in Japanese, this dictionary is for you. Clear entries, explanations and example sentences make it a great addition to any intermediate Japanese learner and above.

Book Info
title: 小学国語学習辞典
pages: 1253
dimensions: 22 x 16.5 cm
extra: n/a
language: Japanese
publisher: 偕成社 (
ISBN: 978-4-03-920150-8
special Chokochoko rating: 80%

11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2010 1:00 pm

    Extra page layout images (sorry for the bad quality!)

    • September 16, 2015 1:12 pm

      …I’ve bought one also.
      It took Japanese only 3! days to get to Europe.
      Used are for 20 euro with all cost.
      It’s impossible to find such dictionary in foreign languages, to compare i have one for adults that is really impossible to get thru’ because of lack hiragana.

      • September 20, 2015 9:23 am

        Yes it’s aimed at children, but for Japanese learners it’s the natural way to learn it. Hope it’ll be useful!

  2. Hagit permalink
    June 26, 2010 1:26 pm

    it happens all the time!! i wait and wait for a new review, but when you post one, i regret wanting it, as i almost always get the “you have to get this book TOO!!!”
    mehhhh, and it doesn’t help me, as i am waiting for a package to arrive… besides, i promised myself that i won’t buy books for at least 3 months now – as i am planning a trip to Japan… wahhh… this time i will come back with even more books!!!!

    and this book looks so… yummy….. 😦
    BTW, any chance for more photos of the book? like, what is the page layout, and what’s on a page.. I LOVE your photos :-)))))

    • June 26, 2010 4:28 pm

      Hahaha, it’s because you have to get it! hahaha Don’t buy any you don’t need (or already have in your collection). See, I CAN because I have to review them for you guys! heh

      *added extra lay out pictures

      • Hagit permalink
        June 26, 2010 4:54 pm

        of course i will buy only books that i need. the thing is – as long as it’s written in Japanese, i NEED them.. all of them!! haha.. i don’t have to tell u about it 😀

        thanks for the pictures!! really helpful! (i mean, in making me want to buy them 😀 )

        waiting for more articles from you 🙂

  3. June 26, 2010 2:03 pm

    I am far away from being able to use this book, but I will be ordering it next month. now I only have to find a way to order it from Japanese amazon… if I remember right they don’t send outside Japan so i will have to see if White Rabit express wants to help out 😀

    • June 26, 2010 4:32 pm

      Hey Boban, how you doing. Cool avatar (looking all tough huh 😛 )
      Amazon Japan does ship outside Japan, I always order from it. WRP might charge extra fees, so might as well order directly from Amazon. Otherwise, Flutterscape also has a service similar to WRP though I never tried it yet.

      (sup with your blog(s)? You have another one now?)

  4. June 28, 2010 3:48 pm

    Whoaa this book looks interesting and useful, it can provide for my shiken…unfortunately, ordering from amazon japan is too expensive 😦

    • June 28, 2010 5:24 pm

      It ain’t THAT expensive (especially if you other other stuff along with it, but then it’d mean spending even more, hehe). But then again, you can’t really put a price tag on learning a language huh 🙂

  5. August 23, 2010 5:39 am

    Yes this is available from White Rabbit Press:

    Our price is $33.80; the price on is 2,625 yen or 30.88 (@ 1 usd = 85 yen)

    Because of the strong yen I need to review the shipping prices, but presently I see that we offer shipping options that cost about half as much as Amazon for this item (they charge 3000 yen or about $35.29, our cheapest option is Standard Shipping – 2-4 weeks $15.61)

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