Eijiro is the "big dog" of Japanese-English dictionaries. It's actually a suite of dictionaries--the two main ones are Eijiro (yes, the same name as the whole package), which has over 2 million English-to-Japanese entries, and Waeijiro, which has over 2 million Japanese-to-English entries. The suite also includes separate dictionaries of example sentences, abbreviations, and acronyms (these are folded into Eijiro and Waeijiro in the JLT version). Eijiro was made and continues to be updated by the Electronic Dictionary Project (EDP), a society for professional translators; as such, it's especially rich in difficult and obscure terms, colloquial expressions, and technical terms. When a conversation reaches an impasse over a critical word or expression, the electronic dictionaries come out--it's common for me to quickly find it in Eijiro or Waeijiro, while my Japanese friends pounding away on their high-end Wordtanks and Ex-Words come up dry ("come up dry" is in Eijiro!). Not only does Eijiro have a huge number of words and phrases, it also gives you a good bit of information about them, especially example sentences showing the meaning more precisely and demonstrating how to use the word or expression grammatically.
Eijiro is a tremendous resource, but it was designed for Japanese users. The main issue is that only a small number of Japanese words in the English-to-Japanese entries and NONE in the Japanese-to-English entries have yomigana--yomigana (a.k.a. furigana) are hiragana characters showing you how to pronounce words written in kanji, and for those of us who haven't yet learned all 6000+ kanji in regular use and all of the hundreds of thousands of words they can appear in, furigana make the dictionary MUCH easier to use. The JLT version includes yomigana for almost every Japanese word in both Eijiro and Waeijiro. This, in turn, has two very important results:
There are a few other changes that make the JLT version easier to
use for English speakers. Most explanatory notes (parts of
speech, grammar and usage notes, etc.) have been translated into
English. Example sentences have been made searchable by
English as well as by Japanese (and there are so many that this
turns Eijiro into an effective phrase book, not just a dictionary--I
sometimes compose entire business letters this way). English
and Japanese example sentences have been folded into Eijiro and
Waeijiro, respectively. There are a number of other smaller
changes, as well.
As I mentioned, the current JLT Eijiro consists of two dictionaries,
Eijiro for English-to-Japanese lookups and Waeijiro for
Japanese-to-English. In addition to that,
there are two versions of the JLT Eijiro. They differ only in
how they show the yomigana; the information in them is exactly the
same. In both versions, Japanese words you look up in Waeijiro
are followed by their yomigana in heavy Japanese brackets. In
the more popular "regular" version, yomigana for words in the
definitions are shown in subscript following the kanji
compound. Most users find this version more readable, as it's
easier to distinguish yomigana from the run of text (i.e., your
brain doesn't have to do as much work to know it's the yomigana for
the preceding word, not a new word on its own). It's also
easier to mentally skip over yomigana you don't need. By
changing the font and font size, you can optimize the appearance of
the text to be as legible as possible on your device. While
only one user has complained that the subscript format was difficult
on middle-aged eyes ("presbyopia" is 「老眼【ろうがん】」 in Japanese), I
could see that that might be the case for others, too--and some
lower-resolution phones and tablets might also make it hard for even
young eyes to read the subscripts, so I made a "following" version
in which the yomigana follow the kanji compound on the line in
Japanese brackets. When you purchase the JLT Eijiro, you'll be
able to download whichever version you prefer; in fact, unless
you're 100% sure, I suggest downloading both in case you decide to
try the other later.
Here are a few screenshots from an iPhone; it looks pretty much the same on an Android phone, though of course you'll get a more spread-out view on a tablet or regular computer. The exact appearance will depend on what device and what dictionary program you use as well as on the font and font size you've chosen for it. You can make the text and yomigana much larger or much smaller and strike your own balance between absolute clarity and attractiveness in choosing your font.
Basically, enter a word in the search window and tap Find. Pretty easy, huh? The key thing to remember is that English words are in Eijiro and Japanese are in Waeijiro--if you enter, say 惑星 or わくせい and search only Eijiro you won't find anything; ditto if you enter an English word and search only Waeijiro. If you set your dictionary program to search all dictionaries, you won't have to worry about that. You can search for words beginning ("Prefix"), ending ("Suffix"), or exactly matching what you enter. Both Eijiro and Waeijiro are huge, so I don't recommend that you use the Full Text search type in them (this searches the entire text, not just the index of keywords--because the entire text of Eijiro or Waeijiro is hundreds of thousands of pages long, that can take quite a few minutes; all the other search types are pretty much instant).
The JLT version adds one more feature that makes Eijiro dramatically more useful. Enter one or more words, separated by spaces, in English or Japanese, set the search type to "Cross," and the dictionary app will find all entries that have those words in any order anywhere in the keyword. Trust me, however useful you think this sounds, you won't really appreciate what a powerful tool this is until you've been using it for a while. It's great when you're looking for a phrase and aren't sure exactly how to word it. It's great when you're trying to find an example sentence to show the grammar of how to use something. For example, recently I wanted to see what particle and word order to use in saying "compare A with B," so I did a cross search of "compare with" and found both a general entry explaining the grammar and several more particular, real-life example sentences. You can enter "cat dog" to find out how to say "it's raining cats and dogs." You probably won't use it much at first as you get used to the dictionaries in general, then you'll try it out once in a while, and soon--especially as you advance in ability and your needs become more complex--you'll find yourself using Cross Search more and more often, in ways even I haven't thought of yet. Especially with official correspondence, I can often compose an entire letter with sentences I've found this way (lazy, but useful!). Note that, for Japanese searches, you can't enter hiragana or katakana in a Cross search and English words should be at least three letters long.
A side effect of adding the yomigana to the dictionary as a whole is that, if a word can be pronounced more than one way, all the different pronunciations will be added wherever that word appears. This doesn't really affect the entries for individual words too much, but in some entries for example sentences, both readings will be shown, even though sometimes only only of them really makes sense in context. Fortunately you won't run into this too often, and when you do you can simply jump to Edict to see which pronunciation is right in that context.
Eijiro is made for translators, so it assumes you already know basic vocabulary. Sometimes if you search for a fairly basic word, you won't find it--in that case, look in Edict. Sometimes, too, you'll look up a basic English word like "dog" and, because it assumes any Japanese who's gotten through the first grade knows that "dog" is "犬【いぬ】," it gives you more colloquial meanings instead of just the straight one. You can always spot this, because the definition will look too complicated for the simple term you've looked up, and it'll be followed by a number of subsidiary phrases in which "dog" is translated as "犬【いぬ】." Hard to explain and it doesn't come up that often (and never for anything but the simplest vocabulary), but when it does it's easy to spot. When all the definitions for a word seem a bit too colorful, you can double-check by looking the word up in Edict, too. This is why using several dictionaries together in the same program is so helpful--it's much easier to look up a word in Eijiro and Edict at the same time in the same program than to deal with each dictionary in its own app.
JLT conversion of Eijiro dictionaries and sale on this website by written permission of EDP (obtained August 11, 2008). "Eijiro" is a registered trademark of Sachiko Michihata. The current JLT version of Eijiro is based on v. 144 of the Eijiro data, current as of April, 2015.
While the dictionary data in Eijiro comes from EDP, the JLT version has been heavily altered. JLT takes responsibility for any errors in the data. Further, the version of Eijiro described here is available ONLY from this site. The original, unaltered version of Eijiro is sold as a download from the website of EDP, the group that made and continues to maintain it. But if you want Eijiro with full yomigana, Japanese Language Tools is the only place you'll find it.Because of all the work that's gone into Eijiro (and I'm referring to the that of the original makers, too, not just my own) and because any piracy by my customers could endanger my ability to offer Eijiro, I put a unique identifying text code into every copy I sell. Even converting the dictionary to another electronic format won't remove the code. If one of my customers posts a copy of Eijiro to any file sharing site, Eijiro's lawyers will know and be able to prove who bought that copy. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it's necessary. The JLT version of Eijiro includes no spyware or malware, no tracking software, and no DRM tricks that impede your use of the dictionary.
JLT version of Eijiro is available for download for 1980 yen or on
DVD-ROM for a small additional fee; please visit the
JLT Dictionaries page to buy it. The
download is approximately 1.5 GB for one version (subscript or
following) or 3 GB for both and so requires a high speed broadband
connection--I don't recommend downloading over a wireless internet
connection as it may use up your entire monthly data allowance before
it finishesm and even if your allowance is high enough, most wireless
carriers will throttle the connection if you try to download that much
all at once (Wi-Fi between your router and computer or device is fine,
as long as the internet initially comes into your house or office via
some sort of wire, be it cable, DSL, or fiber optic).
JLT version of Eijiro, and all JLT dictionaries, can be used
on just about any device you own, including Windows,
Mac, and Linux computers, Android
phones and tablets, iPhones,
iPads, and iPod Touches, and any other platform that offers
Japanese text capability and an EPWING-compatible dictionary app
or program (click the links above for information on using the JLT
dictionaries on each system). The JLT version of Eijiro
is included in all JLT Complete Systems.
In response to a frequently asked question, the JLT dictionaries
are not sold in app stores (iTunes, Google Play, etc.) because
they aren't apps. They're documents that you access through