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Customize iPhone’s Japanese Dictionary

In Japanese iPhone, Japanese Slang on February 3, 2010 at 11:10 am

UPDATE: Due to constant updates in iOS, the information in this blog post is no longer relevant.  (3/25/2013)

I previously wrote about an iPhone app called 辞書登録Lite (Jisho Tōroku) which allowed you to add words to the iPhone’s Japanese dictionary and determine what yomigana input would trigger the kanji conversion. The app I was writing about was free and worked for all the entries I tested it with. However, the next day when I tried to use the kaomoji and words I had entered, I found that nothing came up. Obviously, this free version was just a demo to promote the full-featured pay version.

OK, fair enough. I can’t slight the company for trying to turn a buck – although I fully fault Apple for not taking into consideration this basic function of any other keitai sold in the Japanese market. But having had a little taste, I decided this was a feature that would save me a lot of time and could prove to be a well spent ¥350. The functionality of 辞書登録Plus is basically the same, however there a few differences. I’ve been running the app for a week or so now and none of my entries have disappeared and always appear in my list of available kanji when I enter the reading I assigned. So this one definitely works.


add your own kaomoji to your iPhone's japanese dictionary

this is the default screen of 辞書登録Plus. you can see some of the kaomoji (smileys) that i entered myself.

Keep in mind, like Jisho Tōroku Lite, Jisho Tōroku Plusis written all in Japanese. If you can’t read Japanese – or can only read a little bit – have no fear, here’s a quick step-by-step run down on how to use Jisho Tōroku Plus on your iPhone 3G/3GS.


First click the settings button to make sure you are configured correctly. I configured like this:


this is the settings screen

these are the settings i use for jisho toroku on my iPhone.

The first setting determines what words pop up first in your kanji conversion option field. Just leave this as it is (the first option is highlighted by default).

The second field gives you an option of having your words appear in the address book 連絡先緒帳). Why you would want this is beyond me. I enabled it, just to see what would happen… and it populated my address book with kaomoji and random vocab words. Freaking pointless and cluttery. I disabled it and it removed them without affecting the address book in any way.

The last two fields are for enabling/disabling the hint messages and resetting the hints, respectively. If you can read Japanese, you might want to leave them enabled for a bit. If you can’t, just turn them off.


Click the sign at the upper left hand side to add a new word.

1 – 読みがな (yomigana) – Enter the reading (kana input) you want to use.
In this case, when I enter
ぺに in hiragana, I want my word to come up.

2 – 登録語 (tōroku-go) – Enter the kanji/kaomoji/character (kanji output) you want to show up in the selection field.
In this case, when I enter
ぺに in hiragana, I want ペンバン to come up in katakana.

3 – 一時登録(変換テスト実行)(ichiji tōroku – henkan tesuto jikkō) – This is a practice test to make sure that the kanji you entered displays correctly in the selection field. You may have to look on the next page of options, but it will definitely come up. When you see it, select it to confirm that it is correct.

That’s all there is too it. If you re-open the app, it always defaults to your user customizable dictionary. If you click , you can add a new word. If you click an entry, you can edit it. If you click 編集 (henshū – at the bottom left) you can easily delete multiple entries.


this is the default screen of 辞書登録, you can see all of the words you've entered and easily edit them from here.

this is the default screen of 辞書登録, you can see all of the words you’ve entered and easily edit them from here.

A Word About Reworder Lite

If you purchased Jisho Tōroku Plus, you can also download the free application Reworder Lite.

This simple application gives you access to the iPhone’s Japanese dictionary, but allows you to move the order in which similar words pop up in the kanji selection field. I downloaded and played with it a little bit but haven’t found it particularly useful yet. If anyone else finds it useful, let me know. Maybe I’m missing out on something here….

Anyways, enjoy!

awwwwwwww yeah!
mαrky( -_-)凸

Adding Words & Phrases to Your iPhone 3G’s Dictionary (Japanese Only… I Think…)

In Japanese iPhone, Uncategorized on January 25, 2010 at 12:34 pm

UPDATE: Due to constant updates in iOS, the information in this blog post is no longer relevant.  (3/25/2013)

(As usual, all Japanese words and phrases will be defined in the vocab list at the end of the article)

2/3/10 update: please see my new article here!

After using Japanese keitai (cellphones) for a few years and thoroughly enjoying how sophisticated they were to compared American cellphones – and how integral they were to modern Japanese culture – I got an iPhone 3G the first day they were introduced into the Japanese market. The first couple of days were a honeymoon, but soon I had come to totally regret my purchase. It didn’t have copy and paste. It was slow as hell. It crashed several times a day. Safari hung a lot. It couldn’t send or receive
絵文字 (emoji). The battery made it painfully obvious that Apple had no idea about the usage habits of the Japanese market (ie; everyone is addicted to their keitai and used to doing a lot of things iPhone can do already). Even the fact that it didn’t have buttons started to annoy me.

Many of those issues have been addressed (except the no button issues, which I’m fine with now). And I can honestly say I totally dig my iPhone now (except how damn slow it is – I’m on a 3G not 3GS). But one thing that has been driving me batty from day one is the kanji conversion. Admittedly, with the first major OS update, it got a little better, but basically the “Japanese lexical input” is light years behind the average Japanese cellphone. The beauty of native Japanese phones is that they possess a customizable user dictionary that allows you determine what conversion options pop up after you input the 読み仮名 (the kana reading which is the basis of Japanese text input in computers and keitai). What this meant is if you had frequently used words that weren’t in the phone’s default dictionary, you could enter them yourself. This is great for nicknames, set phrases, non-standard readings/kanji, slang, and private jokes among your friends. But most of all, this means you can shortcut all of your own 顔文字 (kaomoji).

my japanese iPhone 3G's home screen

the home screen my iPhone 3G

As I mentioned in an earlier post on the topic of kaomoji (Japanese smileys), the iPhone’s lack of a customizable user dictionary was a serious bummer. Not only did it prove that Apple didn’t take into consideration the most advanced cellphone culture on the planet (in terms of technology and integration of usage into lifestyle), but it took a lot of the fun out of having a cellphone. I have a library of probably 100 kaomoji – some are factory installed on the iPhone, but most are ones I picked up here and there. I copy and pasted all of them into 5 pages of the iPhone’s Notes app. But to stop writing a message, exit, open the notes, find the appropriate kaomoji, copy it, open the SMS or e-mail app again, find the right spot in the message, insert the cursor and paste it into the message…. well, I’m not on a fast 3GS model, so needless to say this took waaaaaaaaaay too much time.

typical use of kaomoji in a japanese text message

typical use of emoji in a japanese text message

For those unfamiliar with emoji and kaomoji, they are basically the equivalent smileys – image-based/animated smileys and text-based smileys, respectively. While in America smileys get used from time to time, particularly within instant messaging clients, the Japanese tend to use emoji and kaomoji heavily in keitai mails (text messages). My guess is that because they use an ideographic writing system which means concepts are conveyed in a visual manner thru kanji, rather than just letters, the Japanese tend to be naturally inclined to use pictographs in their cellphone mail correspondences. That and it’s kind of fun to use them in creative ways. People have their favorite kaomoji and emoji which they consistently use to give their e-mails and unique personal quality. While emoji on a phone are limited to a set determined by the carrier, kaomoji, on the other hand, are infinite and can be input directly by the user. People share kaomoji with their friends and post massive compilations of their favorites on sites like 2chan and Mixi.

a typical mix community looks like this. this one is dedicated to cellphone addicts. lololol.

Now back to my earlier gripe about the iPhone. Last night I discovered a free app in the App Store called 辞書登録 (Jisho Tōroku – dictionary input) which actually can access the “Japanese Lexical Dictionary” of the iPhone and input new words and phrases. This means that now you can add all your favorite slang, non-standard kanji words, alternate readings, archaic kana (such as ヱビス) and – of course – kaomoji!!

this is how emoji and kaomoji are used together in japanese e-mails

here you can see emoji and kaomoji used together with the standard japanese writing system

This app is free. It’s called 辞書登録Lite by MGJ Interactive. At the time of writing this, it has a 2/5 star rating and 41 reviews (I didn’t bother trying to read any of them). MGJ Interactive makes another version called 辞書登録Plus – which is not free and currently has no ratings and no stars. So I’m not sure what the deal is besides offering more editing options and a free plugin that… yes, offers more editing options.

Since the Japanese Lexical Dictionary is used universally, you can use any kaomoji or words you entered in any application or websites. You just expanded the dictionary of the iPhone.

The input is simple – just like on any Japanese keitai. The application is only available in Japanese. However, it’s not a complicated app, so if you check out the image files below you can pretty much figure out what to do without worrying about the Japanese prompts.

The first text input field is labeled読みがな (yomigana) which means “kana reading.” Literally this is the reading of a kanji word spelled out in hiragana. This is basically what you will input to make the dictionary convert to your desired output word. The second text input field is labeled 登録語 (tōroku-go; registered word). This is the reading/word you want to pop up in the list of choices for kanji conversion when using your phone. After you’ve filled out these field, a third field label一時登録 変換テスト実行 will pop up. This means your entry has been temporarily entered into the dictionary and you’ll need to confirm it.

Kaomoji aside, let’s say you have a friend named 依子 (Yoriko) but her nick name is りこちゃん (Riko-chan).  Now you can change the kanji converter so that when you type in よりこ in hiragana it offers you both and りこちゃん as choices.  Any Japanese cellphone can do this, but until now your iPhone couldn’t do this basic [and dare I say necessary] conversion.   Next, let’s look at using it with kaomoji, and then we’ll look at an example similar to the 依子りこちゃん case.

Here’s a step by step run down of how to use it.

GOAL: Every time I type しね, I want the kaomoji for “fuck you” to pop up.

  1. 読みがな:  write しね

    死ね means "fuck you" in Japanese

    step 1 – enter the spelling (in hiragana) of the word you want to trigger the kanji conversion.

  2. 登録語:  write ( -_-)

    this kaomoji is universally recognized.  lol.

    step 2: enter the word you want to pop up in the conversion options.

  3. 変換テスト実行:  write しね, choose ( -_-)from the list

    now you know how to add any word to the iphone's dictionary!!

    step 3: re-enter the spelling from step one and select your desired conversion (what you entered in step 2) and select it.

  4. push the 新規 button at the bottom left hand corner to register the word into the iPhone’s Japanese dictionary.

Here’s another illustration. This time I wanted to enter the kanji for ももんが (flying squirrel). This kanji is extremely rare and doesn’t appear in the regular i-mode set of kanji available on typical Japanese keitai. However, the iPhone, like any computer, can display this unusual word. I wanted to input it to stump my Japanese friends (to date I’ve never met a person who could read it).

GOAL: Every time I type
ももんが, I want鼯鼠 to pop up.

  1. 読みがな:  write ももんが
    add words & phrases to your iphone's dictionary

  2. 登録語:  write 鼯鼠
  3. 変換テスト実行:  write ももんが, choose 鼯鼠 from the list

    add words & phrases to your iphone's dictionary

    confirm your entry. remember, it’s temporary until you confirm it!

  4. push the 新規 button at the bottom left hand corner to register the word into the iPhone’s Japanese dictionary.

Piece of cake, right?

You betcha!

Why wasn’t a user customizable dictionary included in any of the iPhone updates? I can’t imagine the Japanese market is the only one that has a need for such a thing. But one of the interesting thing about apps like this… is that the Japanese App Store is teeming with applications that fill the roles of standard features on any typical Japanese keitai. By that I mean the iPhone is missing so many features that people living in Japan take for granted, but Apple, in their infinite wisdom, decided they weren’t important enough. At any rate, I’m curious to see how the next generation of Japanese phones shape up, now that the international cellphone market is starting to catch up with Japan.




short for
携帯電話 mobile phone; a japanese cellphone.
most foreigners in japan, even if they cannot speak japanese, tend to use this word too.





registration, entry



literally, “picture letters” – pictographs
smileys and other icons made of small kana-sized image files that can be used in e-mails.



literally, “face letters” – text based smileys.

see my original article for some examples!


ni chan

short for “2 Channel” – a popular japanese website that covers any topic you can imagine.  a lot of japanese netspeak and underground slang terms originated on 2chan.


mixi, the most popular SNS in japan. years before facefook had a viable mobile site, mixi was fully compatible with japanese cellphones by virtue of a WAP site (the standard japanese mobile site format, at least prior to iPhone and other smart phones).

awwwwwwww yeah!
mαrky( -_-)



Because this article featured the free version of 辞書登録, I wrote a follow up piece regarding the paid version.  This free one is just a demo and the words you enter will be gone the next day.  So if you need this function, I strongly recommend you get the paid version.  You can find my article here:

KAOMOJI – Japanese Smileys

In Japanese Slang on December 27, 2009 at 10:12 am

Today I’m showing a list of my favorite 顔文字 (kaomoji) – or japanese smileys.
In America we use really boring ones like : ) ; ) but the Japanese have really elaborate ones. And when you enter certain words, certain smileys will come up. Most Japanese cellphones have user customizable dictionaries, so if you want certain words to convert to certain smileys, you can program it that way. As an iPhone user, I don’t have a customizable dictionary. So the best I’ve been able to do is make lists in the Notes section and copy and paste them when I want to use them. It’s a real pain in the ass, actually. But I have 5 pages of my favorites, which I will just re-post here. (I’m heading out the door to eat yakiniku in a few minutes, so I needed something quick for today’s blog entry.)

(this page assumes your computer supports japanese characters)

顔文字 Kamoji is combined of two words
かお kao   “face”
文字 もじ moji  “letters, writing”

some of them are self-apparent, but i’ll include a few explanations…

this is samurai doing a formal bow on the floor 土下座, you can see his top knot between his two eyes (丁髷).
( -_-)凸
this is me giving you the finger.
taking a note of your stupidity

( ・ω・)ノ――――@゜クルクル
this is me playing with a yo-yo

this is a nerdy expression you can say when something great is about to happen.
i use it tongue in cheek.

キタ━━━ヽ(∀゜ )人(゜∀゜)人(゜∀゜)人(゜∀゜)人(゜∀゜)人(゜∀゜)人( ゜∀)ノ
━━━ !!!!!!!!
the same, just nerdier…

コネェ━━━━━━(゜A゜;)━━━━━━ !!!!!
this is the opposite.  something great isn’t going to happen.

( *´ー)(ー`*)ネェw
this is two people agreeing with each other.
in japanese, it says “NE” – which is a particle to confirm something.

YE━━━━━━ d(゜∀゜)b ━━━━━━S


ハッ! φ(゜o゜*) ヤッパリチガウ……〆(。_。*)

モ(゜∀゜)━ウ( ゜∀)━(  ゜)━(  )━(`  )━ダ(Д` )━メ(´Д`)━ポ(;´Д`)━━━!!!

JR━―━―━(゜∀゜)━―━―━― !!
riding on the JR trains………

┐(´ー`)┌ ワカンナイ!!!
shrugging your shoulders cuz you don’t know something…




ワーイ♪♪\(^ω^\)( /^ω^)/♪♪ワーイ
really happy!





scared and nervous







high five














writing stuff down







making the V sign for “peace” that japanese people always do in pictures…



゛☆⌒o(*^ー゜) オッケー♪
he’s saying OK!!!!

┐(´ー`)┌ ワカラン
shrugging shoulders, “i dunno”

shrugging shoulders, “i dunno”

ε( ´,_つ`)3

むしゃむしゃ( ´)Д(`)
chowing down on food






(´・ ∀・`)あはあは

this is a thought bubble, where it says せりふ you write what you’re thinking to yourself

right? right?

(`・∀・´) えっへん!
What’s the hell???

Σ(*’0′)*’0′)/ アレハナンダ!!
what the hell is that?

+゜:。£ονё゜:。(*´∇`)´∇`*) 。:゜£ονё+゜:。
lovey dovey

that looks freaking delicious!


ε3(σ_σ*) クシャクシャ (σーσ*)ノ⌒°□ ポイ

(/ _ ; )
slapping your hand on your forehead and crying…  oh no!




taking a note

shooting star


samurai doing a formal bow




(T . T)

( ? _ ? )


whistling or winking at you




♪( ´▽`)
listening to music


awwwww yeah!


legs spread (for sex)

explosive laughter





put a picture of the thing you are about to eat where the red line is.  it’s stuffing your face.

awwwwwwww yeah!
mαrky( -_-)凸

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