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Looking Up Unknown Kanji/Words

Sometimes you may find yourself at a roadblock, because you don't know how to read a kanji or don't know the meaning of a word. That's perfectly okay though, as it's part of learning and sometimes we may forget. We'll go over a few ways that you can look up kanji/words you don't know while using Genki Study Resources.

Quick Navigation

Using the Quick Dictionary

Genki Study Resources has a standalone dictionary for looking up words and practicing them, and a quick dictionary built into non-vocabulary exercises. When it comes to looking up unknown kanji/words during an exercise, the quick dictionary is your best friend! Simply select the text, click "look up", and look through the search results for your answer.

kanji look up

If you're trying to select text for a multiple choice answer, simply click the "Enable Text Selection" button. This will allow you to select and look up kanji/words in answers.

Jisho Online Dictionary

The dictionary on Genki Study Resources only contains definitions for all the words learned and used in the Genki textbooks. Because of this, it will not have every word imaginable. Thankfully, there's an excellent online alternative called This website will allow you to search in English, Japanese, by drawing, and even radicals for finding kanji you don't know how to type. So if you need to look up words outside of Genki, I highly recommend using this website.

Tip: Look up "jisho" if you don't know what it means.

Helpful Extensions

Aside from the methods mentioned prior, there exists extensions that allow you to look up the meanings of kanji/words simply by hovering over them! These, my friends, are like magic dictionaries where your cursor is a word-defining wand, and are wonderful to have on hand when needed. There's different ones for different browsers, so choose the one for your current browser.

If you intend on using these offline as well, be sure to update your extension's permissions, which can typically be done by going to Extensions > Details (for that extension) and enabling "Allow access to file URLs." Instructions may be different (or not required) for Firefox.

Useful Programs

If you like using Novels or Manga for reading practice, then you know that sometimes you'll run into a kanji that stumps you. Thankfully there's an extremely useful program called KanjiTomo which can be used to identify kanji/words on-screen or in images, depending on how legible the font is. You can also open images directly in the program for easier navigation and identification. I highly recommend it to those who're just starting out and want to read some higher level material to challenge themselves and learn new words.


To finish up, I'd like to say that it's okay to look up kanji/words if you don't know them or may have forgotten the meaning. However, if you're constantly looking up the same kanji/words you've already looked up, you should write those kanji/words down and practice them until you've memorized them. On Genki Study Resources we didn't use a heavy amount of furigana in the 2nd Edition, because it's prudent that you memorize all the words introduced in each lesson, kanji included! It may seem daunting, but it will pay off in the long run, so keep at it, even if it's a little each day.

With the introduction of the 3rd Edition we've listened to feedback and decided to include furigana in a majority of exercises. However, we encourage you to turn off furigana once you've memorized the words for a lesson, especially for Reading Practice exercises! This way you can challenge your brain and practice recalling the words and kanji you've learned from memory.

In short, it's okay to use a dictionary for looking up unknown words, but don't rely too heavily on it; memorize the words you look up! Feel free to utilize the Dictionary, Custom Study Tools, or the plethora of vocab/kanji exercises for memorizing words.