kan1I guess most of you know what a kanji is, for those few that does not they are the Chinese characters used in Japanese (and Chinese) written language. They are also a pain in the お尻.

I strongly believe that kanji is the reason I was unable to master Japanese language. Main reason being that the kanji made it very tedious to pick up a Japanese book and improve the language by just reading a lot, like I did with English.

That was somewhat of a digression. These days I mostly come into contact with kanji in regards to Tea. I get utensils catalog regularly sent to me, the problem is that the only thing I’m able to read is the price, since that is written with regular number. All the rest I have to figure out from the images.

All that is about to change, or at least that is my hope. This weekend I found a fantastic app for my iPhone. It is a magnificent kanji dictionary. A dictionary in it self it not such a great thing, but for this one I bought a OCR module. For those not familiar with the geek-term OCR it stands for “Optical Character Recognition”. Which basically means that it is able to recognize a character or word from a picture.

I wasn’t at home when I discovered this app, and did not have access to any printed material with kanji at my location. Anxious to put my newly purchased app to the test I found a image of a chawan I had online. I used my phone to take a picture of my laptop screen with the chawan image shown. So in other words I gave the app bit of a challenge. I imagine it will work even better when you take the image directly from the catalogue.
The first image shows how I have selected the kanji I want to have translated using a combination of the left cross to move the selection and the right arrows to resize it into a proper size. Then I told the app to do it’s magic. As you can see it found chawan. If I click on the suggested kanji it will take me to a more extensive page about this word. This page is shown in the next image. From this page I can find the meaning of the word “rice bowl; tea cup.” The pronunciation is given. If you for some reason can’t read hiragana and is still interested in the kanji pronunciation you can have the app read it out loud to you. The machine pronunciation is not great, but it is there. At the top line you can see the two kanji. If you tap either of them you will be taken to a detailed page for that kanji. See the third image. At this page you can find almost anything you want to know about this kanji. Number of strokes,


meaning, and pronunciation (on, kun, nanori). Clicking on the number of strokes will take you to yet another page. This page, which I have not included a image of, shows you in which order and which direction each stroke should be written.

I have only looked into the OCR feature of this app, and haven’t taken any pains to try to explain what else the app can do. Mostly, I must admit, because I haven’t had time to look that much into the app.
In conclusion wishoTouch is a great app, and I will probably use it a lot for dogu shopping. However it is a pricy app. The main app currently cost $20. In addition you’ll need the OCR module that cost another $7. So a total of $27.

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