The Oxford Picture Dictionary: English/Japanese can be considered the grown-up version of the Kotoba Tsukaikata Ejiten. Whereas the latter is aimed at children and covers elementary concepts like games, colours and simple motor actions The Oxford Picture Dictionary covers more complex vocabulary like timezones, cuts of meat and crimes.
The Oxford tome is aimed at adult Japanese students of English (as one less-than-perspicacious Amazon reviewer discovered to his chagrin) and as with many texts aimed at Japanese learners it contains Japanese translations in addition to English, but this is exactly what makes it so useful to students of Japanese. However this is no book for beginners - you will need to be able to read kanji or at least be proficient in the use of an electronic dictionary.
The Picture Dictionary contains 168 pages of pictures and scenes labeled in English and Japanese, covering 3600 words of core vocabulary from the following thematic units:
- Everyday Language
- Areas of Study
- Plants and Animals
The book is useful as a means of filling in those gaps in your vocabulary which exist because you didn't grow up learning Japanese (if you did, what are you doing here?). For example, you may know the Japanese for shark and octopus, but what about seahorse or ray?
Beyond simple nouns the OPD shines when it comes to more abstract, or simply more complex concepts - can you say "onto the highway"?
The thematic categorisation makes using the dictionary very straightforward. Want to talk shoes? Page 68 has everything from pumps パンプズ to shoelaces 靴ひも。Doing home repairs? See page 150 for tape measures 巻き尺 and drill bits きり先. The pictures are drawn in a variety of styles and are very easy to understand. Some times too easy. The guy with mumps on page 79 brought back very bad childhood memories. And though in the majority of cases the pictures are self-explanatory, having the English is a big help. For example, a picture of a person in a suit standing in front of the United States Capitol building is insufficient - you need the words to remove the ambiguity:
下院 The House of Representatives
上院 The Senate
The down side? The book is designed for Japanese people learning English, specifically American English, so the pictures are all Americancentric - you won't find the vocab for a lot of Japanese objects but you will be able to talk about things Western. I noted a little political correctness too - page 22 shows a guy who in Japanese is 太っている (fat) but the English label is merely "heavyset" - there is no "fat" or "obese" or even just "overweight". And there is no furigana, so be prepared to invest some time looking up the readings for a lot of the words.
The Oxford Picture Dictionary: English/Japanese
Norma Shapiro and Jamie Adelson-Goldstein
Oxford University Press, 1998
Pros: Extensive, detailed, easy to use.
Cons: Requires a certain level of kanji ability. Americancentric.
Overall: An excellent resource for intermediate learners.