I won’t lie; Electronic dictionaries are incredibly useful. I personally use jisho.org for 99% of my Japanese needs and only break out my physical dictionary on those rare days when I’m tired of staring at a computer screen and need to give my eyes a break.
Still, knowing how to alphabetize words is a useful skill. You never know when you’ll need to do something low-tech like find a book in an alphabetized shelf or look someone up in a company registry.
寒い = さむい= cold
Blue: Why don’t you try your dictionary skills by looking up the word さむい?
Yellow: Let’s see… It starts with an “S” sound which comes after the vowel and “K” sounds, so that’s the third section of the dictionary.
Yellow: あいうえおorder means that さ is the first S sound, so I should focus on the beginning of the “S” section.
Yellow: Next isむ. “M” sounds are near the middle of the Japanese alphabet, so さむいshould be in the middle of the さwords.
Yellow: む comes after ま and み so… Here it is: さむい means “cold”.
Blue: That wasn’t so bad, was it?
Yellow: Typing SAMUI into an electronic dictionary would have been faster.
Blue: But… umm… what if you need to look up a word during a power outage? That coul happen, right?
Yellow: Good point! I might need to talk to with a samurai during the zombie apocalypse.