Kondansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary
Jack Halpern, (Kondansha International)
Although I prefer an electronic dictionary, a paper version can sometimes be more useful; not least in that it’s easier to search for something that you’re not quite sure about and more satisfying to browse.
This dictionary has several methods of searching. The traditional Radical lookup method; an On Kun index, so if you know the pronunciation you can find the kanji (of course the number of homonyms is amazing); and the method by which the dictionary is organised — the SKIP method. The SKIP method classifies Kanji by pattern and stroke count of the subpatterns. So its fairly easy to break down an unknown kanji and find it. Common mistakes are listed at the end of some entries to point you at the correct entry. There’s also an interesting listing of characters based on their frequency of use in newspapers.
The entries all have a stroke by stroke order diagram to help you learn to write it. The pronunciation entries are in romaji not kana. Meanings are in English. With each kanji there are several compounds with the kanji entry in different positions in the compound not just as the first character.