How to Use Japanese Keyboard

Navigating a new keyboard layout can be like learning to play a musical instrument; it takes practice and guidance. If you’ve recently decided to explore or have a need to use a Japanese keyboard, it’s vital to understand the characters, keys, and input methods that differ markedly from the standard QWERTY keyboard. Whether you aim to write in Japanese for personal interest, communication, or work, mastering the Japanese keyboard is a valuable skill that opens the door to a rich language and culture.

how to use japanese keyboard

Installing a Japanese Keyboard on Your Device

Setting up a Japanese keyboard on your device is the first step towards typing in Japanese. Your device might be a computer, smartphone, or tablet, and the process can differ slightly for each.

Detailed Steps

  1. For Windows:

    • Open ‘Settings’ from the Start menu.
    • Click on ‘Time & Language’ and select ‘Language.’
    • Choose ‘Add a language’ and search for Japanese. Click on it and then select ‘Install.’
    • Once installed, toggle between languages by clicking on the language indicator in the taskbar or by pressing ‘Alt’ + ‘Shift’ on your keyboard.
  2. For macOS:

    • Open ‘System Preferences’ and click on ‘Keyboard.’
    • Go to the ‘Input Sources’ tab, click the ‘+’ button, and select ‘Japanese.’
    • To switch between languages, use the language menu on the top right of the menu bar or press ‘Control’ + ‘Spacebar.’
  3. For Android:

    • Go to ‘Settings,’ then ‘System,’ and tap on ‘Languages & input.’
    • Under ‘Keyboards,’ select ‘Virtual keyboard,’ then ‘Add Keyboard,’ and choose ‘Japanese.’
    • Switch between keyboards by swiping down the notification panel and selecting the ‘Change keyboard’ notification when typing.
  4. For iOS:

    • Tap ‘Settings,’ then ‘General,’ and select ‘Keyboard.’
    • Click on ‘Keyboards,’ then ‘Add New Keyboard,’ and choose ‘Japanese.’
    • To switch keyboards, tap on the globe icon next to the spacebar when the keyboard is active.


By installing a Japanese keyboard, you are setting the foundation for typing in Japanese. It’s a straightforward process and an essential step toward fluency in the use of a Japanese keyboard. There are no major downsides, except it might take some time getting used to switching keyboards if you are multitasking with different languages.

Familiarizing with Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji

Understanding the basics of the Japanese writing system, which includes hiragana, katakana, and kanji, is important for using a Japanese keyboard effectively.

Detailed Steps

  1. Hiragana and Katakana:

    • Start by learning the 46 basic hiragana and 46 katakana characters. These are phonetic scripts used for native Japanese words and foreign words, respectively. Many online resources and applications can help with memorization.
    • Practice typing by using online typing tutors specifically designed for Japanese characters to help reinforce your memory through muscle memory.
  2. Kanji:

    • Begin with common kanji characters and learn how they are used in context. There are thousands of kanji characters, but a solid understanding of the most frequently used ones is a good starting point.
    • Use Japanese learning apps that teach kanji and provide typing exercises to help you memorize the stroke order and common readings for each character.


Getting familiar with the Japanese scripts is essential for using a Japanese keyboard. This task requires time and practice but is rewarding as it provides you with the ability to communicate effectively in Japanese. It can be overwhelming at first due to the large number of characters, but focusing on the most commonly used ones can make the process manageable.

Understanding the Romaji Input Method

Romaji refers to the use of the Latin alphabet to write Japanese sounds. It’s the most common method of input for Japanese keyboards and a good starting point for beginners.

Detailed Steps

  1. Basic Romaji Typing:
    • Learn how to type Japanese sounds using the Latin alphabet. For instance, typing “ka” will result in the corresponding hiragana character か, and “shi” will produce し.
    • Practice typing sentences in romaji and observe how the Japanese characters appear. This will help in understanding the conversion from romaji to kana.
Larry R. Jimenez
I'm the senior editor of I help people solve their computer problems and recommend reliable products. My area of expertise includes electronic or hardware products, Windows, Mac, and application tricks. I'm active in the various online tech communities where he provides help for new computer issues as they are released.

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