A Crash Course in Understanding How Does the Japanese Keyboard Work

Learning how to use a Japanese keyboard can be intimidating at first, but with a crash course, you can quickly become comfortable with the layout of the keys and easily type in Japanese.

Japanese keyboards have a few key differences from the ones you may be used to, but taking the time to understand these differences can open up a whole new world of communication and expression. 

Disclosure : Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

With the help of this crash course, you’ll be typing Japanese characters in no time!

A Crash Course in Understanding How Does the Japanese Keyboard Work 1

Differences between the Japanese Keyboard and the English Keyboard

The Japanese keyboard is different from an English keyboard in a few ways. The main difference is the number of keys. A Japanese keyboard has 104 keys compared to the 89 keys on an English keyboard.

Additionally, the Japanese keyboard has a few extra symbol keys not found on the English keyboard.

Furthermore, the symbols on the keys are written in kana, the Japanese writing system.

One of the most notable differences between the two keyboards is that the Japanese keyboard has a space bar on the right side of the keyboard, while the English keyboard has a space bar on the left side.

Another thing is that the keys on a Japanese keyboard are arranged differently than on an English keyboard. For example, the Shift and Enter keys are in different locations, and the Caps Lock key is replaced with a Kana Lock key.

The layout of the Japanese keyboard is also different from the English keyboard. On the Japanese keyboard, the keys are arranged in a diamond shape, whereas on the English keyboard, the keys are arranged in a rectangular shape.

Overview of the Japanese Keyboard Layout

When you look at a Japanese keyboard, you’ll notice that the layout differs from the one you may use.

The Japanese keyboard is slightly larger than the English keyboard, and the keys are diamond-shaped.

The keys are labeled with kana, which is the Japanese writing system. Additionally, the Japanese keyboard has a few extra keys not found on the English keyboard.

The most important keys on the Japanese keyboard are the Shift, Enter, and Kana Lock keys. The Shift and Enter keys are located in the same spot as on an English keyboard, but the Kana Lock key is in place of the Caps Lock key.

The Kana Lock key is used to switch between the two modes of writing: hiragana and katakana. When the Kana Lock key is on, the letters on the keyboard will be in hiragana (syllable). When the Kana Lock key is off, the letters on the keyboard will be in katakana.

The Japanese keyboard also has a few extra keys not found on the English keyboard. These include the Eisu (English) key, the Zenkaku (full-width) key, the Hankaku (half-width) key, the Muhenkan (no conversion) key, and the Henkan (conversion) key.

The Eisu key switches between hiragana and English; the Zenkaku and Hankaku keys switch between full-width and half-width characters, and the Muhenkan and Henkan keys switch between no conversion and conversion modes.

Deciphering the Symbols on the Keys

Once you understand the layout of the keys, you’ll need to learn how to decipher the symbols on the keys.

The symbols on the keys represent the hiragana, katakana, and English letters you need to type.

Each key has two symbols: one on the top and one on the bottom. The symbol on the top is the hiragana letter, and the symbol on the bottom is the katakana letter. The English letters are printed on the sides of the keys.

Once you understand the symbols on the keys, you can quickly type hiragana, romaji, katakana, and kanji. However, getting used to the new layout and the symbols on the keys can take some time.

Practicing typing in Japanese is essential to help you become more familiar with the keys and symbols.

A Crash Course in Understanding How Does the Japanese Keyboard Work 2

Keyboard Shortcuts

One of the best ways to become more efficient is by using keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboard shortcuts are particular key combinations that allow you to type specific words or phrases quickly. Keyboard shortcuts can save you a lot of time and make typing in Japanese much more effortless.

The most commonly used keyboard shortcuts are the Shift and Enter keys. The Shift key is used to switch between hiragana and katakana, and the Enter key is used to move to the following line.

Other useful keyboard shortcuts include the Zenkaku and Hankaku keys, which switch between full-width and half-width characters, and the Muhenkan and Henkan keys, which switch between no conversion and conversion modes.

Setting Up Your Keyboard to Type in Japanese

Before you can start typing in Japanese, you must set up your keyboard to use Japanese. This can be done by accessing the language settings in your computer’s control panel. Once you’ve done this, your keyboard will be set and ready for use.

The first step is to select the Japanese keyboard layout. You’ll need to select the appropriate language and the desired keyboard layout. You can adjust the keyboard settings to enable the keys for Kana Lock and Eisu (English).

Once you’ve set up your keyboard, you can start typing in Japanese.

Mastering Japanese Typing in Romaji and Kanji

Learning to use a Japanese keyboard might feel like a challenge, especially if you’re new to it. 

I get it – when I first dove into this, it wasn’t a walk in the park either. But with some practice, I found my rhythm, and soon enough, it became second nature. 

Let’s make typing in Romaji and Kanji on your Japanese keyboard a breeze, especially if you’re new.

First, ensure your computer is set to Japanese – you’ll find it in the language or regional settings. Now, let’s dive into the details:

Romaji Typing:

Using romaji is just typing the sounds of Japanese words with the regular Roman alphabet on your keyboard. Simple, right? 

For example, if you want to say “Hello” in Japanese, type “konnichiwa.” It’s like chatting in Japanese with your usual English letters.

Kanji Typing:

Now, for the grand finale – Kanji. Type in Romaji hit the space bar, and watch the magic unfold. 

Your computer will suggest Kanji options. Just use the arrow keys to pick the one you fancy and hit Enter. It’s like having a Kanji wizard at your fingertips.

Typing in Japanese – Step-by-Step Guide

Now that your keyboard is set up to use Japanese, it’s time to start typing! Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

  1. Make sure the Kana Lock key is turned on.
  2. Press the Shift key to switch between hiragana and katakana.
  3. Use the symbols on the keys to type in hiragana or katakana.
  4. Use the Eisu key to switch between Hiragana and English.
  5. Use the Zenkaku and Hankaku keys to switch between full-width and half-width characters.
  6. Use the Muhenkan and Henkan keys to switch between no conversion and conversion modes.
  7. Press the Enter key to move to the subsequent line.

Tips and Tricks for Typing in Japanese

Typing in Japanese can be tricky initially, but a few tips and tricks can help you become more comfortable with the language.

Learn Japanese language as quickly as possible to grasp the alphabet faster and to thrive in this beautiful country.

Practice typing in Japanese as much as possible. This will help you become more familiar with the layout of the keys and the symbols on the keys and understand how the keyboards work.

Another tip is to use keyboard shortcuts to help you type faster. Keyboard shortcuts can save you a lot of time and make typing in Japanese much more manageable.

Finally, it’s important to remember that the Kana Lock key is the most important key on the keyboard. It lets you switch between katakana and hiragana characters and also allows you to type various Japanese words correctly.

A few popular keyboard programs can help you with your endeavor. They are designed to make typing in Japanese easier and more efficient by providing useful features such as auto-completion, auto-correction, and custom dictionaries.

Google Japanese Input is a popular keyboard program that is free to use. It provides an intuitive interface and various features to simplify typing in Japanese.

Microsoft IME (Input Method Editor) is another popular keyboard program available for purchase. It provides you with a variety of features and a customizable interface.