Typing Japanese Characters

When it comes to typing something your default is usually English unless of course you’ve got it as something else by default like French or Germen. But for those with English Keyboards you may be wondering how you can type Japanese characters on your keyboard? Answer is simple really, you don’t need another keyboard with the japanese characters on it, everything you need is already there to use on your computer, all you have to do is enable it and add it to your set of usable languages so you can switch between English and Japanese instantly and type whatever.

Here I’m gonna show you how to do it on Mac OSX, I’m doing it on Snow Leopard 10.6.8, I’ll show you how to do it on Windows below, so feel free to skip to the bottom of this post to see how to do it. –– Ok first for Mac OSX go and open up System Preferences from the (Apple Menu) 

Click on Language & Text from the list, once that’s loaded up select the Input Sources tab.

Then select from the list Kotoeri and click the checkbox, it should check all in that list there. Don’t forget to click the checkbox at the bottom there for Show Input menu in bar. This will make it easier for you to switch between different language inputs.

Next select from the Input Menu bar at the top of the screen and select from Hiragana, Katakana or Romaji. Romaji let you type in plain English when you press the ⌥ + ⇧ + E hotkey combination, this will put you into Hiragana typing mode.

And if you’re needing help with typing certain characters you can refer to the Kana Table which can help you type Hiragana, Katakana and Romaji characters. Here’s a useful tip to remember if you’re not use to typing Japanese or ever learnt Japanese. Hiragana is used for writing words in general, adjectives and some names, Katakana is for writing names, and names of things, places. Kotoeri’s dictionary isn’t perfect so it won’t have words or names of everything in there so you’ll have to register some yourself, it’s best if you refer to a Japanese Dictionary so you can learn each word so the Dictionary can learn correctly of new words you put into it. –– There is no actual difference from typing with Full-width Romaji or Half-width Katakana, it just types the same way as Hiragana and Katakana, only the width of the characters changes.

Another thing, when you’re typing Japanese Characters you’ll have a quick popup menu for letting you change the characters of a word like so for example; 

To get this popup just press the Space bar on your keyboard, but take note here that it only shows up when the word is underscored, when it’s underscored you can press the Space bar and the little popup menu will appear.



Alright… Windows users… here is how you do the what I’ve explained above, I’m doing this on Windows 7. –– Firstly open up Control Panel, then select Region and Language.

This will open up the window for Region and Language, next click on the Keyboards and Languages tab, then click Change Keyboards… button.


That will then bring up the Text Services and Input Languages window like so…

Now because I’ve already added the Japanese IME, you’ll just pretend that we’re adding it for the first time. OK… You next have to click on Add… to then bring up Add Input Language window. Then scroll down and check the checkboxes for Japanese (Japan) and make sure you check the boxes for Japanese and Microsoft IME then click OK button.



Now that you’ve done that you’ll be all set to begin typing in Japanese, all you have to do next is click Apply then close the windows for Text Services and Input Languages.

You should have on your Taskbar with words EN on it next to a keyboard icon, click that then select JP, the icons on the task bar should change like so, next click on the red circle and paintbrush icon and select Microsoft IME.

and lastly click on the A icon and select from Hiragana, Full-width Katakana, Full-width Alphanumeric, Half-width Katakana and Half-width Alphanumeric.

Now that you’ve added the right keyboards for typing in Japanese on Windows, you should now be able to type almost anything in Japanese. There isn’t really any helpful stuff for typing Japanese on Windows like a Mac does… you may have a hard time trying to type the character you want without a table that’s ready there to use. :p  But don’t let that stop you since there’s plenty tables and guides out there on the Internet to help you type out stuff, Google Translate is one example that can help you type stuff for words or phrases.

Setting up Japanese Keyboard is more tedious than Mac OSX, …Windows has……well…pretty much……TOO MUCH windows, whereas Mac OSX……all you do is Apple Menu  > System Preferences > Text and Language > Input Sources > Checkbox > Done. It’s done faster than you can say Microsoft Windows. :P