How to Type in Japanese
To start typing in Japanese and taking full advantage of our writing exercises you'll need to setup an IME (Input Method Editor). It's a fairly simple process and highly recommended if you want to learn how to write in Japanese on your computer. Choose a guide from the list below to setup an IME for your operating system.
Here's a few suggestions for practicing typing once you've got your IME set up:
Tips for the Microsoft IME
Below is a list of tips and tricks for making effective use of the Microsoft IME. These shortcuts may work for other IMEs as well. You can use the button below to open a textarea and test out some of these tips firsthand.
- ALT+SHIFT: Switch Keyboards
- ALT+`: Toggle Kana/Alphanumeric Input
- ALT+CAPS: Change to Katakana Input
- CTRL+CAPS: Change to Hiragana Input
- CTRL+SHIFT+CAPS: Toggle Input Method between Romaji and Kana
- SPACE (while kana is underlined): Convert Kana to Kanji/Focus conversion list
- ENTER (while underlined): End word/phrase
- F6 (while underlined): Convert to hiragana
- F7 (while underlined): Convert to katakana
- F9 (while underlined): Convert to full-width alphanumeric
- F10 (while underlined): Convert to half-width alphanumeric
Some people may get confused when trying to type "n" in hiragana and katakana, because it doesn't immediately convert to the kana. There are 3 conditions which will convert n into ん／ン that are listed below.
- The most common method of conversion is simply to type the next kana: shinri = しんり (this only works if the next kana typed isn't a, i, u, e, o, ya, yu, or yo).
- The next common method of conversion is typing "n" twice in a row: nn = ん／ン. You can also prefix n with x to convert it: xn = ん／ン.
- Lastly, you can press the space bar to convert the kana or open the conversion list. (this is only applicable if n is underlined)
Try them out to get the hang of typing n and choose the method that works best for you.
Typing Small Kana
Small kana can by typed by prefixing the romaji with X. See the examples below and give them a try, too.
- xya = ゃ
- xyo = ょ
- xyu = ゅ
- xtsu = っ
- and so on...
Typing Contracted Kana
Typing contracted kana is pretty easy if you already know the romaji for them. If you don't, we highly suggest practicing the Hiragana Combos and Katakana Combos exercises. To type contracted kana, you simply type the romaji for it and the IME does the rest.
- kya = きゃ
- kyu = きゅ
- kyo = きょ
- sha = しゃ
- and so on...
Typing Double Consonants
Double consonants (i.e. kk, pp, ss..) always have the first of the pair converted to a small tsu (ssa --> っさ). See the examples below and try typing them in a textpad to get a feel for them.
- kissaten = きっさてん
- zasshi = ざっし
- kippu = きっぷ
- gakkou = がっこう
- nippon = にっぽん
Typing kanji is easier than you might think. All you need to do is type out the kana and then press the space bar (while the kana is underlined) to convert the kana to kanji. If the kanji isn't the one you wanted, press the space bar again to scroll through the conversion suggestions (you can use the arrows keys as well once the list is focused). Here's some examples that you can try typing.
- ねこ = 猫
- いぬ = 犬
- だいがく = 大学
- がくせい = 学生
- せんせい = 先生