How to Type Japanese Characters

[ADS] Advertisement

The Japanese language uses many more characters than on a traditional QWERTY keyboard. However, the language can still be typed using English letters.

At first glance, it might seem that a writing system involving two syllabaries, each composed of sounds represented by sixty-nine different characters – hiragana and katakana, or, collectively, kana – incorporated into a few thousand unique and complex characters derived from Chinese language – kanji – can pose a challenge for those wanting to type the language using a traditional English QWERTY keyboard. On the contrary, typing Japanese on a computer is very easy once a few simple practices and two or three exceptions are learned.

We also recommend reading:

Enable Japanese character input and

Type essay writing in Japanese characters using a computer can be easily accomplished by utilizing the Microsoft IME essay writing dictionary. Please note that ESL students should write an essay in English first, or use Assignment Pay to get their essays done. It can simplify your writing process. 

To get started, simply highlight the section of text you want to type in Japanese. Then hold down the left “Alt” key on your keyboard and press the “t” key to write without releasing the “Alt” key. 

Doing so will change the compose keyboard layout to Japanese. Then you can type the wording type in Japanese characters using Romanji input method. When you're done typing in Japanese, press the "t" key again while holding down the "Alt" key to return to the normal typing keyboard layout. And there it is! You have now successfully typed Japanese characters on your computer.

Keyboard - have you ever been curious to know what the Japanese keyboard looks like?
Ever wondered what the Japanese keyboard looks like?

Typing Japanese words with English characters

Computer input method for Japanese is ingenious and mundane. Because Japanese, at its most basic level, employs syllabaries—sets of characters, known as kana, that represent all the possible sounds (syllables) of the language—in its written language, in most cases it is enough to type the sounds of any given word. and letting the computer do the rest.

For example, to type the Japanese word for “friend” – “TOMODACHI” – it is only necessary to spell the four syllables of the word, “to”, “mo”, “da” and “chi”; in hiragana input mode, each character will appear when the sound is completed (i.e. after each vowel). The four characters will be underlined, meaning the computer is ready to accept them as a single word. Pressing the Enter key will confirm the word allowing another to begin. The process of typing a word in katakana is the same when it is the selected input method.

The previous example leaves the word in hiragana; however, it is very simple to convert the characters to kanji. If the spacebar instead of the Enter key is pressed after the four characters appear on the screen, the computer will automatically convert the hiragana characters to the most likely kanji for pronunciation.

Confusingly, many Japanese words consist of the same syllables but are made up of completely different kanji. For this reason, the first kanji selection that appears when the space bar is pressed may not be the correct kanji for the intended word. In that case, a drop-down menu displaying additional kanji permutations can be activated by pressing the spacebar again.

How to use and type the small hiragana and katakana

The Exceptions: Typing Japanese Particles, the “Little TSU” and “NN”

Some kana are minor exceptions to the straightforward rules above. Characters such as “GA”, “WA”, and “WO” (pronounced with a long “o” or, in some cases, “wo”) denote parts of speech in addition to forming words (with the notable exception of the kana for “O “). Some, like “GA” are typed as described above; however, others must be typed differently than they normally sound.

The particle pronounced "WA" in conversation denotes a sentence's topic. The character is written exactly as the kana used in word formation that is pronounced "HA." By the way, the linguists from Do My Writing point out that there is another character pronounced "WA" that will yield this character rather than the desired particle, therefore it is important to keep this exception in mind when typing the "WA" particle.

Another exception is for the particle “WO”. Again, there is another character with the same long “o” sound; to type the particle “WO” the syllable “WO” must be typed instead of its pronunciation “O”. Following this with the Enter key will remove the underscore.

The Japanese language also has a "pause character" sometimes called "little TSU". This character represents a momentary pause or retention of the first consonant of the next syllable and appears frequently in verb conjugations and various counters. Typing the repeated consonant once before typing the next syllable will produce a small TSU. For example, to type “three (things)” or MITTSU, type “mi”, “t”, and “tsu”.

Finally, there is a single character pronounced roughly “NN”; it is the only kana that does not end in a vowel sound. Since its closest approximate sound is that of an English “n” ending (as in “taken”), it is spelled – as seen above – using a double “n”.

The Simplicity of Typing in Japanese

Typing in Japanese is a simple matter of typing the pronunciation of words and remembering some exceptions. Considering how easily Japanese can be typed into English, it is perhaps no wonder that this input method is more or less how native Japanese people type their language on computers. Learning all the slang and countless emoticons they use in casual textual communication would be a much more complicated task.

Share This Article: