Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Japanese Language Guide

Overview

So you've set up your computer for typing in Japanese. (If you haven't, please see Setting Up Your Computer first.)

How do you actually use these input methods?

On this page you can learn how to use a variety of input methods:

  • Input Methods for Typing in Japanese
  • Windows Methods
  • Mac Methods

You may want to experiment with the different methods to find which you prefer, or you may want to ask your Japanese instructor or Japanese-speaking friends for their recommendation about which input method to try.

Other "Getting Started" topics you may want to explore:

Input Methods for Typing in Japanese

Input Methods for Typing in Japanese

An "input method" is a way of using a standard computer keyboard to type hiragana, katakana, and kanji (Chinese characters). There are two main input methods for typing Japanese. One uses a kana keyboard, and the other uses "romaji," a system for writing Japanese words using the Roman alphabet. For most Japanese language learners, the romaji input method is the easiest way to get started.

With the romaji input method, you type in romaji (roman letters) and it will automatically convert to kana characters. To type kanji (characters), you type in hiragana and press the Space bar; the computer will search for the kanji that match. Usually it will give you a list of possible matches/combinations to choose from.

The link below gives an overview of romaji and of typing in Japanese.

Windows: Input Methods for Typing in Japanese

Windows: Input Methods for Typing in Japanese

Image of a page in a Chinese book

On Windows computers at MHC, we have activated Microsoft Office IME 2010 for typing in Japanese.

Check out the links below for futher information on how to activate Japanese fonts on your own computer and how to type.

Mac: Input Methods for Typing in Japanese

Mac: Input Methods for Typing in Japanese

On Macs at MHC, we have activated 3 input methods for typing Japanese. Here is a brief overview of how each of these methods works; below are some links to more information and tutorials to learn how to use these methods.

Japanese

  • Romaji: Romaji features the Roman letters as they would be on a Japanese QWERTY keyboard. As its name would suggest, this method is conducive to typing romaji, as other aspects of a Japanese keyboard--such as punctuation--remain unchanged from that of a normal Japanese keyboard.
  • Hiragana: Simply type in Japanese words as you would type them in romaji, and the words will automatically convert to hiragana on the screen. In order to write in kanji, press the Space bar after each word or sentence and the computer will give you options for kanji.
  • Katakana: Like for hiragana, type in Japanese words as you would type them in romaji, and the words will automatically convert to katakana on the screen. Kanji cannot be written in this input method.
MHC Accessibility Barriers Form