(Direct) Kana Input

Could an option for direct kana input be implemented? I know 99% of all people who type Japanese use romaji input, but the other 1% of us get rather annoyed when doing reviews, and we have to turn the IME on, off, on, off, on, off… because the site itself only supports romaji.

I realize this may depend greatly on keyboard layout and IME, so with that being said I should mention I have a US layout keyboard an am using the Google IME defaults. I’m not entirely sure how much other IME defaults differ, nor how much other keyboard layouts differ, nor how complex it would be to support all that… But still, would be nice.


Can you clarify what you mean? If you have a US layout keyboard how are you typing in anything but romaji? Have you just memorized the Japanese keyboard layout and set your IME to use that?

I’ve honestly never tried using anything other than the Microsoft IME, so sorry if I don’t understand what you’re referring to.


Would you not still have to turn it on and then off because you have to input answers with the US layout? I might also be confused about the question.

The whole point of the kana conversion is that no one has to switch their keyboard layouts because you just enter everything with eg the US layout, without any IME involved. I might be missing something here.


There’s a good reason WK is built with romaji input for the readings: so that you don’t see the suggestions and find out if you’re right that way.

In theory you could have a direct kana input script using the romaji keyboard.

How did you even have the patience to learn direct kana input?


That’s part of the reason I was confused too. It looks like on the Microsoft IME at least you can turn off conversions, so I guess theoretically they could be using that.

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Yeah, but then you’d have to turn THAT on and off, instead of turning the IME on and off.

The IME can be turned on and off with just a quick button combo (alt+`)… I’m not sure about the suggestions thing.

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Definitely worse learning the ime keyboard shortcuts

For Windows


For Mac


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Yeah, I have no idea if there’s a shortcut for that. I only just discovered it after looking at the available options after seeing this post.

By the way, it’s interesting how there’s more than one shortcut to do the same thing. I use Shift+Caps Lock to do the same thing you do with Alt+`.

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I mean, strictly speaking, I guess I’m switching between hiragana input and half-width alphanumeric input when I do that, but the IME is staying on. So I’m not sure about the details.

If the OP is actually going into the bar and like right-clicking and turning the whole IME off and whatnot, then yeah, maybe they just need a shortcut.

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Shift+Caps Lock does the same thing. I use Windows Key+Space to turn off the IME entirely.

Perhaps, but it sounds like they want the Japanese native keyboard layout to be accepted. We’ll see what they say when they clarify though.

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Thank for these extra shortcuts. usually when I type in Japanese, I am on my Linux machine, so I never really figured out the Windows shorcuts, so I need to make a mouse click which is very annoying …

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There are some apps on my phone, specifically chat apps, that seem to remember the keyboard language per-conversation. Obviously with a web app it’s going to be up to the user agent to handle it but maybe there’s a WAI-ARIA attribute or something that can be used to provide a hint to the agent as to which language to use. I’ve not found evidence that such a thing exists, let alone is implemented by any known browsers though.

(^ set to Kana Input)

(^ though, this layout is a JIS keyboard, not a US one like mine, but you get the idea)

Yes. Even the Microsoft IME has this, I’ve switched it to kana input, each key corrosponding to one kana.

We’re talking about separate things here. Romaji input and kana input are just systems of converting keypresses to kana. System IMEs do it before “truly” sending the resulting text (depending on program implementation), whereas WaniKani’s does it on its own layer in the browser. WaniKani’s only supports romaji.

I mean, sure, you still have the IME selected as the system input method, but in my opinion the IME isn’t really “on”, as it’s not catching your input or making suggestions before sending it to the program. (You can explicitly set it to do so via menus or shortcuts, but that’s not the default)

I think irrelephant is just saying that it’s kind of obvious why WK does what they do because then people don’t have to install an IME to use the site. If this makes it impossible to use direct kana input, then I think it’s just a calculation they have to make, making it easy for the vast majority is the easy decision. If it’s possible but difficult to allow direct kana input, it still wouldn’t seem to be worth the effort.

You say 1% of people use it, probably just as a way to say “very few,” but I feel like that has got to be an overestimation.

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But I’m saying it’s separate from the system IME, it’s just another method of conversion of characters to kana. I only mentioned system IMEs because you can rebind keys, and for all I knew some system IMEs behaved differently by default. By now I’m even rethinking that, we should really just take system IMEs out of this discussion.

Take a look:

Romaji->kana conversion input

Kana input

I understand what direct kana input is. I work in Japan and the work laptops all have kana input options, with the kana on the keys. But no one uses it, since you have to learn a completely separate touch typing scheme from alphanumeric.


I mean it would be more accessible to have it as a non-default option in the settings maybe? Then again, I don’t think that would be priority number 1 for them currently.

Somehow now my Shift+Caps Lock shortcut is going between hiragana and full width alphanumeric instead of half width alphanumeric… :confused:

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