Is there a reason I should use a Hiragana keyboard on my phone instead of English characters

To clarify, I’m not talking about writing Japanese in Romaji. It definitely feels easier when using WaniKani and studying grammar to use English characters that switch to hiragana and using the suggestions for kanji.

Are there any reasons to use the hiragana keyboard instead? I definitely can get used to it. But I’m unsure if I’d be wasting my time by doing so.


Hello! I initially just wanted to try and type using Japanese keypad but got hooked when I found the convenience of using it because it gives suggestions of what kanji/common phrases I can use because of predictive language (came preinstalled when adding the language), as typing using A to Z characters does not do so.

I’m only using mobile, so for communicating in Japanese using kanji and kanas, I highly recommend it.

Good luck!


Personally, I like using the Romaji keyboard since the Hiragana keyboard is a bit confusing to me (having barely used it) and it takes a while for me to form sentences using that keyboard over an English one.


It helps you get used to thinking in Japanese kana rather than the English alphabet.


Type in whatever way is easiest for you. I would say the max speed possible with the flick keyboard is probably faster, but you’d have to practice a lot to achieve that. If that doesn’t matter to you so much, just use whichever you prefer.


I’ll have to give it a shot then, I haven’t done much writing on my own so the predictive kanji hadn’t even occurred to me. Thanks!

Also I like your Iroha pfp, currently reading the Oregairu LN because I didn’t get enough after the final season last year.


Makes sense. I took some time before starting WK to get hiragana and katakana down, but I’m definitely not to the point that it’s natural. So incorporating it more sounds good

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I started using it 'cause I liked the idea of bigger, easier to hit, keys. It just seems like a much better design for a mobile keyboard. It will also force you to pay a little more attention to how words are actually “spelled” in kana.

It took a while to get used to, but (on iOS) the Tsurukame app for WaniKani can automatically switch keyboards when you’re entering the reading so I learned to use the flick keyboard while reviewing kanji.

Also, I found it useful to set it to “flick only” in settings, otherwise you have to pause between typing repeating characters like かか


Because the phone screen is teensy.

Most Japanese people use the flick keyboard on their phones, but the romaji keyboard on their computers.

Use whichever keyboard you prefer.

If you care which keyboard the natives use, my Japanese tutor (who is a native) used a romaji keyboard on her phone, but apparently most Japanese people use flick keyboards.

I personally use a flick keyboard because I found it more ‘fun’ — at least once I had got used to it.

On computer I’ve stuck with romaji input - it seems silly to switch when I can touch type at 70+ wpm. No plans to switch anytime soon. I used romaji on phone for a long time as well as well, but finally tried 12 key input a couple of months ago.

Not going to lie the first couple of days were pretty painful and I almost switched back. BUT once I got used to it, I found I preferred it. Because you have to push one key per kana instead of two it is faster. I now find myself annoyed with using romaji even for quick lookups on jisho and switching over, ha.

I don’t think it is essential - I was pretty happy with using romaji input for a long time - so if you don’t feel like going through the learning curve, then I think it’s fine. Whatever gets the job done. But I am glad I switched.

I will mention that I don’t do wanikani reviews on my phone, I use kana input for other things. So it might all be a moot point!

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… You are a life saver.


The reason is purity! Using a hiragana keyboard is the mark of a True Japanese Learner! :face_with_monocle:

P. S. Sorry, just meowing around :cat2:
I neither use nor plan to use hiragana input myself :sweat_smile:


When doing WK, just use an English keyboard, since WK already has a built in conversion to kana.

When writing Japanese on your phone I think it’s easier to use the 9-key flick keyboard. At least I find it more intuitive and more ergonomic. QWERTY layout has a ton of keys and therefore they are much smaller, which makes it more difficult to type. In addition you need to input fewer characters in many cases, e.g. わたし is two taps and one swipe on a flick keyboard but it’s 6 taps with romaji input (w a t a s i).

Yes. It forces you to think in kana, or at the least, to link sounds to kana immediately, and it increases your kana recognition speed. I think that I wouldn’t have become proficient with kana as quickly if I hadn’t forced myself to use a kana keyboard straightaway. I’m still a little slower when it comes to recognising katakana, but I can read hiragana pretty rapidly because I type using them all the time. That aside… I guess you could also call it a cultural experience of sorts? I believe that Japanese people typically use kana keyboards on their phones. I’m not sure what they do on their computers though.

By the way, getting used to the kana keyboard system also means that you ingrain the AIUEO order for vowels into your head – flick input uses A as the default vowel, then starts with I directly above the original key and goes counterclockwise – along with the ‘alphabetical’ order used for kana today. (I think the system is called gojūon, literally ‘fifty sounds’.) All this stuff is useful later on, because it teaches you one of the most common orders for sounds in Japanese – which you can use for hunting for books in Japanese bookstores, for instance – and also has knock-on effects for stuff like learning traditional Japanese grammar: the order for the different verb stems looks completely random at first, but when you notice that for godan verbs, you have these final vowels for the stems:
A – 未然形
I – 連用形
U – 終止形
U – 連体形
E – 仮定形 (modern grammar)・已然形 (classical grammar)
E – 命令形

Well, all of a sudden, the order (for the verb stems) makes a lot more sense.

PS: I’m not sure if it’s actually faster, but then again, my top typing speeds are 70-90WPM on my phone and around 100WPM on my computer, so I might be an outlier in that regard. I definitely recommend it for what it can do for your Japanese though.


I don’t get it. I mean, ignoring the fact that it didn’t not make sense previously (why are English vowels in AEIOU order?), why do they suddenly make sense now?

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I mean, they don’t make logical sense, and I’m not going to pretend they do. However, what I meant is this: if you know that the preferred order in Japanese is ‘AIUEO’, and you need to learn the six stems of traditional grammar, then I think you’ll be thankful that the end vowels appear in the usual preferred order. I was talking about the order in which the stems are organised (which you need to know in order to identify verb forms in dictionary entries), not the vowel order. Sorry if that was unclear. :sweat_smile: Let me fix that in my previous post.

By the way, I have a feeling this order is alphabetical. I haven’t given it much thought in a long time though. Hahaha.


Why are they organised in that order if not because it’s vowel order?

It is, but why’s alphabetical order alphabetical order?

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Oh, maybe that is the basis for the order in which they’re organised, but here’s the thing: the Japanese website I went to that explained what the different verb stems were and how to remember them had some kind of mnemonic that used the fingers of the left hand. I had no idea how that worked or why one would remember, for example, that the pinky represents the 未然形. No mention was made about the vowels that appear in the stem whatsoever, so perhaps the vowel order is not actually important to the people who study these things. In any case, the vowels are irrelevant if the verb concerned is an ichidan verb, so perhaps the writers didn’t want to mention vowels in order to avoid focusing too much on only one of two cases.

However, if you know AIUEO is what Japanese people usually say, then at least you have a system of sorts to use for learning these things. It also helps when you go to a bookstore to know that if the title of the series you’re looking for starts with a せ sound, then it’ll be in the third consonant section (さ row, after the あ row and か row), and that it’ll come after さ, し and す. (This is the order in which these sets of kana appear on the kana keyboard.) I’m not saying that this makes the order itself more rational, but knowing the order exists, and using it so much that it’s second nature, means that you’ll be able to use it to facilitate other Japanese learning tasks that allow you to apply this order.

Historical reasons, maybe. Is it effectively arbitrary though? Yes, and I’m not denying it. All I’m saying is that the habits you can acquire by typing using a kana keyboard can make your life easier, even if you don’t have to use a kana keyboard in order to gain such knowledge.

To be clear, when I said the order ‘makes a lot more sense’, I meant that the order for the verb stems is sensible given the vowel order provided you consider the case of godan verbs, which was not at all mentioned by the source I used to start learning them in order. I wanted to provide an example of how having vowel order knowledge could be useful. Once again, that was not meant to be a statement about how ‘sensible’ the order for the vowels is.


Aye, that’s the thing. It feels a bit to me like you’re using a mnemonic for the order to prove why the order is more logical, except it’s kinda the other way around - the mnemonic is used to create a logical sense to the order, even if it’s only like that purely because it be like that. Basically, I’m just trying to understand the train of your argument that lead you to conclude that the order of stems makes the order of vowels more logical.

Because honestly, if I were to put the verb stems in any particular order, I’d probably go UAEIO. Maybe. U would definitely come first, in any case.

Also the order they appear in the 五十音. The mnemonic I use for that is “Ah, Kana Symbols. Take Note How Many You Remember Well.”