On what type of keyboard does the average Japanese person type (on their smartphone)?

Hi everyone,
I’m practicing typing some Japanese on my smartphone and it’s going pretty great so far. Nothing major, just trying out a lot of stuff.
When it comes to my smartphone, I found (and use) two different kinds of keyboards:

  1. Rōmaji to Japanese: This is the comfortable one for me. It’s way faster and kind of more handy, too. It works just like the QWERTZ/QWERTY keyboard on your (western) computer.

  2. The Japanese panel one: It’s kind of annoying typing with that and, relatively speaking, takes for ever.

So, naturally, I asked myself which one do native Japanese people use for maximal efficiency in their (busy) day-to-day lives. This would be the one I’d stick to, probably.

Basically what I’m asking is - which is, in your opinion, the best keyboard to type on with your smartphone?

Thanks for any replies and I’m sorry if that is the wrong category, just tell me.

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The best and what most people use (swiping):

Took a while to get used to but it is so much faster and the prediction is good. Also helps you think in kana rather than romaji.


This is the second type I wrote about. For me as a beginner it feels really clunky and Im pretty bad at typing with it. But it make senses that the typical western person may need a while to get used to it and thats why I dislike it for now.

Well, I will go with this one from now on. Thanks for your reply!


Good luck! It will become second nature, just takes a while. You’re probably aware but the vowels are always in the same directions, so you don’t have to look at the kana that appears on hold. Just a quick swipe works.

Meanwhile my project of typing with a Japanese computer keyboard is still on hold :smiley: Man that’s hard…

I think using the Japanese keyboard is much more efficient. It takes a while to get used to, but it’s much easier and as @morteasd said the prediction is good.

A Japanese computer keyboard sounds really intriguing… :thinking:

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As a not beginner but not intermediate, I still can’t use this for anything, I take 10 years to write anything, you just gotta use it to be good, remember the first time you used a keyboard ? bet you looked like an elderly person trying to find E


I tried to get used to it but gave up, but looking at the lightning speed at which Japanese people can use it, I’m convinced it is indeed optimal!


I also like using the kana swipe keyboard. Because of how romaji works, you need two keystrokes for every one kana, whereas with kana swipe you only need to press and swipe for each kana, so it feels like it should be faster in the long run if you practice it. To be fair, I’ve never liked typing on phones so I’m pretty slow either way, but I think if you get used to kana swipe it’ll be faster after you get past the awkwardness. I’m not exactly fast on the kana swipe, but it feels a lot better than the romaji one to me personally.

As for what Japanese people use, I’ve heard that on mobile there are people who use kana swipe and those who prefer the romaji input (there was one of those “Ask Japanese” interviews on youtube about it if I recall correctly, you can probably look it up), so I think you’re justified using whichever one is faster and/or more comfortable for you.


I use this one, the second option op mentioned, too!!
I took some time to get used to it, but the past 2 weeks I’ve used it everyday and my speed is noticeably increasing. In the end, I’m sure I’ll be so much faster than now, that it’s worth the slow start.


For those of us wanting to practice using the kana keyboard, is there a website we can practice on? Like how we had games for using the English keyboard? I would love that!


There are phone apps pretty sure one is called flickuma or something


Ooh thank you, downloading it now!

Yeah I tried doing my BunPro with this but it was taking forever so I gave up. I don’t understand the logic of the kana placement (maybe there is none).

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I heard there is a rhythm game that uses the keyboard but I think it’s only available in the Japan app store :frowning:

Does the flickuma have some kind of timed aspect to it or is it just writing?

I started doing my BunPro with it so that helped a lot. Also a lot of texting with Japanese people :smiley: I’m still not that fast, though.

getting used to it is worth it imo.
twice the chars to type with roman letters means twice the number of typos with my much too big fingers.

So my wife is a native and her work laptop has this keyboard but I’ve never actually seen her use the kana mapping on the keys, just normal IME, I’d be curious if her way is more normal or if more people actually use the kana mapping. I’ve had to use it a few times to help her with stuff and that key between the spacebar and Fn key is infuriating…(especially when you’re not using it to type in Japanese).

learning a keyboard layout takes a while, and you should probably use a learning tool that lets you practice limited character sets (like asdf jkl; for QWERTY).

unfortunately, it’s hard to find these learning tools for the kana keyboard layout.
Best i found is this japanese web kana layout trainer, though it needs an account.
Btw, you can try the layout with an on-screen keyboard.
Also, here are two threads about learning the layout.
Unfortunately that ancient windows learning program didn’t work for me on Win10.

I learned basically 3.5 keyboard layouts (german QWERTZ, english QWERTY, programmer’s dvorak, which i ditched for Neo2), and am looking to learn the Kana layout at some point, just for fun (=

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about 95% of japanese use romaji IME instead of the kana layout on the PC (not mobile).
because otherwise they’d have to learn two layouts when learning to use a PC.
i do estimate the kana layout can be faster in the end, though not by much.


That’s strange, I would have thought that the kana would match up to the corresponding roman letter or even the closest phonetically.

But it looks like it’d be fun to a least learn on.

Re: smartphones, among my friends, women under 35 and men under 30 use flick/kana (フリック入力) , and everyone else is still on the old fashion romaji layout.

Part of why I made KameSame was to force myself to learn the flick/kana keyboard because it’s objectively much faster and one-handleable once you’re used to it

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