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

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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I’m too old to start using a new input system, after I’ve spent more than half my life training my muscle memory on qwerty keyboards. Predictive input isn’t just a feature of flick keyboards so I’d rather use a system I’m already familiar with that I can type very quickly in. It’s like how I skipped learning to handwrite. I picked what to prioritize in my studies so I could progress the fastest. I tried for a long time to get used to the flick keyboard but I just can’t do it as fast as qwerty and was unwilling to put anymore time into something that was obviously not helping.

For anyone looking for Japanese IME practice I am working on an iOS app named Jankey. The common reply I heard when I asked about practice was “just use Notes” (or similar). That didn’t really work for me. Writer’s block is real in my native language and worse in one I’m learning. I also fall into using the same few characters over and over since I know the location best.

Jankey provides a small batch of text (5 items) to type and keeps track of your personal best. If you enable Game Center (lower right icon) it will add you to a global leader board. That was more about me exploring Game Center APIs and is not required. I have a rough beta awaiting review by Apple right now. Install the TestFlight app from Apple and visit https://testflight.apple.com/join/Ld7q0hY3 to sign up as a tester if you would like to try it. Feedback appreciated here or “matt at mzsanford dot com”.


I’d really love to give your app a shot since it’s annoying to switch keyboards all the time while using WK. I use an Android phone though and switching to an old iOS Device would do no good for me personally, at least for the time being.

Any chance you will do an Android version if you find success with Jankey? If so, I’m sure the community (or at least me lol) would be thankful to hear about it.

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I made the switch to the flick keyboard for anki (on my phone at least) a while back and I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with it, but I’ve noticed one little annoyance that there’s probably a solution for that I don’t know about: when I try to type something like なな, with two あ-ending kana in a row, I can’t just press な twice quickly to write it, because it cycles through to に instead, so I end up clicking off of the kana so I can enter it separately. Anyone figured out a more efficient way to write stuff like that?

I actually have both on my phone (if you use ios you can switch between both freely). However, I’ve noticed that the inputs using the romanji are actually a bit different compared to what you input on WaniKani. It can get a little annoying at times, so I usually just stick to the kana keyboard.

If you go into your keyboard settings, you can turn on “flick only”. This will prevent you from cycling through all the kana when you repeatedly press a key. If you forget which direction to “flick” then just hold down the key and all the kana will pop up.


Is there a specific keyboard you’re using? I just have the samsung japanese keyboard, and I’m not seeing any setting like that (unless I’m missing it entirely which is totally possible)

That’s how it works for the Google 12-key Japanese keyboard on Android. Does Google offer keyboards for iOS users? :thinking:

It’s kind of been answered already and it’s an old question now, but I remember seeing a different thread with a survey of what most Japanese people use.

  • On PC - Romaji input is the large majority
  • On phone - Something like 60% kana flick, 40% romaji, but trending towards the flick keyboard

I can attest to romaji on a phone being quite tedious and annoying, but I use romaji for WK because switching keyboards is even worse.

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Actually also I have a question about the flick keyboard too:

Is there a better way to type the ー character on the flick keyboard other than going all the way to the ☆ section of the emojis? As I said, I’m using Google’s version.

Not sure if it’s the same for yours, but for me it’s the right flick on わ.

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Aaahhhhh, THANK YOU!! :smile::+1:

Now that you’ve told me, I don’t know why I didn’t find that myself… :sweat_smile:

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There should be a right arrow somewhere on the keyboard. If you press that after the first な then your second tap will start a new kana instead of cycling through. So type な, right arrow, な then you end up with なな instead of に.


Even in my Japanese office at work, the keyboard is romaji style so I type Japanese all day via romaji so using the same romaji style keyboard on my phone is easier for me. I’m lazy so I never felt like dedicating the time to get used to the kana swipe style that Japanese people use, and this was a good excuse for me to just stick to a romaji keyboard too lol.

I have ALWAYS wondered this! Thank you for asking. I also find the second kind clunky, but see now how it might be easier with practice. I just don’t really have anybody to text in Japanese to lol