Should I use a Japanese keyboard?

My laptop keyboard is kind of falling appart, so I need to buy a new one soon.
I know, that there are different keyboard layouts for my type of laptop, so I could actually buy a Japanes one in order to get used to it. I type about 1 hour a day in Japanese (WK reviews), so there is plenty of time to practice it.

I’m planing to go to Japan for at least 1 or 2 years after my master (this will be in about 1.5 years or so). Until then I plan to use this keyboard for a) learning Japanese and b) my study. Actually I do live in Germany, so we have also ä,ö,ü on the keyboard, but because my master is entirely in English, I won’t need this keys anymore.

Which experience did you make? Is it a neccessary skill in Japan to be able to write on a Japanes keyboard or is romaji input comfortable as well? Is it maybe required by the typical Japanese employer?


Almost all Japanese people use the romaji entry method.


Japanese children are taught wa-puro romaji in 3rd grade. I don’t know any Japanese who use kana input. But since a Japanese keyboard will have both, I guess you could always go for the option if you think it’s cool.


@Tjorven I have a question related to your question – while I think noone uses kana input on their PCs, Most Japanese that I see using their phones will use the flick input. I’ve never been able to get my head around it so I type using romaji input on my phone, and I find it’s just as fast (which annoys my girlfriend as when she borrows my phone as it takes a few more button pushes to get to flick on my phone since I don’t use it.).

tl;dr can you actually type faster using flick over romaji input, comparing to how fast you type in your native language?

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Whaat? Japanese people don’t use the kana-input on their keyboards?!?! This is quite shocking for me!
Okey, than I think I won’t buy a Japanese keyboard …

@kyledoyle currently I’m using handwriting input to do my KaniWani reviews. This way I train the EN-JP translation plus I learn how to write the kanji. But when I was a kid and the mobile phones had no touchscreen, I was quite good at flick input. I think, when I need to write faster on my mobile phone, I’ll choose the flick input.

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I special ordered my last macbook with a japanese keyboard, and never use the kana input (albeit, I am not a native japanese person, and was already accustomed to using romaji input on my US keyboards).

Nonetheless, if I had to do it again, I would not order the JP keyboard. The non-standard placement of punctuation symbols (which I’ve slowly adjusted to) makes for some difficulty in other tasks like programming and such. And, when I connect via remote desktop to my work computer, the keys automatically map to the US variants, meaning the punctuation/special characters are not in sync with what’s on my keyboard… thank goodness I am a great touch-typist, otherwise I would be in a world of hurt. All caveats/gotchas that will prevent me from getting another Japanese keyboard in the future. Too bad I usually keep my Macbooks for 7+ years.

I DO find the kana/“flick” input on phones to be far superior to romaji input, however.


Romaji keyboarding is probably the way to go. Not to discourage anybody from kana input, but the idea of regularly using the upper number keys sounds terrible. However, I prefer kana input on the phone and I’m envious that their syllabary is more convenient on phones than the tiny alphabet letters that we have to touch on our screens.

As a fan of speed typing, I recommend to practice Japanese typing. It really helps to be able to train your usage of the IME on there.


Japanese people also have to type western alphabet letters from time to time, be it to write in other languages, or to type names that are not usually written in kana (e.g. company names, acronyms, initials, Latin species names, etc.).

If they type with kana keyboard, then they basically have to learn two systems: the qwerty-system and the kana system. This is much more complex than learning one system. Furthermore, using the kana keyboard will not significantly increase their typing speed compared to qwerty-keyboard since they still in many cases have to convert the kana to kanji (e.g. by using the drop down selection menu).

Any “training methods” , game, or app to get better at the flick?

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This is awesome thanks man.
My time is 27 characters per minute. Hence the reason for never using flick hahaha. Hopefully I can get better by using this app

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I tried it, and do you really have to press enter after every single word when typing Japanese or am I being stupid and overlooking something? Because if that is the case, it`s just … Unbearable.

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Sadly, that is how that website works. I guess it’s just something I got use to and didn’t think too much about it. If you are okay with that though, I would still recommend it.

When actually typing Japanese, you do not have to press enter after every word. You often have to press enter when you get done typing a sentence or maybe confirming the choice of kanji or katakana to use after pressing space how ever many times that you needed to.

Generally you just confirm anything that you type by pressing enter, but 10fastfingers definitely goes overboard with the amount of enter presses required.

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I type in Japanese everyday, so I’m pretty used with it. And that is the reason I… just… can’t… do… it. I guess if you don’t type in Japanese regularly yet, you can train yourself to press enter. But once you are already used with it, there is no way back… It’s very frustrating.

About pressing enter, I understand that many people think they need to press it to confirm their input after choosing the correct kanji with the space bar, but you really don’t need it. If you start typing the next word, your IME will consider your current selection as the definitive one and will just move on. The only time you need to press Enter is in the end of a sentence, because there is nothing else left to be typed.

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