Typing kanji on an iPhone


Apologies for what is definitely a very obvious beginner question but I’m not the most high-tech guy in the world and I’m really struggling to work this one out. I installed the Japanese keyboard on my iPhone and it pops up as a grid of nine hiragana. I know how to click on each hiragana character to (slowly) type words in hiragana and I can change them to katakana too. But if I’m trying to add simple kanji to a sentence I’m typing (in, say, Whatsapp), I have no idea how. :frowning:

For example, if I want to type 先生 (which I’ve just copied and pasted!), how would I do that? The only way I can find is to type each hiragana in (せんせい) and then it offers me the kanji. Is there a quicker way I’m missing or is this just how typing on a phone works? Is this how a Japanese person would do it?

Sorry, I know this is all over the internet but I’ve googled a whole bunch of sites and just can’t seem to figure it out.


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Yep, that’s how typing on the phone works. And yeah, that’s how Japanese people usually type on phones too (they tend to use romaji keyboards on computers, though). You’ll be able to type faster once you get more used to the keyboard.

Incidentally, just to check, you’re aware that you can flick on each key to get the different kana, right? That’s why it’s called a flick keyboard. It’s not a matter of pushing each key multiple times.


Wow, okay. Thank you. I assumed I must be doing something wrong because it was quite cumbersome but that is just my slowness/unfamiliarity then. I will just keep practicing with the keyboard, in that case! Thanks again for the response. Stops me dwelling on whether there is some kind of great secret! :slight_smile:

Oh my keyboard is a Japanese one but it is qwerty much like a real Japanese keyboard. You press the qwerty keys and up pops kana and then that automatically tends to suggest the kanji if there is any for example. When I want to type 学生 I’d press the keys “g a k u s e i” on my keyboard and がくせい would appear on the screen. I can then select the kanji in the grey box that suggests words to you.

The keyboard is called 日本語ローマ字

Thanks for this. It’s definitely much more like what I’m looking for. I have got that option showing and when I click it on it, it comes back up with the same twelve-character grid with the hiragana on it. There’s an option for roman letters but when I try to type them in, the things it offers are not kana. :frowning: I feel like I’m missing something really obvious, sorry!

This is what it looks like:

That’s the English page of the flick keyboard.

If you want a full romaji keyboard, it’s a completely separate keyboard - like @Nyanzai14 pointed out, you need to go back into the keyboard options and install the 日本語ローマ字 keyboard.

Japanese people tend not to use that on a phone, though, because the screen’s so teensy.

I know I’m being an absolute dope here and missing the most blindingly obvious thing and I apologise (I’ve only ever used an English keyboard before) but I think I did install the 日本語ローマ字 keyboard? However, what comes up when I click it is the twelve-character keyboard (see below). What am I doing wrong? :frowning:

You installed 日本語かな. Not 日本語ローマ字. Spot the difference. :stuck_out_tongue:

Go back into Settings, hit “Add Keyboard” and then the Japanese button again, and it should give you the option to install the Romaji keyboard.

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AAAAAAAAAH. THANK YOU. It works! It finally works! Now I can type “sensei” (in romaji) and get 先生 !

That’s exactly what I hoped existed. ありがとう!!! :slight_smile:


This thread actually gave me an incentive to try to use the 日本語かな keyboard instead of the ローマ字 one. I have to say that writing is definitely slow at first, but I can see how somebody could become really fast with this.


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