What Does The Japanese Keyboard Look Like? | 5 Types Layouts

Japan is an intriguing nation with a varied culture. The nation’s distinctive traditions and customs make it an exciting tourist destination. There are numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation in this beautiful country. Although it is also known for several mysteries, one of them is “How does the Japanese keyboard look”?

The most widely used Layout in Japan is called the Qwerty Jis Layout. Most of the keys are the same as those on a US keyboard, but some have hiragana labels, some modifier keys have been added, and some keys have been remapped. It is because Japan does not use the same kinds of letters that we do. Therefore, before learning the keyboard, it’s important to understand their script. They write using syllabic Kana, a pair of hiragana syllabaries, and logographic Kanji, symbols that stand in for whole words.

According to the Japanese government, elementary school students must know at least 1,026 symbols, while in high school, they should reach the mark of 2,136. There are at least 50,000 kanjis, most of which are no longer used. Therefore, a keyboard would need to be quite large to accommodate the kanji system’s large number of symbols if one were to be used. Furthermore, it is impossible to determine how to pronounce the words from these logograms. The syllabary is used with the hiragana and katakana, each with 43 characters, so each symbol corresponds to a letter to make writing easier. Japanese keyboards are designed using this concept. Shift, Alt, and other auxiliary keys can activate rare syllables. It is written in hiragana, so there are corresponding kanji options.

How do Japanese keyboard users type?

The western keyboard layout is very similar to the Japanese one, but it adds a layer of Japanese input to facilitate communication between Japanese people. Most Japanese users of Microsoft IME, which changes words into Hiragana, Katakana, or Kinji, are nationals. As an illustration, if you type the R key followed by the S and U keys, it will automatically change to す; since there are no spaces between words in Japanese; pressing the spacebar will initiate a character or word conversation. The word is then converted to Kanji; if the wrong one is chosen, keep pressing the spacebar or use the IME menu to cycle through the options until you find the right one.

Many Japanese people assert that reading takes less time when one knows Kanji than just Hiranaga.

Types of Japanese Keyboard

The varieties of Japanese keyboards are numerous. Several of them are described here.

1. Tron Kana Layout

In the middle of the 1980s, Prof. Ken Sakamura created the Tron Kana layout as part of the Tron keyboard project. There are similarities between the JIS X6004 and the Tron Kana layout, but the latter enables single-stroke typing of Kana characters with a Dakuten.

The Dvorak layout is the default on the Tron keyboard to input the English alphabet. It is surprisingly effective regarding the fewest keystrokes required to type Japanese text. A redesign led to the creation of JIS X6004. Recently, Xiaomi unveiled a mechanical keyboard that is ergonomic and compliant with JIS X6004 standards.

Kana’s arrangement has been optimized for efficiency. The thumbs are placed in the positions for the left and right shifts. Tron uses left and right shifts to input different hiragana.

2. Nicola Layout ( Thumb-Shift )

In the late 1970s, Fujitsu’s Yasunori Kanda and others created the thumb-shift arrangement. Japanese word processors helped Nicola gain much traction in the 1980s, and it still has a sizable user base today. By giving the left and right shift keys separate cases, it can fit about 90 Japanese Kana characters in just three rows. More Kana characters must be typed using this configuration by pressing the shift key while simultaneously pressing the character key with the same hand. Kanda and others relocated the shift keys to the center of the keyboard, where the space bar would typically be. This shift key position is where the name of the Layout originates.

The Nicola specifications define t

Three types of layouts:

  • The backspace key should go after the Fujitsu OASYS word processor, type F, and be next to the semicolon key.
  • Based on the Qwerty (JIS) Layout, type J.
  • Type A based on the US Qwerty keyboard.

Simultaneously pressing the shift key at the opposite end and the Kana character key makes it possible to type Kana characters with a Dakuten in the Nicola layout.

3. Stickney Next Layout

Stickney’s Layout served as the foundation for a brand-new Kana layout for Nisse known as the Stickney Next Layout. Burnham Coos Stickney’s 1923 invention is the basis for the current Japanese JIS standard Kana layout. The following design elements were prioritized in the original Stickney layout and are still reasonable today:

  • Ease of learning; the majority of the keys in the various groups correspond to the Katakana alphabet’s letter orders.
  • The second and third banks will be where most of the typing is done.
  • The root character is typed with one hand, while the Japanese diacritic sign, dakuten, is typed with the other.

Unfortunately, due to historical reasons, the current JIS Kana layout no longer effectively reflects many of Stickney’s original design intentions and is not commonly used in daily life. The Stickney Next layout maintains Stickney’s original design intentions while moving nine Kana characters to more appropriate locations and removing two others no longer used in modern Japanese. The common Japanese JIS layout is electronic compatibility with the Stickney Next Layout.

4. M-type Layout

Dr. Masasuke Morita of NEC created the M-type Layout in 1983, along with very clever, ergonomic keyboards. In the 1980s, Dr. Morita created many standard designs for modern ergonomic keyboards. To input Japanese Kana characters, M-type primarily uses Romaji. Consonant characters, on the other hand, are organized following the Japanese alphabet. For Japanese speakers, it is therefore not too difficult to remember the key Layout. Remember that until the Japanese word processor was developed in 1978, English typewriters were not commonly used in Japan. Dr. Morita believed that one of the most crucial considerations in designing the Japanese keyboard was the ease of learning. Although NEC had been selling them for about 20 years, M-type ergonomic keyboards are no longer on the market.

5. JIS X6004 Layout

JIS X6004 is a Japanese industrial standard Kana layout developed in 1986 to fix several issues with the out-of-date JIS standard Kana layout. Despite having an excellent technical design for professional typists, JIS X6004 was dropped as a JIS standard in 1999 due to poor market acceptance. It employs the prefix shift technique, which involves pressing, holding down, and releasing the Kana character key for the desired shift case before choosing it. In JIS X6004, a distinct Dakuten key is employed in key selection to select the same Kana character case, in contrast to Nicola Layout.

Jis X6004 allows substituting a space bar with a shift key in the keyboard’s middle. The same typing technique can be used in Japanese and English with this JIS X6004 configuration because white space characters are used much less frequently in Japanese than in English. The current JIS standard Kana layout can be considered a Japanese Dvorak layout and JIS X6004 as a Qwerty layout. As it becomes very simple to scan and analyze large Japanese texts and n-grams, the technical design of the X6004 has been reassessed favorably. Even though JIS X6004 is no longer an official JIS standard, it is still in use, and enthusiasts are developing its variations.


1. What keyboards are used in Japan?

Answer. The most widely used Layout in Japan is the Qwerty JIS Layout, to be precise.It is essentially identical to the US keyboard. Kana can be typed using English keyboards; if necessary, a key can be set to convert the previous Kana to Kanji. Two keystrokes are required for each Kana (two English letters).

2. Are keyboards in Japan different?

Answer. Some keyboards have a separate numerical pane, while others don’t. It depends on the laptop or keyboard model. On the other hand, Japanese keyboards also use the standard Qwerty version with additional characters to help locals with their input methods.

3. How do I get a Japanese keyboard on Windows 10?

Answer. To install a Japanese keyboard on Windows 10, adhere to these steps:

  • Select Settings from the Start menu by clicking on it.
  • Check out Time and Language.
  • Select a language in the left menu.
  • Pick Add a language from the list of your preferred languages.
  • When Japanese is found, type it in the search bar, click to select it, and then click the Next button.

4. Do Japanese people type with Romaji?

There are two primary ways to type in Japanese to answer your question. Using the Roman alphabet to write Japanese words, one uses a Kana keyboard, while the other uses Romaji. The romaji input method is the simplest way to get started for most Japanese language learners.


I sincerely hope that this article was enlightening for you. Your reading caught my attention, which was nice to see. Please share your opinions about the Japanese keyboard in the space provided below. See you again soon!

Leave a Comment