How to Display and Type Japanese on Your Computer

by Jason Yamaguchi

1. Displaying Japanese Characters:

    If you have Japanese systems installed on your computer, it will be easy to display Japanese characters.  Even if you don't have Japanese systems installed on your computer, most browsers nowadays can display Japanese characters very easily if you just follow the procedures below

        For Internet Explorer:

            1. Go to "View", and then "Encoding",

            2. Select "Japanese (Auto Select)"

        For Netscape or Firefox:

            1. Go to "View", and then "Character Encoding",

            2. Select "Auto-Detect", and then "Japanese"

2. Typing Japanese Words in Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji

Microsoft Global IME (downloadable at let you input Chinese, Japanese, and Korean text into Microsoft Word documents, Web forms, and e-mail messages on any language version of Windows 98, Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0, and other operating systems.  This program is our endorsement, and is the most convenient to use.  If you would like to try for other software or programs, please see our resources section..

Please follow the steps:

1. Switch the mode into Japanese

2. You use “romaji”, or English letters, to type Japanese. There are some tricky ones you need to know―:

・ Type ‘nn’ for ‘ん’. For example type ‘sennsei’ for ‘せんせい’ and ‘mikann’ for ‘みかん’.
・ Type ‘wo’ for the particle ‘を’.
・ Type the following consonant twice for small ‘っ’. For example type ‘itta’ for ‘いった’ and ‘gakkou’ for ‘がっこう’.
・ Type ‘ha’ and ‘he’ for the particle ‘は’ and the particle ‘へ’ respectively.
・ For the long vowel sign ‘ー’ type – (hyphen). If “ー” doesn’t appear, press the “Space” key to choose the right one.

3. If you want hiragana for the word, type the word and press the “Enter” key. For example, type ‘neko’ and press the “Enter” key for ‘ねこ’.

4. If you want katakana for the word, type the word in hiragana and press “F7” key. The hiragana word will change into highlighted katakana word. If it’s correct, press the “Enter” key to confirm.

If you need to write everything in katakana, click on ‘あ’ in the Japanese mode box and click on ‘Full-width Katakana’. This will change everything you type into katakana. Make sure to set it back to Hiragana mode after you type the katakana word you need.

5. If you want kanji for the word, type the word and press the “Space” key. If the kanji that appears first is the right one, press the “Enter” key. If the first one is not the right one, press the “Space” key again. Your computer will come up with a list of kanji with the reading you typed in. Choose the right one by pressing the “Space” key until the right one is highlighted and then press the “Enter” key. For example, for ‘朝’ type ‘asa’ and press the “Space” key. If the first one that appears is ‘朝’, press the “Enter” key. If the first one is not ‘朝’, press the “Space” key. There will be a list with ‘朝’‘阿佐’‘麻’‘安佐’‘アサ’‘あさ’ and more. Use the “Space” key to choose the right one and then press the “Enter” key.

6. Number related words come in a variation such as ‘一月’‘1月’ and ‘三人’‘3人’. Press the “Space” key, choose the one you need and press the “Enter” key.

7. If you need Roman capital letters such as ‘CD’ and ‘NSW’, press the “Shift” key while you type the desired letters.

So far we have learnt how to type a single word. You can do the same to write a sentence but that would be too bothersome and you usually don’t do that.

8. When you write sentences/passages, you usually keep typing until you finish either a clause or a sentence and then check each word. Let’s try to write ‘私は明日シドニーへ行きます。’.

Make sure the mode is in the Japanese mode.

Type ‘watasihaasitasidoni-heikimasu.’.

If you typed it right, you should have ‘わたしはあしたしどにーへいきます。’.

Press the “Space” key and see what happens. The sentence should be converted to either ‘私は明日シドニーへ行きます。’ (or ‘私は明日シドニーへ行きます。’). If the whole sentence looks fine, then press the “Enter” key. You have ‘私は明日シドニーへ行きます。’ without the underline, which means the sentence is confirmed.

If you want to modify a part or some parts of the sentence such as ‘私は’ to ‘わたしは’ and ‘明日’ to ‘あした’, you can do so by pressing the “Space” key. The part with the thick underline (or the high-lighted part) is the part that you can change.

If you press the “Space” key when the thick underline is at ‘私は’ (or when ‘私は’ is high-lighted), a box listing words such as ‘わたしは’‘私は’‘渡しは’‘ワタシハ’ will appear. Press the “Space” key to choose the right one and then press the arrow key “→” to move the thick underline to the next part.

Do the same to the next part. i.e. Press the “Space” key when the thick underline is at ‘明日’ (or when ‘明日’ is high-lighted) to get a box listing words such as ‘あした’‘明日’‘朝’‘アシタ’ to appear. Press the “Space” to choose the right one and then press the arrow key “→” to move the thick underline to the next part.)

Now you have ‘わたしはあしたシドニーへ行きます。’and you want to confirm the sentence as it appears. Press the “Enter” key to confirm and you will have ‘わたしはあしたシドニーへ行きます。’ without an underline.

Here is the summary:
・The “Space” key is used to get a word list box for the thick-underlined part (or the high-lighted part) and to scroll to and highlight the right word.
・The arrow key “→” is used to move back and forth to the next part. 
・The “Enter” key is used to confirm the whole sentence.

Inputting “Ruby (Hiragana reading)” to Kanji

“Ruby” is the small font hiragana reading that you put above kanji (にほんご日本語) and this comes in handy when you are preparing materials for middle to later years students.

1. Open a new document on MS Word and creat a shortcut for “Phonetic guide” on the task bar. Go to “Tools” and click on “Customize”. A dialogue box appears. If you click on the “Commands” tab, two menu boxes will appear as follows. High-light “Format” in the left hand box first and then scroll down the right hand box and high-light “Phoenetic Guide”. Drag it to where you want it in the task bar area (Keep pressing down the left click button while you move the arrow, point it to where you want it and release it).

2. High-light the kanji you want to put ruby on and click on the “Phonetic Guide” icon in the task bar.
3. A dialogue box will appear.

“Base text” is the original kanji and “Ruby text” is the reading for the kanji. If the reading is fine, then click on “OK” to confirm.

Most of the time the reading that the machine comes up with is fine but sometimes it’s not.

If the reading is not what you want, then delete the “Ruby text” text and type in what you want, and then click on OK.

You can change the size and font type of the Ruby text as well.

4. You can do the same to a whole sentence, or even a short paragraph. The procedure is basically the same as for individual kanji words but you have a series of “Base text” boxes and “Ruby text” boxes. Scroll down and check all the “Ruby text”. Make alterations where needed. Be careful with katakana words because this ruby function gives hiragana readings to all katakana words as you can see below. If you don’t need it, you can delete it.

Table 1 Hiragana

Obsolete kana are shown in red

a i u e o (ya) (yu) (yo)
ka ki ku ke ko きゃ kya きゅ kyu きょ kyo
sa shi su se so しゃ sha しゅ shu しょ sho
ta chi tsu te to ちゃ cha ちゅ chu ちょ cho
na ni nu ne no にゃ nya にゅ nyu にょ nyo
ha hi fu he ho ひゃ hya ひゅ hyu ひょ hyo
ma mi mu me mo みゃ mya みゅ myu みょ myo
ya   yu   yo  
ra ri ru re ro りゃ rya りゅ ryu りょ ryo
わ wa ゐ wi   ゑ we を o/wo  
ga gi gu ge go ぎゃ gya ぎゅ gyu ぎょ gyo
za ji zu ze zo じゃ ja じゅ ju じょ jo
da ji zu de do  
ba bi bu be bo びゃ bya びゅ byu びょ byo
pa pi pu pe po ぴゃ pya ぴゅ pyu ぴょ pyo

Table 2 Katakana

Kana in red are obsolete

ア a イ i ウ u エ e オ o  
カ ka キ ki ク ku ケ ke コ ko キャ kya キュ kyu キョ kyo
サ sa シ shi ス su セ se ソ so シャ sha シュ shu ショ sho
タ ta チ chi ツ tsu テ te ト to チャ cha チュ chu チョ cho
ナ na ニ ni ヌ nu ネ ne ノ no ニャ nya ニュ nyu ニョ nyo
ハ ha ヒ hi フ fu ヘ he ホ ho ヒャ hya ヒュ hyu ヒョ hyo
マ ma ミ mi ム mu メ me モ mo ミャ mya ミュ myu ミョ myo
ヤ ya   ユ yu   ヨ yo  
ラ ra リ ri ル ru レ re ロ ro リャ rya リュ ryu リョ ryo
ワ wa ヰ wi   ヱ we ヲ wo  
  ン n  
ガ ga ギ gi グ gu ゲ ge ゴ go ギャ gya ギュ gyu ギョ gyo
ザ za ジ ji ズ zu ゼ ze ゾ zo ジャ ja ジュ ju ジョ jo
ダ da ヂ ji ヅ zu デ de ド do  
バ ba ビ bi ブ bu ベ be ボ bo ビャ bya ビュ byu ビョ byo
パ pa ピ pi プ pu ペ pe ポ po ピャ pya ピュ pyu ピョ pyo
Modern additions to the katakana. These are used mainly to represent the sounds in words in other languages.
  イェ ye  
  ウィ wi   ウェ we ウォ wo
ヴァ va ヴィ vi ヴ vu ヴェ ve ヴォ vo
  シェ she  
  ジェ je  
  チェ che  
  ティ ti トゥ tu  
  テュ tyu  
  ディ di ドゥ du  
  デュ dyu  
ツァ tsa ツィ tsi   ツェ tse ツォ tso
ファ fa フィ fi   フェ fe フォ fo
  フュ fyu  

Notes: ・ For small ‘ァ・ィ・ゥ・ェ・ォ’ type ‘x’ or ‘l’ before each vowel. For example type ‘xa’ or ‘la’ for small ‘ァ’ and ‘xo’ or ‘lo’ for small ‘ォ’. These small ‘ァ・ィ・ゥ・ェ・ォ’ are used for writing foreign words such as ‘ファーム - farm’ , ‘ウェブ - web’ and ‘フォード - Ford’.
・You can use ‘x’ or ‘l’ for small ‘ゃ・ゅ・ょ’as well. For example type ‘xya’ or ‘lya’ for small ‘ゃ’ and ‘xyo’ or ‘lyo’ for small ‘ょ’. But you don’t usually need to use this because these small ‘ゃ・ゅ・ょ’ are used in contracted sounds such as ‘きゃ’ and ‘にゃ’. See “Table 2” for how to type these.
・Some people use ‘ヴ’ for the ‘v’ sound such as ‘ヴィクトリア – Victoria’ and ‘ヴィオラ - viola’. Type ‘vu’ for ‘ヴ’.

3. Resources

UnionWay ( provides AsianSuite, a suite of multilingual Windows applications which run on any of Microsoft Windows products and supports for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean language on Windows. It also has a multilingual P2P software.

NJSTAR ( from Australia provides NJWIN - CJK multilingual support systems and Japanese Word Processors for different operating systems.

TWINBRIDGE's ( Japanese Partner allows Japanese characters to be processed in any Windows based applications. Now supports Unicode.

Web Hosting by Autopen Web Hosting