Processing Japanese characters on non-Japanese systems: this is a brief overview on how to input Japanese characters under Windows and Macintosh OSX.

  • Japanese Input under Windows Vista and Windows 7
  • Japanese Input under Windows 8
  • Japanese Input under Windows XP
  • Japanese Input under Macintosh OSX
  • Software for Japanese Input

Japanese Input on Windows Vista and Windows 7

Changing Region and Language settings

Either click the Start button and enter "input" or click the "Change keyboards or other input methods" option in the Control Panel.


Changing Keyboards

On the top of the "Region and Language" window, you will find four tabs. Choose "Keyboards and Languages" and click the "Change keyboards" button.


Adding a Japanese Keyboard

You will now see the screen shown below. Click the "Add" button to add Japanese input capability to your Windows 7 system.


Adding Japanese Microsoft IME

After clicking the "Add" button on the window above the screen displayed below will show. Scroll down and select "Japanese". In the Keyboard section choose "Microsoft IME" and click "OK".


Running Japanese Programmes under Vista and Windows 7

You will now be able to input Japanese characters under Windows Vista and Windows 7. If you would also like to install and run Japanese programmes, you will need 100% Japanese support. To achieve that click the tap labelled "Administrative" in the "Region and Language" window. Clicking this tab will display the tab shown below.


Click on the "Change system locale…" button and select "Japanese (Japan)".

Selecting Japanese Input Type

You can now test your Japanese character input capabilities in text editors, graphics software or Windows Office. Open the programme, open a new file or document and click it with your cursor. This will activate the Language Bar which is usually docked in the Taskbar but can optionally be displayed floating freely on your desktop.


Click "EN English" and then select "JP Japanese (Japan)".


Changing the Language Bar settings

If you want to change the display of your Language Bar by switching to another language, click the ツール (tools) tab, then select プロティ (properties). The image below illustrates the Language Bar options and properties available.


Typing in Japanese

As mentioned above you can now type Japanese characters in any application. Once you have selected "JP Japanese (Japan)" in your Language Bar, you can also select the Japanese input mode. In case it is not selected by default, choose "Hiragana".


Once you have selected the Hiragana input mode, you can type Japanese characters using English letters. In the example below, we show you how to type 東京 (Tokyo).


  1. Type the letters "to".
  2. The English letters "to" will immediately be converted into the Hiragana "と".
  3. The word "Tokyo" ("toukyou") will be rendered into the Hiragana "とうきょう".
  4. In your application, the Hiragana word will now appear underlined. Do not put any spaces between the characters. If you hit the "Enter" key, the selected (underlined) characters will be converted into Kanji. In case there is more than one type of Kanji available you will be presented with a drop down box from where you can select the correct Kanji character.

Japanese Language Bar shortcuts

  • ALT + SHIFT => change language
  • ALT + ~ => change input type (Hiragana, Alpha-numeric)
  • F7 => Full width katakana
  • F8 => Half-width katakana
  • F9 => Full width alphanumeric
  • F10 => Half-width alphanumeric (standard English text)

Japanese Input under Windows 8

The procedure to install IME under Windows 8 corresponds to the Windows 7 outline above:
  • Click Settings, then Control Panel on the Desktop and click Add a Language under "Clock, Language and Region."
  • Click ENG on the language bar on the bottom right of your desktop and select "Japanese Microsoft IME". You will see the same options as under Windows 7, [A] for English characters and [あ] for kana input.

Japanese Input under Windows XP

Regional and Language Settings

Go to the Control Panel and select "Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options", then click "Regional and Language Options".


Installing East Asian Languages

Click the "Language" tab in the "Regional and Language Options" window.


Next, check the "Install files for East Asian Languages" option and click "Apply".


Enabling East Asian Languages in all applications

To enable East Asian languages in non-Unicode applications click the "Advanced" tab, check "Japanese" under "Code page conversion tables" and click "Apply".


It will now be possible to run Japanese software and type Japanese characters in almost all applications provided they support Japanese.


In case you install Western programmes that do not support Japanese you will have to change your locale to English, reboot, install the software and change the locale back to Japanese.

Adding Japanese Language Input

After rebooting access the "Regional and Language Options" control panel, go to the "Languages" tab and click the "Details…" button under "Text services and input languages". The following screen will appear.


Click the "Add" button and set the input language to Japanese.


Click "OK" and next "Key Settings…" under the "Text Services and Input Languages" screen.


Select "Switch between input languages" and pick "Change Key Sequence…".


It is recommended to turn both options, "Switch input languages" and "Switch keyboard layouts", off to avoid switching between the two languages accidentally.


Using the Japanese Input Method Editor (IME)

Please refer to the paragraph "Selecting Japanese Input Type" under the "Windows 7″ section above.

Japanese Character Input & Shortcuts

Please refer to the paragraphs "Typing in Japanese" and "Japanese Language Bar shortcuts" under the "Windows 7″ section above.

Japanese Input on Macintosh OSX

International Options

Click on the "International" icon under System Preferences or search for "international".


Adding Japanese to the Input Menu

You will find three tabs on the top of the International window: "Language", "Formats" and "Input Menu". Click the Input Menu tab and check the "Kotoeri" and "Hiragana" (they should be checked by default). By selecting "Hiragana", you will also be able to use "Katakana", "Romaji" and "Full-width Romaji"; however, if you intend to use Half-width Katakana, you will have to check that option as well.


Switching to Japanese Input Mode

Click the U.S. flag icon on the top right of your desktop and change to Japanese input mode by selecting "Hiragana". The flag icon will now change to a Hiragana icon.


Typing Japanese with English Letters

You will now be able to type Japanese characters in all your application by using English letters. Please refer to the paragraph "Typing in Japanese" under the "Windows 7″ section for more details on how to type in Japanese.

OSX Language Shortcuts

  • option + ~ => change language
  • option + x => convert to full-width katakana
  • option + a => convert to half-width katakana (if the option is checked under "Input Menu")
  • option + s => convert to half-width romaji (standard English text)
  • option + c => convert to full-width romaji
  • option + tab => browse through all input modes

Software for Japanese Input

Below you find a list of handy tools enabling you to view and process Japanese on non-Japanese computer systems. We will continually update this page.

  1. Windows Systems
    • AsiaSurf: a multilingual software driver supporting CJK, similar to NJWin (US$ 69.00)
    • J-Text Pro: a Japanese word processor for Windows, supports email, includes a KanjiReader, TrueType Fonts and character tables
    • JReader: provides a PC operating under MS-DOS with the capability to read and display a text file containing Japanese characters (kana & kanji), with the option of looking up the displayed words in a Japanese/English dictionary file or a kanji-to-kana yomikata file
    • JWPce: free Japanese word processor, enhanced version of JWP
    • Microsoft Global IME: Microsoft Global Input Method Editors offer Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) language support for Word 2000 documents, web-based forms and emails, work with Windows 9x, Windows NT, OfficeXP, Vista and Windows 7 (free)
    • NJStar: Japanese Word processor 4.33 supporting Unicode RTF, HTML editing; E < => J dictionary, bilingual menu, file conversions (EUC, Shift-JIS, New-JIS, Old-JIS, NEC-JIS), double-byte editing etc. (Basic version US$ 99.00, Pro US$ 199.00, ProPlus US$ 299.00)
  2. Macintosh Systems

If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We are looking forward to your feedback! If you are interested in finding more language-related online resources, proceed here.