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Learning The Japanese Keyboard

#1
I used to use the 101/102 Standard keyboard with Japanese IME support. However, I just received my very first Japanese keyboard displaying the new 106/109-key layout. I can say that it was very difficult setting up the drivers to use it, however, once done it became very simple. Although, I ran into a new problem. Where do I locate typing-tutor/touch-practice computer software for my new Japanese keyboard? I've been told that Japanese people don't use the Japanese keyboard regularly, but use the romaji input method instead with an IME. That may be well and good, but only detours my issue at hand rather than solve for it.

Japanese "keyboard" touch-type practice tutor software (pref for windows vista);
どこですか? "Where is it?"

If you simply don't know, best to simply say so.


Props to anyone who can shed some light on the location, pricing, etc for this elusive software. If you have any questions about how to install and use a Japanese keyboard, I can answer those questions.

THREE THINGS YOU MUST HAVE IN ORDER TO OPERATE YOUR JAPANESE KEYBOARD CORRECTLY ON ENGLISH WINDOWS OS.
1) A Japanese keyboard
[Image: i9g4.jpg]

2) Japanese PS/2 106/109 Keyboard Driver
[Image: 7iq8.jpg]

3) Microsoft IME (Input Method Editor)
[Image: 3guh.png]

*each image has a corresponding link to show you where you may purchase a Japanese keyboard, how to change keyboard drivers, and how to install and configure Microsoft IME.*

Japanese Keyboard FAQ
Q: "I have a Japanese keyboard but some of the symbols don't work, the ろ key doesn't function, is associated to the 半角/全角 key."
A: Keyboard Driver has not been changed from Standard 101/102 PS/2 to Japanese 106/109 PS/2

Q: "Doesn't the Japanese Keyboard automatically install drivers when you plug it in?"
A: YES. However, Windows will automatically install Standard Keyboard 101/102 drivers instead of Japanese 106/109 drivers. You have to manually update the driver, manually search for in the drivers list, and update-install it yourself.

Q: "I have my Japanese keyboard, drivers updated to Japanese 106/109, IME installed, but I can't type using the kana keys on my keyboard, they come up as convertible romaji."
A: Toggle the "KANA" option on the IME. The Japanese keyboard short-cut key is CTRL+SHIFT+<カタカナ|ひらがな>.

Q: "I am trying to type English with my Japanese keyboard, but the CAPS lock key doesn't activate. It appears to change the IME to half-width/full-width English."
A: The CAPS-LOCK/英数 key is a dual-layer key. The first layer is 英数, the second layer (activated by SHIFT+) toggles CAPS-LOCK on/off. (SHIFT+CAPS)

Q: "Hold on a second. Don't Japanese people use romaji input from a standard 101/102 keyboard anyway? Why pick up the Japanese kana input keyboard if it's not the standard in Japan?"
A: VERY GOOD QUESTION! Quite frankly, for the same reason the Japanese made the shift from kana-input to romaji-input. I, an English typist, am making the shift from romaji-input to kana-input. I'm sure romaji-input wasn't the most popular thing in Japan at one point, but look at it now. It's the standard. However, as an English typist and English Windows OS, I have the ability to switch between kana, romaji, and english input even WITH a Japanese keyboard. I literally lost nothing, and have everything to gain by learning to use the kana-input Japanese keyboard. Then again, it is at this level a personal decision what you want to do.
Edited: 2013-08-24, 8:12 pm
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#2
ALRIGHT! It's not the best, but it does function pretty well. It's called, "Mika Type." The free-ware is located here: http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~BG8J-IMMR/. You will want the "MIKAKANA.LZH" file. Here is a screenshot: [Image: mikakana_position_home.gif]

I found another one called rkTTT.
PROS: You can toggle between romaji and kana input. You can learn to type kana that correspond to kanji.
CONS: It's brutally forthright. You start out forced to know all the kana-to-finger placements in order to practice.
[Image: psjg.jpg]
REQ: Visual Basic 5.0 Runtime

I will keep looking around for more typing-tutor software to practice touch-typing on a Japanese keyboard. The keywords I used to locate this one were:

かな入力 練習ソフト

You can use WinRar to unpack the compressed LZH files.
Exe is ready to run without any installation.
The site link above also has a manual on how to use the program.

NOTE: Already, something I noticed is that the IME pops out of the program, and you must press enter after each input. FIX: Install "Japanese Keyboard" inside IME. Options>Settings>General tab>Add>Japanese (Japan)>Keyboard>Japanese "check box". Click "OK", "APPLY", "OK", and then select "Japanese" keyboard icon under red circle icon "Microsoft IME" from IME toolbar.
[Image: emtd.png] [Image: 3f0e.png]
This makes it strictly key-input only without any conversion so no need to hit "Enter" after every key-strike.
Other than that, it appears to function pretty decently. There is only basic "kana" input. No SHIFT+ for symbols, nor dakuten practice.

Eventually, I may need to create my own typing practice sheets that incorporate kana+symbol+dakuten practice. Although, it would still make it difficult without the typing tutor software.

Hope this will help some fellow kana input keyboard enthusiasts.
Edited: 2013-08-25, 6:57 am
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#3
PLUGGING IN JAPANESE 106/109 KEYBOARD DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY INSTALL JAPANESE 106/109 KEYBOARD DRIVERS, BUT RATHER STANDARD 101/102 DRIVERS.

I found a tutorial video on youtube here for changing the standard keyboard driver to the appropriate Japanese keyboard driver.
Edited: 2013-08-24, 6:59 pm
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#4
I wonder how important/useful it is to be familiar with kana input in Japan... Are you learning this because you believe it is? Just for fun?
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#5
From a popularity stand-point, romaji input is widely used in Japan more so than kana input. However, for myself, learning something new to use the Japanese language in a new way is very interesting. You might say it's a great way to keep in touch with the Japanese language itself avoiding romaji altogether, and going straight for the kana. When I learn Japanese, I want to envision kana and kanji, not the roman letters of romaji. When I hear romaji, I want to see kana and kanji, not roman characters. That's essentially my purpose for purchasing and practicing to use a kana-input Japanese keyboard. It's also another immersion technique to learning the Japanese language.
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#6
comeauch Wrote:I wonder how important/useful it is to be familiar with kana input in Japan...
Not at all. Hardly anyone in Japan uses the kana input. It's an interesting phenomenon because it means that most Japanese are interacting with their own language via romaji, even if it's converted to kanji/kana on the screen (with some help from the person).

Now cell phone entry is usually done with kana rather than romaji but obviously it's not the full kana keyboard layout.
Edited: 2013-08-23, 12:59 pm
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#7
yudantaiteki Wrote:Hardly anyone in Japan uses the kana input.
When I first learned that the kana-input keyboard was no longer the norm in Japan, I was a little confused, but I guess it makes sense. Many japanese people are trying to learn English, so why not pick up an English keyboard? Well, same for me. I'm learning the Japanese language, so why not pick up a Japanese keyboard. It's a good immersion technique. And it's not like I am starting to learn the Japanese language on a kana keyboard. I originally started on the US Standard keyboard typing the romaji to form kana and kanji. I'm pretty proficient in using it, though trying to learn the new key-placements on the kana keyboard is effectively proving to be a challenge. I did manage to memorize the home-row so far. ちとしはき くまのりれけむ. Eventually, I'll begin the word-typing practices so I can begin picking up some vocabulary too, if you know what I mean.
Edited: 2013-08-23, 1:25 pm
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#8
madkracker6969 Wrote:
yudantaiteki Wrote:Hardly anyone in Japan uses the kana input.
When I first learned that the kana-input keyboard was no longer the norm in Japan, I was a little confused, but I guess it makes sense. Many japanese people are trying to learn English, so why not pick up an English keyboard?
I don't think it has much to do with that -- it's harder to remember the positions of 40+ characters than 26, and I'm not sure most Japanese really see that much different in typing in romaji or kana since it's still the same language either way. Using romaji is very little help to learn English anyway.
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#9
Ah..that's what I thought...
I kind of have mixed feeling with madkracker learning the kana keyboard lol. I mean, I think the whole idea of avoiding romaji was more in reaction to people who never ventured any further than romaji. After a bit of exposure, recognizing the kana becomes automatic and I'm not sure it's worth it to take this kind of effort. But whatever, it can't hurt Tongue
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#10
I think your time would be better spent copying hiragana texts (using the romaji-input).
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#11
yudantaiteki Wrote:Using romaji is very little help to learn English anyway.
In that respect, I can see what you're saying. Though, to go from single-stroke to double-stroke virtually doubles the number of keystrokes made. It'd be like working harder because it's easier to remember fewer key-placements. However, if you are only looking at roman characters instead of Japanese characters, it does tend to help in promoting the English alphabet. While it might not be an overall immersion tool, it does offer up the roman characters, as well as divides the native Japanese language user from their own native language. No more kana keystrokes, so now it's about learning the romaji keystrokes, and also switching to typing the English language itself. That IS the essence of immersion, to divide yourself from the safety of your own native language, and immerse yourself holistically in the learning of another unfamiliar language. If I were to learn Arabic, I'd pick up the Arabic keyboard too. As for myself, it's a tool for learning, and not so much about what's popularly or widely used.
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#12
comeauch Wrote:I think your time would be better spent copying hiragana texts (using the romaji-input).
Actually, writing the Japanese language takes longer to learn the Japanese language. The only things I learned to write were the hiragana and katakana just to familiarize and memorize the kana syllabary. However, typing the kana and hitting the conversion key to locate the kanji takes less time, familiarizes and allows for memorization of the associated kana-to-kanji. At this stage in my life, time spent and steps taken (keystrokes vs penstrokes) are highly scrutinized for efficiency and effectiveness in learning anything. And since I'm already familiar with romaji-input, it's not going to be much of a lesson to repeat what I already know. Besides, with the kana-input keyboard and IME I can switch between romaji-input and kana-input anyway. The only loss with a 106/109-key from a 101/102-key was key-placement. After learning that, I can go from English to Romaji to Kana input and back again at my leisure. I hardly think I'll lose the knack for using using the 101/102-key keyboard, should I need to go back to it, since I'd been using it for well-over 20 years now. Well, that is my opinion anyway.
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#13
I think the main drawback to the kana layout is that you have to use the top row of keys and several keys to the right of the L key just to type words, and that you have to switch modes just to type numbers and symbols.
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#14
JimmySeal Wrote:I think the main drawback to the kana layout is that you have to use the top row of keys and several keys to the right of the L key just to type words, and that you have to switch modes just to type numbers and symbols.
This is true. You do have to switch modes to type numbers and symbols, however, it's literally a single button switch. The 半角/全角 key flips between full and half-width which is all that is necessary to be able to type numbers and symbols. Reaching for the top row and more keys to the right of the L key more of the time is just a matter of practice. Again, it comes down to "what are you willing to do to learn"?

I received my Japanese keyboard on the 17th of August, and it's now the 24th. As of right now I can, by touch, type the entire home-row and row above home-row with very few mistakes. The more I practice, the better and faster I'll get. Next week I'm looking at learning the top-row and row under home-row. A few weeks after that, I'll begin learning the new symbol placements, and then the dakuten keys and so on.

When it comes to something being hard, and doing something hard, it's all only as hard as you make it out to be. There is always a way to use and learn something with greater efficiency and effectiveness, but are you willing to put forth the effort, to do what you've never done before? That's what learning is all about. Besides, it's not like I'm saying learning Japanese by buying a Japanese keyboard is mandatory. It's a personal choice. You're free to make up your own mind about what you want to do, and how you learn. Picking up a Japanese kana-input keyboard just happened to be mine, and anyone who's run into issues with the kana-input keyboard like I have will find this thread useful. Giving up might be a choice, even before starting, but for me, that's a last-resort, not the first choice. Well, that's my two-cents on the matter, any hoot. Tongue
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#15
For anyone new coming to this thread, I have read of some people running into trouble locating the ろ key while using the US or UK Standard keyboard.

It's not that the ろ key doesn't exist, but rather the keyboard itself is lacking sufficient keys.

CORRECTION: So, I went back and double-checked. The ろ key does exist on the standard 101/102 keyboard when you have standard 101/102 driver installed, and the IME set to KANA input. It's the `~ key. The reason I couldn't find the ろ key at one point in my research was when I had the Japanese 106/109 keyboard installed, but still using the standard 101/102 keyboard driver. Many keys were disabled, and the ろ key-assignment simply didn't exist because of the conflict between driver and keyboard.
The kana-key associations are laid out accordingly, however, you'll notice you don't have toggle keys nor conversion keys as you would with a physical Japanese keyboard.

*click on the image below to check out kana keyboard stickers for your keyboard.
[Image: odqs.jpg]

The US Standard keyboard has 101/102 keys, and the Japanese Kana Keyboard has 106/109 keys. Here is a comparison between US and Japanese keyboards;

US Standard 101/102 key Keyboard
[Image: 500px-KB_United_States-NoAltGr.svg.png]

Japanese 106/109 key Keyboard
[Image: 500px-KB_Japanese.svg.png]

Here is the WIKI for more information about Japanese keyboards;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_layout#Japanese
Edited: 2013-08-25, 6:11 am
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#16
I usually pimp these games out for kana reading practice, but Gainax has an old line of typing games that I believe support the standard Japanese keyboard as an option.

Evangelion Typing E-Plan/C-Plan, Gunbuster Typing and Mahoromatic Typing.
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#17
Daichi Wrote:I usually pimp these games out for kana reading practice, but Gainax has an old line of typing games that I believe support the standard Japanese keyboard as an option.

Evangelion Typing E-Plan/C-Plan, Gunbuster Typing and Mahoromatic Typing.
Hey, thanks! I found your post in another thread with the Mahoromatic Typing short video example, it was pretty cool!
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#18
madkracker6969 Wrote:For anyone new coming to this thread, I have read of some people running into trouble locating the ろ key while using the US or UK Standard keyboard.

It's not that the ろ key doesn't exist, but rather the keyboard itself is lacking sufficient keys.
My keyboard doesn't have that key either, but your 半角/全角 key is my ろ key. Or would be, if I could get direct kana input to work at all.
Edited: 2013-08-24, 6:41 pm
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#19
Vempele Wrote:
madkracker6969 Wrote:For anyone new coming to this thread, I have read of some people running into trouble locating the ろ key while using the US or UK Standard keyboard.

It's not that the ろ key doesn't exist, but rather the keyboard itself is lacking sufficient keys.
My keyboard doesn't have that key either, but your 半角/全角 key is my ろ key. Or would be, if I could get direct kana input to work at all.
From the sounds of it you still have the standard US 101/102 PS/2 keyboard driver installed instead of the Japanese 106/109 PS/2 keyboard driver. Your OS thinks you are still using the Standard 101/102 PS/2 keyboard instead of a physical Japanese 106/109 PS/2 keyboard so when you push the 半角/全角 key on your Japanese keyboard, it will come up as ろ.

Here is a youtube video illustrating how to perform the driver update. Once completed, the key assignments should be working correctly.

And if this is not your case, a picture of your keyboard would help me to understand what steps to take to help you out in typing direct kana input.
Edited: 2013-08-24, 6:54 pm
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#20
One thing I did learn, if your IME is set to EN instead of JP, your keyboard reverts to the standard 101/102 key layout. What this means is that the \ _ ろ key, and the \|ー key is disabled. The difficult thing is that the symbols are no longer in the same locations as on the physical Japanese keyboard. I guess it means that I could switch back to using a standard 101/102 keyboard even WITH a Japanese keyboard.

Not like it matters though. I could just as easily maintain JP in the IME with half-width Alphanumeric set and KANA toggled off, and the symbol key placements and keyboard layout would be that of my Japanese keyboard.
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#21
madkracker6969 Wrote:From the sounds of it you still have the standard US 101/102 PS/2 keyboard driver installed instead of the Japanese 106/109 PS/2 keyboard driver. Your OS thinks you are still using the Standard 101/102 PS/2 keyboard instead of a physical Japanese 106/109 PS/2 keyboard so when you push the 半角/全角 key on your Japanese keyboard, it will come up as ろ.
No, I have a Finnish keyboard and 半角/全角 (well, §/½) becoming ろ is a good thing as the "real" ろ key doesn't physically exist, is what I was trying to say. Until your post, I had no idea that's not where it was supposed to be - I got the key positions from http://caitlancan.blogspot.com/2013/07/t...anese.html , which looks like a US keyboard to me.

I solved my problem of being unable to enter direct kana input mode. I'd been using the Finnish keyboard layout in Japanese input mode by means of a registry hack. Reverting back to the Japanese keyboard layout made it work again.
Edited: 2013-08-25, 5:01 am
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#22
It really is best to use the correct driver with your current keyboard.

Any other way and you're just begging for more complication than it's really worth.
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#23
Daichi Wrote:I usually pimp these games out for kana reading practice, but Gainax has an old line of typing games that I believe support the standard Japanese keyboard as an option.

Evangelion Typing E-Plan/C-Plan, Gunbuster Typing and Mahoromatic Typing.
If I could locate where to get these, I'd post the links here.
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#24
So it's been a week and a half since first getting my Japanese keyboard up and going, and then practicing touch typing using the kana-input keys. I've already got the home-row, above home-row, and below home-row memorized. Only one more row to go and I'll be on my way to speeding up with more practice after that. I'm already noticing significant changes in the number of keystrokes to type per kanji. 心 only takes three kana-keystrokes (こころ) instead of six romaji-keystrokes (kokoro), not including the conversion key/space-bar and enter.
For future practice, I was thinking about looking for software programs that put up kanji and I have to type in the kana, and viceversa displaying the kana and meaning and I have to type in the kanji, etc. That would really help me with kanji and vocabulary retention I think. Anki is okay for flashcards, but having user-input really puts forth some effort, plus there is a chance for me to be objectively incorrect should I type in the incorrect characters. Well, something for me to think about as I learn and grow.
Edited: 2013-08-28, 3:54 am
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#25
You can enable typing in the answer in Anki! Smile Check out this handy YouTube video about how to do it: Anki 2: Typing in the Answer
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