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The mysterious iPad Japanese keyboard.

  • 1850

Can anyone kindly explain simply how the iPad Japanese keyboard should be used, its layout and how to know where to find characters from the extended keyboard? Links to somewhere that might do so would be welcomed.

Searches only show how to install it, which is simple enough, but I haven't been able find anything that details the layout, in particular where the hidden characters, such as are. By trying every key, I found this behind the key, but have yet to find many of the others. I can't say which, because I can't type them! :-)

Does anyone have details of the layout or an explanation of in which way the characters are related so I know where I should look for them? It appears everyone, including Apple, assumes that anyone wishing to use the keyboard would already be fluent in Japanese.

I understand this isn't needed, at the moment at least, on the Japanese course. However, since there are no notes or explanations, I wish to create my own in the Notes app; but this is difficult when I can't even find the characters.

It even took me a while to realise that there is no space character, so unlike other language keyboards, it is necessary to switch into English to enter one.

Is the character, the equivalent of the full-stop '.' (en-us period)?

I assume the pop-up extended keyboard:

provides the characters related to the original key, but their relationship alludes me at the moment.

This key seems to simply move along the extended keyboard one character at a time, which seems a bit pointless given that one can simply tap it directly:

The key below appears to function as a Return key.

  • What is the significance of the text/characters being highlighted as they are typed? I'm guessing perhaps it means that the characters aren't yet fixed and may be modified by some key?
  • Why are there blank keys above and below the ? They don't appear to do anything.
  • Are the and the equivalent of quotatiion marks (' usually in British English, usually in American) or do they function in some other way?

What is the significance of these keys?

The iPhone Japanese keyboard is different again.

Update: With the help from the contributors below, I think I've worked out the hirigana → katakana mapping on the iPad kana keyboard now:

わワ らラ やヤ まマ はハ なナ たタ さサ かカ あア

をヲ りリ ーー みミ ひヒ にニ ちチ しシ きキ いイ

んン るル ゆユ むム ふフ ぬヌ つツ すス くク うウ

ーー れレ ーー めメ へへ ねネ てテ せセ けケ えエ

ーー ろロ よヨ もモ ほホ のノ とト そソ こコ おオ

I originally included this in a reply below, but thought it might be helpful to make it more visible here. If anyone spots a mistake, please let me know so I can correct it.

July 12, 2017



You found イ "behind" い because it's the katakana character for the same sound. Essentially every hiragana character has a katakana counterpart; they represent the same syllables, but are written differently. If you need to find the katakana character for something, check the options for the hiragana version and it should be there.

Think of the keyboard like a grid, laid out by syllable. The vowels are on the far right column. The rows represent the syllables formed by pairing consonants with those vowels. So, going from right to left across the row beginning with あ, you have the characters for "ka," "sa," ta," etc. This is also why ゆ has those blank spaces: "y" is only ever combined with "a" (や), "u" (ゆ), and "o" ("よ"). yi and ye are archaic sounds no longer used in the language.

The keyboard DOES have a space character: 空白, which literally means "blank space." That said, Japanese doesn't use white space the way that other languages do.

。 is the full-stop, though you'll sometimes see use of . as well.

The extended keyboard provides common alternative characters for what you've typed, usually in the form of kanji and katakana. It also provides suggestions for words you might be trying to type, to make it easier. That's also why the characters are highlighted -- the highlighting represents an "in-progress" word that might still need to be converted to a different form, or changed because of a typo.

確定 actually means "decision" and you use it to tell the keyboard "I'm done with this in-progress word." Some keyboards also have the setting to auto-correct some words to their common kanji readings when you press it.

「」 are quotation marks, yes.

取り消す means "cancel" and is basically your Undo button. 全角 converts to full-width form (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halfwidth_and_fullwidth_forms).

  • 1850

Excellent explanation. Thank you. Please accept a Lingot. :-)

I will clearly need a much better understanding before I will be able to make much use of all the details you've given, but that's very helpful, thank you.

  • 1850

Full-width and half-width appears to refer to two-byte or single-byte encoding? I'm not quite sure how that would function/apply on a Unicode-only device.

Unicode uses two bytes for all encoding, but in the days of ASCII and EBCDIC a single byte was used for Latin character sets, with two bytes being used to encode Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc characters using different code tables.


I respectfully disagree with @duonks - I think it is worth your time to familiarize yourself with the kana keyboard. For one thing, it will make typing your own flashcards so much easier!

There is a mnemonic for remembering the order of the consonants for each column, going from right to left:

Ah Kana Signs Take Note How Many You Read Well

That, together with remembering vowel order (A I U E O) will help you find any given syllable.

  • 1850

Thank you. That's very useful to know.

I don't personally think (at this point) there is much point to the Romaji keyboard on an iPad. I think it would just be more confusing/limiting. On a Western PC keyboard, perhaps.

  • 1850

So the vowel order is also different in Japanese?


I respectfully agree with you :-)
I wish now I'd spent the time to decipher the proper keyboard!


I always just click the globe in the lower left hand side and change it to an English keyboard that responds to romaji. Wait, it's been a while. Hrm... I'm pretty sure it was the globe.


I never really found out how to use that keyboard, and I ended up spending way too much time looking for characters that sometimes weren't even there! In the end I mainly relied on the "Japanese - Romaji" keyboard... Phonetic, much easier for me to use :-)


If you.re having too many problems maybe it.s better to use the

日本語ローマ字 keyboard. For beginners it.s way faster and less confusing.

  • 1850

Thanks to everyone who has given very helpful information above. For the benefit of other complete beginners, like myself; these may possibly help in deciphering the iPad Japanese Kana keyboard:

For any of those, who, like me, wondered what the earth was going on when it began asking to translate from hiragana to katagana and vice versa (without explanation), perhaps this may help:

Note: this is flipped left-right compared to the keyboard. In most cases. Some character positions are also swapped compared to the iOS keyboard.

These were taken as screen-shots from Wikipedia article on
kana: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kana,
hiragana: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiragana and
katakana: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katakana
in case anyone wants more details.

Of course, it would help if it were possible to get directly to the Japanese discussions without being forced to change to an arbitrary different learning language!

  • 1850

OK, I think I've worked out the hirigana → katakana mapping on the iPad kana keyboard now:

わワ らラ やヤ まマ はハ なナ たタ さサ かカ あア

をヲ りリ ーー みミ ひヒ にニ ちチ しシ きキ いイ

んン るル ゆユ むム ふフ ぬヌ つツ すス くク うウ

ーー れレ ーー めメ へへ ねネ てテ せセ けケ えエ

ーー ろロ よヨ もモ ほホ のノ とト そソ こコ おオ

If anyone spots a mistake, please let me know so I can correct it.

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