How do I type Japanese on my Android device?

NOTE: All the names for menus and the locations might be slightly different depending on the devices


How to type kana/kanji/romaji on Android and rules on typing certain letters

On an Android, there are two ways of inputting Japanese. 


You can use the QWERTY keyboard method just like on your computer to type in romaji or to produce kana and kanji. The only real difference is that on your smartphone the suggested kanji appear above your keyboard instead of in a new pop-up window. 

For example, let’s type “kami.” k + a becomes か and m + i becomes み. As you can see, there are multiple common kanji options for this word, including 髪 , 神 , and 紙.

Simply click on the kanji you would like to use and continue typing! If the kanji you would like to input does not appear, you can click on the dropdown arrow for more options.

Flick Input

The second method is commonly referred to as flick input. The flick keyboard shows only the first kana (the “a” kana) in each group of sounds: あ, か, さ, た, な, は, ま, や, ら, and わ --- A, ka, sa, ta, na, ha, ma, ya, and ra. To choose the other kana of each group (“i,” “u,” “e,” and “o”) you must touch the “a” kana in that group and swipe left, up, right, or down, respectively. For example, to type “sushi,” you must swipe up on the さ button to produce す and then swipe left on that same さ button to produce し. The わ key is a little different - swiping up gives you ん, left gives you を, right gives you the long vowel mark ー, and down gives you the wave dash ~. 

Here is a chart showing each basic kana group. The top row are the first characters you will see on the flick keyboard layout:

Let’s type the word kami (かみ) again. If you tap the か button, it will input か. However, when you press it, you can see the other typing options with that key. If you swiped up, you’d input く. If you swiped right, you’d input け, and so on.

Next we need to input み. To do so, tap and hold the ま button and swipe left to input み.

Then,  just like in QWERTY, you will select a suggested kanji from the list.

Instead of swiping, you can also just tap each key until it cycles through all the options and you reach your desired kana. However, this is much slower than the flick method and isn’t recommended. If you practice the flick method, you will get used to the pattern of swiping and learn to type very quickly! 

On the Gboard flick keyboard layout, there is also a button on the bottom left of the keyboard that shows the two dakuten that can change the pronunciation of a syllable by indicating that it should be voiced. One mark looks like a quotation mark and the other a small circle. When typing on a QWERTY keyboard, you can just type “ha,” “ba” and “pa” to produce は, ば and ぱ. When using flick, input your desired kana and you can swipe left on the dakuten to pick the quotation mark one and swipe right for the circle. This same button can also change the size of the kana in the あ group and the や group. Simply tap the button after inputting one of these kana and it will shrink to the ぁ or ゃ size.

Let’s take a look at adding dakuten to turn te (て) into de (で). Type て by tapping the た button and swiping right.

Then tap the button with the ゛and ゜ on it.

Then your て will become a で!

Just like in the QWERTY method, suggested kanji, kanji and kana combinations, katakana or emojis appear above your keyboard as you type. Much like on the computer, you can hit the enter key to get rid of the underline below the kana you’ve input.

Updated on: 21/06/2024

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