How to set up Japanese keyboard on Android (type Hiragana & Katakana)

You've just started studying Japanese and you want to be able to type Japanese on your phone! Here's how to set that up on Android with pictures, step by step. 

NOTE: The names and locations of various menus and buttons in this guide may differ slightly depending on your version of Android. I'm showing how to set up a Japanese keyboard on a Google Pixel on Android 11. 

There are several ways to do this, I'll show you the most common / simple way to get yourself up and running, typing Japanese from your phone :) 

Step 1) head to the Play Store on your phone. 

Step 2) search for "Gboard" and install it to your phone

Step 3) swipe down from the top of your screen and tap the "settings" cog in the bottom right of the drop down menu. 

Step 4) in the "search settings" at the top of your screen, type "language"

Step 5) tap on "Languages & input"

Step 6) tap on "Languages" 

Step 7) select "add languages". Once it's added, it'll show in this list as 日本語(日本)the order here will determine which is your default language. Mine is 1) English (United States) and 2) 日本語(日本)as I have Japanese set as the secondary language on my phone 

Step 8) head back to "languages & input" by pressing the back arrow in the top left. Then, tap on "On-screen keyboard"

Step 9) now tap on "Gboard" and then tap on "Languages", it should be the top setting

Step 10) here we'll see the keyboard languages you have set up on your keyboard, tap on "add keyboard" 

Step 11) then press on "Japanese" if it shows up at the top, or select the "search" icon in the top right and search for "Japanese"

Step 12) add in the keyboard types you'd like to type with. Common ones are "12 keys" and "QWERTY", my favorite and the one I use on a daily basis is the "QWERTY" set up. 

Feel free to close out of the settings, you're all ready to go! 

How to switch to Japanese while typing:

Now, when you go to type text anywhere on your phone you'll see a little "globe" icon in the bottom left. Tap on that icon and it'll change to Japanese! You can see that it's worked by the text in the spacebar now saying "日本語". 

You can type in Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Just start entering the characters and above the letters, suggestions of what you might want to type will show up, and that's how you type in Kanji. Here's a screenshot. What we typed is underlined in blue, that in Kanji is highlighted in yellow, and that in katakana is highlighted in green. 

Success! You're awesome and can now type Japanese. 

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