Sunday, May 8, 2011

Using Google 日本語入力

When I initially found out that Google had produced a Japanese IME, I was pretty excited to try it out. I installed it in November of 2010, and I haven’t used any other IME for writing in Japanese since. Of course, I’ve used the default Microsoft IME that just comes along with Windows 7, which hasn’t really made any significant improvements since I first started using the Microsoft IME back when I was still using Windows XP. I’ve also used ATOK, which seems to be on every computer I’ve ever used in Japan. I’ve always disabled ATOK in favor of the Microsoft IME, but since downloading the Google IME, I’ve been more than completely satisfied, I get CRAZY EXCITED every time I use it!!


Google IME gives you suggestions. Way more suggestions than any other IME. It also gives suggestions based on what you’ve previously typed. You can turn that setting on and off as you like, but I quite prefer it, especially if I’m writing Katakana words.

Another great feature, as you can see in the video, is that it suggests the year in various formats.

For example, you type ことし(this year)
suggestion 1 is 今年 (lit. this year)
2 is 2011 (the numerical year)
4 is 平成23年 (the imperial year)
I really like that it automatically suggests the imperial year, which is always so difficult for me to remember, but is important to know for certain kinds of official-type documents.


Wondering what that katakana word is in English? Nooo problem!! Type ラジオ and you will get the English “radio” as your 6th suggestion.

It also suggests less-commonly-used Kanji for commonly used words like “France” = フランス = 仏国

Making special characters is easy. For a heart ♥, type はーと.
For any of the following types of star, ☆, ☆彡, or ★ just type ほし.

Last but not least, and my most favorite thing about Google IME, is that it has over 500 kaomoji to choose from!!!


For the huge selection, you can type in your onomatopoeia word, like ワオ, or you can type かおもじ to get the full list and choose from the 500+ suggestions.

The only thing that I miss from using the Microsoft IME is the IME Pad, which lets you physically write out the Kanji or its radical on a little notepad, and look up the correct character from there. Its helpful when I know the shape (or root radical) of the character, but not the reading. I keep the Microsoft IME around in case I need to use this feature, but since the Google IME has so many helpful suggestions, I rarely use this anymore.

And in true Japanese style, there’s a comic about what exactly an IME is, how it works, and it features the developers! Very cute.

As for me, I really enjoy using this application over my pre-installed Microsoft IME. If you’d like to try Google 日本語入力 You can download it at this address:

Happy typing!

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