Google Takes Aim at Japanese with New IME


Google has released its own software for Japanese text entry, called simply “Google 日本語入力” / “Google Japanese Input” in direct competition to Microsoft’s ubiquitous IME.

Initial reports indicate the software is very good indeed, although as usual Google insists on calling it a “beta.”


By far the most common method for Japanese text entry is Microsoft’s IME, integrated into the Windows operating system (though sometimes not very well).

This takes the form of typing in the alphabetic phonetic equivalent of the Japanese (known as “romaji,” roman characters), and then pressing space in order to convert the text entered into the system’s best guess at the characters and word divisions intended.

Frequently this process is not very good and requires some coaxing and training to provide commonly used vocabulary.

However, Google’s version, although adhering to the same basic IME pattern, seems to have substantially improved capabilities, particularly for otaku usage:


“Pantsuja” gives an autosuggestion of “pantsu ja nai kara hazukashikunai mon,” the famous catchphrase of Strike Witches.


“Kidouse-“ gives four Gundam titles and even Nadesico.




Most probably its vocabulary is either linked to or based on Google’s search databases, quite an improvement over Microsoft IME’s stale and unhelpful default dictionary.

It can be downloaded “freely” here, for several versions of Windows and MacOS.

Google claims it will not be sending home details of the actual text typed, although it admits other usage data is sent and frankly Google’s credibility is not high in these matters – gathering vast amounts of identifiable usage data is part of their business model.

Expect Google Chinese Input to eventually inform the Party of any unpatriotic text inputted, or at the very least omit anything subversive from its dictionaries.

With complete search dominance, a strong browser in Chrome, some dubious remote applications and lately even an operating system, it seems Google is indeed throwing down the gauntlet to Microsoft…

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    Comment by Anonymous
    06:14 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Wow! It was so long ago, I had almost forgotten about that pic. I was the one who colored that Google-tan & put "futanari precure" on her tablet because back then, 3 years ago, she was just a colourless line art.

    Credits to the actual line artist, who I don't know.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:42 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    My ipod automatically puts a star in-between raki and suta (lucky star). When I found that out, that was a good day

    Avatar of Chris
    Comment by Chris
    16:36 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)


    Seems to work fine. I need to fix the keyboard shortcuts though.

    Avatar of motaku96
    Comment by motaku96
    16:48 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Now this is some great news. Will try it out. Looks intriguing, though I might just stick with my good old IME for the time being.

    Avatar of Angel Xtreme
    Comment by Angel Xtreme
    16:52 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Seems better than the one I usually use.
    I'm gonna give it a try.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:51 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Works well so far, but how do I export my kaomoji?

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:10 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Gotta import them first, I thought.

    Avatar of DenkouNova
    Comment by DenkouNova
    06:03 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    However writes in Japanese absolutely needs this.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:23 05/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Orca is an .msi tool?

    If so it doesn't seem to help since it won't run .exe files. Or at least the ones I tried, even this file.

    Comment by Fiona
    20:09 05/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Expect Google Chinese Input to eventually inform the Party of any unpatriotic text inputted, or at the very least omit anything subversive from its dictionaries.

    1984's prophecy of newspeak will then be complete.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:22 05/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Actually, I don't see how it's better than ATOK

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:22 25/09/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    My mac lets me type in Japanese well enough.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:30 10/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Anthy users, report in!

    Comment by SnooSnoo
    00:10 05/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Anyone found of how to switch between direct input/Hiragana/Katakana with shortcut keys?

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:46 05/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    the same as microsoft ime

    Comment by SnooSnoo
    09:33 05/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not working. Also Microsoft or at least Vista's shortcut key I found is Shift + Caps Lock between Direct and Hiragana.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:46 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yahoo, Bing, and anyone?

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:35 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I love precure futanari.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:13 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    is the IME the normal input method for japanese? are there any other commonly used input method?

    Comment by Anonymous
    Comment by Anonymous
    01:55 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Future" Chinese Input? Then what's this?

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact
    05:08 04/12/2009 # ! Incandescent

    Interesting - what other IMEs have they been making?

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:27 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    So far only those two it seems.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:22 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    ¿Only windows and MacOS? ¡FAIL!

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:13 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    and not working on 64bit OSes... doh

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:11 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Since when is Chrome a strong browser? It's about on par with IE. Google best stick with being a search engine.

    Avatar of KuriYokan
    Comment by KuriYokan
    18:15 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Actually, Chrome is a pretty good browser. I admit that very seldom, we get hiccups. But hey, how long has Chrome been around? IE has been around for ages and they are still trying to compete with FireFox etc. That goes to show that even if you give IE time, it's still having trouble competing with FireFox, or any other browser for that matter, which are relatively much newer compared to IE.

    Majority of the tech-savvy people I know only use either FireFox or Chrome. The only reason why IE still survives is because Google has yet to overthrow Microsoft's position yet. (Yes, I believe and I support Google in bringing down Microsoft. It's about time for a new era.)

    02:02 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Lol at OP pic :3

    Suggesting "Futari Precure" as "Futanari Precure".

    Comment by Anonymous
    Comment by Anonymous
    00:33 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    this would be awesome if I could speak/read/understand japanese :/

    Avatar of hALOTOO
    Comment by hALOTOO
    11:03 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I know all the necessary Japanese words
    Hentai,chikan,oppai,doujin,manga,baka,eroge,oshiri, bukkake,dakimakura,kawaii,megane,katana,ai,gundam,ero
    kneepon,aho,Kyon-kun denwa see

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:09 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    You forgot paipan and paizuri.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:13 08/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    He also forgot lolicon, zettai ryouiki and azunyan.

    Avatar of Pandemonia
    Comment by Pandemonia
    01:57 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    learn then, faggot

    rosetta stone program, 'my japanese coach' for DS and 'Remembering the kana' by James W heisig are great places to start.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:14 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    try it's free, it's got a complete Japanese lesson system(Japanese Core 2000)that can take you up to JLPT level 3 at least. It's working very well for me, I've learned hiragana and katakana, and am understanding about 1/4 of what I hear in Anime/Jdrama after about 2 months of use.

    -Helpful Lurker.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:33 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    It takes great time and effort to learn another language. Additionally, many people already study a foreign language for something more important than fansubing for ego and playing eroge.

    p.s. Rosseta stone is crap. I couldn't stand it for more than 4 lessons. Thx piratebay for saving me money.
    And Remembering the Kanji should go before Remembering the Kana. In fact, RTK should be the first step to learning Japanese if your goal is to optimize your time.

    Avatar of Chris
    Comment by Chris
    08:30 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Rosetta Stone is the biggest pile of shit ever.

    I regret even using the bandwidth to download it. Pimsleur's Japanese is the best I've found, great for actually learning how to speak and understand Japanese.

    Not so much for learning the written language, but there are other choices for that.

    Avatar of EleutheroZeroONE
    Comment by EleutheroZeroONE
    04:29 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Please! Ixnay on the "aggot-fay"!

    Avatar of Riiku
    Comment by Riiku
    03:22 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Am I the only one thinking that kanji should not exist in the first place? Hell, why even have Hiragana AND Katakana? Just settle with one alphabet and make your live easier. Gee.... japanese ppl....

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:26 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    wow learned something about Japanese language at sahaku

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:14 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    At Anon 05:09 04/12/2009
    No the whole world doesn't use the roman system. What about the Cyrillic system? Russian and Serbian etc.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:27 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    No matter what you may think of it, kanji is here to stay and it's a must for any Japanese learner.
    Modern Korean uses phonetic alphabet. The same goes for Vietnamese too.
    Only Japan and China still use semanto-phonetic writing system today.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:11 08/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    In addition, Katakana are necessary as well, because they tell you at -one- glance "This is a loan-word, interpret it as such."

    This is important for much of the same reasons outlined for the kanji.

    After being 'run through' the phonetic alphabet, many loan words 'sound' similar to native words, at least in written form. When spoken, you'd likely pick it up from the tone, but when written, you do not have that aid.

    I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm kinda clutching at viable comparisons here, but it'd kinda like 'coup de grace' (D&D players especially are familiar with this one. :p) ended up being written identically to 'cup of grass', or 'sauerkraut' would be written identically to 'sour crowd'.

    Imagine that going for a -lot- of weird words. You'd have a "What the shit is this guy talking abo- ... OH!" moment every few sentences.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:06 27/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The argument that without kanji Japanese would be illegible cannot be true, because that would mean that Japanese people would not be able to talk with each other and could only communicate in writing, which is patently absurd.
    >Couldn't you just add spaces?
    I've got a Japanese children's book, and it uses kana and a space after every particle.
    >rite & right, etc.
    My own native language uses a phonemic spelling (except for foreign words, how I wish they'd fix that!) and homophones don't pose a problem at all, even though there are many. And the benefits are huge, so we really cannot understand why the anglophones don't reform.

    Avatar of Duolis
    Comment by Duolis
    22:29 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Just use your imagination. It's not something that people without Japanese knowledge can understand. Once you get a good grasp at Japanese, you will hate anything that only have Hiragana and Katakana. It's almost on the unreadable level.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:34 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    While I'm not about to call for the abolishment of kanji, I've never really gotten the "hiraganawouldlooklikethis" defence. Can't you just... add spaces?!

    Avatar of Splat
    Comment by Splat
    00:30 05/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Can't you just... add spaces?!

    That might help a little bit, sure. But it wouldn't have the same effect as adding spaces to the English sentence. Keep in mind the "hiraganawouldlooklikethis" thing is merely an approximation to help someone who doesn't know Japanese have a rough idea of what it looks/feels like to someone who does. It's not an exact analogy.

    Also, see what I said about Hiragana being purely phonetic above. The characters not "letters", per se, but syllables. Each character is one specific sound. And there's only about 50-100 of them, depending on whether you count compounds, etc. Let's call it a clean 100. Imagine what the English language would be like if you only had a hundred syllables at your disposal, rather than 26 letters that can be combined into any number of syllables.

    Even with spaces, there'd still be too many words that sound the same (and thus are written exactly the same in Hiragana), but have very many different meanings. By using Kanji, you can let the reader know which meaning was intended. And that makes written text much easier to make sense of.

    Avatar of Splat
    Comment by Splat
    01:54 05/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    My pleasure.

    I felt much the same when I started learning Japanese. Having thousands of characters seemed crazy.

    It's only later that I realized how necessary they are... and even came to outright despise text written in pure Hiragana for being so ambiguous and hard to decipher.

    Avatar of Riiku
    Comment by Riiku
    00:49 05/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    2 Splat

    I have to thank you for extended explanation, makes me agree I wasn't right.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:47 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    i couldnt agree more! even though im far from mastering kanji, i still prefer reading stuff with a good deal of kanjis on them than none..

    i actually find it harder to read stuff with just kanas, kanjis make things more simplified strangely enough

    Avatar of Splat
    Comment by Splat
    04:49 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)


    We technically have two alphabets as well. The "ABC"s and the "abc"s.

    Now, you may very well perceive them as one and the same. Most likely to the point of not even realizing there's two of them, in fact. But they are different. Especially so in handwritten form.

    And even printed, how are 'A' and 'a' the same? 'D' and 'd'? 'R' and 'r'? They aren't. Not at all. If you had never learned the roman alphabet, you'd see absolutely no connection - let alone similarity - between them.

    The only reason you perceive them as one and the same is because you've learned it that way from an early age. I imagine someone who has grown up with Japanese feels much the same about あ and ア, か and カ, etc being one and the same "letter".

    As for Kanji, the Anon above describes the need for them quite well. One thing I'd like to add though:

    Another reason they are necessary is that Hiragana and Katakana are phonetic "alphabets". They each represent all the basic sounds available in the Japanese language. And they're quite limited at that. Consequently, there are many words that sound the same but mean completely different things.

    In English we also have words like that (though not as many due to a larger variety of available sounds). And, in addition to context, we can distinguish between them based on how they are written. "Night" and "Knight". "Write", "rite" and "right". Et cetera.

    If Japanese had only Hiragana, a purely phonetic set of characters, this would not be possible for them. Not only that, but in written form certain nuances of intonation and pauses between words are lost as well. theresultfeelssomethinglikethisasanonpointedout.

    Kanji helps with that by giving the sentences structure and providing meaning, rather than just phonetic sounds.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:09 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Stop justifying an archaic, old and retarded writing system.

    It's not effective and only wastes people's time and effort. Not to mention all the machines, programs, products and similar that need to adjust to that retarded system.

    Just use the goddamn roman system like the rest of the world, Japan, China and Korea.

    Avatar of atrophied_soul
    Comment by atrophied_soul
    05:07 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    the only way you wouldn't see a relationship between small letters and capital letters in the English alphabet is if you were an idiot

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:42 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Because it's Japanese, anon. Also, ever seen Hiragana without Kanji? It'skindoflikeifItypedwithoutspaces. Nowimaginepagesuponpagesofthisshit. Yeah, not pretty...I hate Kanji too (even being Native Japanese), but I can't deny that it makes sentences easier to read overall.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:37 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not everyone can afford that stuff..
    We can only wish. Oh well.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:27 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Rosetta Stone isn’t that good though。You could do it but there are better alternatives like

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:07 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Are you forgetting that you're on the internet?

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:56 04/12/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    your the fag

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