This guide applies to the Japanese IME in Windows Vista. Feedback is welcome!
To install the Japanese IME: Start Menu → Control Panel → Regional and Language Options → Keyboards and Languages → Change keyboards... → Add... → Japanese (Japan) → Keyboard → Microsoft IME → OK → OK → OK.
Tip. To switch between input languages, use Alt-Shift.
If the layout of your keyboard is not English US, you need to take the following steps to make the layout apply to the IME.
(Warning. This is an unofficial method that requires editing the registry. It is offered as-is and with no guarantee.)
(Note. This method affects all of the users of the Japanese IME in the same computer.)
(Note. If the backquote key is a deadkey in the chosen layout, then the Alt-` shortcut key won't work. A workaround is to use IME Properties → Editing → Key template: Advanced... → Keyboard → Assign... to assign the IME ON/OFF function to a shortcut key of your choice.)
First you need to run the regedit command to open the registry editor and navigate to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layouts\00000411 (for Vista)
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layouts\E0010411 (for XP)
Then you need to change the value of the "Layout File" entry to the corresponding dll for your keyboard.
A list of these dll's can be found here: http://www.easydesksoftware.com/keyboard.htm
If it is still not working, you might need to change the value named "LayerDriver JPN" to the dll as well. Just do a search for it in the registry. See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927824 for more information.
To show/hide language bar: Right-click on an empty place in the taskbar → Toolbars → Language bar
Several language bar options: Right-click on the language bar
Tip. If you are trying the Japanese IME for the first time, it is a good idea to begin by learning your way around the language bar.
Tip. Changes to the language bar usually, but not always, apply to the current application only.
Make Japanese IME the default: Right-click on the language bar → Settings... → Default input language.
Note: You can't remove the default input language. To remove the Japanese IME, make some other input language the default.
Advanced tip. If you only use the Japanese IME, you can disable Alt-Shift at this location: Right-click on the language bar → Settings... → Advanced Key Settings.
To avoid confusion, here are some useful terms.
2. Full-width katakana
3. Half-width katakana
4. Full-width alphanumeric
5. Half-width alphanumeric (when the IME is off, this is the input mode used)
1. Romaji. In this method, you type roman characters and can convert them to Japanese if the IME is on.
2. Kana. In this method, the keyboard is treated as if it were a Japanese keyboard, where every key usually corresponds to a kana.
Tip A. Use Ctrl-Shift-CapsLock to toggle the input method. The kana input method can't coexist with an alphanumeric input mode. This means that when selecting the kana input method, the hiragana input mode will be selected if an alphanumeric input mode was. Also please note that, if you have selected the kana input method, selecting an alphanumeric input mode will disable the kana input method temporarily, and it will be reestablished when a non-alphanumeric input mode is selected. Note. If your computer does not recognize a password entry, it might be that you had pressed Ctrl-Shift-CapsLock and are using the kana input method. Try pressing that combination again.
Tip B. The Japanese keyboard layout can be seen in this Wikipedia page. Before saving the image to your computer, you can enlarge it twice by clicking on it. Please note that the む and ろ keys are located elsewhere in the keyboard due to physical differences. Press \ to obtain む, and press ` to obtain ろ.
Tip C. The "kana status" in the language bar will tell you which is the current input method.
To change input modes:
Ctrl-CapsLock This always selects the hiragana input mode with a single exception: if the default input mode in the IME Properties has been changed to something other than the hiragana input mode, and Ctrl-CapsLock is pressed for the first time since the current application opened, and the default input mode has not yet been selected, then the default input mode will be selected. On all other subsequent uses of Ctrl-CapsLock for this application, the hiragana input mode will always be selected. Tip. To avoid the exception, it's just better to keep the default input mode as hiragana.
Alt-CapsLock This always selects the full-width katakana input mode unless the half-width katakana mode was already selected in which case nothing happens.
Shift-CapsLock This toggles between the full-width alphanumeric and hiragana input modes.
Alt-` This toggles between the half-width alphanumeric input mode and the previous input mode. Selecting half-width alphanumeric will "turn off" the IME unless there is some pending input, in which case the IME will be turned off after the conversion completes, unless the input mode gets changed back again before the conversion.
For the following, the IME must be "turned on" and without any pending input. To "turn on" the IME, select an input mode other than half-width alphanumeric.
Ctrl-F10 IME Menu
Ctrl-F10 + H + C IME Help
Ctrl-F10 + R IME Properties
Ctrl-F10 + P IME Pad (it can only be navigated with the mouse as all keystrokes still apply to the underlying window)
Tip. Clicking on the IME Pad window icon in the title bar opens a special menu.
Ctrl-F10 + N + H Hiragana
Ctrl-F10 + N + K Full-width katakana
Ctrl-F10 + N + A Half-width katakana
Ctrl-F10 + N + L Full-width alphanumeric
Ctrl-F10 + N + P Half-width alphanumeric
Ctrl-F10 + C + G General conversion mode
Ctrl-F10 + C + N Bias-for-names conversion mode
Ctrl-F10 + C + S Bias-for-speech conversion mode
Ctrl-F10 + C + O No conversion mode
When there is input pending:
F5 IME Pad; if the name of a radical was input, the IME pad will show its kanji (try it with やま (山), ゆう (夕), etc)
Tip. Mouse over the various radicals and kanji in the IME Pad to learn their readings
F6 Hiragana; press multiple times to katakanize from the beginning (type many kana beforehand to see the effect)
F7 Full-width katakana; press multiple times to hiraganize from the end (type many kana beforehand to see the effect)
F8 Half-width katakana; press multiple times to hiraganize from the end (type many kana beforehand to see the effect)
F9 Full-width alphanumeric; press multiple times to loop like so: lowercase → uppercase → mixed case
F10 Half-width alphanumeric; press multiple times to loop like so: lowercase → uppercase → mixed case
Spacebar Perform default conversion; press again to open the candidate list
← and → Select phrase (try it with 私の名前); you can also use Ctrl-← and Ctrl-→
Shift-← and Shift-→ Modify phrase boundary (try it with 私の名前)
When the candidate list is open:
Tab Expand/contract candidate list (try it with きごう)
Spacebar, Shift-Spacebar, ↓ and ↑ Navigate options forward and backward
PageUp, PageDown, Home and End More navigation options; particularly useful when the candidate list is expanded
Ctrl-← and Ctrl-→ Select phrase (try it with 私の名前); ← and → are now used to navigate the candidate list
Esc Close candidate list; press again to undo conversions
Enter Convert to highlighted option
Number Convert to the option with the indicated number
Tip. After a conversion has been applied, press Ctrl+Backspace to go back to conversion mode.
Shift-F10 + S Toggle between auto-tuning order (default) and kanji order; useful when entering glyphs using きごう
Tip. When there is no pending input, Shift-F10 is the same as right-clicking where the cursor is. This is a general Windows feature, not an IME one.
Useful tips and tricks:
Press [ and ] to type 「 and 」 (single quotation marks); convert to type 『 and 』 (double quotation marks)
Press - to type ー (prolonged sound mark)
Press / to type ・ (interpunct)
Press \ to type ￥ (Japanese yen sign)
Press Ctrl-Spacebar to enter a half-width space
Press Ctrl-Shift-Spacebar to enter a full-width space (same as plain spacebar when there is no pending input)
Type and convert wi to enter ゐ and/or ヰ
Type and convert we to enter ゑ and/or ヱ
Type and convert 。。。to enter …
Type and convert <- to enter ←
Type and convert -> to enter →
Type and convert から to enter ～
Type and convert すらっしゅ to enter ／ and/or ＼
Type and convert かっこ to enter several types of brackets
Type and convert きごう to enter many different signs/glyphs
Type and convert やじるし to enter a few different types of arrow glyphs
Type and convert しかく to enter a few different types of square glyphs
Type and convert さんかく to enter a few different types of triangle glyphs
Type and convert さんかくけい to enter the right triangle glyph (⊿)
Type and convert ほし to enter a few different types of star glyphs
Type and convert まる to enter a few different types of circle glyphs
Type and convert ばつ to enter the cross glyph (×)
Type and convert てん to enter a few different types of dot glyphs
Type and convert たんい to enter a several types of currency and measurement glyphs
Type and convert ろしあ to enter Russian characters
Tip. More useful keywords available here. Not all conversions are available on the Japanese IME of non-Asian Windows. You can download various dictionaries of 顔文字 (Japanese style smilies) here.
Useful with the kana input method:
Type and convert ぎもんふ to enter？
Type and convert かんたんふ to enter！
Type and convert ころん to enter : (also available through てん)
Type and convert せみころん to enter ; (also available through てん)
Tip. If you want to type alphanumeric while using the kana input method, it might be better to just press Shift-CapsLock for full-width alphanumeric mode (twice if using katakana) or Alt-` for half-width alphanumeric mode. When you change back to hiragana or katakana (using shortcut keys as described in sections above), the kana input method will be resumed as well.
Vertical writing (縦書き) using Wordpad: Just use the fonts that begin with @. Try "@MS PGothic". Text is not displayed vertically (i.e., it is not WYSIWYG), however, the printout should look as expected. Note that full-width alphanumeric rotates along with the rest of the characters but half-width alphanumeric does not.
Tip. For more elaborate IME features, check out the IME Help.
Thanks to richvh, simonb and Hyperworm for information contributed.