I’m guessing a lot of you know how to type in Japanese (hint: you don’t need a Japanese keyboard), but did you know about all the “hidden” special characters you can type out while you’re in Japanese input mode? You aren’t only limited to hiragana, katakana, romaji, and kanji. There are a score of other weird characters you can use to make your text a lot more interesting, you know? Here’s a lot of them (mostly the good ones) with an explanation of what they are and how to get them to show up!

Typing Musical Notes and Notation in Japanese

One of the things you’ll see quite often when reading Japanese blogs / text messages is various music-related symbols. There are a bunch of them, but they can all be called by the same word. It’s just like when you type in a Japanese word and hit space to see what kanji you can choose from, except this time you type in a Japanese word to show a list of possible symbols you can use.

So, as long as you know the word you can get the symbols for it! Let’s start with おんぷ (above). If you don’t know how to read hiragana, perhaps it’s time to learn how to read hiragana?

Notes: おんぷ

By typing in おんぷ, you get access to all kinds of musical notes.

♩ ♫ ♪ ♬

Beyond musical notes, though, you can type other music related things.

Sharp: しゃーぷ

Flat: ふらっと

If you read these out, you’ll notice that they’re just readings of the words “sharp” and “flat.” If you hit space after typing しゃーぷ or ふらっと, you’ll get yourself the following sharp / flat symbols.

♯ ♭

If you want to “jazz up” (har dee har har) your text, you can use some of these musical notations. Yee Haw! ♬

Typing Shapes In Japanese

If you can type musical notes, you should be able to type simple shapes, too, right? To type shapes in Japanese, you pretty much only have to know the word for the shape, hit space a few times after you type it in, and find the shape and type of shape you want.

Squares: しかく

□ ■ ◇ ◆

Triangles: さんかく

△ ▲ ▽ ▼  ▶ ◁ ◀

Circles: まる

○ ● ◎ ◉ ◯

Stars: ほし

☆ ★ ※ *

Arrows: やじるし

→ ← ↑ ↓ ⇄ ⇅ ⇔ ⇦ ⇧ ⇨ ⇩ ☜ ☝ ☞ ☟

Hearts: はーと

♡ ♥

These shapes are pretty simple. If you want to get a little more complicated, there are even more options in the “symbols” category.

Typing “Symbols”

This is where things start getting interesting, I think (and possibly a lot less useful). These symbols include playing card symbols and more.

Playing Card Symbols: とらんぷ

とらんぷ (or trump) are what playing cards are called. When you type this in, you get the clubs, diamonds, spades, and hearts symbols.

♠ ♣ ♥ ♦ ♡ ♢ ♧ ♤

Beyond trump cards, there are a number of other symbols as well, typed in a couple of different ways.

Emoji: えもじ

☎ ♨ 〄 〠

〠 is a variant postal mark

〄 shows that a product complies with the Japanese industrial standard

♨ looks like a cup of java but actually has to do with hot springs (which Japan has a lot of)

☎ is a telephone symbol. You might see this next to a telephone number.

Postal: ゆうびん

〒 〠

You might see these symbols on letters or on a Japanese address (especially the first one).

Other Characters?

There are a few more things you can type in using Japanese input, but nothing all that interesting. The ones I’ve written about above are the best and most useful (unless you’re typing out a lot of math, or something). If you are interested in the other ones, check out the Wikipedia article or this article.

Now, I fully expect all your Tofugu comments to be full of musical notes and onsen symbols. Have at it!

P.S. Interested in business? Check out my business blog.

P.P.S. If you can type 140 special characters in Japanese, you should follow Tofugu on Twitter.

  • Bokusenou

    Just ゆき brings up ☃❆❅❄(AKA a snowman and three different snowflakes) as well.

  • Steffi Paner 夏美夏美由希子

    how can i download Japanese IME

  • Arisa

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  • Darrell Myers

    This is nice to know. But does anyone know ( on a Mac) how to type small hiragana and katana.
    Example あ「あああ」But the あ’s in the quotations would be slightly smaller. Any answers? Thanks.

  • koichi


    Etc for the smalls!

  • Tarerarerukamo

    Don’t forget kao かお (*^^)v(*^_^*)(#^.^#) (ーー;) (^o^)丿

  • 無羅沙季


    Α α あるふぁ
    Β β べーた
    Γ γ がんま
    Δ δ でるた


  • 無羅沙季

    … or just write 「なかぐろ」=「・」

  • (しめ)〆

    Oops, that was supposed to be a reply to Antony Crisp below. Sorry ’bout that.

  • Pingback: Typing Japanese Special Characters | JapanLike

  • Japanese Level Up

    But what about the ultra hidden characters?

  • Joe.

    Well, it didn’t show the picture. If you look on Google images, search this up:

    Wooden Samurai Sword At Gibralter

    It’s the 4th picture on the top row.

  • Joe.

    So, I got this new Samurai sword (So we think it’s Japanese symbols). And it has a PI looking symbol on the handle. (If you search it on Google Images, it’s the one with 3 swords on a rack, and it shows it closed, and than opened. Mine is the bottom one, the longest.) It has a little triangle opening at the top of every painted ‘PI’ looking symbol. Does anyone know what it means?..

    Picture of it:       Mine is the one on the bottom. But, notice how there are PI symbols. Anyone know? Thanks!

  • Lynx

    accidentally finding out that I could get the star shape by typing
    “hoshi” I tried to do the same thing with “kokoro” and “ha-to” in hope
    that I could get the heart but they didn’t work. I have been scouring the internet for a long time looking for a tutorial for typing the heart shape but they all tell me the same thing I already know and not what I was looking for (the Alt + 3 on Numpad) it drove me nearly insane. I’m so happy I finally found this  T_____T omg thank you thank you thank you!!

  • Ju Freitas


  • VastDragonden901

    きごう➗…a little tip,an American Wii/Wii U will bring up ALL symbols and special letters like this:€£.

  • Bui Hanh Duyen

    とてもいいポスト な!♪ ♡ 本当にありがとう❣ ( ̄▽ ̄)

  • ☆★dimple boy★☆


  • mikuotakukpop

    (*≧m≦*) (>_oo人<)
    щ(ಠ益ಠщ) (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ щ(ಥДಥщ)
    o(≧o≦)o (⋋▂⋌) (◣_◢)

  • Jocelyn

    i need help on how to type the little Д!