This is a follow-up on the former articles "Writing Japanese with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Xenial Xerus", "Writing Japanese with Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr", "Writing Japanese with Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin" and "Writing Japanese with Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx".

With Ubuntu switching over to Gnome Shell, the configuration utility looks slightly different from to the previous LTS versions but I'll (hopefully) safely guide you through it and over the small stumbling stone while setting up the Japanese input.

So let's start:

  1. Open up the system settings by clicking on the icon with the screwdriver and wrench crossing each other in the menu that comes up when clicking on the icons at the right top of the screen. Then select "Region & Language" on the left side of the opened window and click on "Manage Installed Languages".
  2. Eventually a dialog with the words "The language support is not installed completely" might come up. You can ignore it by clicking on "Remind Me Later". Now you should see a window called "Language Support". In this window, click on "Install / Remove Languages...".
  3. In the opened "Installed Languages"-window, find the Japanese entry inside the list and click on the checkbox next to it so it's checked. Then, click on "Apply".
  4. Next, enter your password in the appearing authentication dialog and click on "Authenticate.
  5. The necessary packages will now be downloaded and installed. Nothing to do for you in this step, but you can already start to save open documents and close unused windows in preparation for the next one. :-)
  6. After the Japanese language support is installed, you have to log out. This is the small stumbling stone I mentioned before. For the installed input method to show up, the session needs to be restarted. This is really kind of annoying but there's nothing you can do about that at this point. :-(
  7. Now reopen the "Region & Language" settings but this time click on the small button with the Plus-Sign below the Input Sources.
  8. In the "Add an Input Source"-dialog, first click on "Japanese" and then select "Japanese (Mozc)". Now click "Add".
  9. The entry "Japanese (Mozc)" should now appear in the list of Input Sources along with the system icon. Also notice the "Options"-button, that now appeared at the right side of the "Input Sources"-label. When you click it, the opened dialog allows you to specify whether input sources are global or window-specific. I recommend to set it to "Allow different sources for each window".
  10. You should be ready to go now. Open the text editor, click on the system icon to switch between the input sources, select "Japanese (Mozc)" and then "Hiragana" as the "Input Mode". You should now be able to type Japanese. Switching between candidates is done by pressing the spacebar and katakana-conversion is done by pressing F7.

I hope, this article answered your first questions regarding Japanese input in Ubuntu.

If this article was useful to you, you might also be interested in my (short) list of Japanese learning materials and software for Linux and how to type specific symbols and radicals in Mozc / Google’s Japanese IME. I've also recently started a new project called Lyzo-Translations where I translate Japanese web novels if anyone is interested in these. Kind regards

39 Responses to “Writing Japanese with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Bionic Beaver”

  1. GST
    March 10th, 2018 at 23:48

    After following these instructions on Ubuntu Budgie 17.10, every keystroke leads to a japanese character. There are no key combinations. Also, there are no additional options in the keyboard selector other than the language (e.g., Input Mode or Tools — as in your last image). Any idea how to fix?

  2. Anon
    April 21st, 2018 at 01:56

    This helped so much! Thanks!

  3. SZ
    April 21st, 2018 at 10:39

    It does not work on 18.04 LTS if you log in using “Gnome on Wayland”, because the “Japanese (mozc)” thing does not appear in the Language Selector menu (step 09).

  4. hm
    May 19th, 2018 at 10:56

    If you don’t see “Japanese (Mozc)” in Input Sources, try this: log out once, then log back in. This happened to me on the first boot after installing 18.04.

  5. Seb
    June 20th, 2018 at 02:19

    This worked perfectly, thank you!

  6. Nobu
    August 15th, 2018 at 04:26

    I can’t switch between English and Mozc with Space bar nor using Ctrl-Win-Space as described on another site.  On Windows it is really easy to switch back and forth.Do you have any advice?

  7. Sean
    August 28th, 2018 at 07:50

    Use Win+Space, not Ctrl+Win+Space to switch.
    And does anybody have a keyboard shortcut for switching from hiragana to latin input?

  8. Kaan
    September 17th, 2018 at 10:20

    Thanks a lot!

  9. PP
    September 25th, 2018 at 21:49

    Thank you!

  10. Lebad
    October 8th, 2018 at 12:17

    It’s trying to install the Firefox locale and fails because it cannot fetch something. Any workaround? I don’t even use Firefox.

  11. brother
    October 10th, 2018 at 20:22

    On 9th step it doesn’t show Japanese(Mozc). Please help

  12. Mori
    October 14th, 2018 at 22:41

    Thanks. It’s very helpful for me especially about “logout” is essential.

  13. brother
    October 17th, 2018 at 18:02

    I am using Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS, I do every step just as you showed but on 8th step, when i click on Japanese I see every option but Japanese(Mozc). Please help

  14. brother
    November 8th, 2018 at 18:13

    I fixed the problem! Turns out my ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS wasn’t installed correclty so i had to format and reinstall the system, it works now.

  15. brother
    November 9th, 2018 at 17:23

    I kinda enjoy posting stuff here every now and then.

  16. brother
    November 12th, 2018 at 12:40

    Turtle shaped raspberry cakes with chocolate icing are the best!

  17. no
    January 1st, 2019 at 07:49

    All the way to Step 10 with correct menu, and with Japanese(Mozc) and Input method — Hiragana selected, all I can type is still English! Does not work on Ubuntu 18.

  18. Craig H
    January 13th, 2019 at 08:55

    No mention of the setting for “Keyboard Input Method System”, offering choices of “fcitx”, “IBus”, “XIM”, and “none”.

  19. Alexandre
    February 21st, 2019 at 04:51

    Honestly, this is awesome.

    I have a custom keyboard layout (totally different from qwert) and my layout works with Japanese (mozc). Love you guys!!!!

  20. gomasterzero
    March 20th, 2019 at 21:43

    thanks, was a great help !!

  21. MRU
    March 31st, 2019 at 13:35

    Thanks a lot for sharing this information.

  22. Resubi
    May 19th, 2019 at 09:20

    Why I still cannot inpress japanese,,,

  23. Ponchan
    May 21st, 2019 at 19:56

    Thanks, it helped a lot. Damn that “log out” trick…

  24. daredare
    June 12th, 2019 at 17:38

    As of June 2019, if you have other keyboard input methods (for example, I have Greek), then hirigana input will not work out of the box when switching from those input methods because you will still be typing, e.g., Greek characters. The solution is to run the command

    sudo sed -i ‘s|default|jp|’ /usr/share/ibus/component/mozc.xml

    in the terminal, as described at

    Moreover, running this command doesn’t hurt anything even if you don’t have other keyboard layouts to worry about, so it should probably be part of the instructions.

    (Sorry if this is a double post; my previous comment did not appear.)

  25. Cjz
    June 14th, 2019 at 06:23


  26. GrasKauwer
    August 5th, 2019 at 19:04


    In the Kana input mode I found out that my laptop doesn’t have all the necessary keys to type every character. I’m missing the ^ key which should be the only way to type へ. Is there any way to change the layout in order to type へ with my current keyboard?


  27. grae
    August 14th, 2019 at 04:24

    Thankyou very much for this moritzmolch, a much needed and very clear explanation.

  28. Heidi
    September 9th, 2019 at 23:28

    Thank you for the great and clear instruction! Followed you instruction and got Japanese hiragana, katakana, and kanji up and running on Ubuntu18 in no time.

  29. Jonji
    October 22nd, 2019 at 17:18

    Best guidance across the web. Solved ! Thanks-

  30. Federico
    October 29th, 2019 at 13:37


  31. pgp
    December 9th, 2019 at 22:22

    It works ! Thanks a lot !

  32. Nepalese
    December 16th, 2019 at 21:16

    जस्ले जे भनेनि मलाई चाएको बेलामा उद्दार गरि हाल्यो, तेत्ति भए बाकी मलाई बाल।।
    thanks ब्रो, हामी येस्तै त होनी ओ

  33. xupita
    January 23rd, 2020 at 16:47

    it is a excellent post about how to configure your ubuntu’s keyboard to write in japanese (nihongo, hiragana, katakana).

    thank you for your precise work!


  34. Jonas
    January 31st, 2020 at 00:09

    Is there anychance to the japanese keyboard been selected while I type my user password in log in? I’m afraid to never be able to log anymore hahaha (due the the wrong password, as the keyboard is in japanese)

  35. Anonymous
    February 2nd, 2020 at 06:25

    Thanks a lot! You saved the day! It’s a mystery to me why this seemed to be a permanent issue with Ubuntu… back when I was sing Suse Linux you would select a Primary Language and then a Secondary Language and then things just worked. With Ubuntu though, for some reason, extra hoops need to be jumped through with each new version…. Anyway, again, thank you very much for this!

  36. koyakun
    February 8th, 2020 at 01:05

    Thanks for this great guide! I recommend adding the following fix for setting the “switch input” keyboard shortcuts to mirror Windows Alt+Shift shortcut (which many users will be more accustomed to than Super+Space).
    In terminal:
    gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-input-source “[‘Shift_L’]”
    gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-input-source-backward “[‘Alt_L’]”
    (adapted from
    Also, Please consider adding this info:
    Press the following function keys after typing to quickly convert kana/romaaji: Hiragana: F6; katakana: F7; hankaku-katakana: F8; zenkaku-romaaji: F9; hankaku-romaaji: F10 (or toggle with spacebar)

  37. Fried
    February 19th, 2020 at 04:46

    Thanks for your descrition. It saved me a lot of time. If you know how to play Video CD, CDC with VTS_01_0.BUB, VOB -Files on ubuntu Systems, I would be grateful if you told me. I tryed Totem, VLC and
    others, but nothing functioned. On an older system all those Discs functioned.

    Thank you again

  38. Anonymous
    March 19th, 2020 at 14:50

    Excellent! I can now write in Japanese without any problems. A quick and painless solution to a lingering problem. Thanks for the easy to follow instructions.

  39. Jordan
    June 19th, 2020 at 05:13

    ありがとう!Seems to be working for me! Now I can continue the process of learning Japanese! So far working without a problem!

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