Update: For Ubuntu 14.04, please use this guide.

This is a follow-up to my old Writing japanese with Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx article featuring the latest Ubuntu LTS version. In particular this guide is based on a fresh install of the first support release 12.04.1, which is the most recent update as of this writing. This guide is also directly applicable to Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal. Personally I'm not that fond of the changes, that were made in the language installer between 10.04 und 12.04, because it was previously possible to (de)select components like translations and extra fonts. If you're new to japanese input in Ubuntu, I will give you a quick overview regarding the components, that you will set up in this guide. If you already know IBus and Anthy or don't care, you can directly jump to step 1. So what is IBus you might ask. Good question. Just think of it is a software, which is put in between your keyboard and the textfield, texteditor etc. where you want to input some text. E.g. when you press the "o"-key on your keyboard in an IBus-enabled textfield, it is sent to IBus, which then can do something with the "o" and then sends some output into the textfield. The "do something" part is handled by so called "input methods". The input method for japanese is called Anthy which can do simple character transformations e.g. from latin "o" to  "お " or "オ" and advanced conversions by offering a candidates dialog when converting to kanji. I guess that's enough theory for now, so here we go:

  1. Open up the System Settings and click on "Language Support"

    System Settings Language Support

  2. We are now in the "Language support" window.


  3. Click on "Install / Remove Languages..." to bring up the "Installed Languages" window. Scroll down to "Japanese" and activate the respective check-box.


  4. After clicking on "Apply Changes", you need to authenticate.


  5. After entering your password, the packages will be downloaded and installed.


  6. When the operation is finished and you are back in the "Language Support" window, set the "Keyboard input method system" to "ibus".

  7. Now you you have to logout / login to start the ibus daemon. Notice the new keyboard icon sitting in your notification area.


  8. IBus is now configured and all that is left is to set up Anthy. For this you have to click on "Preferences" in the IBus tray menu to bring up the "IBus Preferences" window.


  9. In this window, you need to change the "Show language panel" option from "Embedded in menu" to "When active".


  10. Next open the "Input Method" tab.


  11. To add Anthy, you first need to activate the check-box next to "Customize active input method" .  Now click on "Select an input method" and select Japanese->Anthy.


  12. After clicking on "Add" you're done.


  13. Now fire up you favorite text editor and hit Ctrl+Space to start writing japanese. Also notice the language panel, that lets you control Anthy. The icon with the tools opens Anthy's configuration window, where you eventually want to adjust the keyboard shortcuts e.g. for converting to katakana (default F7) etc.


That's it. I hope, this post answered all 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 extremely useful Japanese software and websites.

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