Is it possible to create a Japanese-style font for use with the Japanese keyboard layout, where I type two letters or a vowel, for example ba, and it converts it into a glyph?

EDIT: Clarification. I want it to act just like the Japanese input source, but use my own glyphs.

EDIT 2: Renaming the question to make it more clear.


The conversion of letters into glyphs is done by the keyboard, not by the font. So there is no need to create a font, unless you want to generate glyphs not in Unicode. If you want to type two letters and have it turned into an already existing glyph, there are lots of ways, including:

  • use the US keyboard and make entries in the replacement grid of system prefs/keyboard/text.
  • create a custom keyboard layout with the Ukelele or Karabiner apps.
  • create a custom input method as mentioned in OS X: Create and use your own input source

If you want to duplicate the mechanism of the Japanese keyboard, you will need to examine the workings of system/library/input methods/JapaneseIM.app

If you want to create a font with custom glyphs, there are various apps for that like Fontlab, Fontforge, Robofont, Type, and Glyphs. Whether or not you can make the Japanese IM use a custom font to generate your custom glyphs you would have to test -- I have not seen this done by anyone before.

  • I want it to act just like the Japanese input source, but use my own glyphs.
    – atirit
    Mar 18 '16 at 22:49
  • The font editors I've found only let me set stuff for a, b, c, etc., not ba, be, bi, etc. Is there a font editor for fonts that work like that?
    – atirit
    Mar 19 '16 at 1:27
  • After poking around for a bit, I found RomajiRule_Kotoeri.txt. It has a table sort of thing where a = its character, ba, be, bi, etc. Should I create a few fonts with my glyphs and edit that file?
    – atirit
    Mar 19 '16 at 16:07
  • @ghostpotato Sorry, I don't know what role that file plays in the input system. I would not recommend trying to use the Japanese IM for something else, you could do a lot of work for no result. Better to use one of the other custom keyboard suggestions. What is your final purpose for this project? Non-unicode glyphs will only be visible on your own machine, nowhere else. Mar 19 '16 at 16:23
  • I just want to use it for myself. I created a font using RoboFont that uses à, á, and other accented characters as the glyphs. Using that I can type in my font but I have to hold the key for stuff. I have a file that has ba, be, bi, etc. lined up with the accented char it should convert to, which in turn converts to my glyphs. How can I make a layout that uses that file?
    – atirit
    Mar 21 '16 at 0:38

Simply add Japanese input (Kotoeri) in Languages preferences and it will do the exact job you need.

  • I think the OP already knows how to do that. He wants to use the Japanese keyboard layout to do something else than type japanese. Otherwise the question is pretty silly to ask here. Mar 18 '16 at 22:13

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