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Here is a really quick and rough tutorial for enabling the Japanese keyboard on your iPhone, which allows you to type in hiragana, katakana, and kanji. For some reason, even though there is rumor that the iPhone will be making its way sometime not too far from now to Japan, the Japanese language keyboard is not enabled on the device, though its functionality is clearly working and arguably ready to go. (Thanks to the info http://web.mac.com/mac_scott/ and some others for getting me the necessary steps to get this working.) This assumes that you aren’t afraid to get your hand a little dirty with some command line action on your iPhone. I also claim no responsibility for what *may* happen when performing this task. I’m not sure what damage you could do if things get ugly, so proceed with caution. This addresses the problem that I ran into, wherein I cannot login to the Term-vt100 app for the iPhone, so I had to get creative about how to change a file to enable the Japanese keyboard. My phone is running firmware version 1.1.4; it seems that somewhere 1.1.3 or later, this login problem arose.

The first steps are to jailbreak your phone, and install a few of the necessary apps, including BossPrefs, the BSD Subsystem package, and the OpenSsh client. Once you do this, you can disable Edge, make sure WiFi is enabled, and enable the SSH service. You will want to do both, as the “alpine” password is well known, and you might as well be as safe as possible about this.

I found the file I needed to change under the /var/mobile directory on the iPhone. When you have started SSH on your iPhone and connected to your wireless router, check the ip address in BossPrefs under WiFi. Fire up the Terminal on your computer also connected to the same network, and enter the following (replace xx.xx.xx.xx with the IP address of your iPhone):

scp root@xx.xx.xx.xx:/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist ~/Desktop/GlobalPreferences.plist

You will need to enter “alpine” when prompted for the password. Now check to see if GlobalPreferences.plist is now on your Desktop. Now you can edit this file in two ways. Most importantly, in this file, you need to change the “AppleKeyboards” node to also include a node for “ja” in addition to “en_US”. You can convert the plist to an XML text file by running the following in the Terminal, and edit the file in your favorite text editor:

plutil -convert xml1 ~/Desktop/GlobalPreferences.plist

Change the block of text that looks like:




and add the “ja” node so it looks like:




Then to convert it back to binary (the format that it was in), run this in the Terminal:

plutil -convert binary1 ~/Desktop/GlobalPreferences.plist

However, the *easier* way to edit the file, is to double-click it, which in OSX, should open the file in Property List Editor. Once in there, click the triangle next to “AppleKeyboards”. You will see one String with the value “en_US”. Click the “New Sibling” button in the editor and type “ja” in the new field provided. Then save.

Once you have edited your prefs file, you need to stick it back on the phone. Run this in the Terminal:

scp ~/Desktop/GlobalPreferences.plist root@xx.xx.xx.xx:/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist

You will again be prompted for the same password. Once the upload is complete, go to BossPrefs, and turn off SSH and turn back on Edge. Restart your iPhone. You should now be able to type Japanese characters. Go to Notes. You should see a little globe icon next to the space bar. If you click this it will squash the keyboard down some and when you type, you will see options in Japanese charaters for what you are typing. It behaves similarly to typing Japanese on your Mac keyboard. For example, when you type “hanashimasu”, you will see “はなします” as an option in the space above the keyboard. Click the globe to toggle between modes.