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Raspberry Pi keyboards for Japan are here!

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When we announced new keyboards for Portugal and the Nordic countries last month, we promised that you wouldn’t have to wait much longer for a variant for Japan, and now it’s here!

Japanese Raspberry Pi keyboard

The Japan variant of the Raspberry Pi keyboard required a whole new moulding set to cover the 83-key arrangement of the keys. It’s quite a complex keyboard, with three different character sets to deal with. Figuring out how the USB keyboard controller maps to all the special keys on a Japanese keyboard was particularly challenging, with most web searches leading to non-English websites. Since I don’t read Japanese, it all became rather bewildering.

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We ended up reverse-engineering generic Japanese keyboards to see how they work, and mapping the keycodes to key matrix locations. We are fortunate that we have a very patient keyboard IC vendor, called Holtek, which produces the custom firmware for the controller.

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We then had to get these prototypes to our contacts in Japan, who told us which keys worked and which just produced a strange squiggle that they didn’t understand either. The “Yen” key was particularly difficult because many non-Japanese computers read it as a “/” character, no matter what we tried to make it work.

Special thanks are due to Kuan-Hsi Ho of Holtek, to Satoka Fujita for helping me test the prototypes, and to Matsumoto Seiya for also testing units and checking the translation of the packaging.

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Get yours today

You can get the new Japanese keyboard variant in red/white from our Approved Reseller, SwitchScience, based in Japan.

If you’d rather your keyboard in black/grey, you can purchase it from Pimoroni and The Pi Hut in the UK, who both offer international shipping.

Website: LINK

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Written by Maria Richter

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