I’m not only writing on it now; I also took it to work for a few weeks to write usual English prose and code.
It was torture, my muscle memory suddenly turned my nemesis. I made many typos. I enABLED CAPS LOCK BY ACCIDENT all the time. I lost my ability to take screenshots. I had to copy and paste the backslash, which simply… doesn’t exist here.
But it also became a great “what if” exercise. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have to hold Shift to get @ or :. That felt amazing. The smaller spacebar didn’t bother me at all. Pressing the impressive Return… it was just so much fun. And the many-legended keys ceased to overwhelm, and started feeling empowering. Just like I wanted to take the best parts of Japan home with me, some of these ideas will find their way to other keyboards I have.
But this keyboard is also yet another testament to QWERTY as Moloch. Other input methods, some quite ingenuous, came and went; what Japan ended up with was roughly the same keyboard as any other in the world.
And so, from a distance, my new keyboard looks like a regular boring Apple slab of white keys. But it pays off if you look at it closely. It reveals stories, surprises, and little design details… which is exactly what Japan did when I was there. And in that way, I’m glad to have this keyboard that will always remind me of Japan itself – and not just through the kana and kanji printed on its keys.