When it comes to mechanical keyboards, the best-of-the-best brands are situated in Japan. They are one of the most notorious countries for mechanical keyboard enthusiasts since they cater mechanical keyboards to both gamers and non-gamers alike. Japanese mechanical keyboards are often shipped at hefty prices to other parts of the world and are usually very limited in quantity. In short, they are very hard to come by.
Japanese mechanical keyboards offer a unique selection for gamers and typists. Some of the most well-known brands include HHKB, Filco, and Realforce. If you happen to chance by an opportunity to get your hands on these keyboards, then you should get one. Many enthusiasts consider them as must-haves in your keyboard collection.
To further showcase Japan’s excellence in manufacturing mechanical keyboards, the nation boasts of its mechanical switch fit for industrial use. Topre switches are Japanese-made mechanical switches that combine the excellence of membrane and mechanical keyboard switches. These switches have a unique feel that is a must-try for any mechanical keyboard enthusiast.
It comes by no shock then that Japan produces high-quality and sought-after mechanical keyboards. In this article, we will be discussing some of the top Japanese keyboard brands that you can look out for and buy. We will discuss their origin, top-selling features, and even recommended models to start building your Japanese mechanical keyboard collection.
Top Three Japanese Keyboards Brands
Happy Hacking Keyboard (HHKB)
Recommended Keyboard Model: HHKB Classic
Happy Hacking Keyboards (HHKB) is a remarkable keyboard brand that started in 1995 with their cardboard model called the “Aleph Keyboard.” This keyboard discarded the ‘unnecessary’ function keys for easier touch typing. The brand’s founder, Professor Eiiti Wada, had a unique vision for keyboards; he desired an “iconic digital companion” which prioritized speed, reliability, and accuracy above all things.
From this groundbreaking vision, the unique and aesthetically-pleasing HHKB layout was born. All other keyboard models followed the construction and spirit of the Aleph, making it easier for professionals to touch-type with great speed and accuracy. Their keyboards are also long-lasting and durable, making up for the hefty price tag attached to their keyboard models. In addition to this, they also boast of a two-year warranty to ensure an excellent typing experience without any worries from their users.
Their form-factor and unique minimalist approach to keyboard production have influenced many brands. The keyboard market, following their influence, has also moved to include many smaller form factors such as the 60%, 65%, and 75% layouts. However, many experienced keyboard enthusiasts note that the HHKB typing experience is unique to their brand alone.
Formerly, the HHKB brand limited its catering to developers but has since expanded to include other touch-typing veterans, such as authors and journalists. Long hours of typing are not difficult for users of the HHKB keyboard because their brand puts a premium on the user’s experience.
In sum, the HHKB brand is known for its minimalist aesthetic and excellent ergonomics. They are also a few keyboard brands that include the well-loved Topre switches. They have also influenced the keyboard market greatly, with many brands following their layout and premium design for typists.
For those looking to add an HHKB keyboard model to their collection, we recommend acquiring the HHKB Classic model. This keyboard employs the original wired HHKB designer layout and boasts of its classic HHKB experience with maximized ergonomics and excellent Topre switches. It also makes use of premium PBT material for its keycaps, which ensures that you can count on its long-lasting operation without unsightly signs of usage.
Recommended Keyboard Model: Filco Majestouch 2
Filco is another well-known Japanese brand for its excellent prebuilt keyboards, and the brand manufactures keyboard models for both typists and gamers. Their claim to fame is the Filco Majestouch 2, created in 2011, which we’ll discuss further later in this article.
Filco keyboards are produced by the Diatec Corporation of Japan-based in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. The company was established on June 17, 1982. The Filco keyboard line is known for its fame in South Korea, especially with South Korean professional gamers playing StarCraft Brood War and WarCraft III around 2008.
Filco’s influence in the keyboard market is also noteworthy, for they were one of the first gaming mechanical keyboards before the mechanical keyboard went mainstream in 2010. Since then, they have developed multiple keyboard models with multiple form-factors, such as the original full-form, the versatile tenkeyless (TKL), and the compact 60%.
Filco Majestouch 2
Despite its latent origin back in 2011, the Filco Majestouch 2 is still one of the best keyboards to use for gamers and typists alike. The keyboard has a minimalist design and a full layout which doesn’t compromise usability and is best for PC setups.
And it is also available in a smaller TKL form factor, should you not need the number pad for your everyday use. Because of its legendary status in the brand’s history, it is a must-have in your keyboard collection, especially if you’re a fan of the Filco brand.
Recommended Keyboard Model: Realforce RGB
The Topre Corporation produces Realforce keyboards, and the name seemingly speaks for itself. The Realforce brand is the original manufacturer of Topre switches. Their keyboard models are unique because Realforce is the only brand that uses Topre switches in full-size and TKL form factors.
The Realforce brand first came into the market in 2001. The keyboards they manufactured were aimed at general consumers. After some time, they produced the “RealForce R2” line, which placed them on the map of mechanical keyboard hobbyists.
Since then, they have crafted two targeted lineups, one for home and office use and another for gaming peripherals. Both of these mechanical keyboard lineups use the favored Topre switches.
Realforce boasts of its high quality and unique typing experience, which many mechanical keyboard enthusiasts attest to. The brand is one of the most sought-after names in the mechanical keyboard market because of its history and maintained high-quality typing experience through Topre switches.
Realforce R2 RGB Keyboard
When looking for your Realforce keyboard, we recommend getting the Realforce RGB model. It comes with its Realforce-brand software that allows you to change the actuation force when needed. This versatility makes it possible to use the keyboard both for office and gaming. It also offers gaming features such as per-key RGB, yet the keyboard model maintains the premium feel we expect from the Realforce brand.
Showcasing the three top Japanese brands for mechanical keyboards definitely puts Japan as one of the top nations to get your mechanical keyboards from. Their catering to gamers and typists alike opens a great number of options that can fit any mechanical keyboard hobbyist. To buy and acquire a mechanical keyboard from a Japanese brand, whether from HHKB, Filco, Realforce, is surely a keyboard enthusiast’s dream.