I accidentally typed "zh" using the Japanese IME on macOS Sierra. Surprisingly, "zh" turned into a "←" character! Why does it do this? I would have expected it to produce just "zh", like it does with other two consecutive consonants: "kr" is "kr", "mn" is "mn". Why is "zh" a left arrow?

I did some guessing and thought that the "h" must stand for 左, that's why it's a left arrow and not a right one. Then I tried "zm", thinking that it would give me a right arrow because "m" stands for 右, it didn't.

I am so confused. What does "zh" stand for? Why a left arrow? How do I do a right one?

Note: the left arrow is U+2190 "LEFTWARDS ARROW"

  • I think this question may suit more on Ask different or somewhere. Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 4:05

1 Answer 1


I can't tell you about the wherefore but that seems to be a shortcut associated with the letter z + hjkl-directional keys. Moreover this doesn't work with all IME (but it can be reproduced with Google IME, you can try that on Google Translate website)

                                           enter image description here

I dug a bit more and here a list of keys that goes with the z-mod key.

  • ZH   ← (左矢印)
  • ZJ   ↓ (下矢印)
  • ZK   ↑ (上矢印)
  • ZL   → (右矢印)
  • Z,(コンマ)   ‥ (二点リーダ)
  • Z.(ピリオド)   … (三点リーダ)
  • Z/   ・ (中点)
  • Z[   『 (始め二重かぎ括弧)
  • Z]   』 (終わり二重かぎ括弧)
  • Z-   ~ (波ダッシュ)


  • 3
    That is fascinating. For those unfamiliar with it, the hjkl keys, aka 'Vi keys', are used in a bunch of oldschool software such as Vi-style text editors and roguelike text-mode games. I can confirm zh,zj,zk,zl also work in the Japanese Anthy input method on Linux. Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 10:38
  • Do you think Z stand for anything?
    – Sweeper
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 10:50
  • 1
    @Sweeper I don't have a clue. The only things I know is that zh (etc.) stands for scroll left in Vim so they may took the inspiration from that. Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 10:58
  • 1
    – naruto
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 11:48
  • 1
    I've avoided うえ・した because I want to type 上・下 more often than their arrow symbol and on the other hand the actual arrows more often that spelling out "arrow symbol". As for ≒, it's behind = in Mozc/Google IME along with ≠ but I can't test Baidu IME right now. You could probably edit your romaji table and add something like "z=" for ≒.
    – siikamiika
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 17:18

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