Kawaii Emoticons we are using in Japan

16 Jun

Thanks to the suggestion from one of the TKE readers the other day that I can write about Japanese emoticons, I’d like to share with you what kind of emoticons we usually use with cell phones in Japan. Emoticons are called “emoji” in Japanese. (“e”= picture “moji”= letters/characters) I think we have a lot of kawaii emoticons, some are still, while others even have a little movement. πŸ™‚

There are basically 3 major cell phone (= keitai denwa in Japanese, and people call it “keitai” to make it short.) companies in Japan: Docomo, Softbank and au. Each company has developed its own emoticons but they are to be interpreted to the similar or equivalent ones when the email with emoticons is sent to someone whose cell phone belongs to other company. For instance, let’s say a boy has Docomo’s cell phone. When he sends an email with Docomo’s emoticons to a girl who has au’s cell phone, she will receive the email with emoticons translated into au’s emoticons. When there are no equivalent, it can be translated as a word that represents the emoticon.

Docomo (This page has more in detail.)

Softbank (This page has more in detail.)

au (This page has more in detail.)

As you see, Docomo’s emoticons are not very attractive compared with the other two.

Emoji like above are basically for cell phones. I’m sure you are interested in the case with computer…right?

For computers we enjoy wide variety of Kaomoji (“kao” means face in Japanese.) Kaomoji is just a combination of Japanese letters, characters and codes typed by Japanese keyboard. Thus anyone can make creative and expressive facial expressions from any combinations of the Japanese computer keyboard. I’ll show you some examples. (Disclaimer: credit to Kaomoji Paradise where you can see kaomoji sorted by the situation or emotions such as “laugh” or “nod” or “run”.)

Further more, ascii art is more than just an icon but it’s really an art!
Disclaimer: credit to Doko AA.

But of course, the people who actually create or use ascii art are very limited. Also busy people do not use many Kaomoji and instead they may use “w” as a smiley (note: too many “w” makes people annoyed. e.g. “wwwwwww”) or something like 1 Kanji letter in parenthesis (see below for example.)

What do you think of Japanese Emoji, Kaomoji and ascii art? How are they compared with yours? Do you have similar emoticons in your country or do you have interesting emoticons? Hope you enjoy this post. πŸ™‚


25 Responses to “Kawaii Emoticons we are using in Japan”

  1. Salma June 16, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Wow, that's a nice post! The ascii art I use in Egypt are more related to occasions like birthdays and feasts. As for the emoticons, they are almost similar, but the Japanese ones are more detailed and full of much more emoticons πŸ™‚

    • kirin June 17, 2011 at 5:55 am #

      Oh, I thought ascii art was only available in Japan. XD Your have the Egyptian version over there!!

  2. Tami June 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Emoticons are fun and pretty usefull too, in written text emotions get lost so things can be missunderstood way to easily, emoticons really help to avoid that if used properly.
    (sometimes i wish it was ok to use em in business mails… depending on the client i actually do use them but most of the time it's not really an option)

    Always been a fan of the japanese ASCII art and the Kaomoji Paradise site is pretty handy too. (≧▽≦)γƒŽ
    Actually, those are my only reason (for now) for having the japanese keyboard enabled on my iPhone… (*´¨ο½€*) <– hard to make out but these lil ones are soo cute… ^^;

    • kirin June 17, 2011 at 5:56 am #

      I see you can make use of Japanese keyboard for kawaii kaomoji! ^__^

  3. Barxs June 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    I love kaomojis!! On my Itouch I have the japanese keyboard activated just to use them XD

    • kirin June 17, 2011 at 5:57 am #

      How interesting Japanese keyboard can be used in that way!

  4. Magali June 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Amazing ! Cats are funny !!

    • kirin June 17, 2011 at 6:00 am #

      You can also make use of them if you install Japanese keyboard into your computer. ^ ^

  5. Angel June 17, 2011 at 12:04 am #

    I think the use of ascii as an art form is really creative and certainly takes some patience! I love Japansese Kaomoji, I think it's very cute and expressive.

    I've adopted a few Japanese-inspired Kaomoji. For example, I find that many people, including myself, use ones like these frequently:
    " xD, ^_^ (>_<);; , (@_@);;, (>_>) , ( ; w ;)/ TT____TT, "

    and things like that. I still use some "smileys" such as the old school " πŸ™‚ " smile face like this, this is more common in the US to use ones like that. But since the Japanese keyboard is so different, you have a lot more symbols to play with to make your Kaomoji more interesting an cute!!

    • kirin June 17, 2011 at 5:59 am #

      Sorry, somehow this blog converts your kaomoji into its smiley icons automatically, which is why you see them different from how you typed. 😦

      • Angel June 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

        Oh whoops! you're right! Sorry about that.

      • kirin June 19, 2011 at 2:26 am #

        Sorry, never mind that. I see how you exactly typed in my email. All the comments are to be emailed and that's how I know which post got a new comment. ^ ^

  6. maneki neko June 17, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Hahaha those Kaomoji are so cute!!! Going to that website I like this one —-> (*οΌΎβ–‘οΌΎοΌ‰γƒ‹γƒ£οΎŠοΎŠοΎŠοΎŠοΎŠοΎŠ!!!!

    I had to turn on rikaichan and it said that one is "wild laughter" or "enjoy/fun" (tanoshii!) or something.

    • kirin June 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      Rikaichan? Is it a Japanese kaomoji tool you have over there or something? Glad to hear you enjoy Japanese kaomoji!!

  7. Feli June 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    This is an interesting post! I didn't know that cellphones in japan had that many emoji. Thanks for sharing this information πŸ™‚

    • kirin June 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

      My pleasure! You know sometimes I don't even notice that Japanese emoji collections are so rich, unless pointed out by my readers. lol

  8. Kaoru June 18, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    seriously, i hate ppl who uses a lot of Emoji…i find it really annoying….back when i was in japan, those girls used it alot when sending mail to my cell….i hated it…
    on the other hand, i really like Kaomoji…..it is very intesting to see how a small tiny character, when put together, can make something so beautiful!

    dont have sell Kaomoji stamps too???i've seen those in japan! really cool!

  9. Hytare June 24, 2011 at 5:52 am #

    how interesting! where I live we don't this kind of emojis… they're diferent. We use Gifts , mostly from differents animes series :D, for example, if you like Totoro, you make a gift of Totoro smiling, then use it when you want to say you're smiling… is kind of like a long process so I don't do it, I just use: πŸ™‚ o 😦 o πŸ˜€ and xD and thats it, lol

    • kirin June 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

      Thank you for your comment.
      Glad you foud it interesting. ^ ^

  10. Toru July 10, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    Me and my friends use a few emoji but not as much,it's usually quite simple as we only really use them for quite pointless reasons, the only ones most people use are: (^_^) / (^o^) / πŸ™‚ / 😦 / πŸ˜‰ / πŸ˜€ / D: / XD / ❀ I use ❀ and (^_^) a lot.I wish we had that meny emoji in england though, our phones have barely any or none which is quite sad because if we had more I would probibly use them more oftern.

    • kirin July 10, 2011 at 11:29 am #

      Sorry about the conversion of your emoji. This IntenseDebate system often change them automatically. m(_ _)m (This is Japanese kaomoji expressing someone apologizing with hands at both sides and bowing.)

  11. β†Ή September 21, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    πŸ’‘ :mrgreen: πŸ’‘

  12. beatscribe March 5, 2018 at 3:57 am #

    These are super cool! I was wondering, if I were to use these in a project (here in USA) would it be any kind of copyright infringement?

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