Kaomoji or Japanese emoticons

One of the things that fascinate me about Japan, is the fact that they mostly have the same stuff we do, but in a different version. It makes you realize how many different ways there are of doing the same thing.

A very good example is the way Japanese people use emoticons. For the more digitally challenged among you, I will start at the beginning: an emoticon is a depiction of a facial expression using punctuation marks, numbers and letters. Emoticons are often used to express emotion while chatting or writing informal e-mails. Western emoticons are faces ‘lying on their side’. For example:

:- )   smiley face        –>  Happy birthday! :- )

:-s   embarrassed       –>  Oops! I’m so sorry :-s

;- )   winking

Japanese emoticons are called ‘kaomoji’, from the words for face (kao) and emoticon (emoji). And as you might have guessed by now, they are nothing like Western emoticons. If you ask me, they are so much cooler! For starters they are not rotated. You ‘read’ them as they are. For example:

^_^    simple smiley face

(^_^;)    embarrassed face (there is a sweat drop to the side of the face)

(^_~)    winking

Aren’t they cute? There is a lot more variation in Japanese emoticons than in Western ones. Some of them are pretty elaborate. Have a look at these:

(*´▽`*) infatuated

(@_@)      feeling dizzy

>^..^<       a cat

(*^▽^*)      very happy face

I also find it interesting to see how some emotional expressions are different in Japanese culture, like for example the drop of sweat to express discomfort or a bow to apologize:

m(_ _)m   person bowing down in apology, the letter m represents a hand

What is your favourite emoticon?

11 thoughts on “Kaomoji or Japanese emoticons

Add yours

  1. There are so many great ones. I like this the most, because it will get me into good mood, everytime I see it 😀 (mybe because I have to imagine Big Bang’s “Fantastic Baby” then XD)

    イエーィヾ( ̄ー ̄)ゞヾ(_ _)〃ヾ( ̄o ̄)ゞヾ(_ _)〃ダンスダンス

  2. I keep trying to use Japanese emoticons when I’m texting, but a lot of people get confused haha. Those who figure it out think it’s cute, though ^_^

    1. Haha, same here. Most Belgian people don’t know that kind of emoticon. I does take a little getting used to, but once you ‘make the click in your head’ and get them easily, I think they are so much cuter. Good thing I have this blog where I can use them ^_^

  3. I love that I can access all these emoji on my Japanese cell phone when I’m writing mails too! Talk about handy-dandy! …or facey-pacey! (?)

    My fav is this one > > > (❍ᴥ❍ʋ)

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