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)
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:
(@_@) 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?