Ψ(｀∇´)Ψ ヽ(´―｀)ノ (*´д｀*) (´・ｪ・｀) ヽ(;´Д｀)ﾉ
What are those extremely cute smileys?!
Japanese emoticons are called Kaomoji 【顔文字【かおもじ】】 (face characters) or Emoji 【絵文字【えもじ】】 (picture characters). My first encounter with them was probably when I started playing Final Fantasy XI in 2002. At that time, the NA version hasn’t been released yet and the servers consisted of mainly Japanese players. While they were conversing, they used these very cute and expressive emoticons that I’ve never seen before. Then, I saw a fellow non-Japanese using it as well and I asked him what are these called. Kaomoji he replied, and told me I’d be able to find instructions on how to get them on a FFXI forum that we non-Japanese frequented. I went on the forum and browsed through the threads, sure enough, I came across one that taught users how to install Japanese emoticons for use in the game! This is what I am sharing in this post, how to use Japanese emoticons on your own english based PC.
What’s the difference between English and Japanese emoticons?
The difference between English emoticons and the Japanese variation is that the former is created to be read sideways :) and the latter is created to be read horizontally like regular text (´・ω・｀). Apart from that, Japanese emoticons have more symbols in them that can better express emotions and also make them look alot cuter. How this is possible is that the Japanese character code uses double-bytes. What that means is that their character code has more symbols than ours, and with those extra symbols they have gone all creative and created emoticons that are more complex, expressive, and horizontally readable. Oh, did I mention that they’re cuter? And if you think you are up to it, you can create your own as well, with this Reference mark page. Just type the appropriate Japanese characters and the symbols will appear and you can then piece together your own personal double-byte emoticon!
Where you may see Japanese emoticons.
On 2ch, a Japanese Internet forum that is also one of the world’s largest. You’ll be able to see many different kaomojis used on the forum. Apart from kaomojis, the users of the forum has taken emoticon creation to the next level and developed many Shift JIS art. One of their popular creation is Monā (モナー). A cat created from Shift JIS characters. Other than 2ch, if you’ve been surfing Japanese websites, you may see many kaomojis used as well.
Japanese emoticons in Popular Culture.
If you’ve seen Densha Otoko, you may remember that whenever the male protagonist made progress in his relationship, there would be massive celebration amongst the 2ch users and extravagant Shift JIS art could be seen. One of them that I can remember is a train created entirely out of Shift JIS characters.
Note that to make use of this guide, you should already be able to type in Japanese using Microsoft’s IME software. If you cannot and do not know how to and if there’s enough demand, I may write up a post on how to do that.
01. Firstly, visit Emojio to obtain a copy of the text file to be imported. Scroll down to the latest version (in our case, it’s 2.3.4) , look for “Windows用“, then look for the the button(in pink in this image) next to “圧縮なし” (I’ve circled it in red) and right click and select “Save Link As…” if you’re using Firefox or “Save Target As…” if you’re using Internet Explorer.
02. Locate this on the bottom right corner of your screen and click on ‘EN’.
03. Select “Show the Language Bar”.
04. This should then be hovering somewhere on your desktop.
05. Click on ‘English’, a pull-down menu should appear, select ‘Japanese’.
06. The language bar should expand to this.
07. Click on ‘Tools’ and select “Dictionary Tool”.
08. A window that looks like this should appear. As you can see, it’s pretty empty for now.
09. Click on ‘Tool’ and select “Import Text file…”.
10. Locate the text file you saved earlier on and click on ‘Open’. The import process should begin.
11. There may be some emoticons that are way too long, those will fail the import, you can safely ignore the failed count. 20,000+ emoticons should be sufficient for your daily use. Click on the ‘Exit’ button.
12. You will then see a list of the successfully imported emoticons. You can safely close this window.
13. Let us try and make sure we can really use the imported emoticons. Leave a reply on this post, on the message box, switch to Japanese input as you usually would, type in ‘ase’ without the quotes. It should look like this.
14. While the characters are still underlined, press the spacebar to scroll till you find something cute, then press the ‘Enter’ key on your keyboard.
15. There you have it, a made in Japan emoticon of your own. (ase means perspiration in Japanese, that’s what the emoticon is trying to say if you didn’t get it.)
To know which words have emoticons associated with them, you can browse the text file and you should get a good idea. Some examples of words with kaomojis are kanashii, ureshii, ase, warau, unchi, and urusai. If you’re interested in the dictionary file that I used for FFXI, it’s available on this kaomoji page. You can even import both and you’ll have an even longer list of kaomojis to use. Finally, instead of going through all the above, the other way to use Japanese emoticons is to copy and paste from the text file you saved.