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Japanese Emoticons: So Many Feels Beyond Emoji

You know how they keep adding emoji, but there never seems to be one that matches exactly how you’re feeling? Do you ever find yourself wishing that, for example, there was one to represent the happy you feel when the shoes you ordered online turn out to be cute AND comfortable, and a different one for “Woo hoo, I don’t have it! My test came back negative!”

Well, guess what? Japan’s got a hack for that! You need…emoticons.

Emoticons are clever, pre-set combinations of keyboard characters that fill in the emoji gaps if you don’t have time to take photos of elaborate dioramas crafted from standing cat toys every time the standard symbols fail to meet your emotional communication needs.

Here are a few of my favorites, so you can see what I mean:

The many flavors of happiness

Happy emoticon

( ˘ω˘ ) (^ω^)(╹◡╹) (*^ω^*) (*´꒳`*)

(๑>◡<๑) ╰(*´︶`*)╯♡ (^O^☆♪

٩(๑❛ᴗ❛๑)۶ ヾ(๑╹◡╹)ノ” \(^ω^)/ *\(^o^)/* ヽ(*^ω^*)ノ

So much sad

Sad emoticon

(。-_-。) (-_-;) (¬_¬) (◞‸◟) (−_−;) ( ; _ ; )

(´;ω;`) ( i _ i ) (T_T) (//∇//)

Every degree of mad

Mad emoticon

(>_<) ಠ_ಠ ☆〜(ゝ。∂) Σ(-᷅_-᷄๑)

W(`0`)W \\\٩(๑`^´๑)۶////

The horror, the horror!

Horrified emoticon

(°_°) (*゚▽゚*) ( ゚д゚) (O_O) (゚o゚;;

(´⊙ω⊙`) ((((;゚Д゚)))))))

An entire spectrum of embarrassment

Embarrassed emoticon

(o^^o) (#^.^#) (/ _ ; ) (ノД`) \(//∇//)\

And even emotions that are way too complicated to categorize:

Please accept my sincere apologies: m(_ _)m

Hmm, not really sure about that: (`_´)ゞ (´ー`)

Are you OK?: (´・ω・`) (´・_・`)

What the heckin’ heck did I just see?: (*_*)

That food porn looks delicious, WHERE’S MINE?: ψ(`∇´)ψ

Of course, these are just a few. There are TONS more! And guess what? You can have these (and all the ones I couldn’t fit in this post) at your mobile* fingertips, if you install a Japanese keyboard on your device. Here’s how:

1: Google “add Japanese keyboard” and choose your device from the selections that pop up. Follow the directions.

2: Open the app of your choice and start typing. You’ll notice that a little globe icon has appeared below your keyboard:

Screen shot of romaji keyboard

3: Click on the globe, and a Japanese keyboard will replace your regular ABC one. If you tap the little emoticon face button in the lower left corner…

Screen shot of Japanese keyboard

4: …you’ll see emoticons fill the bar above the keyboard. If you hit the “down arrow” to the right of them…

Screen shot of Japanese keyboard with emoticons

5: …you’ll get a huge menu of emoticon selections. Scroll down to see them all and tap on the one you want to insert. After you click on the one you want, use the little arrow to go back to the Japanese keyboard. Click the globe icon again to return to the ABCs.

Screen shot of Japanese keyboard with emoticons

*I haven’t figured out how to access these on a computer keyboard, so I just copy and paste them if I’m on my laptop.

Happy emoting!

And if you’d like an extra helping of weird and wonderful Japan, don’t miss all the amusing stuff that you’ll only see in

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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

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