Gmail Emoticons from Japan Explained

August 11, 2009

I’m not going to explain the obvious ones like


but I’ll go down a little list of some that I think people might find interesting or useful…
refers to the Japanese version of the expression “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil”

good for “sorry” or “pretty please” (although it looks like someone praying)

referring to rock-paper-scissors

celebration or congratulations

refers to hurrying, being busy, or sometimes trying hard
throw this one up around your words or sentences when you are ANGRY

ramen curry and rice pasta pizza breaded fried shrimp fried chicken candy burger and fries bread fried egg sukiyaki or some other dish with boiled meat and vegetables at the table that the family eats together sushi “oden” or various things boiled in a soup, often eaten in fall or winter a bento or Japanese boxed lunch rice onigiri, or a rice ball sake this is the red lantern outside of some food shops kakigori, crushed ice with syrup or other toppings pudding honey sembei, the rice based crackers wrapped with a little seaweed (nori) dango (mochi on a stick)
New Year’s Hinamatsuri, the girls’ doll festival

this is the kind of backpack most Japanese kids carry with them to school. If you live in Japan, you have no doubt seen these and wondered why they are so expensive.

This is the koi nobori, the flags flown outside of homes with sons on Boys’ Day (Kodomo no Hi)

Tanabata Japanese wind chimes Tsukimi, a moon watching festival, the one when they eat dango and look for the rabbit in the moon

Mt. Fuji or Sunrise sunrise tsunami

western clothes kimono nail art

fishing onsen (hot spring) fortune teller mah jong pachinko (can also be used to mean “lucky”)

Sixth ezweb
shinkansen (bullet train) school junior high school hospital work hospital live hotel train station church castle castle gas station convenience store

beginner (this is a mark that all new drivers have to put on their car during the first year they drive so now it can be used to refer to a beginner in anything)


ticket mail or post
secret special discount full (as in a parking garage, train seats, etc) vacant, or space available… the opposite of the previous one this one refers to something set or chosen, like assigned seating on a train business, or in business

Eighth docomo
yes… this is Munch’s Scream… used for surprise, or “Oh no!” type occasions

secret forbidden, or not allowed open, vacant (as in seating, parking lot, schedule) passing, as on a test, you could use this to say you passed your driving test, or something similar full, no vacancy
shinkansen hot spring or onsen no way (NG refers to no go, I believe)
hurry fire, hot passion another poop rock-paper-scissors bye-bye please or sorry

maru, or a circle, meaning OK! batsu, or an x, meaning no

profuse apologizing
fireworks, specifically a kind called Senkou Hanabi that looks like little tiny fireworks dripping off a sparkler type thing

Japanese wind chimes

school post office hospital love hotel hotel church, or something like a wedding chapel church park
hereĀ  refers to their being something as opposed to which you would use if there’s nothing, or if something weren’t somewhere… kind of hard to explain so I’ll give an example… if you went to rent a certain dvd and someone sent you a text asking if the dvd you were looking for were there, you could use these two emoticons to answer succinctly

restroom (comes from the WC used in some countries, I believe referring to the “water closet”

the blood types (which are still a big deal in Japan as they are believed to reveal something about a person’t personality)

So that’s my interpretation of a bunch of these emoticons that have been taken directly from the major cell phone carriers in Japan and dumped into the gmail system. If there are any more symbols people want to know about please feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to explain them.

They can be useful in Japan for efficiently communicating an idea in a short amount of time. This used to be useful when people had to write their texts and cell phone emails as briefly as possible, but now they are fun and fashionable.