Emoticons (Emoji) with a hidden Japanese background : part 1

  • Nowadays we would not be able to communicate dry virtual messages without smoothing them out with emoticons.
    Based on smileys they have evolved to our everyday must have tool.

    Some of them underline emotions, some decorate the overall message and some are a mystery to many.
    The reason for this is the Japanese cultural background. Many are festival related whereas some are just connected to tools,
    that are unknown or unused outside of Japan.

    Let’s take a closer look at the apparently Japanese related ones.


    Why should these ones be related to Japan? Especially the second one makes this clear: the smiley is obviously scared.
    Where a western reaction would be a pale face or one that turns white, in Japan the color “blue” is associated with
    being scared or in horror. Feeling blue has no connection with being sad, as the English idiom suggests.

    Wearing a mask

    Wearing a mask is a common Japanese practice. If you are sick or have important events coming up such as
    tests or similar things, you would wear a mask to prevent giving someone a disease or to avoid the opposite.
    It is actually a very hygienic attitude in comparison to those, who have a runny nose and spread (mostly unintentionally) bacteria around.

    Yellow helmet and the green cross

    The one with the yellow helmet and the green cross on it is a construction worker. In Japan, when something is being constructed,
    additional staff is hired to stand around the area under construction to protect pedestrians by making sure they pass by
    without getting harmed or navigate cars which might otherwise collide.


    This one in an evil spirit called namahage (生剝げ) It’s originated in Akita prefecture.


    Another legendary creature card tengu (天狗) which is also a folklore monster in Japan.