A Year in Japan Through Emoji

Source: Gaijin Pot

In its most literal form, emoji is a combination of the Japanese words 絵(え) (picture) and 文字(もじ) (character) — adding just the right amount of visual sugar (or spice) to your text, tweets and online correspondence. The original 176 pictograms that were intended for Japan’s first mobile internet service have become a worldwide phenomenon.

Photo by Shigetaka Kurita, NTT DOCOMO

Shigetaka Kurita, NTT DOCOMO. Emoji (original set of 176). 1998–99. Software and digital image files. Gift of NTT DOCOMO Inc., Japan

Now with over 2,600 emoji available, there seems to be one for every event, feeling and situation. As we count down to the new year, let’s take a look at the emoji that represent specific Japanese holidays, celebrations and special times of the year and the lingo that can go with them!


Jan. 1: New Year’s Day

Torii gate in Hakone.

Greet the new year with 🎍 outside your doorstep 🎍. Do like the locals and have a laid back New Year’s Day. Stay up to watch NHK’s annual red-and-white song contest Kouhaku Uta Gassen (Year-end Song festival) on Dec. 31 then wake up early to see the first 🌅 of the new year. Watch the 🎽 race on TV or head out for hatsumode, the first ⛩ visit of the New Year.

🎽 = the jersey and sash are worn by runners in the famous ekiden (long distance relay) race

🌅 = hatsu hinode (sunrise) as watching the first sunrise of the new year is an auspicious event

⛩ = torii (gates found at the entrance of a Shinto shrine)

🎍 = kadomatsu (decorations made of pine and bamboo placed in pairs outside the home to welcome ancestral spirits

Words to Tweet: <img src=”https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.3/72×72/2728.png” …continue reading