Emoji

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Starting today, I will be writing a blog here.

I live in Tokyo, and this is where I create expressions.

In the past three years, I've visited various different cities on business, such as New York, London, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Mexico City, and Taipei.

And in this blog, I would like to write about the things I noticed while looking at Japan from the outside, especially in regards to the Japanese digital technology, interactive communication, and their creativity.

The first topic is "EMOJI."

"EMOJI" is a Japanese word for "letters made with pictures." It is similar to but not quite the same as pictograms.

These EMOJIs have been used in cell phone text mails for more than 10 years now. And for the more than 100 million cell phone users in Japan, it has become a necessity. Recently, people all over the globe are using them during skype chats, etc. as well.

What are EMOJIs for people in Japan?

It may be something that expresses the emotions that exist between the lines. It is hard enough to convey emotions through text and e-mails, but on top of that, straightforward expressions of emotions are considered unfavorable in the Japanese culture. Although emoticons, which are used around the world in e-mails, are also used in Japan, EMOJIs are much more popular [here].

Why is it that EMOJIs are so popular in Japan?

There are several reasons I can think of, but I would like to venture to point out one of them. It is because Japanese people don't hug each other.

In daily life, you don't hug someone when you say hello or goodbye. Even handshakes don't happen. Instead, you bow.

I'm guessing that this makes people feel a bit lonely. At least that's how I feel. So maybe, Japanese people use EMOJIs to hug with words.

Naoki Ito is ECD at Wieden + Kennedy Tokyo. Read more about Naoki in the Creatives To Know report.

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