Public Service Announcement: Those WhatsApp Japanese emojis

When I first realised that there are WhatsApp emojis that have Japanese characters, I made a mental note to look up the ones I didn’t know. In fact, there are quite a few emojis that are based on Japanese/Asian culture:


As soon as I saw the above emoticon, I figured it was a bow, such as Japanese people do out of respect for each other.


So, what do these Japanese/Chinese characters mean? With the help of, here’s my answers:

1 ココ Although this Japanese word is written in katakana in this emoji (which is usually reserved for foreign words), and it’s usually written in hiragana (usually for Japanese words) as ‘ここ’, it means ‘here’.

2 指 This one is kanji, that is a Chinese character that was imported into Japanese. In hiragana, it’s written as ‘ゆび’ (yubi), which means ‘finger’. The kanji means ‘point’, too.

3 空 Another kanji, ‘そら’ (sora), that means ‘sky’. It also means ’empty’, and is part of the Japanese word karate (手、からて), which means ’empty hand, to express the idea of fighting bare-handed.

4 満 Kanji again, but one that doesn’t exist as a word by itself as far as any dictionary I have found seems aware. It means ‘satisfy’. ‘full’.

5 合 Another kanji that’s not a word by itself, and meets ‘fit’, ‘join’.

6 禁 Kanji that means ‘prohibition’.

7 得 A kanji a didn’t know, which means ‘gain’, ‘advantage’, ‘benefit’. Apparently, in this circle, it’s used inshops to represent a good bargain, as one webpage states.

8 割 This kanji means ‘divide’, ‘split’, ‘cut’. As a word, わり (wari) it can mean ‘portion’ and 10%, or as かつ (katsu), it has the meanings of dilution, cutting, etc.

9 営 This kanji is associated with work and conducting business.

10 有 This kanji means ‘existence’ and, by extension, ‘possession’.

11 無 Another kanji. This one has the exact opposite meaning of the previous one: ‘nothingness’. It’s also used as to negate (as in mean ‘not’) in compound kanji words.

12 月 A kanji that means ‘moon’ (つき, tsuki) and, by extension, month (げつ, getsu).

13 申 This kanji is used in the humble way to say speak, 申します (moushimasu), and (interestingly), also has the meaning of the monkey, the 9th sign of the Chinese zodiac.

14 サ This one’s katakana. It’s pronounced sa, but… honestly, I can only guess at it’s meaning. さあ (saa) in Japanese is an interjection that basically expressed the meanings of ‘well’, ‘come now’, and stuff like that. So, maybe it’s a reference to that?

15 可 This kanji refers to permission (or lack thereof). Didn’t know this one!

16 秘 Our penultimate emoji is another kanji that has the meaning of ‘secret’ and ‘concealment’. Had to look this one up, too. 🙂

17 祝 And finally, we have a kanji that means ‘celebrate’.

What I’m curious about is why they were presented the way they were. I mean, are they colours significant? The ‘bargain’ one has a specific meaning based on its appearance, so what about the rest of them?

It’s cool that WhatsApp’s emojis borrow from and reference so many cultures and countries.

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2 Responses to Public Service Announcement: Those WhatsApp Japanese emojis

  1. You are wrong about the first Emoji btw… it’s no justt a bow to express respect, it’s a kneeling on the floor and then bowing with hands and face on the floor to express a deep apology (a very strong thing to do in real life btw)
    Here’s the wikipedia article:


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