When I see something like this:


I think some voodoo demon wants to say something to me. o_O

My Japanese friends often use kaomoji. But, when they add (´▽`) or (゚∀゚) I can't tell if they are sad, confused, happy, or even angry. I just can't see the emotion for an upside-down A.

Maybe you can draw something based on the most popular kaomoji, so I can envision it in my mind like you do.

I'm afraid of those demon smilies! Please help me understand how to interpret kaomoji.

  • notice that they sometimes have words attached, like the one in your example. Jul 13, 2012 at 7:23
  • 3
    While accepting questions about "what is kaomoji: ( ・_・)ノ", etc should probably closed under "too localized", I'm pretty sure what the OP was asking for is basically this link: japaneseemoticons.net/all-japanese-emoticons . Note that each category is given a short introduction giving general strategies for interpreting particular emotions.
    – jkerian
    Jul 13, 2012 at 16:29
  • What was the defining reason for reopening this question? Is there an answer that relates to the Japanese language more so than addressing just the imagination?
    – Chris
    Jul 14, 2012 at 5:15
  • 1
    @Chris See meta.japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/883/… - or in summary, five people thought it was on-topic and rejected the first close reason. If the question is too vague, then the "not constructive" reason should have been used instead, but that is a separate argument.
    – Troyen
    Jul 14, 2012 at 7:21

2 Answers 2


Perhaps this site may be of use to you.

For each section there is a brief description and explanation of the choice of symbols/characters used.

The characters used for kaomoji may represent:

  • Eyes (usually obvious)(may be covered by arms/hand)
  • Ears (may be absent)
  • Nose (may be absent)
  • Mouth ( and in your examples are mouths)
  • Limits of the face (usually these - ( ) are face delimiters)
  • Flushing of cheeks ( may be (but not limited to) # or @ )
  • Sweat (usually obvious if present)
  • Tears (usually obvious if present)
  • Arms/hand ( in your example)(And sometimes may be used to cover the eyes)
  • Lines of motion ( In (-_-)ゞ゛, ゞ゛ is an arm with lines of motion showing a head-scratching action)
  • Objects (占 - spray bottle, 尸 - flag, φ - pen, etc.)

Please help me with my imagination!

Well, use it. You know that a kaomoji is a face, and I'm adding that it often has arms. Try to see if something looks like a smile, a grin, or whatever… It just takes practice, there is no rule.


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