I keep running into this symbol: ※

What is it, exactly? How is it used?

According to this Wikipedia link on Japanese typographic symbols, this is called 米{こめ} or 米印{こめじるし}. It is used in notes as a reference mark, similar to an asterisk.

With that being said, I seem to find it in situations where there is more to it then a simple asterisk, and I'd really like to hear from people who are more familiar with it.

The specific example that prompted my question is in my grammar workbook, there are several grammar patterns/points on a page, along with relevant explanations and example sentences. One example sentence goes like this:

例文 :  xxxxxxxxxxxxxx[grammar pattern]。  ※[grammar point variation]

(I'll give the exact sentence at the bottom, but I thought it would be better to keep it generic as to not confuse the question.)

I take it to mean both are valid, but I wonder if it means that the secondary one is not correct. Also, I realize that this may vary from book to book, but I wonder if there is a standard for this sort of thing.

The exact sentence was: 今の成績では合格する可能性などありはしない。  ※合格などできはしない

  • @Dave: When do we use asterisks in English like the symbol in that sentence? It seems to me that if that were in English, and used an asterisk, it would seem strange. Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 3:42
  • 1
    Not related to the example in the question, but ※ is used in net slang, primarily as a reference to the phrase ※ただしイケメンに限る
    – nkjt
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 13:26
  • @nkjt: Thanks! :) Like I said, I've seen that mark around, but that example was just the one that prompted my asking here ^.^ Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 15:25

3 Answers 3


This is the excerpt I found here:

The symbol ※, called 米印(こめじるし), literally "rice symbol," is used in Japanese texts to introduce comments and remarks. Unlike the asterisk (*) in English, ※ is usually not used to link an item in the body of the text to a footnote. Rather, the purpose of ※ is to draw the reader's attention to an instruction or precaution or to indicate that some information is subsidiary or parenthetical to the main text. For this reason, it is usually not appropriate to replace ※ with an asterisk in texts translated from Japanese to English (and it is almost never appropriate to leave ※ intact in English texts).

When they do link body text to footnotes, ※s are often used with Arabic numerals, such as ※1, ※2, etc. In translations, these, too, should be replaced with suitable English footnote markers.

Like that page states, I would guess that the information after the ※ in your example is to give information that is parenthetical.

  • For the unnumbered variety, would "NB" (i.e. nota bene or note well) be an good English (albeit loaned) equivalent? Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 21:36

As stated above, the komejirushi or Reference Mark (, Unicode 203B) is generally used preceding an additional comment or supplemental information. The best way to translate it into English is to write Note: (including the colon) followed by a translation of the comment text. Other possibilities include Attention or Important.

I have seen translations leave the komejirushi as-is, but it is not a symbol with a generally recognized meaning in English. Others "translate" it as an asterisk, as if the two symbols are interchangeable, but that is true only when it is used as a footnote marker, which is rare. See below.

The name "Reference Mark" suggests the symbol could also be translated "Reference," often abbreviated "Ref.," or "For Reference (Only)." Although widely used by Japanese, these terms do not usually fit the actual meaning well. Another possible translation is "Reference information," also a bit off-target in most cases, besides being wordy and stilted. One might consider "Refer to (...)" if there is a citation of some document or page number, but that is also almost never the way it is used. (The Japanese term for Reference is 参照 sanshou and when there is a source listed it can simply be translated "See" or "Source.")

The komejirushi is also used to preface a proviso, condition, or an exception to a rule. In this case as well, the translation Note(:) can serve. Other possibilities are Caution, Warning, or Exception, followed by a colon and the comment.

The abbreviation N.B. for the Latin nota bene ("note well") may also be used, but many people are unfamiliar with this somewhat bookish term. In many cases, it would be fine to simply use the word However followed by a comma and the comment.

There are the rare cases where the komejirushi is actually inserted to mark a footnote. If used in isolation and in a matched pair (with the symbol inserted both immediately following the text and preceding the footnote), an asterisk (*) is the correct translation. But in some cases the komejirushi is used for multiple footnotes and accompanied by a number (Arabic numeral), such as "※1", etc. For one or two footnotes on a page, an asterisk and then a double-asterisk (**) with no numerals is the preferred solution.

Finally, there is an old custom of using the dagger () and then a double dagger () for the third and fourth footnotes when there are not more than four in all. A more modern method may be to use only superscript numbers with no asterisks or daggers. (However, if the footnoted items are actually numerical data, it is preferable to use either asterisks and daggers or alphabetical superscripts.)


In Japan it is used as a sign for rice sellers and coin operated rice washing machines.

  • 2
    What's a coin operated rice washing machine? Is it used by farmers, or by people about to eat rice?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 13:04

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