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. – silvermaple Aug 21 '12 at 3:42
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    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 Aug 22 '12 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 ^.^ – silvermaple Aug 22 '12 at 15:25

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.

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  • For the unnumbered variety, would "NB" (i.e. nota bene or note well) be an good English (albeit loaned) equivalent? – Stephen McAteer Oct 21 '18 at 21:36

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

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    What's a coin operated rice washing machine? Is it used by farmers, or by people about to eat rice? – Andrew Grimm Feb 21 '15 at 13:04

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