How do I "understand" kaomoji? (Japanese smilies)



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.


Posted 2012-07-13T05:44:15.640

Reputation: 433

notice that they sometimes have words attached, like the one in your example. – Louis – 2012-07-13T07:23:24.250


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: . Note that each category is given a short introduction giving general strategies for interpreting particular emotions.

– jkerian – 2012-07-13T16:29:42.697

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 – 2012-07-14T05:15:24.500


@Chris See - 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 – 2012-07-14T07:21:17.440



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.)


Posted 2012-07-13T05:44:15.640

Reputation: 19 574


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.


Posted 2012-07-13T05:44:15.640

Reputation: 11 564