Lovingly written by Kayla Bibeau, writer at Fueled, an award winning iPhone application development firm in London.
Do you use emojis more than text? Hate that lame friend without an iPhone that you just can’t seem to get your point across to? Emojis are a lifestyle. They can be fun, flirty and even necessary. They lift your spirits, give you responses when you don’t have one and add personality to otherwise boring text. But we have to ask ourselves, what the heck was Apple thinking incorporating some of these from the Japanese? Lucky for you, we’re here to help you identify some of them.
3. Construction Worker
Was I the only one who thought this was just a guy in a yellow hat with a green cross on it? Go figure.
Now that this emoji is blown up, surely your mind has been, too. Bet you never saw that chin strap, did ya? I thought this was an emo kid in an oversized beanie…
5. Info Desk Lady/Secretary
According to a number of sources, this is a knowledgeable person at an info desk kindly explaining a process or direction. Really, I thought it was a girl with flair flipping her hair saying “whatever.”
6. Milky Way
I just thought this was a starry night, but now you know better.
7. Pine Decoration
This is a Japanese New Year’s door decoration, not a cactus. Mind blown.
8. Japanese Carp Koinobori Windsocks
Usually made of cotton, these are brightly colored wind socks that are flown on May 5th of each year, Japanese Boy’s Day. Otherwise known as Children’s Day, it is a day set aside to respect children and to celebrate their happiness.
9. Japanese Furin
A traditional Japanese wind chime, usually made of glass, is thought to be good luck in parts of Asia and used in Feng Shui. They are hung by the windows during hot humid summers in order to bring cooling relief.
10. Japanese Moon Viewing Ceremony
This is a Japanese Otsukimi harvest celebration, a festival honoring the autumn moon on the 15th day of the eighth month of the traditional Japanese lunisolar calendar. Tsukimi tradition includes eating rice dumplings called Tsukimi dango in order to celebrate the beauty of the moon. Funny, because I’ve spent years thinking those were golf balls at a golf course…at night?
11. Tanabata Tree
Japan’s traditional summer “Tanabata” holiday is based on a popular myth of two star-crossed lovers who meet on the milky way once a year, on July 7. The holiday coincides with the summit, which takes place from July 7-9. As part of this celebration, each person writes a wish on a piece of paper and ties it to a bamboo tree to make it come true.
Blown up, it’s easy to see that this is a pager. In its normal size, not so much. Remember these ancient artifacts?
13. Money With Wings
Money with wings…no idea what anyone would use this for, but maybe it’s the reason my wallet’s always empty. Throwing hunnids, hunnids.
I guess this looks like a bookmark…
15. Name Badge
Even after extensive research, I don’t know HOW this is a name badge, I don’t know WHAT a name badge is and I don’t know WHY this would ever be used.
16. Alien Monster
An alien of the monster type. Looks very similar to an alien from the popular ’80s arcade game Space Invaders. Greetings, earthlings!
17. Japanese Hanafuda Card
These are the kinds of cards used in a number of Japanese card games called Hanafuda.
18. “Red Dragon” Mahjong Tile
Mahjohn tiles, often made of bone with engraved/impressed symbols, are of Chinese origin and are used during game play.
19. Bento Box
A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables. And you thought it was a Hungry Man television dinner!
20. Naruto Fish Cake
Although it’s completely useless in the land of emojis, it looks remarkably accurate to the real deal. Narutomaki or naruto is a type of kamaboko, or cured fish surimi produced in Japan. Each slice of naruto has a pink or red spiral pattern, which resembles the Naruto whirlpools in the Naruto Strait between Awaji Island and Shikoku in Japan. Now you don’t have to call it the pink swirly thing!
21. Rice Ball
A ball of rice. We still have yet to identify what that green block is in the middle…
This is a type of Japanese rice cracker often eaten with green tea as a casual snack and offered to visiting house guests as a courtesy refreshment.
23. Japanese Post Office
The red symbol on the front is the traditional Japanese symbol for any post offices or post boxes.
24. Blue Bank Building
Not Burger King.
25. Convenience Store
Anything open for 24 hours is convenient.
26. Japanese Love Hotel
Alternative names include “romance hotel”, “fashion hotel”, “leisure hotel”, “amusement hotel”, “couples hotel”, and “boutique hotel.”
27. Department Store
As apparently indicated by the all-American red, white and blue billboard on top…?
28. European Post Office
29. Tokyo Tower
For those of you who thought this was an orange rocket ship ready for takeoff in 3…2…1…
30. Silhouette of Japan
Am I the only one seeing a Japanese trend here?
This one is darn near impossible to see in its normal microscopic size. Johnny Appleseed is either going to an event or got a parking ticket. Maybe both.
32. Wakaba Mark
The Japanese sign for a beginner. The green means “young” and the yellow means “leaf” — “young leaf.” The term originally referred to a newly licensed driver. Now you have a cool new way to call your friends a n00b.
33. Izakaya Lantern
Typically displayed outside izakaya restaurants, casual style Japanese restaurants where drinking and lively conversation are as important as eating.
34. Squared ND
No good. Don’t go there. Or Nancy Grace…?
35. Katakana Koko
A Japanese sign meaning “destination” or “here.”
A Japanese sign meaning “vacant” and that there are still seats available.
A Japanese sign meaning “full” or “occupied.”
You might find this at the top of the chemistry paper you nailed: a Japanese sign for “passed,” as in an examination.
This Japanese ideograph is used when trying to indicate that something is a good bargain, or that you get a tax break on public bonds.
This Japanese ideograph can also mean “divide.”
41. In Business
Business; open for business; business hours; branch office.
Used to indicate that something is in stock or available. Send this to your crush to let them know you’re sexy, single and ready to mingle.
Unavailable; out of stock. Contrary to the one above, let your stalker know you’re unavailable and off the market.
44. Water Closet
Water closets are the European word for a bathroom.
This is a Japanese kanji sign meaning a monthly charge, monthly rate, or just month.
Application needed; apply here.
47. Katakana Sa
This is a service sign that indicates a service charge.
48. Lost Luggage
I don’t know why there’s a lost luggage emoji or why it looks like this, but here it is.
50. Top Secret
52. Squared CL
Nobody knows. Nobody.
53. Japanese Stocks
This is a chart of an upwards trend in Yen, the official currency of Japan. Someone’s making bank.
54. Part Alternation Mark
Japanese punctuation that indicates the first vocal part of a song, or the beginning of the next player’s part.
That’s all for your daily dose of emoji education! Now, when you’re flipping through your options, you’ll no longer be stumped. Your texting horizons have officially been broadened. Congratulations! The possibilities are endless.