Twikao turns your smiling mug into (^_^)

How you feeling today? (^_^)/ or (T_T)? Perhaps somewhat (=_=)?

If the above leaves you a tad (?_?), you’re not up on your Japanese emoticons. But you can soon get up to snuff with Twikao, an app that automatically converts your mugshot into expressive symbols.

Twikao: If you’re in the know, just (^_-)


Japanese kaomoji (literally, “face letters”) differ from Western smileys in several ways. For one, they’re read vertically instead of horizontally, so that the brackets in the kaomoji above represent the sides of a face, and the symbols within are eyes and a mouth. For instance, a “T” is a watering eye, and (T_T) is crying.

Another feature of kaomoji is their wild expressiveness. The vertical form lends itself to a myriad of cartoonish little faces and combinations like \(^_^)/, a kind of mini-ode to joy.

Japanese consists of Chinese characters and two syllabaries (hiragana and katakana), and when these are combined with standard QWERTY keyboard symbols, the expressive possibilities are endless. The most elaborate approach works of art, but won’t display properly here unless you have the right character encoding.

Kids are always coming up with new kaomoji, and sites like Kaomojiya have thousands of obscure smileys like this smoker: (-i-)y-~~~~…. [Read more]

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