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Emojis: Fun Icons Depicting The Way We Want Our World To Be!

Emojis: Fun Icons Depicting The Way We Want Our World To Be!

Enter the Emojis: The Icon Army from Japan

Samurai, Sumo and Ninja warriors may emanate from Japan but their global significance has been overshadowed by an army of a different kind. Dip into the likes of Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp and you’ll be accosted by a platoon of emojis, neatly arranged in a set.

Powerful Means of Communicating Emotions

These diverse little icons provide you and I with a simple, yet extremely powerful means of communicating our emotions without using words. They can take the sting out of a rebuke; add empathy, love, anger and sadness to a text message and provide a bit of mischievous fun to proceedings with just one-tap of the screen or click of the mouse.

Where do these images come from though – and why do we need them in our sophisticated, tech-driven world? The answer lies in the Japanese obsession with graphic images and their more emotionally reserved communications style.

KanjiImage Source:

The Origin of Emojis

In Japan, images have been the mainstay of communications. The Japanese style of writing, Kanji is pictorial in nature. Manga, Anime and Hello Kitty are iconic artistic techniques and graphics unique to the Land of the Rising Sun.

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When one takes into account expressions of emotion – anger, frustration, sadness and elation – are considered inappropriate and even foolish in Japan, there was a need to provide a communications platform where emotions could be expressed in a fun and informal way.

Enter Shigetaka Kurita, a trained economist who, at the time, was employed by a Japanese mobile phone operator. In the late nineties, mobile text messages were limited to just a few characters. Integrating emotions into an SMS was not an option. Kurita took it upon himself to expand the limits of mobile communication by creating a set of images.

Shigetaka Kurita, the Original Creator of EmojisImage Source:

Richer Content

Initially, Kurita focussed on practical icons to make content richer; weather-related imagery for weather forecasts, sports pictures for the news, and so on. He soon expanded his pictograph library to 177 icons covering news, services and emotions

Although almost hieroglyphic in nature, Kurita’s emojis – ‘e’ meaning picture and ‘moji’ for character – were the precursor of what we use today. It wasn’t too long before large tech companies, such as Panasonic and Fujitsu, incorporated the emojis into their mobile phones.

Emojis Go Global

Having recognised the enormous potential of these simplistic graphics, both Apple and Google integrated new and improved emojis into their devices. It was only when the system was standardised to allow users in different countries, on different devices and operating systems to share the icons, that emojis truly found their place in communications history.

Today, emojis are part of our lives. We send them to friends and family several times a day without giving their origin a second thought. They have become symbols of how we view ourselves and the people we share our planet with. They have emerged in popular culture and on online and mobile slot machines, where a wild blast or sticker set of emojis can generate wads of dollar bills.

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Emojis Depict a Perfect World

With each operating system update, new images are added to emoji sets to embrace diverse communities, cultures and genders. The LGBT community was recognised in emojis in 2012. Sets are now multi-cultural and cross-gender.

Contentious symbols, like the middle finger, have been added to provide the requisite disdain, while icons depicting rifles and pistols have been modified into toys… or removed altogether. Emojis are now much more than fun icons; they’re graphic representations of our principles, ethics and how we would like our world to be!