Kawaii meiru and Maroyaka neko: Mobile emoji for relationship maintenance and aesthetic expressions among Japanese teens

Satomi Sugiyama


Drawing from the results of focus group interviews conducted between 2006 and 2010 in Japan, this paper examines the functions of emoji. Now that emoji have gained global recognition as seen in mobile applications, examining the way Japanese teens use emoji offers some insight into the way emoji use is practiced among teens in the global cultural context. The results highlight two functions of emoji in the context of mobile interactions: emoji allow Japanese teens to manage communication climate as well as to construct and express their aesthetic selves. Further research is needed to investigate to what extent these interaction norms, symbolic meanings, and electronic emotions are applicable to various cultural contexts in the era of smart phones. Such efforts will promote our further understanding of both current and future trends of teens’ mobile emoji use, emotional experiences, sense of the self, and relational concerns.


Mobile media; mobile phone; Japan; emoticons; emotions; self; relationships; fashion; kawaii

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v20i10.5826

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