Last updated: November 12, 2018
Over 30 years ago, Japanese users on ASCII NET decided to construct emoticons that did not require one to turn their head sideways — for example, (*_*) instead of : – | — in order to view them. Emoticons, a portmanteau of emotion icons, help users to express a feeling or mood. They differ from emojis — pictographs of faces — because they only use characters found on a keyboard. The Japanese emoticon style is known as kaomoji. If you own an iPhone or iPad, access the Japanese kaomoji keyboard on iOS so you don’t have to type out the individual characters.
The most common Western emoticons require the input of 3 keyboard characters. On the other hand, kaomoji may use 10 or more characters. That’s a lot of searching around for characters, and a lot of taps. Additionally, some kaomoji characters are not even available on a Western keyboard. Therefore, using kaomoji in a single tap requires adding a keyboard for the task. This tutorial shows you how to access the Japanese kaomoji keyboard on iOS, and how to use it.
Access the Japanese kaomoji keyboard on iOS
First, launch iOS Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards.
Next, under Keyboards, select Add New Keyboard > Japanese > Kana then tap Done.
To use kaomoji, launch an app that uses a keyboard, such as Messages. Tap inside the text input field to display the keyboard. Tap the Globe key > the Kana key > then the Smiley key.
Behold, kaomoji! Use the up-arrow to expand the kaomoji in view, then scroll through the selection. Tap on a kaomoji to add it to your message.
Return to the English keyboard (or any other keyboard you may have added) from the Kana keyboard by tapping and holding the Globe key. Choose English from the keyboard menu. The Kana keyboard reverts back to the English keyboard.
Thank you for visiting Tech Help Knowledgebase to learn how to access the Japanese kaomoji keyboard on iOS.
Henry Irvine, Contributing Technology Writer, translates more than a decade of internet technology experience in product and customer relationship management into practical help and how-to content. Look for him on Bay Area trails, music venues, or sausage shacks when he’s not writing. Don’t call him Hank if you see him. Seriously. Hank on Twitter