Thursday, May 11, 2017

From China with Emoji

By Asia Pop Culture

Eemojis have become increasingly popular worldwide on mobile devices and social media. They are actually originated from Japanese mobile phones in the late 1990s, but have morphed into a new online language.  Emojis, if used properly, is conducive to promoting an effective and more interesting dialogue.

Now, a made-in-China emoji is actually winning over some Japanese fans.  A series of "funny" emoji-based bolsters have attracted the attention of Japanese customers through Amazon Japan.


Reportedly one "funny' bolster costs about 1,750 yen ($16.73), which is more than three times the price in China.  Nevertheless, these bolsters are selling like hot cakes in Japan. China Daily quoted one Japanese customer saying "They are just so cute and I bought three bolsters at one time for my family. And every time I see them, my mood just brightens suddenly."


"Funny", a native Chinese emoji, is very widely used on Tieba, the largest Chinese communication platform provided by Baidu. The "funny" emoji was first released in 2013 and has since become the most popular emoji on Tieba.



The "funny" emoji is not the only one has gained international 'recognition'.  China Daily reported that earlier last year, in Luxor, a city in southern Egypt, former NBA star Yao Ming's smiling emoji has emerged on traffic signs to remind people the road ahead is one-way.  What is hilarious is that many locals do not know who Yao Ming is, but are familiar with his emoji and nickname "Chinese Funny Face".

Now Yao's emoji has been picked up by the Egyptian English-language daily newspaper Egyptian Gazette as logo picture for its humorous column 'Serious but Funny'.

I'm not sure how Yao has become the "Chinese Funny Face" in the Middle East, and why a fairly plain smiley emoji (IMHO) could win over the picky Japanese who specialize in everything 'cute' and Kawaii (可愛).  Could this be part of a bigger Emoji Diplomacy, similar to the Ping-pong Diplomacy (乒乓外交) in the early 70's?

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