Emojis in the Tokyo Tower Observation Deck
#The Lowdown

Escape from Textopolis: An Emoji's Journey Through Japan

By Travel Savvy

Did you know that "emoji" comes from Japanese meaning "picture character"? In fact, those little smiley faces and tiny bowls of food we've come to rely on when we're texting all our friends actually originated in Japan in the 90's; some of the emoticons actually have corresponding, real life locations in Asia. 

Now that 'smiley-face', 'high-five' and 'meh-face' are taking their own wild "app-venture" in the new blockbuster, The Emoji Movie, it's high time we hit the road and find the actual Japanese landmarks represented by some of our favorite pictograms. Click through and travel across Japan with a few of our favorite tiny icons.

Moyai Statue 1

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: TimeOut.com & Iemoji.com

Moyai Statue

If you're shopping around Shibuya, Tokyo -- one of Japan's popular fashion and entertainment centers -- look for the giant stone head on the southwest side of Shibuya Station.  The Moyai Statue might seem like a knock-off of the 15th-century rock faces on Easter Island, however, the Niijima Village in the Izu Islands gifted this particular one to Tokyo in 1980, and it looks slightly different from the ones in Polynesia. Another fun fact: moyai means "to work together in effort" in the local dialect of Niijima Village. Now, if we could only find a reason to actually use this emoji....

Mount Fuji 2

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Tripagency.online & Iemoji.com

Mount Fuji

Sure, Mount Fuji is the name of three different hibachi restaurants in the New Jersey suburbs, but it's more importantly a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the highest mountain in Japan, standing at an intimidating 12,388 feet high. The iconic natural landmark is also revered as a sacred place of worship and an inspiration for both Eastern and Western art. Today, travelers visit the mountain from all over to partake in the official climbing season that begins in early July and ends mid-September. For more information on trails and mountain facilities, click here. And the next time you want to say that you had a long day, say that you climbed a mountain, and use this little pictogram.

Himeji Castle 3

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Unesco.org & Iemoji.com

Japanese Castle

After a quick survey in our office, we discovered that hardly anyone knew what this emoji actually represents. Is it a house? Is it a temple? Nope! It’s a traditional Japanese Castle with multiple rings of defense - typically made from stone and wood. The construction of castles erupted in 15th Century Japan as the central government weakened, leaving states to war with one another. However, many were destroyed in the wake of WWII or as unwelcomed reminders of the past. Some originals still exist, though, and are considered one of Japan's spectacular visual treasures. The Himeji Castle, located in Himeji City, in the Hyogo Prefecture, is one of Japan's twelve original castles that stands as both a national treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. For more information on the castle and visiting, click here.  

Tokyo Tower 4

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Travel.gaijinpot.com & Iemoji.com

Tokyo Tower

Lots of us think this emoji is just an orange Eiffel Tower, but it's actually Tokyo Tower, a communications and observations structure near the popular public space Shiba Park. Modeled after the Parisian landmark, the Tokyo Tower reigns high above the city at a tremendous 333 meters (1092.52 feet), and offers two observatories -- the Special Observatory (about 820 feet) with an unobstructed bird's-eye view of the whole city and the Main Observatory (about 492 feet) with the "Lookdown Window," a glass floor overlooking the city. We mustn't forget about the lights! Head over at dusk to marvel at the glimmering tower against the night sky; it shines until midnight.

Tsukimi 5

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Goinjapanesque.com & Iemoji.com


One of our favorite emojis makes us sing, When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, -- but switch out the "big pizza pie" and replace it with tsukimi dango, a moon-shaped Japanese sweet dumpling made with rice flour. Tsukimi, or "moon-viewing," refers to traditional Japanese celebrations held each autumn honoring the full moon and waxing moon. Rituals not only include eating delicious dango, but also decorating with susuki, or Japanese pampas grass, which explains the flowing shrubs in the emoji!


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