Ever Wonder What Some of Those Emojis Are? They Might Be Shinto Symbols


Shinto inspired emojis

Shinto, a Japanese religion which dates back to the 8th century, is being spread to countless people around the world through the palms of their hands!

Ever Wonder What Some of Those Emojis Are? They Might Be Shinto Symbols[/tweetthis]

Well, actually, with what is in the palms of their hands: smartphones.

Many of the emoji we all use on a daily basis refer to major symbols in Shinto, which incorporates the worship of a person’s ancestory and natural spirits. In fact, the word “emoji” is Japanese, translated literally to mean “picture word.”

Once Apple and Android witnessed the emoji that first appeared on Japanese smartphones, they knew they wanted to incorporate the fun and expressive pictures in their texting systems.

But many people wonder what a lot of these Japanese emojis represent, so below some are shown with a brief explanation and the connection it has with Shinto. 

Cherry Blossom

Cherry BlossomThe cherry blossom is a popular symbol in Japanese culture. They bloom in spring for a very short time, inspiring wide-spread flower-viewing parties. The symbolism is two-fold: the flower represents not only the new life of spring, but also life’s ephemoral nature.


DragonWhile the dragon is associated the devil in Western culture and religion, just the opposite is true in Asia. The dragon of Eastern mythology, which is large and powerful and can fly, is respected as a kindhearted creature.

Joined Hands

Join HandsHere the tradition in the East and West are the same: joined hands represent prayer. Further, the Japanese will also raise joined hands to head level to show that they are wishing for something.

Rice Plant

RiceThis may look like wheat to Westerners, but this is actually a rice plant, which is extremely important both in Japanese history and today. As Shinto is a religion which worships nature, it is connected with rice cultivation as represented by the many rituals which try to promote the fertility of rice.

Above are just a small sample of all the emoji inspired by Eastern culture and specifically the Shinto religion. So next time you fire off a text riddled with emoji, remember that in some small way that you are participating in and spreading the beautiful and symbol-rich religion of Shinto.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter