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Japanese Culture
Keitai denwa
Japanese mobile phone culture, 携帯電話, けいたいでんわ, keitai denwa - In Japan, mobile phones have become ubiquitous. In Japanese, mobile phones are called keitai denwa, literally "portable telephones," and are often known simply as keitai.

Much of the Japanese population own cellular phones(especially flip phones), most of which are equipped with enhancements such as video and camera capabilities. This pervasiveness and the particularities of their usage lead to the development of a mobile phone culture, or "keitai culture."

Talking on a mobile phone while riding a bus or train is frowned upon, and messages asking passengers not to make calls and to switch their phones to silent mode ("public mode" or "manners mode" in Japanese) are played frequently. This, combined with the low per-message price, ample allowed length per message (10,000 characters per message) the ability to enhance messages with special characters, emoticons, pictures, and small animations, and to write in English or Japanese, has made e-mailing from cell phones extremely popular among people of all ages.

Many people send and receive a large number of e-mails daily; teenagers are especially fond of this simple, fast, and private method of communication, and many schools ban the use of cellular phones on campus.

E-mails are also a popular way to communicate with potential friends or lovers. Many internet sites maintain phone-accessible portals via which users can search for and contact others with similar interests.

Japanese mobile phones have the capability to use very large sets of characters and icons based on JIS standards that define characters for industrial appliances. More than one thousand characters including all of the Latin alphabet, hiragana, katakana, kanji and special characters like cm (centimeter), arrows, musical notes and more can be used to compose messages. Japanese mobile phones also use emoticons differently from Western mobile phones.

These character sets are used extensively, and often in a way that do not use their original meaning by relying more on the information based on the shape each character has. For example, '\' may be attached at the end of a sentence to show that they are not happy about the event described. A sentence like "I have a test today\" (translated) might mean that he or she didn't study enough, or that the test itself is depressing. Some of these usages disappeared as suitable icons were made but these newly made icons also acquired a usage not originally intended. Another example deals with the astrological symbol for Libra (♎). It resembles a cooked and puffed mochi, and is sometimes used in a happy new year's message as mochi are often eaten then. The symbol for Aquarius (♒) resembles waves, so this would be used to mean 'sea'. The number of icons gradually increased and they are now colored on most cell phones, to make them more distinct. ASCII art is also used widely and many of them are faces with expression.

Information source: “Japanese mobile phone culture.” Article date: 25 Jan. 2008. Retrieved: Wikipedia. 4 Feb. 2008 <Japanese mobile phone culture>.

Video - The following are commercials about the Japanese keitai.





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