Henohenomoheji (へのへのもへじ) (へのへのもへじ)

"Henohenomoheji" face-like pictographs are created by playing around with and arranging seven hiragana phonetic syllables to form the caricature of a human face as a picture (letter picture). Also called "Hehenonomoheji."

It is not clear when the "Henohenomoheji" caricatures were invented however, is thought to be a forerunner of present day emoticons.

Each hiragana phonetic syllable has a function: the first and second 'he' (へ) hiragana phonetic syllables form both eyebrows, the two 'no' (の) hiragana phonetic syllables are used for the eyes, the 'mo' (も) syllable forms the nose and the third 'he' (へ) syllable is used for the mouth, while the 'ji' (じ) syllable forms the outline of the face.

This face caricature is often used in manga, especially humorous manga, as a stereotyped scarecrow figure.

Similarly there are other versions that use different combinations of letters: 'Henohenomoheno' (へのへのもへの), 'Hemehemekutsuji' (へめへめくつじ), 'Hemehemeshikoji' (へめへめしこじ), 'Heneheneshikoshi' (へねへねしこし), and 'Shinishinishinin' (しにしにしにん; the first and second 'shi' (し) are drawn sideways and the 'n' (ん) is drawn like a cleft chin).

Also, there is another version called 'Tsuruniha OO mushi' (つるニハOOムし): 'tsu' (つ) represents a bald head, 'ru' (る) the ears, 'ni' (ニ) wrinkles on the brow, 'ha' (ハ) the eyebrows, 'OO' the eyes, 'mu' (ム) the nose and the 'shi' (し) syllable forms the outline of the face (there is no mouth) with each of the letters representing a part of an overall caricature of an elderly person's face. By changing 'ni' two (二) to 'san' three (三), the caricature is called a 'Tsurusanha OO mushi' ('つる三はOOむし' in Japanese).

[Original Japanese]