Saturday, January 30, 2010

Workaround for emoji on Docomo android phones

I recently receive a question from a reader about getting emoji(絵文字)working on android in Japan.  Here is the only way I know how to make it work: use Docomo's service.  The service costs 210 yen per month and allows you to have a email address.  Currently, there is a 30-day free trial available.

While Gmail does support emoji from a PC (enable extra emoji in labs to get a full set of Japanese emoji based on AU's emoji), it is not available on the HT-03a, either through the native application, the mobile Gmail site, or the PC version of the Gmail site when viewed from the HT-03a. (More on emoji and Gmail in a future post - I've noticed that, in certain circumstances, emoji can be displayed on the HT-03a but not sent)

While Docomo provides a mobile application for Windows Mobile smart phones, is designed to be accessed from the browser of android handsets.  However, several developers have put together android apps to send mail.  Two popular ones are IMoNi (芋煮, boiled potatoes or "IMOdeNotIfier")and emoji-roid (絵文字ロイド, I'll resist the urge to make butt jokes).

Though I have not tried out, I believe an alternate IME is needed to input emoji.  There are two that I know of that provide this option.  One is Simeji, which relies on ImoNi to input emoji, and the other is OpenWnn, which its own dedicated emoji input menu. (More on the IMEs in a future post.  Simeji is actually based on OpenWnn now.  Here is a link to the latest developer version.)

Sounds great, huh?

Two things that people frequently complain about with Docomo's android phone is 1) no address and 2) no emoji can be fixed.

Sound too good to be true?

Well, it is, sort of. is not pushed to the phone, so you have to manually check for mail - or use one of the above apps which will periodically check for mail - so while it is a solution for emoji, by using this as your primary mail, you will not instantly receive mail.


  1. SBS,

    thank you so much for the reply. i'm looking forward to reading more about gmail and the emoticon issue. for the time being, that seems great. but, what do i need to set it up? because actually, we went to a docomo store, and they told us that we needed an old docomo handset to set it up! apparently when you apply for a address, they send you details or confirmation to a keitai, but it has to be an old docomo one. im not sure exactly what they we're talking about, my gf was doing all the talking, and she's not too hot on technology.
    would it be easier just to set it up over the internet, using the 30day trial?

    anyway, thanks for everything. the extra emoji lab was great!!! i never new about that!!!
    surely gmail will make it possible to send and receive emoji from android in the future!? it seems crazy that you can't right now!


  2. Curt,

    Check this out:
    which has the following info:


    The important part is: When making a new contract, we hear that you also get imode,net and a docomo address but, depending on the shop or employee, you make be told that you can or can't use


    This is typical of any cell phone company, really. Depending on who you talk to, you are told you can/can't use a service. You can use - it's all over the J-intertubes, and developers are making android specific apps for it. It also is on NTT's official website. Print that and take it to the shop to show the guy who says you can't use it.

  3. the above comments are from a conversation between myself and SBS. i just wanted to share it with everyone else. thanks for the great efforts in helping all us Japan-based android users! let's start a revolution...say no to softbank, say no to iphone, dont be a sheep, be yourself!!!
    keep up the great work!

  4. It is possible to view emoji on android systems (no input support yet).
    Obtain root access and then install the font at the following thread:

  5. There is an app (KeitaiMail) now on the Android Market which allows to use you Gmail address with emoji.... it's a little slow and a little bit ugly, but I used it successfully last time I went to Japan.

  6. Thanks, I'll check it out!

  7. We are in WA state, and just got a android phone... Motorola Atrix 2. It dosn't have Japanese as one of the languages standard so we downloaded the simeji. On the actuall phone, it is working and you can input it. We are on the Att network and it will send email to my account and everythings fine... but to her family in Japan they are on the docomo and they receive the email, but only can see text in the subject line. Any advice?