Wednesday, May 3, 2017

「」『』 - Quotation Marks

In Japanese, 「」 and 『』 are "quotation marks," in'youfu 引用符. They work in a similar but different way to English quotes ("these ones"). Not to be confused with brackets 【】, which this article will also talk about.

The Japanese quotation marks in vertical and horizontal text.


Just like there are single quotes (', ‘ and ’) and double quotes (", “ and ”) in English, there are single "hook brackets" and "double hook brackets" in Japanese.

  1. kagikakko
    「 and 」
    Literally "hook brackets"
  2. nijuu kagikakko
    『 and 』
    Literally "double hook brackets"

The kagi かぎ in the word kagikakko かぎ括弧 comes from kagi 鉤, which means "hook," and not from the other, more common kagi 鍵 that means "key."

The kakko 括弧 part means "parenthesis," and is often written with katakana instead: kakko カッコ, as in kagikakko かぎカッコ.

The act of "quoting" someone or something is called in'you 引用. In a quotation, you "surround," kakomu 囲む, text with the quotation marks.

Writing Direction

The shape of the quotation mark becomes different according to the direction Japanese is written.

In "horizontal text," yokogaki 横書き, the opening bracket is at top left and the closing bracket is at bottom right. In "vertical text," tategaki 縦書き, the opening bracket is at top right and the closing bracket is at bottom left.

In both cases, the opening and closing brackets form opposite corners of a rectangle.

The Japanese quotation marks in vertical and horizontal text.


The quotation marks are used in multiple ways. They can surround:

  1. A line: quoting what someone said, or what was written somewhere, or what a character will say, or what someone should say.
  2. A name: what someone, something, or someplace is called, the title of a book, movie, or other work, or the term for a thing.
  3. A word or phrase: to be interpreted literally, as a noun, expressing its syntax is separate from the rest of the sentence.

Quoting Text

The quotation marks are used when citing what someone said or what was written somewhere.

・・・そうだねシャミ子普通にウィンナー炒めてたもんね 料理はできるもんだね 「は」ってなんですか!!
Manga: Machikado Mazoku まちカドまぞく (Volume 1, Page 113, 普通に加熱することの難しさ)
  • Context: Chiyoda Momo 千代田桃, who can't cook like a normal person, is impressed the cooking of Shamiko シャミ子.
  • ...sou da ne, Shamiko φ {futsuu ni} win'naa itameteta mon ne
    That's right, Shamiko was frying wieners {normally}.
  • ryouri wa dekiru-n-da ne
    Cooking, [you] can do, huh.
    • A contrastive wa, implicating Shamiko can't do other things normally, because she's a klutz, but cooking she can do.
  • "wa" tte nan-desu ka!!
    What do you mean by "wa"??!!
それに時々奴の頭の上に「!?」という変な文字が現れるのもおかしいと思っていた・・・ それ見えるの?
Manga: Saiki Kusuo no Psi-Nan, 斉木楠雄のΨ難 (Chapter 83, 海藤のΨ疑心(前編))
  • Context: Saiki Kusuo 斉木楠雄 uses his mind-reading ability to hear what Kaidou Shun 海藤瞬 is thinking. Specifically, he's listing some strange stuff that he saw Kuboyasu Aren 窪谷須亜連 doing.
  • sore ni {{tokidoki yatsu no atama no ue ni {"!?" toiu} {hen na} moji ga arawareru} no mo okashii} to omotte-ita...
    Besides that, [I] also thought {[it] was weird that {sometimes a {strange} {"!?"} character appears above [his] head}}.
    • It's old trope in manga about delinquents to have !? in almost every panel, which makes Kaidou suspect Kobayasu is a delinquent.
  • sore φ mieru no?
    That is visible? (literally.)
    You can see that?

When quoting people, the quoting particles to and tte って are used, as well as the contraction of to iu という, which is ttsu っつ.

  • "hai" to itta
    [They] said "yes."
  • "hai" tte itta
    (same meaning.)
  • "hai" ttsutta
    (same meaning.)

Due to the existence of such particles, quotation marks aren't strictly necessary in Japanese when quoting people.

こないだもーー ねー君って彼女とかいるのー? え・・・・・・ 居ないけど? やっぱり! 彼女いないって 居そうに無いもんねー! 超ウケル! ふふっ
Manga: Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai ~Tensai-Tachi no Ren'ai Zunousen~ かぐや様は告らせたい~天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦~ (Chapter 6, 白銀御行は隠したい)
  • Context: a guy remembers his dark past.
  • konaida mo----
    The other day, too...
  • nee, kimi tte
    kanojo toka iru no~?

    Hey, do you have a girlfriend or something like that?
    • The tte って here is a topic marker, not a quoting marker.
  • e...... inai kedo......
    え・・・・・・ 居ないけど?
    Eh...... [I] don't, but [why are you asking?]......
  • yappari!
    [Just as I thought]!
  • kanojo inai tte~~!
    [He said] [he] doesn't have a girlfriend!
    • Here, quotation marks haven't been used when citing what he said.
  • isou ni nai mon ne~~!
    [He] doesn't seem like [he] would have [one], right~~
    • Here, a second girl says the guy doesn't looks like he would have a girlfriend. She's judging him by his appearances.
  • chou ukeru!
    [That's] super funny!
    • ukeru
      To receive. (literally.)
      To find funny. (slang.)
  • fufu'
Manga: Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san からかい上手の高木さん (Chapter 4, 筋トレ)
  • Context: Nishikata 西片 is making an habit of exercising. Takagi 高木 teases him.
  • {seichou-ki ni kin-tore shi-sugiru} to shinchou tomacchau tte iwareteru no.
    It's said that: {if [you] exercise too much during the growth-period (of a child growing in height)}, [your] height ends up stopping [growing].
    • They say if you exercise too much, you stop growing up!
    • tomacchau - contraction is tomatte-shimau 止まってしまう.
    • iwareteru - contraction of iwarete-iru 言われている.

Japanese quotes are always literal, also called "direct quotes." English, however, prefers "indirect quotes."

One difference is that the morphological tense of the predicate in reported speech changes to past in English's indirect quotes, but doesn't change in Japanese's direct quotes, due to the temporal reference of an English subordinate clause being relative to utterance time, while of a Japanese on being relative to the superordinate clause.(Ogihara, 1995:69).

  • Tarou wa {Hanako ga byouki da} to itta
    Tarou said: "Hanako is sick." (direct quote.)
    Tarou said that Hanako was sick. (indirect quote.)
    • Simultaneous sequence of tenses: Hanako was sick at the time when Tarou said this.
  • Tarou wa {Hanako ga byouki datta} to itta
    Tarou said: "Hanako was sick." (direct quote.)
    Tarou said that Hanako had been sick. (indirect quote.)
    • Shifted sequence of tenses: Hanako was sick BEFORE Tarou said this, which implicates she was no longer sick by the time when Tarou said it.

Nested Quotations

Like in English, when a quote contains a quote within, the quotation marks alternative. Typically the single quotation marks (「」) are used for the outermost quote, and the innermost has double quotation marks (『』).

  • Hanako wa "hai" to itta
    Hanako said "yes."
  • Tarou wa "Hanako wa 'hai' to itta" to itta
    Tarou said: "Hanako said: 'yes.'"

Character Lines

In novels, light novels, visual novels, games, and so on, quotation marks surround what a character says, that is, their "lines," serifu 台詞.

ポプ子 「カベドンしてェ❤」
Anime: Pop Team Epic, Poputepipikku ポプテピピック (Episode 4, Collage)
  • Popuko "Kabedon shitee ❤"
    ポプ 「カベドンし❤」
    Popuko: "do a kabedon [on me] ❤"
    • kabedon 壁ドン - a romantic move in which someone hits a wall, also known as "wall-slam."
  • The numbers on the top-right corner is the date, (水) stands for the weekday, suiyoubi 水曜日, "Wednesday."

What to Say

When telling someone to say or write something, quotation marks may surround the text they're supposed to say or write.

ちょっと「なんでやねん」ってつっこんで! え・・・? なんでやねん・・・ ガタガターー ぐはーーっ これくらいハデに受けた方がいいかな? なんでやねん
Manga: Azumanga Daioh あずまんが大王 (Volume 1, Page 29, 負けるもんか))
  • Context: a training arc.
  • chotto "nandeyanen" tte tsukkonde!
    [Try] doing a tsukkomi [saying] "why"!
  • e...?
  • nandeyanen...
  • gata gataaa
    *sound of chairs and desks falling*
  • guhaaa'
  • {kore kurai hade ni uketa} hou ga ii ka na?
    [Do you think] [it] would be better if [I] received [the tsukkomi] [reacting] this much showy? (literally.)
    • hade
      Showy. Gaudy.
    • Do you think I should react this extravagantly?
  • nandeyanen
その「長名さん」っていうのやめてくれよ。 ボクと只野くんの仲じゃないか。 昔みたいに「なじみ」って呼んでくれ。 ピョコピョコ
Manga: Komi-san wa, Comyushou desu. 古見さんは、コミュ症です。 (Chapter 10, 黒歴史です)
  • Context: a childhood friend of Tadano 只野 wants to be called on first-name basis, without a honorific suffix.
  • sono "Osana-san" tte iu no
    yamete kure yo.

    Please stop with that "Osana-san."
    Stop calling me "Osana-san."
  • boku to Tadano-kun no naka janai ka.
    It's mine and Tadano-kun's relationship, isn't it?
    It's our relationship, isn't it?
    • Osana-san means they don't have a cold, distant, family-name basis relationship, they have an intimate, friendly, first-name basis relationship.
  • pyoko-pyoko
    *[hair] bounce bounce*
    (mimetic word.)
  • mukashi mitai ni "Najimi" tte yonde kure.
    Like old times, call me "Najimi."

Around Names of Stuff

Quotation marks may surround names of things, places, acts, people, and so on, specially the first time they're referred to. In particular, it's common to surround titles of books and fictional works with quotation marks.

This practice doesn't exist in English. In English, while we may surround by quotes terms for things that are unusual, we do not say, for example, "One Piece" in quotes just because One Piece is a book, or "Matrix," or "The Lord of the Rings."

The most similar thing in English is using italicized text when citing titles of things. However, since in Japanese the quotation marks can also surround names of PLACES and even PEOPLE, it's not really the same thing.

「アラビンのランプ」だ。 こすってみな。 ゴシゴシ あっ。 はあい、ご主人さま。 けむりのロボットだよ。
Manga: Doraemon ドラえもん (Chapter 15, ランプのけむりオバケ)
  • Context: a cat robot gives an item to a kid.
  • "Arabin no Ranpu" da.
    It's the "Alabin's Lamp."
  • kosutte-mi na.
    Try rubbing [it].
  • goshigoshi
    *rub rub*
    (mimetic word.)
  • a'
  • haai, goshujinsama.
    Yees, master.
  • kemuri no robotto da yo.
    [It] is a smoke robot.
儂は燦の父親で瀬戸内魚類連合瀬戸組 組長 『瀬戸豪三郎』じゃ ドス その妻『瀬戸蓮』!
Manga: Seto no Hanayome 瀬戸の花嫁 (Chapter 1, 瀬戸のおんな)
  • Context: a character sitting in agura あぐら position introduces himself, as does his wife.
  • washi wa {San no chichioya de} Seto-uchi-gyorui-rengou Seto-gumi Kumi-chou "Seto Gousaburou" ja
    父親瀬戸内魚類連合瀬戸組 組長 瀬戸豪三郎』じゃ
    I {am Sun's father and} Seto's Inner Fish-kind Alliance, Seto Group's Boss, "Seto Gousaburou."
  • dosu
    (used when a threatening character makes an entrance.)
  • sono tsuma "Seto Ren"
    [His] wife, "Seto Ren"! (literally.)
    • sono その - "of the aforementioned."
    • sono hito no tsuma
      The aforementioned person's wife.
新妻くんはプロとしての自覚がなさ過ぎる 自分が楽しくて描きたいだけなら同人誌でも書いてればいい しかし「ジャンプ」で描くプロなんだ 読者を楽しませる事を第一に考えなければダメだ ・・・・・・・・・
Manga: Bakuman. バクマン。 (Chapter 22)
  • Context: Fukuda Shinta 福田真太 warns fellow manga artist Niizuma Eiji 新妻エイジ.
  • Niidzuma-kun wa puro toshite no jikaku ga nasa-sugiru
    Niizuma-kun, [you] lack self-awareness as a professional too much. (literally.)
    (double subject construction.)
    • You don't seem very aware that you're supposed to be a professional, you don't act as such.
    • nai
      To not have. To lack.
  • {jibun ga tanoshiku kakitai} dake nara doujinshi demo kaitereba ii
    If [you] only {want to draw having fun} then [you] should just draw a doujinshi.
  • shikashi {"Janpu" de kaku} puro nanda
    But [you] are a professional [who] {draws at Jump}.
    • Shounen Jump 少年ジャンプ is the name of a well-known manga magazine that targets "male kids and teenagers," i.e. a shounen 少年 demographic.
  • {dokusha wo tanoshimaseru} koto wo dai-ichi ni kangaenakereba dame da
    [You] have to make {entertaining readers} the number one [priority].
    • In other words, a doujinshi artist draws manga to entertain themselves, while a professional draws manga to entertain the audience.

Around Unusual Terms

Besides names of things, quotation marks also often surround unusual terms the first time they're used.

In general, while emphasis in English is expressed through bold or italics, emphasis in Japanese is expressed through dots in the furigana space. The quotation marks are only used to emphasize a word when it's being introduced in a text.

『異世界』からこの『セフィーロ』に『召喚』された者は 自らの意思ではもう元の世界へは戻れん
Manga: Magic Knight Rayearth, 魔法騎士レイアース (Volume 1)
  • Context: three girls have been summoned into a world called Cephiro, and are told they can't just go back home now.
  • {"isekai" kara kono "Sefiiro" ni "shoukan" sareta} mono wa mizukara no ishi dewa mou moto no sekai ewa modoren
    Someone [who] {has been "summoned" from "another world" into this "Cephiro"} can't any longer by [their] own volition return to [their] former world.
    • Here, the fact that the girls are from "another world," that they have been "summoned," and that this world is called "Cephiro," have been emphasized through the use of quotation marks.
Manga: Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu 無職転生 ~異世界行ったら本気だす~ (Chapter 8, 油断)
  • Context: Rudeus Greyrat ルーデウス・グレイラット speaks the absolute truth of the universe.
  • kane de "dere" wa kaenai-n-desu yo!!!
    Money can't buy "dere"!!!
    [You] can't buy "dere" with money!!! (literally.)
アイツ絶対「中二病」だよな~ 高二にもなって全く・・・
Manga: Saiki Kusuo no Psi-Nan, 斉木楠雄のΨ難 (Chapter 3, 漆黒の翼こと海藤瞬)
  • Context: background characters gossip.
  • aitsu zettai "chuunibyou" da yo na~~
    He's definitely "chuunibyou," [isn't he?]
  • kou-ni nimo natte, mattaku
    高二にもなって 全く・・・
    [Even] after becoming a high school second year [student], [good grief]...


The quotation marks can also surround all sorts of phrases that should be taken literally, when the speaker is talking about a word, phrase, or other text, so the grammar inside the quote is disconnected from the grammar of the rest of the sentence.

痔ってなぁ ・・・・・・え? よーひらがなで「じ」やなくて「ぢ」って書くやんかぁー 普通「ち」に点々なんか使わへんよなぁー ・・・・・・ そんでこの前辞書で調べたら「痔」も「じ」になっとったんよー ・・・そうか
Manga: Azumanga Daioh あずまんが大王 (Volume 1, Chapter 8, August: Part 2, Page 84, ぶち壊しさわやか)
  • Context: a girl talks about language.
  • di tte naa
    Hemorrhoids, [you know].
  • ......e?
  • yoo hiragana de "ji" yanakute "di" tte kaku yankaaa
    (same meaning as...)
    • yoku hiragana de "ji" janakute "di" tte kaku janai ka
      Often, it's spelled with hiragana not as "じ" but as "ぢ" isn't it?
    • These are pronounced identically in standard dialect.
    • See yotsugana 四つ仮名 for details.
  • futsuu "chi" ni tenten nanka tsukawahen yo naaa
    Normally you don't add dots to "ち", right?
  • sonde kono mae jisho de shirabetara "di" mo "ji" ni nattotta-n-yoo
    So, the other way [I] checked the dictionary and "痔" had became "じ".
    • nattotta - contraction of natte-otta なっておった.
  • ...sou ka
    [I see].
一人称「俺」はやめた方がいい あ゙? 特に目上の人の前ではね 天元様に会うかもしれないわけだし 「私」最低でも「僕」にしな
Manga: Jujutsu Kaisen 呪術廻戦 (Chapter 66, 壊玉‐弐-)
  • Context: Gojou Satoru 五条悟, who doesn't like to obey rules, is told to obey societal norms.
  • ichininshou "ore" wa {yameta} hou ga ii
    [It] would be better if {[you] stopped} [using] the first person pronoun "ore."
    • ore - a masculine first person pronoun that's not used in formal situations.
  • a´?
    (a with dakuten 濁点.)
    • What did you just say to me???
  • toku ni {me-ue no} hito no mae dewa ne
    Specially in front of [your] superiors, [alright].
    • {me-ue no} hito
      People [who] {are above you}.
      [Your] superiors.
  • {Tengen-sama ni au kamoshirenai} wake dashi
    {[We] might meet Tengen-sama}, [after all].
    • In this series, Tengen-sama is an important person, as hinted by the fact the ~sama suffix is used with their name.
  • "watashi", saitei demo "boku" ni shi na
    Use "watashi," at very minimum "boku," [okay].
    • ~ni suru
      In this case, to choose one thing. Specifically, a pronoun.
オイ~~眼鏡返してよ~ 我慢してくれちょっと目が「3」になるだけだろ 眼鏡がないとほとんど見えないんだよ~ 4!?
Manga: Saiki Kusuo no Psi-Nan, 斉木楠雄のΨ難 (Chapter 72, さわぐ!PK学園文化Ψ(後編))
  • Context: Saiki borrows his father's glasses without permission.
  • oi~~ megane kaeshite yo~~
    Heey, give [my] glasses back~~
  • gaman shite kure chotto me ga "san" ni naru dake daro
    Please endure [it], [all that will happen is that] [your] eyes will become "threes."
  • megane ga nai to hotondo mienai-n-da yo~~
    Without [my] glasses [I] almost can't see.
  • yon!?


  • 「K」 is the title of a series that's awfully hard to look up because someone thought "what if I called this series literally just one single letter" and nobody with common sense was there to stop that person.[see K (TV series) - for a page about the series which I somehow managed to find, accessed 2021-08-05.]
  • 「 」, a literal blank space surrounded by quotation marks, read kuuhaku 「 」空白, literally "blank space," is the name used by siblings Sora 空 and Shiro 白 in No Game No Life ノーガーム・ノーライフ when playing games together as one, a wordplay on the kanji of their names combined spelling kuuhaku 空白.

Qualified Quotes

Syntactically, a direct quote is a noun, and may be qualified by adjectives and relative clauses like any other noun.

ペロンッ この味は! ・・・・・・・・・ ウソをついてる『味』だぜ・・・・・・ ジョルノ・ジョバァーナ!
Manga: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Part 5: Golden Wind, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 黄金の風 (Chapter ブチャラティが来るその①)
  • Context: unnecessary.
  • peron'
  • kono aji wa!
    This taste [is]!
  • .........
  • {uso wo tsuiteru} "aji" daze......
    A "taste" of {spewing lies}......
    A "taste" of {lying}......
    The taste of a liar......
    • uso wo tsuku - "to spew lies," "to lie."
  • Joruno Jobaana!
    Giorno Giovanna!
うわっ・・・私の年収、低すぎ・・・? 無料5分で、適正年収やビジネス基礎能力が分かる「市場価値診断テスト」。 受けた人は40万人を突破! 結果もすぐ分かると大人気だ。 あなたの適正年収は?
Source:, accessed 2021-07-19
  • Context: an internet ad from a job-search company, @type, notable for being the origin of a meme.
    • On the top=left, osusume jouhou おすすめ情報 means "recommended information."
  • uwa'... watashi no nenshuu φ, hiku-sugi...?
    Yikes... my salary, is too low...?
  • {muryou go-fun de, tekisei nenshuu ya bijinesu kiso nouryoku ga wakaru} "shijou kachi shindan tesuto".
    The "market value diagnosis test" [with which] {in five minutes for free, [you] will know [your] suitable yearly income and base business ability}.
    • Here, the quotation marks surround the term for a thing whose merit is described by a relative clause.
  • {uketa} hito wa yon-juu-man-nin wo toppa!
    The [number of] people [that] {received [the test]} [has] passed 400 thousand.
  • {kekka mo sugu wakaru} to dai-ninki da.
    [Because] {[you] know the results immediately}, [it] is very popular.
  • CHECK!
  • anata no tekisei nenshuu wa?
    Your suitable yearly income [is]?
    (incomplete sentence ending in the wa は topic marker.)


When the name of a thing is introduced surrounded by quotation marks, the phrase before the term tends to be its description in the form of a noun that refers to the same thing.

When one noun qualifies another, both both refer to the same thing, that's called an appositive. For example:

  • otouto no Sasuke
    The younger brother, Sasuke.
    • Here, both otouto and Sasuke refer to the same person, and otouto qualifies Sasuke, so it's said to be an apposition.

The same principle applies to quotes. The only difference is that quotes don't seem to require the appositive qualifier to have the no の attributive copula as your typical noun would.

Manga: AQUA (Chapter 1, 水の惑星)
  • Context: a series and chapter title drop.
  • mizu no wakusei "(Akua) AQUA" e youkoso
    Welcome to the water planet, "AQUA."
    • Here, mizu no wakusei is a noun, Akua is also a noun, and both phrases refer to the same thing, so the first phrase qualifies the second in appositive manner.
彼の体は特級特急遺物の塊でおそらく アビス史上最も価値のある遺物の一つ「奈落の至宝(オーバード)」なのかもしれないんだ
Manga: Maid in Abyss, メイドインアビス (Chapter 4, ベルチェロ孤児院)
  • Context: in a series about searching for relics in a bottomless pit called the Abyss, Riko リコ is told some important information about a robot boy she found in the Abyss.
  • {kare no karada wa tokkyuu ibutsu no katamari de}, osoraku, {Abisu shijou mottomo kachi no aru} ibutsu no hitotsu "Naraku no Shihou (Oobaado)" na no kamoshirenai-n-da
    彼の体は特級特急遺物の塊でおそらく アビス史上最も価値のある遺物の一つ「奈落の至宝オーバード」なのかもしれないんだ
    {His body is a bunch of special-grade relics, and}, likely, could be one of the relics {of most value in all of the Abyss' history}, an "(Aubade) Precious Treasure of The Abyss."
    • Here, Oobaado is used as gikun 義訓 for Naraku no Shihou, because the name for the thing in this series is "Aubade," and what the word means is "Precious Treasure of The Abyss."

Missing Closing Quotation Mark

Sometimes, when a whole paragraph is quoted, the opening quotation mark is used, but the closing quotation mark is not. This is seen, for example, in games.

「ライアンどの。たたかいで キズついたら まちにもどり やどに とまるといい。
Game: Dragon Quest IV, Doragon Kuesto Foo ドラゴンクエストIV
  • "Raian-dono. tatakai de kizu tsuitara
    machi ni modori yado ni tomaru to ii.

    「ライアンどの。たたかいで キズついたら
    まちにもどり やどに とまるといい。
    Ryan-dono, if [you] get injured in battle
    it's good if [you] return to town and stay at an inn.
    • In classic JRPGs, sleeping at an inn heals injuries. So it's good for you to go there and get the damage healed.

「」 vs. 『』

There are a few differences between 「」 and 『』.

  1. 「」 is the default.
  2. 『』 is used in nested quotations (「『』」), as「」 tends to be the first choice so it ends up surrounding the outermost quote.
  3. 『』 is used to quote titles of works, novels, movies, etc., as well as names of people, things, and so on.

Although the above is generally the case, there are exceptions.

Some authors may use 『』 instead of 「」 for quotations, or vice-versa, merely due to a matter of preference, or maybe they just don't know or care about the rules.

  • In the Magic Knight Rayearth example above, 『』 was used on shoukan, "summoning."
  • In the JoJo example, 『』 was used on aji, "taste."
  • In the Bakuman example, 「」 was used on the name of the company Jump.

In particular, note that while in English the default is the double quotes and it's hard to find any reason to deliberately use single quotes, in Japanese the default is the single hook 「」, and the thicker double hook 『』 may be used simply because it looks cooler.

See Katakana Looks Cooler for another example of orthographic choices based on aesthetics.


Sometimes, the single hook 「」 is used twice 「「」」 to express that multiple characters have said the same thing in unison. The double hook 『』 also has this function.

For example, if multiple characters said "eeeeh?" in unison, shocked, that could be represented by either:.

  • 「「えええぇ?」」
  • 『えええぇ?』

Other Marks & Brackets

Besides the hook quotation marks, the Japanese language also makes use of a number of other kinds of brackets and quotes from time to time.

″″, 〝〟

These look like English quote marks or French curly quote marks, but they're actually primes. In Japanese, ″″ and 〝〟, are called:

  • daburu-minyuuto
    Double minute.
    • This term comes from English "double" plus the french "minute." This is probably because the prime symbol, ′ , can be used to mark minutes in timing:
    • 3′5″
      3 minutes, 5 seconds.
    • As you can see above, the double prime, ″, marks the seconds, so it would make more second if this mark was called "second" in Japanese rather than "double minute." Regardless, it's called double minute.
  • chonchon
    (probably ideophonic.)
  • nono-kagi
    (from shape, because " looks like ノノ.)
  • hige-kakko
    Beard brackets. (this term is rather uncommon.)

This pair of primes are only used like quotes when emphasizing terms. It's unlikely, albeit entirely possible, for them to be used to quote something that someone said.

For example, if I say: a "cat" is an animal, why am I using quotes around that word? Nobody said that word, so I'm not quoting anybody—it came out of nowhere, so I'm not quoting anything. This is the sort of usage the prime has in Japanese.

出久くんには関節が2つある この世代じゃ珍しい・・・何の“個性”も宿ってない型だよ
Manga: Boku no Hero Academia, 僕のヒーローアカデミア (Chapter 1, 緑谷出久︰オリジン)
  • Context: in a series about people that have powers called quirks, a doctor examines Midoriya Izuku 緑谷出久, talks about how quirkless people have two joints in his pinky toe, and then says:
  • Izuku-kun niwa kansetsu ga futatsu aru
    Izuku-kun has two joints.
    (double subject construction.)
  • {kono sedai ja mezurashii...} {nan'no "kosei" mo yadottenai} kata da yo
    A type {rare in this age}, [that] {doesn't [contain] any quirk}.
    • yadoru
      To dwell. (in this case, for a quirk to dwell in his body, i.e. for a quirk to be contained in him, for him to contain a quirk.)
Aテーブル “杯を乾す”と書いて! “乾杯”と読む!
Manga: Grand Blue, ぐらんぶる (Chapter 2, 新歓コンパ)
  • Context: this is a manga about swimming.
  • ei teeburu
    Table A.
  • "sakazuki wo hosu" to kaite!
    Write [it] as "to dry [one's] sake cup"!
    • sakazuki - a rather flat cup traditionally used to drink sake, also seen in some anime like One Piece in ceremonies to become sworn brothers and the like.
  • "kanpai" to yomu!
    Read [it] as "kanpai"!
    • Sentences such as the above are about how a word, like 乾杯, is written with the same kanji as a sentence that defines the word, like 杯を乾す.

‘’, “”

In Japanese, actual French quotes would be called:

  • kuooteeshon maaku
    Quotation mark. (literally.)
    This is a single-quote.
  • daburu kuooteeshon maaku
    Double quotation mark. (also literally.)
    This is a double-quote.

〈〉, 《》

In Japanese, the angle brackets, 〈〉, 《》, are called:

  • yamakakko
    〈〉 "mountain brackets."
  • nijuu-yamakakko
    《》 "double mountain brackets."

They often work to add emphasis to the text, given they're different, and being different means emphasis.

Sometimes, they can also be used for stylish quotes, specially for characters that speak in unusual manner, like robots.

こういう時は困った時の『大賢者』 早速質問してみた 《解。スライムの身体は魔素のみで動いています。酸素は必要ではない為、呼吸は行っておりません 》 そういえば…、意識してなかったが、呼吸なんてしていなかった。
  • Context: a guy was reincarnated in another world as a slime, with a knowledgeable guide called "great sage." Then, he falls in the water, but doesn't suffocate.
  • kouiu toki wa, {komatta} toki no "dai kenja"
    In times like these, the "great sage" of {troubled} times. (literally.)
    • It's a good idea to consult with her when you're troubled, hence {komatta} toki no, "of when {[you] are troubled}."
  • sassoku shitsumon shite-mita
    [I] tried asking [her] promptly.
  • "kai. suraimu no karada wa masou nomi de ugoite-imasu.
    sanso wa hitsuyou dewanai tame, kokyuu wa okonatte-orimasen"
  • 《解。スライムの身体は魔素のみで動いています。酸素は必要ではない為、呼吸は行っておりません 》
    "Answer. the body of a slime moves by magic particles alone. Since oxygen isn't necessary, [the act of] breathing isn't being performed."
  • souieba..., ishiki shitenakatta ga, kokyuu nante shite-inakatta.
    [Now that you mention it...], [I hadn't paid attention] but, [I] hadn't been breathing.


In Japanese, the "lenticular brackets," 【】, are called:

  • sumi-tsuki-kakko
    Brackets with corners.

They're often seen surrounding the reading of kanji, in place of furigana, specially in dictionaries, including online ones.

  • kakko [kakko]
    括弧 is read かっこ

Alternative, they surround the kanji of a word.

  • かっこ【括弧】

In all sorts of websites where users upload content, 【】 surrounds a tag, keyword or category. For example:

  • [Jiko Shoukai] Hajimemashite! Kizuna Ai desu
    [Self-introduction] Nice to meet you! I'm Kizuna Ai
  • Kizuna Ai via, accessed 2019-01-28. (the English title may show instead if your language is set to English.)


The "parentheses,"(), are called:

  • maru-kakko
    Round brackets.
  • shou-kakko
    Small brackets.
  • paaren

In Japanese, parentheses are used in a number of unique ways.

When you have parentheses around a number in Japanese after someone's name, it's often showing the age of a character that's just been introduced.

  • Hayashi, san-juu-ichi
    Hayashi (31 [years old].)
Morita Mayu 森田真由, example of beta-me ベタ目.
Character: Morita Mayu 森田真由
Anime: Morita-san wa Mukuchi 森田さんは無口 (Episode 1)
  • Context: the white rectangle with the awfully round font on the left side shows Morita is 16 years old inside parentheses.

Other information may also appear in parentheses, like gender:

  • (♂)
    Male. (Mars symbol.)
  • (♀)
    Female. (Venus symbol.)

The parentheses can mean a part of a phrase is optional.

  • kowaru (wa) nai
  • "Not afraid."
  • kowakunai 怖くない
    kowaku wa nai 怖くはない
    The variants above, with and without wa, mean basically the same thing.

The parentheses are also used in internet slangs to express emotions.

And all sorts of snark.

Character: Mikami Satoru 三上悟
Anime: Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken, 転生したらスライムだった件 (Episode 1)
  • otoko (jishou)
    Man among men (self-proclaimed).

This comes from an older usage, in which parentheses are used to express actions of characters in stories, as opposed to their dialogue.

王 (嘲笑ふ。)生意気な! わたしのマントルの力を見るが好い。
Book: "The Three Treasures," Mittsu no Takara 三つの宝 (Page 148)
Author: Akutagawa Ryūnosuke 芥川龍之介
Published: Year 3 of the Shouwa 昭和 era, a.k.a. 1922. (see years and eras.)
Source of the image: 三つの宝 - 国立国会図書館デジタルコレクション -, accessed 2019-03-22.
The book in plain text, slightly different: 三つの宝 芥川龍之介 -, 2019-03-22.
  • ou (aza-warafu.) namaiki na! watashi no mantoru no chikara wo miru ga ii.
    王 (嘲笑ふ。)生意気な! わたしのマントルの力を見るが好い
    King: (sneers.) naive, [aren't you]! [You shall] see the power of my mantle!

The parentheses are the standard way to add furigana to a word without using a byline layout. It may also be used to associate the reading or kanji of words just like 【】.

  • 括弧(かっこ)
  • かっこ(括弧)

How to Type

To type 「」 using a Japanese IME software you have to press the two keys to the right of the P letter, between the P letter and the enter key.

If your keyboard has an English International layout, those two keys will most likely be [ and ]. If your keyboard has a Brazilian layout like mine, the keys would be ´ and [. In either case, they will be to the right of the P key.

To type 『』 you must use the IME conversion to convert 「」 into 『』. There's no way to type the nijuu kagikakko 『』 directly from the keyboard. You must type the single kagikakko 「」, press space, and then convert it to 『』.

It may also be possible to type the symbols by their name, kagikakko かぎかっこ, and trying to convert. In this case, the first choice will likely be the word spelled differently (カギカッコ or 鉤括弧), so you'll have to skip those and select a conversion choice further below.


Marks & Symbols


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  1. Replies
    1. With Google IME, type 「」 then press space. It lets you convert that too ()【】『』[]〈〉 and so on.