Exploring Japan’s Youth Culture: The Fascinating Evolution of Maru-Moji and Gal-Moji


Japan’s writing culture is incredibly diverse, with various styles emerging over time. Among these, “Maru-Moji” and “Gal-Moji” stand out as symbols of youth culture. These writing styles reflect the trends and identities of young people of their respective eras, creating new forms of communication through unique character designs. In this article, we’ll explore the history, characteristics, and allure of Maru-Moji and Gal-Moji.

What is Maru-Moji?

Maru-Moji is a handwritten style that gained popularity among young women in Japan from the 1970s to the 1980s. The name “Maru-Moji” literally means “round characters,” which perfectly describes their cute, rounded appearance. Here are some defining features:

  • Rounded Shapes: All characters are written with rounded shapes, giving a soft and gentle impression.
  • Uniform Thickness: The lines are uniformly thick, creating a pop-art-like aesthetic.
  • Decorations: Heart marks, stars, and emoticons are often used, making the text visually appealing and lively.

Maru-Moji was closely tied to the youth culture and fashion of the time, frequently appearing in letters, diaries, and notebooks shared among friends. This style served as a means of conveying feelings of “cuteness” and “friendliness.”

What is Gal-Moji?

Gal-Moji is a writing style that emerged in the late 1990s to the 2000s, particularly among young people using mobile phones and internet chat rooms. Gal-Moji involves substituting kanji, hiragana, and katakana with various symbols and other characters. Key features include:

  • Diverse Substitutions: For example, “あ” might be replaced with “ぁ”, “か” with “ヵ”, and “し” with “ι”, using visually similar or phonetically equivalent characters or symbols.
  • Visual Complexity: The substitution makes the text appear cryptic, serving as a secret communication method among those familiar with Gal-Moji.
  • Playfulness and Individuality: The usage varies from person to person, allowing for unique expression and enjoyment in creating personalized styles.

Gal-Moji spread with the rise of mobile email culture and became particularly popular among “Gals,” a subculture known for its distinctive fashion and lifestyle. Using Gal-Moji was a way to assert one’s identity within this vibrant subculture.

Evolution of Maru-Moji and Gal-Moji

These writing styles reflect changes in youth culture and communication methods over the decades. Maru-Moji thrived through handwritten letters and notebooks, while Gal-Moji flourished with digital communication.

Evolution and Influence of Maru-Moji

Maru-Moji has continued to influence various handwriting styles and can still be seen in hand-drawn pop advertisements and children’s designs. Fonts based on Maru-Moji have been created, bringing its cute appeal into the digital design world.

Evolution and Influence of Gal-Moji

Gal-Moji has evolved with the advent of emojis, stickers, and the rise of social media. As digital devices became more prevalent, communication expanded beyond text to include images and videos, shifting playful text styles like Gal-Moji into more intuitive and visual forms of expression.


Maru-Moji and Gal-Moji are unique writing styles that reflect the culture and sensibilities of their respective times. Through these characters, young people have expressed not just information, but their individuality and emotions. Although the styles of writing may change, the desire to express one’s “true self” remains constant. New writing cultures will continue to emerge, shaped by technological advances and evolving youth culture.

As technology and culture evolve, new forms of writing and communication will undoubtedly arise. Yet, the distinctive charm of styles like Maru-Moji and Gal-Moji will always hold a special place in the tapestry of youth culture, serving as a testament to the creative and expressive spirit of young people across generations.