How and when to use ヲ

So, the thought only came to me recently:

“を” is nowadays only used as a particle to denote the object of a sentence, but from what I can tell, it’s the hiragana form that’s usually used. So, provided that a sentence isn’t just written entirely in katakana for the sake of being funny, where is ヲ still being used? I can only think of it maybe popping up in a loanword to identify the “wo” sound, but other than that, it feels like it’s mostly present because を is still in regular use.

I’ve seen ヲ used in video games. I think Secret of Mana was the last one I played where I saw it used instead of を. It seems to be mostly used to indicate archaic speech.

1 Like

I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s the only reason you’d see a katakana sentence. But I found an answer that basically covers it so I’ll just link that.


Nah, that’d be ウォ.


Some video games were all katakana, so it got a brief revival in those. In manga I’ve seen it used in purposely idiosyncratic speech, namely in handwritten text that’s not in the main bubbles.


I’ve seen it in lyrics and I might have remembered seeing it in articles about Uchinaguchi and Ainu.

The idea of seeing ハ and ヲ as particles is really … something else. Old games with their Kana are really really hard to play in Japanese :open_mouth:

1 Like


@Leebo’s link covers everything, but you have scroll to find ヱヴァンゲリヲン. So there.
Now you can find it by scrolling on this thread instead.


And if you’re still scrolling this thread instead of clicking the link:

Some of the posts indicate that ヲ is very rare. This isn’t really the case. In general Japanese usage, yes, it is very rare. However, if you have all-katakana text, then you will always find をwritten as ヲ.

Now go back up and actually click it!


Why were old games just in katakana? Were they just trying to be stylish or could they just not program in all the kanji?

Presumably when you have to fit every character into like… 8 pixels by 8 pixels blocks, katakana probably is the most legible since it’s already kind of blocky.


Old games used kanji. For some kanji it works, but I’m sure for highly complex ones you’d end up with a soupy blob, though. Here’s an example from a game called Faxandu:


Many of the simpler kanji are rendered fairly well. It starts getting iffier at that third and fourth kanji.


Memory limitations meant they had to pick one set, katakan or hirigana, and they probably picked katakana based on what @Leebo said.

The NES generation was mainly where it happened, although even the Super NES generation games were judicious with their use of Kanji.

The Gameboy Pokemon games up to, I think, Gen4 were all hiragana/katakana. I don’t think they started using Kanji until the Gameboy Advance.


It’s still completely readable, though. 世界樹の麓 エルフ族の町よ
I guess it’s more a memory issue, like @alo said.


I’ve seen ヲ being used in some book titles such as ヲタ恋. I asked my teacher about it and iirc she told me it might’ve been because they didn’t want the negative associations of オタク, so they tried to make it softer by using ヲ instead.


I believe it can also be used in names, but I can’t think of any specific examples right now.

Sure, but pretty much only from pre-kana-reform names which were retained for stylistic reasons, like how Ebisu Beer is spelt ヱビス. Female given names used to be prefaced with ヲ out of politeness, and written in katakana because that’s how they wrote female names back then, so the name Ohana, for example, was ヲハナ.


お used to be を in classical spelling for certain words of Japanese origin (for instance the classical spelling of おわる was をはる). So that might lead some people to want to use it for something like otaku, because it just seems nerdier maybe.


I see ヲ every time I buy and start reading a new volume of 「三ツ星カラーズ」 =D