What's the equivalent of LOL in Japanese?

"LOL" represents probably the single most recognizable example of initialism in the age of digital communications.

While Japanese people do laugh out loud, we do not "LOL" to express amusement in a text message.

Instead, we have two main ways of describing this emotional state; one is "笑" and the other is "w".

Let's take them one at a time.

In the first case, we see the Chinese character . This is the first character in the word 笑い warai, which means "laughter".

has long been used in written materials such as screenplays or magazine interviews. The character appears inside parentheses.

e.g. 「そんなことを言われたんですよ。」(笑)

It is worth pointing out that contemporary usage of the character in digital communications tends to omit the parenthetical notation.

e.g. 完全に寝ぼけてた。笑

In the second case, we see the single alphabetical character "w".

Like the example cited above, "w" is the first letter of the word, warai in the roman alphabets.

The '90s Japanese online gamer community is generally credited for popularizing the usage of "w" in this way.

You will most often see this character added directly at the end of a sentence or phrase (i.e. no period is followed by "w".)

e.g. 完全に寝ぼけてたw

If something is really funny, you can write more than one "w"; "www" or "wwwwwww".
 
e.g. 完全に寝ぼけてたwww
 
But writing too many "w" characters and or writing them too often may annoy people.

There are a few other ways to express laughter in text but you are pretty much good to go with the above two!
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