Hengao The Japanese Art Of Making The Strangest Faces

    The word hengao 変顔へんがお means “strange face” and it’s just about everything you’re probably imagining. Recently it’s gotten popularized even more by the comedian Wakki ワッキー who is not only good at making weird faces, but is also making a book on the Japanese crowdsourcing website Camp-fire.jp.

    For a while, it seems, he’s been accepting requests from people on Twitter for various hengao requests. He responds with hengao pictures he takes of some of the requests, many of which are quite absurd. After a while he realized he was sitting on a hengao gold mine. “What if, just like Maru, I could turn these pictures into a book that people would buy?” he maybe asked himself. “But wait, I don’t want to have to pay for all that,” he possibly continued to think. “I know, let’s work together to fund this thing!” (all these quotes are completely made up, by the way).

    So, he turned the very community-based hengao Twitter request thing into a community-based funding thing. Makes total sense to me, anyways. Enough about this for now, though. You’re here for the pictures, I bet. Let’s take a look at some of the funnier faces:

    Japanese man makes a weird face
    I made up your emoticon
    Japanese man makes a weird face while wearing a fake beard and showing his teeth
    Bald Guerrilla Face (probably not the most politically correct one here…)
    Japanese man makes a weird face with a piece of paper over his eyes with holes poked out
    The face from your dream (that he tweeted about, I assume
    Japanese man makes a weird face while pointing upward
    The moment you became ranking #1 in the AKB election
    Japanese man makes a weird face while biting his top lip
    Japanese man makes a weird face while looking tired
    Catching a cold, getting hay fever, and contracting conjunctivitis, all at once
    Japanese man makes a weird face while puffing out his cheeks
    How thick is your bone density? Reply with a face.

    If you’re interested in helping out with this project (I’ll probably throw some yens Wakki’s way after finishing this article), you can find it on the CampFire page: ペナルティのワッキーがみんなと作る変顔写真集、「フェイス」! There are some neat prizes for funding, some of which include the book itself, special messages and signatures, and at the higher levels meeting up with Wakki to spend half a day having your way with his face (as in, making it look however you want).

    A compilation of weird faces

    Wakki thanks you, I’m sure. Also, you should try to see if he’ll do a custom face for you. Request it to him on his Twitter account. Maybe your requested face will show up in his book, should it get funded. We sent Wakki a message too, and guess what? We got a response. I now present to you “Fugu eating bad tasting tofu” –

    Can I say that this is truly a work of art? I’m going to print out an 8×10 glossy.

    Hengao Across The Internets

    It’s not just Wakki who’s doing strange faces. This is obviously something bigger than just one person. People post up hengao pics because they’re hen, and funny, and people of course love them.

    Twitter screenshot of a man making a weird face
    Source: @div_chobi
    Twitter screenshot of a woman making a weird face
    Source: @ebikontan
    Twitter screenshot of a man with eyes drawn on his eyelids
    Source: @japan0928
    Twitter screenshot of a purikura picture with all the girls making weird faces
    Source: @940426a
    Twitter screenshot of a little girl making a weird face
    Source: @norikoslsk22

    Of course, maybe some before and after shots will offer some insight as to how much of a change some of these people make. It’s like the opposite of those before and after makeup commercial shots, but a lot more extreme, I think. Here’s some really good ones that I found here.

    Before and after of a cute girl making a weird face
    Before and after of a handsome man making a weird face
    Before and after of a cute girl making a weird face
    Before and after of a young girl making a weird face
    Before and after of a cute girl making a weird face

    Some of these are really good, almost pro status, I’d say. But, Wakki is still the boss. There are some other “pros” out there, but they are pros in different ways (i.e. not famous for hengao). What I’m getting at is that there are a lot of examples of hengao in the celebrity scene. Sometimes it’s on purpose, sometimes it’s not. Jim Carrey, of course, has his own special page.

    Screenshot of Jim Carrey making a weird face in ‘Liar, Liar'

    But, there’s Japanese celebrities as well. A lot of them, in fact. Between painful gameshows, comedic routines, feats of hengao strength, and just plain bad timing, there’s a plethora of hengao out there to get a chuckle out of. Idols, personalities, and actors, unite!

    Japanese woman makes a weird face
    Oohhh
    Model Nozomi Sasaki on a Japanese TV show making a weird face
    According to the subtitle she is skilled at hengao
    Japanese comedian makes a weird face
    Thing is, this is how Ramenz face always looks
    A before and after of a Japanese idol making a weird face on a TV show
    Everything seems normal until… Aughh!
    Japanese woman makes a weird face with chopstick stuck up her nose
    A new use for chopsticks / Pocky
    Japanese woman makes a weird face, stretching out her cheeks
    Oh my gosh, so stretchy!
    KyaryPyamuPyamu making two weird faces
    And, of course, you know a bit about Kyary from Kimokawaii. Not much else to say but kimo…kawaii… or just kimo.

    As you can see, there’s plenty of celebrity hengao, both purposefully and not on purpose, all over the internet. It’s like a tabloid’s dream come true, except for it’s on purpose half the time.

    Now It’s Your Turn To Hengao (For Prizes!)

    Koichi makes a weird face
    Forever alone

    So I’ve shown you all about Japanese “hengao.” I even did one for you to show you that it’s not thattt bad (see above, that Jabba the Hutt looking thing on the right is me). Now it’s your turn to give back, just as I have above (you’re welcome). But, you’re not just doing it for everyone’s amusement. You’re doing it for incredible prizes as well!

    FIRST PLACE: Forever TextFugu Membership, 1 Year of WaniKani, and 1st Choice From The Prize Pool (see below)

    First place will get you a TextFugu Forever account, 1 year of WaniKani (if you already have a WaniKani account, you can always use it after your current account expires), plus first choice from the prize pool, below. You can have one of three fabulous gifts, and you can get exactly the one you want. Is it Usopp and his giant hammer? Is it Wasabi KitKat Bars? Or is it Nara’s new and less-creepy mascot? Up to you.

    SECOND PLACE: A Forever TextFugu Membership OR 1 Year Of WaniKani, and 2nd Choice From The Prize Pool

    You can choose between TextFugu Forever or 1 Year of WaniKani. Then, you get second pickings at the prize pool, below.

    THIRD PLACE: 3rd Choice From The Prize Pool

    You’ll get whatever is left over in the prize pool. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be lucky and get what you wanted.

    Wasabi KitKats, One Piece key chain, Nara mascot phone charm
    Choose one from the prize pool

    To submit your entry, post an image into the comments below. You can attach an image via Disqus comments (what we use for comments, down below) or you can link to it after uploading it (to, say, imgur). The Tofugu people will each get 3 points to give to the various submissions. Then, on top of that, the top 3 vote getters (you can upvote comments, so upvote the ones you like) will get 3 total points for having the most votes, 2 for second most, and 1 for third most, meaning the earlier you get your hengao in the better. Some rules:

    • Post your submission images into the comments.
    • Submit it by July 21, 2013.
    • Winners will be decided the following Monday or Tuesday.
    • Be sure to put your actual email when leaving a comment / creating a Disqus account so we can contact you.
    • Yes, you may do multiple submissions, but no more than three please (also remember it could dilute your chances to get more votes on one pic!).
    • Before and after shots may gain you extra points.
    • International submissions A-OK.

    I hope you have a good time coming up with submissions. I am really looking forward to seeing them :p

    Also, big thanks to our new ace researcher extraordinaire Mami for her help on this article. She also wants to wish you good luck on this contest!

    Japanese woman making a weird face with the words グッドラック overlaid

    Alright everyone, get to work on those hengao!

    Update: Tofugu’s illustrious illustrator wants to join in on the fun.

    Aya in pigtails making a weird face

    Update: Winners have been chosen and notified (so if you weren’t notified, then… well… sorry!). We’ll show the winners in the newsletter, coming up at the end of the month, so look forward to it!