When it comes to Japan’s three writing systems, kanji, hiragana and katakana, it’s the most complex of the lot that usually gets the most attention. The numerous lines and strokes involved in kanji pictographs are so revered that people nominate one at the end of every year to represent the mood of the nation. Even foreigners across the world are taken by their meaning and beauty, with many committing a patch of skin to their favourite (sometimes completely wrong) kanji in tattoo form.

But what about the least utilised member of the group, the katakana characters used for foreign words? Well it looks like they’re finally getting a bit of love, with a recent survey being conducted among foreign residents in Japan to determine the coolest looking symbol in the katakana syllabary. Place your bets now for which one comes out on top!

The survey, conducted by My Navi News, asked 20 foreign residents to choose one katakana whose shape they thought was the coolest. While most respondents all chose different characters, four of them chose the exact same one, pushing it to the top of the leader board. The katakana taking top prize for its cool looks is ka, which is written “カ” in katakana.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 1.20.25 PM“カ” received votes from a Swedish woman in her 40s, a Turkish man in his 20s and an American woman in her 30s. A Syrian man in his 30s put his hand up for “ガ”, or ga, which meant his vote also went towards this symbol.

The reasoning behind this character’s popularity is simple: it looks identical to the kanji “力” (chikara), which means strength. The sweeping stroke on the left is also particularly eye-catching.

Other characters earning a place on the cool list appear below:

■ ス (su)  – 2 votes 
■ タ (ta)   – 1 vote 
■ ラ (ra)  – 1 vote 
■ サ(sa)  – 1 vote 
■ フ (fu)  – 1 vote
■ ネ (ne) – 1 vote 
■ テ (te)  – 1 vote 

Researchers went above and beyond to find a mix of nationalities and ages to take part in the survey. It seems several of the respondents, however, misread the question and nominated their favourite katakana words instead of syllables, which were:

■ ガンダム (Gundam)
■ カルピスソーダ (Calpis Soda)
■ サムライ (Samurai) 

If there was a survey for cool words in katakana, we’d like to think  ロケットニュース might score a spot somewhere on the list! Right guys? Guys..?

With 48 syllables to choose from in the katakana syllabary, there are quite a few good-looking candidates. Which one do you think looks the best?

Source: My Navi Corporation
Top image: Muddy-Mudkip Inset: Wikimedia