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This symbol is called 米印 kome-jirushi ("rice sign") in Japanese, because of its resemblance to the kanji for rice.

It is superficially similar to an English asterisk, but actually used quite differently. Most of the time, the kome-jirushi appears to draw the reader's attention to instructions or precautions, e.g.:

※サルを切り放つことは法律で禁じられています。
Dismembering the monkey is prohibited by law.
Like the asterisk, the kome-jirushi can also be used for footnotes. Nowadays, however, it is more common to use numbered footnotes or a Western-style asterisk ( / Unicode FF0A) for that purpose.

The kome-jirushi appears at Unicode hex 203B.

In South Korea, this symbol is also sometimes used to denote dang-gu jangs (pool halls) because of the resemblance to the commonly-used image of two crossed pool cues and four billiard balls.

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