It is presumed that ? represented [?e] and that ? and ? indicated different pronunciations until somewhere between the Kamakura period and the Taish? period when they both came to be pronounced as [je] , later shifting to the modern ? [e]. Along with the kana for wi (? in hiragana, ? in katakana), this kana was deemed obsolete in Japanese in 1946, and replaced with ? and ?. It is now rare in everyday usage; in onomatopoeia or foreign words, the katakana form (U-[small-e]) is preferred, as in "?" for "west".
The kana still sees some modern-day usage. Ebisu is usually written "", but sometimes "" like Ky?to Ebisu Shrine (?, Ky?to Ebisu Jinja), and name of the beer Yebisu (), which is actually pronounced "Ebisu". The Japanese title of the Rebuild of Evangelion series is Evangelion: New Theatrical Edition (, Evangerion Shin Gekij?ban). Katakana ? is sometimes written with a dakuten, ?, to represent a /ve/ sound in foreign words; however, most IMEs lack a convenient way to write this and the combination is far more common.
Hiragana ? is still used in several Okinawan orthographies for the syllable /we/. In the Ry?ky? University system, ? is also combined with a small ?, /, to represent the sound /wi/. Katakana ? is used in Ainu for /we/.
|Unicode name||HIRAGANA LETTER WE||KATAKANA LETTER WE|
|UTF-8||227 130 145||E3 82 91||227 131 177||E3 83 B1|
|Numeric character reference||ゑ||ゑ||ヱ||ヱ|
|Shift JIS||130 239||82 EF||131 145||83 91|