"Boku" generally means the same thing in conversation as "watashi," but it is etymologically different. It is an informal pronoun; "watashi" would be more likely in more formal situations. "Boku" is used primarily by males. Foreigners would be safer to stick with "watashi" when speaking Japanese unless positive that "boku" is appropriate.

The kanji for boku, which like watashi is not used as "myself":
      zz         @@z  z@@
      z@@z+ z)+  @@z  z@@  )@))+
      z@@    @@z @@z  z@@  )@@)
      z@@    @@z @@z  z@@ )z))+
     @@z         @@z  z@@
     @@z  +)))00)))))))))@z))))+
   +)@@z      )z))+      @z+
   )@@@z         @)    )@
 )z) @@z   +zzzzzzz0@@0zzzzzzz+
 @)  @@z           )@@)
     @@z   +zzzzzzz0@@0zzzzzzz+
     @@z           )@@)
     @@z zzzzzzzzzz0@@0zzzzzz@@@z
     @@z           )@@)
     @@z zzzzzzzzz@@@z@@zzzzzzzzz
     @@z         @@z   )@
     @@z       +)@0)   +z@z))
     @@z       )@@)      @@@@
     @@z   +zz)))         +z@@@0)
     @@z @@z                 @@z

Once written quite explicitly as a pictograph of a slave (a person with clearly drawn testicles and a tattooist's needle) carrying a container with bits in it. Some authoritative Japanese scholars feel this container-with-bits radical is a chamber-pot with turds (really!). It is from this humble original meaning, filtered down through Japanese culture, that boku eventually began to me, "I."

Now it is simplified as a man showing hands holding a basket.

As used in kooboku (public servant), doboku (manservant), bokura (we).

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