Archive for category Japan


The Japanese A-List?

Posted by on Friday, 24 February, 2006

I’m sure that all of you are familiar with the Technorati Top 100 – the list of the most influential (as in, linked to) blogs right now. The bloggers on this Top 100 list are the so-called “A-Listers” of the blogging world.

Anyway, when reading through the Top 100 you will find a lot of famous names and probably a lot of sites you yourself visit often, if not daily. However, I can bet you that there are lots of blogs on the Top 100 which you never heard of, let alone visited, because one simple reason: they are in Japanese. Yes, there are quite a few Japanese blogs on the Top 100 list actually – it surprised me a little.

So I thought I would do all you non-Japanese speakers a favor and describe what the top-ranked (according to Technorati) Japanese blogs are about. After going through most of them I noticed an odd trend…I shall return to it with my conclusions after the list!

More of a newsposting site than a traditional blog – it has all the latest Japanese and world wide IT news listed in different categories.

Also more of a IT-news site than a blog – this is owned by Japanese media company Mainichi Communications.

22.Ganbare, seikyo no Shiraishi-san
This is the first “real” blog – written by an employee of Tokyo Agricultural University.

25. AV Watch
Another new site, this time the Audio&Video part of the Watch Impress media site.

36. Manabe Kaori no koko dake no hanashi
This blog belongs to actress and mode Kaori Manabe .

This is basically a Japanese Digg. Even the interface is virturally identical.

48. Tetsuba tekito Nikki
A blog written by a guy who apparantly has travelled around Japane on his motorcycle – there are lots of pictures from his trip.

73. Excite Oddly Enough
Excite Japan’s newssite with odd news around the world.

77. ITmedia PC Update
Well, another subsection of the IT media news site.

83. Shokotan Blog
Singer/Model Shoko Nakagawa’s personal blog.

92. Geino and Sports Kawaraban
A guy in Osaka posting about entertainment, sports, and current events.

Well, do you see the dominating pattern here? The majority of the Japanese “blogs” dominating the Technorati Top 100 are not really blogs at all! Sure, I’d go along and call that Digg-clone a blog, but most of the news sites above are produced by big media companies and are just, traditional news sites. I don’t know what to say about this, other than that perhaps the Technorati staff either do not check foreign (as in non-English) blogs for content, or sites like ITMedia and Myweb are OK for inclusion on the Blog Ranks. In that case, CNN & New York Times should be included as well…

So, what started as a post that was going to inform the world on what are “hot topic” blogs in Japan, turned into a boring list of news sites which have somehow managed to get into the Top 100 blogs of the Internet. Wrong? I think so, but it’s just my opinion.


Schoolgirl arrested in Osaka for pimping younger girl

Posted by on Wednesday, 22 February, 2006

I’m torn here. Should I be apalled, or should I applaud the business sense of this young girl? 😉

A 14-year-old schoolgirl who introduced a younger girl to a man who paid to perform obscene acts with her has been arrested, police said. […] Investigators said the girl introduced a 13-year-old junior high school girl from Kyoto to a 25-year-old worker from Osaka’s Higashisumiyoshi-ku. The worker is suspected of paying 55,000 yen to perform obscene acts with the girl at a hotel in Kyoto in December last year. […] The 14-year-old girl reportedly met the younger girl through an Internet matchmaking site. She handed the younger girl 20,000 yen, and took the rest of the money as an “introduction fee,” police said.

(Source Mainichi Daily News)


Valentine’s Day in Japan

Posted by on Friday, 10 February, 2006

Pascal Caffet Original Chocolate
Valentine’s Day in Japan is a huge deal – I mean HUGE, especially business-wise. I am not sure how much individual business in the various department stores around Ginza, Shinjuku, etc. can be directly linked to Valentine’s Day, but it’s got to be a massive amount of money! The Japanese absolutely love events, especially ones that mean gift giving in some way. Valentine’s Day caters directly to the heart of the Japanese culture and spirit in that sense!

The Japanese celebrate Valentine’s Day in a very orthodox way, the women buy the men presents, and possibly there is a romantic dinner on the evening of February 14. That’s pretty much it. In many other cultures, this strict female -> male gift giving has been changed to become sort of a mutual romantic holiday, where it’s mainly the women who get gifts. Not so in Japan. The reason? White Day on March 14, which is sort of the opposite, where it’s the men’s turn to “give back” to the woman (or women) who gave them something on Valentine’s Day. In the resources regarding White Day I have found, it says that it was invented in 1965 by a marshmallow maker. (I had heard that it was Joseph Dunkle, president of Aunt Stella’s Cookies who introduced it, but apparently that was untrue.)

Back to Valentine’s Day though. One of my favorite parts of the whole shebang surrounding this day is the big chocolate fairs that they have in the big department stores. Giving chocolate for Valentine’s Day has become such a big business that many department stores set up special booth areas for approximately two weeks leading up to it, where chocolate makers from all over the world present their goods. They often have special Valentine’s Day only gift packs, and some are unique only to Japan (being the huge market it is). And here is the real clincher: they give out samples of their stuff, lots of it! (Note however, that the most famous brands, such as Marcolini and Pascal Caffet, will usually not give out samples, because they are so sure of their brand’s superior taste…) Last weekend, me and my girlfriend walked around the Chocolate Fair at Takashimaya Shinjuku for an hour sampling pretty much everything there was (and some things twice) and then we travelled across town to Printemps Ginza to check out their Chocolate lineup. All in all, a very rewarding day! This weekend, we will try to hit Takashimaya and Mitsukoshi in Nihonbashi and perhaps Matsuya in Ginza.

The companies displaying products at these fairs are the very best in the Chocolate business: Pascal Caffet, Galler, Wittamer, Pierre Ledent, Godiva, Teuscher, Läderrach, Pierre Marcolini, Le Cordon Bleu, Daskalides, Marc Debailleul etc.

Personally, I strongly recommend Galler and Pierre Ledent, those are my two favorites!


Photos from Sumida River

Posted by on Friday, 3 February, 2006

Some photos I took last May during a stroll down the side of Sumida River.



iTunes competition increase in Japan – au LISMO service

Posted by on Monday, 30 January, 2006

au Listen Mobile Service - LISMO
KDDI (au) just launched a product called “au LISTEN MOBILE SERVICE”, or “LISMO” for short. If you wonder why the symbol used in marketing of this service is a squirrel, note that when you pronounce LISMO in Japanese, it sounds like risu-mo, and risu means squirrel, and squirrels are cute (or are they?) so that will help marketing…

The LISMO service consists of a few different products: the main part is a new pc-software called “au Music Port” and a corresponding software in your phone called “au Music Player”. The pc-software lets you connect your pc to your cell phone (only the new W41xx models are supported as far as I know – and only they have the new software installed as well) via a USB cable and do lots of different things. For example, you can rip CDs and convert them to HE-AAC format and transfer them to your phone. Au phones use this format for playing music – it’s daily name is “Chaku Uta Full” and downloading of such music used to be the biggest music download service in Japan (until iTunes showed up). You can also administer and backup your Chaku-uta Full you may have bought/downloaded on your phone. Note that there is DRM in the Chaku-uta Full spec, and files which have a time- or play-limitation on them cannot be downloaded to your pc. Further, you cannot copy files which have been ripped in this software on another pc, which means that the files you rip yourself get tagged by some kind of personal ID tag.

The au Music Port software seems to be very much like Apple iTunes in that you basically administer your library of songs in your pc, and you choose which songs to synchronize with your phone. In case your phone is running out of memory, you can create dynamic playlists in much the same way as iTunes. Further, you can synchronize e-mails, calender, pictures, and so forth with the software too.

Another part of the LISMO service is the online part, which as of yet is not that developed. There is an online community called “Uta Tomo” which lets you exchange play lists with other people. Further, there seems to be a function which notifies you if you are in the vicinity of another person playing the same song on his/her phone. Another function is when listening to radio with your phone, you can search for the song currently playing on the station you’re listening to.

In April, the online part of au’s offering will expand through a service called “Duostore” which is a direct competitor of Apple ITMS. There are not much details available of this store yet, but I would gues that it will be incorporated into the Music Port software on the pc side, and fairly easily accessable from the portal menu on your cell phone. Personally, I see this as a big threat against iTunes, because so many people already use their cell phones as sort of MP3-players; and if a full-scope music store (with competitive pricing, now Au sells a limited number of Chaku Uta Full for 315 yen/song, where iTunes is half as cheap) reachable from PCs as well, there are 21 million 3G au users who will want to use this service! I still have not heard so much about the NTT Docomo/Napster deal, which will further increase competition on the Japanese market. If Docomo gets that service up and running quickly enough, there will be three strong players on the market, and where will that leave e.g. Vodafone?

(source: KeiTai Watch)