Why the Japanese are blog-wild

The content of this blog post is originally taken from this site, hence the copyright is fully a courtesy held by The Straits Times.

They write the most blogs in the world, not to stand out but to fit in, to a largely conformist culture

TOKYO - Compared to the English-speaking world, the Japanese have gone blog-wild. They write web logs at per capita rates that are off the global charts.

Although English speakers outnumber Japanese speakers by more than five to one, slightly more blog postings are written in Japanese than in English, according to Technorati, the Internet search engine that monitors the blogosphere.

By some estimates, as much as 40 per cent of Japanese blogging is done on mobile phones, often by commuters staring cross-eyed at tiny screens for hours as they ride the world's most extensive network of subways and commuter trains.

Blogging in Japan, though, is a far tamer beast than in the United States and the rest of the English-speaking world.

Japan's conformist culture has embraced a technology that Americans often use for abrasive self-promotion and refashioned it as a soothingly non-confrontational medium for getting along.

Bloggers here shy away from politics and barbed language. They rarely trumpet their expertise. While Americans blog to stand out, the Japanese do it to fit in, blogging about small stuff: cats and flowers, bicycles and breakfast, gadgets and TV stars. Compared with Americans, they write at less length, they write anonymously and they write a whole lot more often.

'Behaviour is more important than technology,' said Joichi Ito, a board member at Technorati and an expert on how people around the world use the Internet. 'In Japan, it is not socially acceptable to pursue fame.'

Technorati found that of all recorded blog postings in the fourth quarter of last year, 37 per cent were written in Japanese, 36 per cent in English and 8 per cent in Chinese.

This was not an aberration. In the past three years, Japanese has been running ahead of, or about even with English, as the dominant language of blogging, according to Technorati. About 130 million people understand Japanese, while about 1.1 billion understand English.

Those numbers startle no one more than the Japanese. For even as they use personal computers, Internet-enabled mobile telephones and a ubiquitous high-speed Internet network to blog anytime and anywhere, they keep awfully quiet about it.

Consider, for example, the remarkably harmonious blog that Ms Junko Kenetsuna has been writing five times a week for the past three years about her mid-day meal.

With understated precision, she calls her blog 'I had my lunch'. In a recent dispatch from a Vietnamese restaurant in Tokyo, she wrote: 'The soup has a distinctive chicken flavour and the bitterness of pear, which gives you much sensation in your mouth.'

In all the blog entries she has composed at home and in cybercafes over the years, she has never written a discouraging word - not a single critical reference to bad food, lousy service or rip-off prices, she said. Such harshness, in her view, would be improper and offensive.

'If I think the food stinks, I don't write about it,' said Ms Kenetsuna, 43, who makes a living writing advertising copy for a weekly newspaper for female office workers in Tokyo. 'There is a part of me that feels sorry for the restaurant, if it were to lose business because of what I write,' she said. 'I don't want to influence the diners.' About 300 people occasionally read her blog, most of them friends.

She gets almost no online comments or feedback from any of them, although she had hoped she might.

Still, she does not want to over-excite her readers or provoke comments that would hurt her feelings. 'Because my blog may be read by people I don't know, I am cautious about revealing my inner thoughts,' she said. 'I don't want to be criticised for what I write.' To keep her profile low, she blogs anonymously.

None of this surprises Mr Robert Pickard, North Asia president of the Edelman public relations firm, which has collaborated with Technorati to survey Japanese blogging behaviour and compare it with that of English speakers. 'There is no question that in this culture the nail that sticks out gets hammered in,' he said.


Post a Comment

  © Blogger template Shush by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP