Catrien Ross on Joining the Blogosphere in Japan

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 - 2 Comments

In my last post I wrote about how being illiterate in Japanese helped me
develop communication through empathy.

Now that I have begun blogging in Japan I find myself navigating a medium the Japanese have uniquely interpreted.

The biggest and the most active blogging culture on Earth exists right here in Japan.

Worldwide, English speakers outnumber Japanese speakers by more than 5:1.

But a greater number of blog postings are now written in Japanese than in English.

The Japanese also read more blogs, more often, than anyone anywhere else.

Japanese has become the language of the global blogosphere.

What’s more, some 40 percent of this blogging is done on mobile phones, known as keitai.

Mobile phone blogging among young Japanese created the publishing phenomenon of the keitai shosetsu, or mobile phone novel.

These novels are written entirely on handsets, often one sentence at a time, and uploaded to mobile networking sites by their teenage or 20-something authors.

Then devoured by a ravenous audience of mostly females in their teens and 20’s.

In 2007, five of Japan’s ten best-selling novels were written on mobile phones.

One mobile content site reports it now carries 20,000 novels and has about two million monthly users.

Sophisticated and integrated blogging platforms have also made Japanese blogs a significant social media tool expertly wielded by millions.

Clearly I need more than empathy to keep up with all this.

I can’t imagine ever writing an entire novel with my thumbs on a tiny handset.

And the gist of the Japanese personal blog eludes me.

Compared to blogs in English it is much shorter (think diminutive keitai screens), and emoticons feature heavily, especially on blogs written by women.

When I write a blog for my Japanese website I write in English first, then Kohdoh translates into Japanese.

After that we check the nuance together.

It takes three times as long to compose.

And ends up three times the length of any Japanese language blog I view.

For cultural survival I need to lighten up.

Shorten my message.

Learn to communicate one sentence at a time.

Add a few smiley faces.

Along with a scattering of kisses.

And some pink, blinking hearts.

Perhaps even design my own emoticons, as many Japanese do.

I may get the hang of it eventually.

By then, of course, the blogosphere will have moved to different levels, while my Japanese blog skills are still catching up.

But at least I know that the learning curve of my Japanese life ensures that my brain continually adapts and rewires itself.

Joining the blogosphere in Japan means growing new neurons forever.

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2 Responses to “Catrien Ross on Joining the Blogosphere in Japan”

  1. Allan says:

    Dear Catrien, given the quality of the Energy Doorways website and your cultural awareness, I’m sure it won’t be long before you “get the hang” of Japanese blogging! I was interested to read about the mobile phone novels, not something I’ve come across before. Your comments however made me wonder, is it necessarily a cultural issue or is it generational? Undoubtedly there are cultural nuances but is the concise nature of blogging a global phenomenon and a result of the youthfulness of the vast majority of bloggers? Your final point is something we can all do with – continually challenging our brain to remain vital and alive.

  2. Catrien Ross says:

    Dear Allan

    Thank you for your comments and thoughtful questions. The mobile phone novel phenomenon was definitely generational and as a teenage fad it may already have peaked. It is also cultural in the particular way the Japanese use blogs for self-expression and to relieve daily stress. In Japan there are now some 88 million Internet users and close to 17 million Internet blogs. Teenagers love blogging and 96% of high schoolers own a mobile phone. But Japanese in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s are increasingly blogging to find information and seek shared interests. The blogging platforms in Japan are very sophisticated and designed to offer an attractive, integrated and easy-to-use blogging world for all ages. Blogging as a social media tool just keeps evolving in Japan and who knows where it will lead. Interestingly, as more countries launch mobile web sites, the mobile phone novel market is emerging elsewhere, too. And I agree with you, continually challenging our brain does keep us vital and alive, even if we never learn to write novels with only our thumbs on handsets. Thanks for this discussion, Allan!

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