Japanese vs US Blogs

High praise from Curzon at Coming Anarchy:

Educational and entertaining in one healthy dose, [Mutant Frog Travelogue is] probably the best East Asian blog around.

Thanks, I think we’re pretty great too! But that made me wonder — what do other East Asian blogs look like? What about, just for example, the highest ranked Japanese blogs on Technorati?

(Note about Technorati from their About section: “Technorati displays what’s important in the blogosphere — which bloggers are commanding attention, what ideas are rising in prominence, and the speed at which these conversations are taking place.” Hence, these rankings are a measure of what people with blogs are linking to, not the number of page views, influence, revenue, or any other factor (as far as I can tell))

For starters, let’s see what’s out there. Here’s a quick rundown of the top ten blogs in Japan and the US/English-speaking world (for comparison):

Japanese blogs:

1. がんばれ、生協の白石さん! “Fight on, Shiraishi of the Co-op!”

This is the blog of a Mr. Shiraishi, “very very average” employee of the Co-op (student cooperative/school store) at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology. Shiraishi gained fame for being the writer of responses to comment cards that students would write to him. The comment cards are a well-known phenomenon at Japanese universities as the answer are often posted outside the Co-ops on a bulletin board. He differs from other such Co-op employees in that he actually answers the stupid joke comments that he gets rather than giving them a quiet death in the round file. For some reason this has become majorly popular in Japan, probably because college students throughout the country have wondered just what kind of weirdos answer their comments.

Latest post: Too much Mah-jongg!


Question: I am suffering from a lack of sleep from too much mah-jongg. I’d like to go to class, so what can I do?

Answer: Make an effort not to play mah-jongg too much! If you keep on like this, I think you’ll end up crying in public. Your free time only exists because you are studying and researching, so switch over from mah-jongg and do your best!

OK, this at least has some novelty value. I remember the comment board at Ritsumeikan answered my question why they stopped serving these awesome banana crepes (they’re a winter-only item).

2. 眞鍋かをりのココだけの話 Kaori Manabe’s “Stories that don’t leave this room”

Kaori Manabe is a popular (not to mention beautiful) model/actress/all-around talent, perhaps best known outside Japan for her role in the 2001 film Waterboys. Her blog has gained fame for its frequent updates, endless blathering on trivial topics, and plentiful photos of Manabe-chan.

Latest post: A Friendly Fire Festival

Inanity abounds:

There’s a very strange person called Mr. A that I see all the time on location.

Is he an airhead? Well, he’s more of a socially inept ‘go my own way’ type of guy. H

His special feature is to make statements that surprise people without meaning to at all.

His hobbies are playing the horses and movies (mostly thrillers).

His private life is shrouded in mystery (but he absolutely does not have a girlfriend).


After that, we started talking about taking baths that only come up to one’s lower chest, something that he has been into recently, and

He once again started in on his particulars regarding half-body-bathing.

I am also quite particular about my bathing habits,

and have bath powders, candles, germanium, a bathroom television,

plenty of bath goods, but

Mr. A said “First I buy bath powders at a convenience store…”

“they sell them, you know? Something water, some such thing…”

I see…… ( ̄~ ̄)

Mr. A: “And then, I fill the bathtub all the way with hot water…”

Ooohhhhhh… (ー∇ー;)

Mr. A: “Then I put in the bath powder that I bought, and mix it in with my hands….”

Yes, yes? (_´ω`)

Mr. A: “And then….”

And then?!???????(’▽‘;;) (heart pounding)

Mr. A: “Then I get in”




|||||/( ̄ロ ̄;)\|||||||

I was stupid for listening with anticipation…

No more!

Looks like Mr. A might be an airhead after all…

And people read this! Reminds me a lot of Xia Xue.

3. 芸能&スポーツ瓦版 Entertainment & Sports Title Block Print

(Note: “title block prints” or kawaraban were the printing medium of choice for Edo-period newspapers)

Sports and entertainment blog with pink background and skull-and-crossbones logo, along with what appears to be his personal action figure collection in the sidebar (cool!). Respects late Swiss karate master Andy Hug and Manabe-chan as the “blog queen.”

Latest post: K-1 Qualifying Tournament (about kickboxing)

4. 古田敦也公式ブログ – Tatsuya Furuya’s official blog

Blog of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows catcher. All personal stuff, including details of training, products he likes, his Christmas celebration, etc.

Latest post: Training Camp Has Started!

5. ワラタ2ッキ LOL B1Og.

Humor blog with strong 2ch influence.

Latest post: Let me put it in the other hole:

A married couple approaches their fifth anniversary. One night the husband says, “Turn over, honey. I’m putting it in the other hole now.”

“Oh no, you can’t,” the wife says.

Husband: “But…Don’t you want kids?”

Who says Japanese people don’t have a nose for punchlines?

6. しょこたん☆ぶろぐ Shoko-tan’s blog.

Another model’s blog, this time from Shoko Nakagawa. She’s a self-confessed otaku, cat-lover, and apparent 2ch user (but I guess a good amount if not a majority of Japanese internet users are on some kind of forum site, so 2ch-speak by itself doesn’t necessarily mean anything I suppose).

Latest post: Benjamin Franklin.

About her cat named Mamitas:

(taken from a different post b/c this includes the Nakagawa)

Not sure why the title is Benjamin Franklin.

7. 杉村太蔵 ブログ – 自由民主党 Taizo Sugimura’s blog – Liberal Democratic Party

This is the blog of the youngest member (26yo, LDP, PR South Kanto Block) of the Lower House of the Japanese Diet. He was elected as one of the “Koizumi Children” in last year’s whirlwind elections and has made headlines for his open manner (hence the blog) and naivite (got in trouble for asking when he could start going to swank restaurants).

Latest post: Japan is a fun country.

Why is that? Mr. Sugimura cites the many holidays, especially Valentine’s Day (NOTE: In Japan women give chocolate to men on Valentine’s). Sugimura is looking forward to this February 14 but laments the possibility that receiving chocolate from, say, popular idol Ai Kato might violate the “three don’ts” of Japanese political gift-giving: “Don’t give, don’t ask, don’t accept.” Considers calling the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication to make sure. Conclusion: “Politicians, suprisingly enough, have many hardships.”

8. Kaela★Blog

Official blog of Sony recording artist Kaela Kimura. Available sample sounds kind of like a filler track from an Avril Lavigne album, which is sort of fitting for someone who built her fanbase off of her career as a house model for Seventeen Magazine Japan. Posts include the typical Japanese girl things: food, designer Converse, and pictures of herself.

Latest post: Once again, Ramen:

9. blogaward.jp Japan Blog Awards

Nominations ended February 1, voting continues until February 15. Notable nominees:

Design Category: The Eroticism of Ms. Runa: What’s wrong with being once-divorced with kids? Runa, who has run the sex industry for 10+ years, makes short work of modern Japan’s romance, marriage, and sex. (Recent entry: ”

Photography Category: Almost all the top slots are taken up by people photgraphing their pets, but here is a good one:

Handmade Goods Category: The Melancholy of a Shin-Urayasu Madame:

Mmm, spare ribs.

10. 絵文録ことのは “Weblogus Linguae”

“Literary Words from a weblog” – “Perspective edits information. Communication produces knew ‘knowledge’”

Heady stuff! This blog’s owner, Hiroaki Matsunaga, has written numerous “how to blog” books. Umm, it doesn’t get much easier than blogging!!

Latest post: Unique attributes of “Kikko” that you can glean from her diary

US/English language blogs:

1. Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things

Passes on cool links, focuses on tech, sci fi, intellectual property battles.

Latest post: R2Potatoo: Mr Potatohead meets R2D2

Cool. This is one of my favorite sites, by the way.

2. Engadget

High-tech “gadget” news.

Latest post: Electronic door opener hack brings laziness to new heights

Now anyone can be Dracula, I guess.

3. PostSecret

“PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.”

Latest post:

4. Daily Kos: State of the Nation – Left-wing political blog

Latest post: Gonzales on Spying: It’s an 1860s Sort of Thing

Slams the US Attorney General for tepid defense of unwarranted wiretapping. I wonder, would Lincoln have offered such a simplistic defense as “If the Rebels are telegraphing someone in the Union, we want to know why!”

5. The Huffington Post – Left-wing political blog

Latest/most prominent post: Fury Over Mohammad Caricatures Intensifies…

Yikes! Color me insensitive, but why all this over some dead prophet? If Muslims really think the great prophet needs his image protected they should pool their resources and hire a good PR firm. Or maybe start a viral marketing campaign!

6. Gizmodo – “The Gadget Blog”

Latest post: HP rw6828 Photos?

Supersecret inside info on an upcoming PDA. Umm, I thought nobody used those things anymore? Maybe they’ll have to once Blackberry shuts down.

7. Instapundit.com – Super-brief right-wing political blog

Latest post: JEFF GOLDSTEIN looks at Identity Politics, Free Speech, and the Future of Worldwide Liberalism.

Um, thanks, Jeff Goldstein, for looking into that for us.

8. Thought Mechanics

Not sure from a cursory glance, but this blog seems to be about blogging.

Latest post: It’s on now!

Someone’s got a webcam! Welcome to the year 2000!

9. Crooks and Liars – Left-wing political blog, features videos.

Latest post: Bush Blooper/Satire Video

Ya we really needed more of this! OK, people, reality time – BUSH IS NOT STUPID. He might be a hard-headed line flubber with godawful policies (neutering the Section 8 public housing program in favor of home ownership, anyone?), but as even this video shows, the man is a quick wit who knows what he’s doing.

10. Blog di Beppe Grillo – Um, some kind of Italian blog. “Grillo’s gags have tackled financial scandals and political corruption”

Latest post: Only those who proliferate can proliferate

Silly argument saying that Iran is the wrong place to focus on if we want to reduce the nuclear threat in the world.

OK, so what can we observe from this (surprisingly time-consuming) exercise?

English list:

  • Five political blogs. I remember hearing an NPR commentator express surprise that blogs did not exist primarily to discuss politics. I thought he was an ignoramus at the time but really, if you came out from under a rock and discovered US blogs from Technorati (or the news media) then it wouldn’t be surprising if anyone came to that conclusion.
  • Three tech/gadget blogs, each of which covers the Japanese market with some regularity.
  • Only one (the one about blogs) does not focus on current events in some form.
  • The global adoption of English necessarily puts some foreign bloggers on the list. Also, many of the blogs in the US deal with international affairs, albeit in a depressingly narrow range based on what the media/politicians are focused on. And they all seem to be taking a side. Why do you need to have your mind made up about every issue before you hear about it, people?!
  • Japan list:

  • SIX celebrity bloggers! One of whom (#1 Shiraishi-san) will almost certainly be more or less forgotten in less than a year.
  • Insularity – Not a single one of the blogs in the top 10 (and only one in the top 20 – Kikko, probably the most angry and incisive MAX fanatic in the world, is angry at the corrupt and inept Japanese government for capitulating to the corrupt, somewhat less inept AND meat-crazy US over beef) covers international affairs, nor do any of the blogs focus on the US.
  • Only one does focus on current events, and even then its focus is on entertainment and sports.
  • What does this all mean? Damned if I know—I was hoping you guys could tell me. This is what’s going on in both blogospheres right now. Japanese blogs seem kind of fluffy now, but if Kikko’s breakthrough popularity spawns imitators, this could usher in a US-style phenomenon of political blogging with results in Japan (changing the top ten list on its way in).

    And where does MF fit into all this? Um, not at all! We’re clearly very far away from putting our finger on the pulse of what’s hip in English, and in terms of Japanese we don’t (yet) do any actual blogging in Japanese. We are content to just post whatever we find interesting in English (and very occasionally in English and Japanese) and then see who’s interested. Hope you enjoy it, and if you don’t, oops!

    21 thoughts on “Japanese vs US Blogs”

    1. Sweet mother of Jesus! Look at the comments and trackbacks on “Kaori Manabe’s “Stories that don’t leave this room”” for example. She’s got a post about her current love, a character in a video game game (of course there is a sponsored link to it on amazon) with … I don’t know how many but a freekin’ lot of comments.. Dear god. I wonder how many people buy the game… I want it! Just need a PS2 first.. And a TV to play it on… If I buy the game she’ll date me right? Right?

    2. That’s nothing… Look at the comments on (ex-Livedoor CEO) Takafumi Horie’s blog. 8,000!!!!!

      Yet, the tops blogs on Technorati Japan seem to average a few thousand links, while the English top blogs all top 60,000. At the same time, only some of them get monstrous amounts of comments. Not sure what that means – probably just that the top referrers for these super-popular blogs are not blogs themselves.

      Observation – When blogs get popular in Japan, they get REALLY popular.

    3. Aren’t these apples and oranges? Blogs are considered a form of “new media “in the US with the potential to challenge other sources of news, leading to resignations of officials and blowing new stories wide open. In Japan, BBS boards like 2ch have taken on this role, with blogs remaining on the sidelines and remarkably amateurish (more like diaries than anything else).

    4. My pleasure! Looking into such sweeping philosophical trends is one of my things.

      Another is, for $75, I can probably get you laid, too. Unless its young boys or something you’re into. Then I’m going to have to charge extra.

    5. Jeff, I thought you were supposed to be a conservative blogger, and now it turns out that your day job is online pimping? I’m so disillusioned.

    6. I was always wondering about this! I’ve been away from Japan for a long time (I live in the U. S.) and have a craving for news and information on current events in Japan. I’ve been on a quest to find good Japanese political blogs but have found few. My craving is satisfied now that I have found your blog. 🙂 But it just shows how indifferent Japanese people are to what our government is doing (as well as what other nations’ governments are doing.) Kanashii koto desu.

      I love your blog. Thank you for your intelligent and insightful analysis of Japanese politics and society.

    7. Thanks for the kind words.

      At the very least, Sugimura’s presence shows some level of public interest in the government, I guess. He tends to be a little light on political content, though, and when he does say something it’s always the LDP party line, like “we shouldn’t waste even one yen of the people’s precious taxes.” Pssshhh

    8. You know, curzon and I agree on many many things, except when it comes to Japan/Korea. *sigh*

      Anyway, we agree on this point as well, you guys have a wonderful blog! Keep it up! Yours is the only Japan related blog that is so even handed in its posting.


      Curious, have you ever had an instalaunch here?

    9. Oh I see, I’d never heard that term before. No, we’ve never been linked to by Instapundit. We have had a couple of Boingboing links though, and there was a pretty significant spike in traffic following that.

      I don’t personally read Instapundit, but if you see a post here that you think Mr. Reynolds (or some other blogger) would enjoy, feel free to pass it along!

    10. Oh, I usually do. I got to know Glenn while running the Chief Wiggles blog back during the opening year of the war. He used to post most of what I sent him, now it is hit and miss, but you are definitely on the list of daily reads so it will happen one of these days.

    11. “…nor do any of the blogs focus on the US.”

      Why should they? If you’re Japanese, or blogging from Japan, there’s no requirement to focus on the U.S.

    12. Well, people can write about whatever they like, but that doesn’t mean I have to respect it. Sure, there’s no reason to focus on the US, but I was disappointed to see that the top blogs in Japan are so worthless.

    13. Jeff, I thought you were supposed to be a conservative blogger, and now it turns out that your day job is online pimping? I’m so disillusioned.

      What do you think right-wing conservatism is!

      albeit in a depressingly narrow range based on what the media/politicians are focused on. And they all seem to be taking a side. Why do you need to have your mind made up about every issue before you hear about it, people?!

      But isn’t this backwards? People seek out blogs that reflect their values. Moreover, I don’t think there is any middle ground any more between the onrush of dictatorship in the US, and those who oppose it. The middle ground has long since vanished…..

      I think an interesting and absolutely vital missing blog genre here is academic blogs. IMHO academics simply don’t blog enough, especially for public consumption. My constant complaint in every field of scholarly endeavor I know is that the publishing is usually done by dilettantes deeply interested in the field, and not by participants. The exceptions — like Pinker’s The Language Instinct or Feyman’s popular stuff, are almost always a pleasure to read.

      Finally, I have to agree that the popularity of blogs like Xiaxue and Kaori Manabe’s is a deplorable but fascinating phenomenon. Camille Paglia (?) had an excellent article on this a couple of months ago, in which she compared the similar popularity of Paris Hilton, who is absolutely brain dead, to Madonna, who also manufactured herself an image, but is a trained performer with a first-rate brain and sophisticated taste. What does this mean? Craven worship of celebrity? But Xiaxue is not a celebrity. Vicarious living through the wealthy? Status-worship? In the world where consumerism is the dominant mode of existence, naturally such women shall become goddesses….


    14. Konakijji: I don’t agree that Japanese people are “indifferent” to what their government is doing. Just because these blogs that Technorati lists are not political doesn’t mean there is no debate or interest in politics. 2ch is often very political, and seems to me there are many more newspapers and magazines in Japan than in other countries…

      Mutant Frog: Thanks for the list!!

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