Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.


In January, my company Digital Garage invested in Twitter and announced plans to work together with Twitter to create a Japanese version of the service. That service just went live.

It's still part of the main Twitter service, but the UI will be in Japanese. One interesting thing that we've done is that we're launching Japan with advertisements. For instance, one of our first advertisers is Toyota which has a Twitter account where they talk about events and products. The ad directs people to their Twitter account where the users can follow that account. Toyota can easily see who their fans are and follow what their fans are saying about them.

Twitter has always been big in Japan. I think it was nearly 30% of Twitter earlier on and has gone to about 13% as the US user base has grown. However, according to Twitterlocal, Tokyo is still the biggest Twitter city.

It's interesting that Twitter is so popular in Japan. It didn't even work properly in Japanese when it launched. (You had to put a Latin space at the end of any Japanese post to make the Japanese appear properly.) Also, Japanese mobile phones don't SMS properly with Twitter as far as I know. Still, it got crazy early adoption in Japan from the beginning. One of my theories is that a lot of services in Japan to be either closed or over-featured portals and simple services with good open APIs are not as common as in the US and it attracts developers and users who are sort of sick of a lot of the bloaty Japanese services.

Hopefully, with this Japanese language version launch, we'll see even more adoption in Japan. Congratulations to the teams at Twitter and DG who worked on this. Good stuff.

UPDATE: ustream of Twitter Japan press conference going on now.

UPDATE 2: Post on Twitter Blog.


Hey Joi,

That's cool to hear. It'll be interesting to see how the ads go - I think it'll work well for Toyota and whoever else you get on board in the early days before there's too many advertisers..

I discovered twitter while in Japan. Have another 2 weeks here before returning to New Zealand again.


I suppose the numbers 30% and 13% refer to the number of Tweets coming from Japan, or is this about the user count?

Congrats on the launch, Joi. I like how the Toyota advt links to their twitter account instead of their website. Even though its advertising, it doesn't seem as blatant.

The number of corporates in India using Twitter is also on the rise.

awesome work Joi. it's so great to have you and DG involved with twitter. i think japan is a great market for twitter

Congratulations on the launch. I am sure it will be a big success.

Keeping an eye on this with great interest. All the best Joi. I'm sure this will turn out to be another one of your successes. Ganbatte!

PS. Hope to score Twitter Japan shwag / stickers in the near future. Let me know when you / someone from DG will be down in Nagoya. Cheers!

It is difficult to find twitter usr from elsewhere outside of the US and Japan. Now I just need to learn how to write Kanji and katagana.

and pursuit friends to enter this public domain. apathy is likely the word i see. it is a great tool as a business model and infinitely possibilities to expand.

check out the AIR tool

I am excited to hear that twitter is becoming bigger in Japan. The time I spent there it seemed like people were generally using "mixi", another social media networking site, and not twitter. There hasn't been much of a social media networking trend in Japan in the past, but twitter should off set it. Good news!