Tag Archives: japan

Thumbprinting in Japan

I recently got word of this really interesting article in the NY Times about the new trend of popular “cell phone novels” in Japan (thanks, Yana).

Basically, young people in Japan have started to actually write whole novels by speedily tapping their thumbs to the text messaging functions on their cellphones. These stories incorporate text/instant messaging staples such as smiley faces, abbreviated messages (lol, ttyl, etc.) and little noises or sounds that only the young folks understand; essentially creating a whole new language of communication. Whats more, these stories actually get picked up by publishing houses and have become bestsellers in print form.

With the American public being in awe of the iPhone and all the new functions being added to cell phones and mobile devices every second, its interesting to me how Asia has been mostly unimpressed. Kids in Japan and Korea grow up using their cell phones even more than they use computers, and most of their cell’s functions are much more advanced than anything we have in the US (even the iphone). With their cells being integral aspects of their lives since childhood, its crazy what the youth of Japan are doing. As the Times puts it: ” Japan’s younger generation came of age with the cellphone, and created its own popular culture by tapping thumbs on keypads.”

I love technology as much as the next guy. I’m a regular blogger and obviously spend my fair share of time plugged in to the online world. However, I also think technological innovation and advancement can move at such a rapid rate that those not accustomed to it can become very alienated by living in such a technological society, especially with our large digital divide.

With that said, its stories like these that really fascinate me. With the tools of technology and the internet at their disposal, the youth in a plugged in world are discovering new ways to create culture, new ways of communication and expression. You could debate the pros and cons of these different types of communication and expressions, but its fascinating nonetheless.



Pharrel and Japanese fashion icon/undercover dj NigoJeff Yang’s bi-monthly ‘Asian Pop’ column in the SF Chronicle is friggin awesome. This week, he examines hip-hop’s universality in the context of Japan’s embrace of the music and culture. Japan does love it some hip-hop, most definitely. I used to think it was simply because Japan is really into American pop trends, but Jeff breaks it down as something deeper:

” to say “I” in a society built around “we” is an act of rebellion, of radical self-expression, that connects the experience of the Japanese hip-hop community with its peers around the globe who are also seeking to define their “I.” Ironically, from that international collective of people saying “I” comes a collective we — a nation of people who are converging and collaborating based on mutual desire of expressing themselves, their passions, and their love of beat and rhyme.

One nation under a groove. Word.