Yahoo! Japan PR Diva Moves To Digital Garage

Risa Nakanishi
photo by Netafull

Popular blog Netafull reported [J] that Risa Nakanishi (@BuzzTum), who has been serving for Yahoo! Japan for 12 years, sometimes called “PR Diva”, (as Yahoo! Japan has been the champion last decade) one of the center figure of Japanese web industry, left Yahoo! and joined Digital Garage(DG), the most known by its founder Joi Itoh.

On the interview, she told her jobs in Yahoo! Japan, including promotion of early days Yahoo! Auction (which killed eBay Japan), Yahoo! Search, and bloggers relation.

At DG, Risa told that she keep working as PR with projects like DG-assisting imported foreign services like Twitter and LinkedIn, global start-up incubation program Open Network Lab, etc.

As Risa said to Netafull, Digital Garage is a company who has been well known to industry people with long history, but not really popular to Japanese consumers when comparing to Yahoo! Japan. Her join may make the company’s image spread for more people who have not known them.

She also mentioned a little bit on the water server removal issue when she asked why she changed job. 🙂

She seems enjoying the buzz caused by this announcement. Here is the list of hundreds messages sent to her [J].

NHK’s Weather Character Haruchan(@nhk_haruchan) Starts Tweeting

Haruchan (Haru=Spring, chan=casual form of san, honorific title) is a popular personified Spring character on public broadcast TV NHK’s prime time weather news program. She was made by anthropomorphizing high pressure system in Spring weather. Here is a sample of the weather report program,

On April 4, this virtual character girl began Twitter [J] @nhk_haruchan, and got over 20,000 followers within 24 hours.

Her first tweet was “Long time no see!”. Then she announced that her web page [J] has been reneded.

NHK featured Haruchan on their other advertising program [J],

As Haruchan only shows up around Spring, there are of course many other characters on the NHK news. For Autumn, there are Akichan(Aki=autumn),

There are also Natsushogun(“Shogun Summer/Heat”) and Fuyushogun(“Shogun Winter”).

NHK’s another popular Twitter account @NHK_PR by NHK Public Relation section, who has 329,000 followers and is beloved by net users by its exceptionally casual and informal styled tweets, said by seeing Haruchan’s pampered, “I should have beaten her… Haruchan”.

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Japanese Web Community As Person

Kawaii Security – Over 30 Computer Virus Personified In Japanese Security Book

Founder Of Japanese Startup Tadacopy Goes Off To The World For His Samurai Backpacker Project

The following interview was held by Tokyo-based Natsuki Yamada who works as an editor and writer for printed and online magazines (for example, Natsuki writes for 10. Magazine). The photos were taken by Tokyo-based photographer and accessory artist Ikumi Mochida (who also does photo work for 10.Magazine).

Should young Japanese businessmen open up more to worldwide markets? The former founder of Japanese advertising startup Oceanize, Hideaki Ota, thinks so.

At the age of 20, Ota has started a college-based advertising service called Tadacopy (background), out of which he eventually established Oceanize. It’s been 5 years since the establishment and the business has successfully spread worldwide, namely to China and the US.

So it was rather shocking when Ota announced this January that he was leaving his own company for a round-the-world voyage, for his next own project, which he called “Samurai Backpacker Project” (Samurai B. P.). His travel officially began last Wednesday (September 15th), and a week before his take off, I got to meet him for an interview. I was simply very curious: Why now? Why round-the-world trip?

“I had always felt the need for me to go out there and learn about business outside Japan and become international myself. I also knew that I have to brush up my English skills. And I think by running the Tadacopy service for 5 years I’m in a good place now to go and actually learn the about how to make business in the world,” says Ota.

― So the project is for you to be a globally competitive, in other words, a “samurai” businessman? That’s why you named it Samurai B. P.?

Yes, that too. But mainly it’s for inspiring those young business men in Japan who aren’t ready yet to open their eyes to the world. I think that what they need is to see lots of role models – and to acknowledge that there actually are samurai businessmen in the world. So I’m going to travel around the world and interview Samurais in each country and introduce them on my blog, possibly in other media too, that have already offered me to do so.

― That is brilliant! Do you already have many people awaiting for you to interview them?
In the States, yes I do. But I still have to look for interviewees in South & Central America, so I’m always open to any leads on Samurais.

― When you say you want to influence young people, exactly what ages do you have in mind?
They can be as young as college students, but I also try to reach young professionals with to 3-4 years work experience.

― So you target a particular age bracket. Why do you think that people in this age bracket aren’t interested in going out there to the world? I mean, we’re already living in the era of internationalization.

First of all, I don’t believe they are not interested in what’s going on outside of Japan. I just think that they never get a real chance to pay attention to the world. You know, if you play sports, maybe you look up to Ichiro for baseball or Nakata for football, right? But if you are just a businessman working in Japan, then we don’t really know any samurais like that in the world. So, that’s why I’m going to find and actually meet those samurais in the world – possibly from all kinds of jobs – and introduce them to Japan!

― What’s your own goal in this project?

My own goal would be, for one, to brush up my English to reach business level. Secondly, when I get back to Japan, I will start a new service / business, and this time it will be international from the start.

Ota has just began his trip on September 15th , and he is now in the US (West Coast). If you have any info about Japanese businessmen overseas that can be interviewed, please post them on the official website of the Samurai Backpacker Project. (The website will get an English version soon).

Guest author: Natsuki Yamada
Pictures: Ikumi Mochida

Pankaku Welcomes i-mode’s Father As New Adviser

Tokyo-based smartphone app developer Pankaku[J] announced Mr. Takeshi Natsuno became the company’s adviser today. He started his career in this industry as the vice president for Japan’s first ad-based free ISP HyperNet, then joined NTT DoCoMo and invented the country’s first cellphone web-browsing platform i-mode. He is currently serving managing director for cellphone ringtone distributor Dwango[J] and the professor of Keio University.

Pankaku allocated new shares to their employees, Mr. Natsuno, Japan’s largest telco’s financial arm NTT Finance and system integrator Image Information Inc.[J] Pankaku has not disclosed how much shares have been newly issued. They are devoting themselves to launching a social app platform for smartphones called Pankia[J] and working on establishing more business partnerships with mobile app developers and game developers in Asian countries.

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Japanese mobile gaming startup GREE to open US and China offices within a year

Japan’s social networks seem to be hitting a ceiling growth-wise, and apparently they increasingly feel the need to go abroad in order to grow.

“Japan’s Facebook” Mixi, which now counts 20 million members, is operating “Mixiu” in China. DeNA, the company behind mobile gaming platform Mobage-town (19.4 million members), has always been more aggressive in terms of internationalization. It operates MobaMingle, a mobile social network that can only be accessed from outside Japan; it launched MiniNation, a social gaming platform for the iPhone last month; it invested in Aurora Feint, a US-based social gaming platform, in 2009; and it also acquired IceBreaker, a US- and China-based maker of “mobile social networking software”, last year.

So far, only one of the big three of Japan’s social networking world has chosen to stay home: mobile gaming startup GREE. But Yoshikazu Tanaka, GREE’s CEO and the world’s second youngest self-made billionaire (following Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg) at 32, today announced some big news via Twitter.

To make it simple, let me just translate his tweet:

“GREE moved to the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange today! But there’s more. First, internationalization. Within the next 12 months, we will open offices in the US and China. Second, we will bring GREE to more devices. Every employee will get an iPad. We will also support iPhone and Android. GREE will start to mass-recruit new employees in order to handle internationalization and smartphone development.”

I heard Naoki Aoyagi, GREE’s CFO, talking about expansion plans into China during a discussion panel at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) last month in Beijing, but the plans for the US come as a bit of a surprise (although DeNA already runs a subsidiary in California called DeNA Global).