What to do if an earthquake strikes? LINE is the answer

We recently conducted a survey among college students and found that LINE is their most favorite social media platform. Most interestingly when we asked what they would do if there was an earthquake, they listed LINE as their preferred type of communication channel after the phone, email and the internet. This is a topic I will discuss in my upcoming book Social Media and Japan.

QUESTION: If there was an earthquake with the magnitude of 6.8 that hit this school and caused some minor damage (presume that you are safe and there’s no serious damage in your building). How would you use the new communication tools at that moment? Please rank these choices in terms of your priority. Your first choice should be listed as the 1st and your last choice should be ranked as the 7th.

Phone call
Internet (search, browse, etc.)
Line (message, call, etc.)
Facebook (update, message, search, etc.)
Twitter (update, message, search, etc.)
Mixi (update, message, search, etc.)
Total Respondents: 83
Score is a weighted calculation. Items ranked first are valued higher than the following ranks, the score is the sum of all weighted rank counts.

Colopl Runs “North Japan Support Campaign” To Support Tourism

Colopl, Inc. [J] has announced that from September 6th through October 31st they will be doing the “Tohoku Ouen Campaign 2012” (North Japan Support Campaign), which will aid tourism in the northern region of Honshu, through their location based game “Colony Life.”

This plan aims to support the recovery from last year’s major earthquake, and with this campaign which includes Coloka shops in Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Yamagata, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures, Colo Inns, cooperating train companies, highway bus companies, and rent-a-car companies, they are attempting to promote colopl users’ northward movement and improve sales in the region.  Along with this is the reopening of Coloka distribution of Iwate prefecture Rikuzentakata City’s Yagisawa store, which was temporarily halted Coloka distribution after devastating damage from last year’s earthquake disaster.  Furthermore Miyagi prefecture Kisennuma City’s Saikichi store also plans to participate in the campaign as a new Coloka shop.  From here on they will also continue with various activation measures in the region such as real events, via this project.

Colony Live Walking Colopl Fan Book [J]
by G-Tools
Decorational stuffed animal Colopl “Cute Teddy Bear” [J]

Ornamental figure Colopl “Space Dog” [J]

Translation authorized by VSMedia

Disaster Prevention App “AR Tsunami Camera” Released

Nabla-Zero [J] has released “AR Tsunami Camera,” an iPhone application for disaster prevention education.  Download is free.

“AR Tsunami Camera” is an application which layers a display using Augmented Reality over the actual scenery as seen through the iPhone camera, indicating “How far will it flood?” in case a tsunami hits.  At the request of the municipalities massively damaged by the great earthquake of East Japan, this app was developed for the purpose of using for disaster prevention education at schools.  By utilizing this, it becomes possible to see in the actual scenery “If a tsunami of a supposed height hits, how far will the flood reach in my vicinity?” and as for disaster prevention education, it simply brings out “true feelings regarding a tsunami.”  An Android version by the same company is in the works, and they are also developing an application for simulating the experience of “the actual tsunami’s height” at the scene of the area struck by the tsunami at Ofunato, Rikuzentakata, and Kizennuma Cities.

Translation authorized by VSMedia

Net Buzzword Contest 2011 Announces 12 Nominees

Senkei Newspaper and 10 web services are running the Net Buzzword Contest 2011.

The 10 web services joined and asked for their readers to vote are Biglobe, Goo, Ameba, Mobage, Nico Nico Douga, @Peps!&Chip!!, Gadget Tsuushin, JustGiving Japan, iza and Jinriki-kensaku Hatena.

Let’s see the 12 nominated buzzwords.


Manbe-kun is one of thousands yurukyara (=loose character) made by Japanese local governments Oshamanbe in Hokkaido to promote its regional culture, food and products.

He was known by its unconventional, funky tweets as an local government character, which usually make boring messages. However, when a person behind the Twitter account, someone in the PR company worked for the town started making political, WWII related tweets, it caused severe backlash and the town shut down the Twitter.

Sukasuka Osechi

“Sukasuka” is a Japanese onomatope which describes how things are spacious, spongy. It was the first buzzed news on Japanese web in 2011. Groupon Japan selling very poor traditional new year food set resulted in its US CEO’s apology.


3/11, Eastern Japan Disasters with earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear power plant problems of course affected Japanese web a lot.

Most of companies wanted to stop its TV commercials for weeks after the quake in a mood of voluntary restraint of commercial activities, non-commercial organization’s enlightening videos were aired endlessly. The one annoyed people the most is this,

and it let many web users to create derived creatives.

Boku to Keiyaku Shite *** ni Natte yo!

A line in a Japanese magic girls anime means “Please contract with me and you will be a magic girl!” caught many anime watchers heart this year. The line told by a small animal whose name is QB comes from magic world were used a lot on the web by changing “magic girl” with many other words.

QB cosplay in Akihabara

[Update] really good article explains this with long history of Japanese magic girls.

Nadeshiko Japan

National team of women soccer winning the FIFA World Cup 2011 was the first World Cup win by Japan national team, was of course told a lot on the web.

“Nadeshiko Japan” is an official nickname of the team. Nadeshiko is a Japanese name of a flower pink, which is often described ideal Japanese women in Japanese. (Twitter trouble with one of players only few days after the World Cup)

'Japón Campeón Mundial 2011' photo (c) 2011, Audrey Pilato - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


“Buhiru” is a newly coined Japanese verb which came from pig’s calling sound “Buhi Buhi” so “buhiru” means “to sound like a pig”. This is used when anime freaks describe themselves loving anime characters in self-deprecatory way. Japanese image for pig is dirty and greedy so it implies that they are accepting well-calculated kawaii character design even though they are aware of being looked down on by creators.

Yashima Sakusen

Yashima Sakusen (Operation Yashima) is an web movement occurred after the big earthquake, which appealed people to save electricity under power shortage around east Japan. It came from an operation in a popular Japanese anime Evangelion.


Anaroguma(Analog + Kuma=bear) is an web-born anti-official character against Chidejika, which proceeded to replace new digital TV broadcast system.



Another meme from the earthquake. Yukio Edano, Japanese cabinet’s chief secretary at the disaster time, as a government spokesman, was worried by netizens by his too long appearance on official reporting programs. “nero” means imperative form of “to sleep” so Edano Nero means “Sleep Edano”.

Asiajin » Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Becomes Fan-made Anime


Japanese train announcements sometimes have strange accent which you never heard in your regular conversation. Some people say that it is intentionally invented and spoken to transfer the information under special noisy situation like on train or in platform, though I do not believe it.

“Daashieriiesu” comes from “Doa ga Shimari masu”(doors are going to be closed) and that is said to be used in Keikyu Railway company which connects Tokyo and Yokohama/Yokosuka. The strangeness was buzzed on the web.

Maru Maru Mori Mori

“Marumo no Okite”(The rule of Marumo) is one of the most popular TV drama in 2011. This “Maru Maru Mori Mori” is a name of its main theme song and a hook-line chant. Two kids singing and dancing with the song became a smash hit, ranked the highest sales as singer who born in 21 century.


“Iine!” is a Japanese translated version of Facebook “Like!”

There is a popular annual not internet-limited buzzwords awards by Jiyu-Kokumin-sha [J], which Gakuranman translated to English. Dentsu’s Hot 30 Products Ranking 2011 [J] are explained on TheNextWeb.

Facebook Japan Paused Growth By Earthquake, But Gains Back From… China?

At the beginning of April, I was almost writing up an article about how the Eastern Japan earthquake affected social media battle. Since the end of 2010, Japanese traditional media had been in great favor of Facebook as “the next big thing from US”. Their endless coverage was very similar with what was done with Twitter in 2009-2010, and eventually, Twitter’s appearance on mass media became rather small.

However, the disaster changed the game. Facebook might have been a good platform with its real-name policy if Japanese Facebook penetration was not about 2% of population. (Although the real victims in the disaster areas could not use any social media by black-out,) Twitter was the cure for tens of millions people who wanted to confirm their friends safety under disconnected phone. Twitter also helped that people who had to walk back to their home at the night of the earthquake in greater Tokyo. Many raw information (, false rumors and corrections as well) were circulated on it for weeks.

A blogger Edgefirst summed up that how Japanese newspaper companies utilized/opened their Twitter accounts to cover up their stopped and delayed distribution. Twitter accounts of some Tohoku region newspapers added 500-700% followers. National paper’s official accounts got notable gain, too. Generally speaking, Japanese newspapers are anti-internet with fear for losing their readers, but this disaster seemed to encourage web amiable factions.

Non-Japanese residents’ English activities were huge on Facebook. Many support from overseas were discussed on Facebook as well. But in Japanese language, there were less activities happened from Facebook, if you compare them with Twitter and other web services.

Here is the population graph of Facebook Japan users recorded by Socialbakers after the quake. Screenshot on April 4th.

The number of Japanese Facebook users were sharp rising around the release of the movie “The Social Network” in early January, then, March 11th quake completely stopped the trend. The graph above is from April 4th.

Then, on April 5th, something strange was observed on Socialbakers (and Facebook’s ad tool, as Socialbakers is only recording numbers from it).

In Japan, as Serkan Toto pointed out on his blog, half a million user joined Facebook in a day. That made over 3 million users, Facebook population increased 20%.

In China, ReadWriteWeb showed that over quarter million Facebook users disappeared on the same April 5th.

I checked other countries in East Asia. South Korea lost 100,000(2.5%).

Taiwan lost one million active users(10%) on the same day!

So it seems as if massive users moved out from Taiwan and China to Japan. If it was opposite way, it could happen as some people evacuated from Japan to other Asian countries. (still the number is unbelievable high, though)

There were no campaigns like “changing your location to Japan on FB (for showing support or something)” as far as I know.