Nintendo ties up with Hatena, opens door for user-generated content

Hatena logo

Nintendo, a company that’s usually not really famous for embracing the web, now lets users publish content they create through Moving Notepad (“Ugoku Memo Chou”) online.

Moving Notepad is a free notepad application for Nintendo portable gaming machine DSi. Users can write memos, record sounds and create animations with the downloadable program (that’s made by Nintendo).

The video below shows how Moving Notepad works.

The company Nintendo partnered up with is a quite unusual choice: Hatena is well-known in Japan as a heaven for geeks, a site that combines social bookmarking, blogging, photo sharing, specialized searches etc. In other words, Hatena is not really a site for the mainstream DSi user.

Hatena set up a dedicated web site for Nintendo’s service (Ugomemo Hatena) to where DSi users can upload animations they made directly via the device. It’s then possible to share, comment on and rate the user-generated content just like with video on YouTube, for example.


DSi users can access Ugomemo Hatena on their device and can view and edit animations from other users.

The service is completely free and the best thing is it might become available outside Japan in the near future. On Hatena USA, it  says: “Ugomemo Hatena (In Japanese only. For now.)”.


The following picture shows a Nintendo-Hatena collaboration billboard in a train station in Tokyo.


Photo credit: Tatsuhiko Miyagawa (via Flickr)

Q&A: What is the Japanese equivalent of [Western web service]?

Here is a list of where Japanese users usually go on the web when they want to connect with their friends, buy something or get information. I feature “made-in-Japan” sites and software only (well, almost), knowing that i.e. Google, Amazon and Firefox are highly popular in this country as well.

Some of these Japanese sites are also available in English. I linked to the English versions whenever possible and marked them with [ENG].

Note: This list is highly subjective. If you have other ideas, please let us know in the comment section.

I) General web services

What is the Japanese equivalent of Google?
Yahoo! Japan.

Wikipedia Japan.


Yahoo! Japan Photos.

Minna no Topics (Everyone’s topics).

No equivalent.

Twitter Japan.

Nico Nico Douga.

Hatena Bookmark. [ENG]

dooyoo (price comparison engine)?


No equivalent.

imdb (Internet Movie Database)?
Nihon Eiga Database (Japan Movie Database).

Wall Street Journal Online?
Nikkei Online. [ENG]

Yahoo! Japan Auctions.


2 channel (the original).
Mixi Music (registration required).


Second Life?
Meet me.

Yahoo! Answers?
Oshiete!goo and Yahoo! Chiebukuro.

II) Blogs

What is the Japanese equivalent of Techcrunch?
Asiajin. [ENG]….Joke, people!

the Huffington Post?
No equivalent.

Boing Boing?

Gizmodo Japan.

III) Web tools and software:

What is the Japanese equivalent of Gmail?
Yahoo! Japan Mail


the iTunes store?
iTunes Japan (Lismo for mobile downloads which accounted for 90% of all music downloads in 2007 in Japan).


Sleipnir [ENG] and Lunascape [ENG].

IV) Web Companies

What is the Japanese equivalent of Federated Media?
Agile Media Network. [ENG]

Sequoia Capital?
NGI Group. [ENG]

Cirius. [ENG]

In case you want to know more, please add a comment.

Report: Asiajin Meeting #1 (part two)

Asiajin Meeting Tokyo #1 signboard

This is the second part of our coverage of the Asiajin meeting #1 which took part this Tuesday.


Presentation No. 4

“The 4th presenter abused the meeting by violating its regulation of not speaking in one’s mother tongue against agreement. Thus we do not cover the presentation. You may find the information somewhere else. (Akky AKIMOTO)”

Presentation No. 5
(“Ememo – not a web application but an email application”)

Daisuke Furukawa -who is a freelance web developer- spoke about a product he developed by himself called ememo. Ememo is basically an electronic account book, mainly for private use. Daisuke coded the application for use with mobile phones in particular.

Here is how it works:

Users just write a mail to stating what they bought by how much. Ememo automatically lists all items, calculates the prices and also shows the amount of money you spent in a given time frame! The interface is that simple.

It’s free and very easy to use, so please check ememo out. If you would like to cancel the service, you can do so by mailing the word “UNDO” to the address above.


Ememo was launched in October last year. You can access the slides of Daisuke’s presentation here.

Presentation No. 6
(“How to live like Japanese in ?”)

“Yoski” Yosuke Akamatsu’s performance made the audience laugh constantly. Yoski is a president of sidefeed, a “feed” technologies provider (seven of sidefeed’s 14 services are available also in English. One of those services is ranked in 24th [J] by traffic in Japan.), but his talk was nothing about his company this time.


In his ironic presentation (which he didn’t hold on his company’s behalf), Yoski pointed out some of the various cultural differences he came across when thinking about Japan’s popular and geeky social portal service Hatena.

According to Yoski, Hatena hosts a lot of particularly enthusiastic users. In his view, Hatena is more “Web 2.0”-like than Yahoo! Japan or 2ch, the wildly popular BBS. He went on explaining Japanese terms like “ota”, “wabi” or “moe” and how they can be linked to this country’s unique Internet culture.

You had to be there to understand Yoski’s jokes!

Presentation No. 7
(“Differences between Japanese and American web communities”)

“Kensuu” (who has the cool title of “HeadPresident and Manager of 3rd creative division”, rocketstart) delivered another presentation focusing on cultural issues. He talked about differences in user behavior when participating in web communities in particular. He has been a community expert who managed popular forum services for youth. He recently published a Japanese book “Web community de ichiban taisetsu na koto”(“The most important thing on Web community”).

Kensuu’s two key points were:

Japanese people generally love to stay totally anonymous on the web. For example, the majority of 2ch users are registered by the name of “nanashisan” (名無しさん) which means “nameless”.
Japanese users do not “join” a web community but “mix” with it. According to Kensuu, this difference -which may seem purely semantic at first- reflects a unique characteristic of this country’s Internet culture.

The Japanese see members in online communities as a cohesive unit which they can blend into and become a part of. On the contrary, Western users tend to keep and stress their own identity and individuality in such a case.

Kensuu also said Japanese people like to “read” and enjoy the overall atmosphere in web communities, explaining why names are not important to them.

The aftermath

Amazingly, almost all participants of Asiajin Meeting #1 went to the following Nijikai (a kind of post-event get-together Japanese style). This was a pleasant surprise and a first for me to see!

Thank you very much to all the presenters, guests, viewers and Andrew Shuttleworth for his great job with the livecast.

Be sure to join us for Asiajin Meeting Tokyo #2 (coming soon)!

Hatena Haiku English version released

Hatena logo

Hatena Inc., USA subsidiary of Hatena Corp, one of the web-geek community center in Japan, released its Hatena Haiku‘s English version today.

Hatena Haiku English version

It’s clearly influenced by microblogging platforms like twitter, but adds its own unique functionality. One is the drawing tool on comment forms, where users can post messages via handwriting. Another community oriented feature is keyword-based message thread, which let users do category based chat.

Hatena is known for their keyword handling and link building to encourage its member community building. They are thought of an engineer-centric web company in Japan, some even says they are the Japanese Google, though their success has yet to expand beyond the tech community to regular users. Recently, president Jun’ya Kondo himself moved to the Bay Area and established US subsidiary for their service globalization. Famous Japanese Web2.0 evangelist Mochio Umeda is a board member as well.