Top 50: Japanese Startups You Should Know


Asian startups are finally stepping into the spotlight, it seems. The region’s most prominent tech startup event, Echeleon, featured far more established startups this year in comparison to previous years. Many of them have already expanded their business globally, and I feel the same thing is now happening here in Japan.

Here at SD Japan we have been adding Asian startup profiles to our database since January of 2013. We are proud to announce that we now have over 1000 entries for startups from Japan and around Asia. To celebrate this milestone, I’ve selected what I think are the best 50 Japanese startups from various internet sectors, in no particular order. Each is linked to its database entry, so for further information, just click through [1].

We hope this list can provide a little more visibility to standout entrepreneurs and startup folks in the country, as well as a better understanding of the space to our readers outside Japan.

Update: Some people have suggested additional startups, and we’re making a note of them all for a future update [2]. So don’t hesitate to provide feedback in the comments. —RM

Hot Startups

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 12.50.31 PM

  1. Whill – A next generation personal mobility startup that just got accepted into the latest 500 Startups program.
  2. Nanapi – A Japanese website that provides helpful tips for everyday life.
  3. Coiney – A mobile payment startup. Sort of a Square for Japan.
  4. CocoPPa – A mobile app that allows you to customise your phone’s icons and homescreen.
  5. Tokyo Otaku Mode – A Japanese digital media site focused on Japanese Otaku culture.



  1. Fril – A mobile marketplace app for girls where they can buy and sell clothing.
  2. Coconala – A site where users can offer their knowledge, skills and experiences for about 500 yen (or about $5).
  3. LISTOR – An online buy-and-sell marketplace.
  4. Jimoty – A sort of Craigslist for Japan.
  5. TicketStreet – A ticketing marketplace for buying and selling concert, sport, and theater tickets.


Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 12.52.08 PM

  1. BASE – A service that lets you create your own commerce site.
  2. Monoco – A mobile/web flash sale site that sells unique designer goods from around the world.
  3. – A service that lets you create your own commerce site. A BASE competitor.
  4. Panoplaza – An e-commerce service that produces virtual storefronts.
  5. Oh My Glasses – An e-commerce site for eye-glasses.

Fashion and Apparel

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 1.11.05 PM

  1. iQON – A fashion coordination app that allows users to create their favorite looks using fashion photos available on their app.
  2. Origami – A mobile app that lets you follow updates from your favorite brands or merchants.
  3. Locondo – A shoes and fashion e-commerce site.
  4. MUSE & Co. – A members-only flash sale site that gives users a substantial discount off the market price for a limited time.
  5. girls – A mobile fashion media that sends fashion recommendations to users.


Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 12.53.11 PM

  1. Pluto – A smartphone-based remote control system for home electronics.
  2. Cerevo – A company based in Akihabara that focuses on creating consumer network devices.
  3. Sassor – A hardware startup that has developed an ‘Energy Literacy Platform’, operating in a similar space as US-based Nest.
  4. ChatPerf – A hardware add-on for your iPhone that can produce smells.
  5. Terra Motors – An electronic vehicle startup targeting the Asia market.


Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 12.55.04 PM

  1. Gengo – A translation platform providing translation services to individuals and small businesses, or to larger enterprises via its API.
  2. Conyac – A human powered translation service.
  3. Lancers – A Japanese crowdsourcing giant.
  4. Designclue – A crowdsourcing site specializing in graphic design. Similar to 99Designs.
  5. CrowdWorks – A Japanese crowdsourcing giant that competes with Lancers.


Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 1.00.18 PM

  1. Schoo – An online education service that offers business 101 classes.
  2. Lang–8 – A free language-exchange social network.
  3. ShareWis – A learning app that provides various online learning courses.
  4. Best Teacher – An education startup that offers an online language learning service via Skype
  5. SmartEducation – A startup that develops educational apps for children.


Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 1.00.47 PM

  1. Mill – A photo sharing app focused on food.
  2. Retty – A recommendation app for restaurants, for mobile and web.
  3. Gochikuru – A search/portal site for lunch boxes and catering.
  4. SnapDish – A photo sharing app for food recipes.
  5. KitchHike – A website that lets travelers experience meals prepared by locals.


Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 1.02.18 PM

  1. Vingow – A news aggregation and reading app that allows users to get an updated news feed in real time.
  2. Gunosy – A news app that determines your interests based on your social media accounts, serving up news updates that will likely fit your tastes.
  3. Sqpress – A mobile news app that aggregates articles from Twitter.
  4. Antenna – A curation magazine app that allows you to view articles from more than 130 selected media.
  5. SmartNews – A news aggregation and reading app.

Social Good

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 1.03.53 PM

  1. i-kifu – A social startup that helps Japanese non-profit organizations with their online fundraising.
  2. Pirika – A smartphone app that encourages users to clean up their environment, and share pictures of themselves collecting trash in an effort to encourage others to do the same.
  3. Trapro – A platform that allows users to plan and organize tours around important social issues.
  4. CollaVol – A social volunteer platform where users can donate their time to complete certain tasks.
  5. Readyfor – A crowdfunding platform. Most users put NPO and social cause projects on this site.

  1. I previously published an article about tech Incubators and VCs in Japan. If you’d like to check that out, you can find it here.  ↩

  2. Other notable mentions: Snapeee, Midokura.  ↩