THE BRIDGE

Social

Nikkei presents AG/SUM 2018 in Central Tokyo with an eye to next year, 2020

SHARE:

This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology. AG/SUM (Agritech Summit) 2018 was presented by Nikkei from June 11 in Tokyo’s Nihombashi area, which from the Edo era has been home to Shinto shrines dedicated to medicinal plants. The district, under redevelopment by Mitsui Fudosan which was a major event sponsor, also has a concentration of pharmaceuticals firms ranging the gamut from Daiichi-Sankyo (with its Kusuri [Medicine] Museum) to Takeda Pharmaceutical’s newly-opened global headquarters building. The three-day event is part of the newly-launched “summit” series run by Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the flagship daily newspaper of the NIKKEI news concern; originally focused on finance and regulation, it is now aiming at such fields as life sciences and transportation, with an eye to the expansion of business activities in reflection of the Rugby World Cup next year in Japan as well as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics/Paralympics. The agriculture-centered event comprised a Symposium, an Exhibition and a Start-up Pitch Run plus a Reverse Pitch, in addition to a Marche where stalls lined the underground passageway leading from the main venues of Nihombashi Life Science Building and Nihombashi Mitsui Hall to the…

This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.


AG/SUM Pitch Run finalists
Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy

AG/SUM (Agritech Summit) 2018 was presented by Nikkei from June 11 in Tokyo’s Nihombashi area, which from the Edo era has been home to Shinto shrines dedicated to medicinal plants. The district, under redevelopment by Mitsui Fudosan which was a major event sponsor, also has a concentration of pharmaceuticals firms ranging the gamut from Daiichi-Sankyo (with its Kusuri [Medicine] Museum) to Takeda Pharmaceutical’s newly-opened global headquarters building.

The three-day event is part of the newly-launched “summit” series run by Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the flagship daily newspaper of the NIKKEI news concern; originally focused on finance and regulation, it is now aiming at such fields as life sciences and transportation, with an eye to the expansion of business activities in reflection of the Rugby World Cup next year in Japan as well as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics/Paralympics.

The agriculture-centered event comprised a Symposium, an Exhibition and a Start-up Pitch Run plus a Reverse Pitch, in addition to a Marche where stalls lined the underground passageway leading from the main venues of Nihombashi Life Science Building and Nihombashi Mitsui Hall to the nearest railway stations, namely Mitsukoshimae subway station for Ginza and Hanzomon Metro lines as well as the JR Shin-Nihombashi station, nearby Nihombashi Information Center.

AG/SUM Reverse Pitch
Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy

The Pitch Run was held with 26 participants, in two parts (a.m. and p.m.) on June 12, with the Reverse Pitch being gathered in the early evening of the same day. The competitors vied for the main Nikkei Award while the Mizuho Award (namesake after Mizuho Bank, Mizuho standing for the Japanese phrase meaning plentiful harvest, roughly equivalent to “cornucopia”) was subsidiary. The Reverse Pitch was more of a participant feedback and follow-up session for pitch participants.

The a.m. session judges were Plug and Play Tech Center’s Seena Amidi, World Innovation Lab’s Namiko Kajiwara, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings’ Uraki Fumiko and Nihon Keizai Shimbun’s Keiichi Murayama while the p.m. judges were Bits x Bites’ Matilda Ho, RocketSpace’s Shaina Silva, Mistletoe’s Eriko Suzuki and euglena’s Akihito Nagata; Mizuho Bank’s Naoto Oohitsu was a judge for both sessions.

Musca CEO Mitsutaka Kushima
Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy

The joint winners of the Mizuho Award turned out to be three companies, all from Japan – graft biotech outfit Gra & Green, plant factory maker PlantX and insect-tech Musca [“musca” meaning fly in Latin]. The Nikkei award went to the international quartet of U. California Berkeley-affiliated Sugarlogix, Stanford-related Agribody Technologies, vineyard support tech provider Biome Makers and non-fermentation winemaker AVA Winery.

Speaking of wine, along with visitors from Israel (though only contaminant detector manufacturer Inspecto showed up this year, MBR-supported hydroponics firm FreightFarms opting out this year, depriving me of a chance to ask about Kosher foodstuff) and elsewhere in the Middle East (Turkish agro-finance service Tarfin and sensor data processor Tarsens [with NVIDIA backing], where Halal is a huge market), afficianados of the beverage like myself found AVA tech intriguing for such diets.

It is hoped that next year the event can be expanded and brings more general visitors to the Marche and other public outreach aspects – as for example the Turkish start-ups in fact stayed on through Monday after in order to gain more information and further exchange. In addition perhaps more start-up involvement from South American and even Africa, not to mention elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, could be possible.

SOCAP 2016 brings together various solutions emanating from Japanese startups

SHARE:

This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology. From September 13 through 16, San Francisco’s Fort Mason provided the venue for SOCAP (Social Capital Markets) meeting which is held here on an annual basis. Their motto is “where the global community using business as a force for social change gathers to listen to each other, and to learn, and to get things done!” and has been ongoing since 2008 when 600 people took part; this year more than 2,500 participants attended. There were several Japanese entities visiting San Francisco this year. Social Good LLC, which is closely involved with Impact Hub Tokyo, was represented at SOCAP 2016 by Mr. Yutaka (“Charlie”) Iimori. Social Good’s most recent “business” concept is the application of Internet of Things (IoT) technology for the improvement of safety in forested regions. Indonesia is one of the area targeted by them to set up an IoT network based on sensor-laden bird nest boxes. Indonesia not only needs monitoring of the fauna to promote biodiversity but to maintain tropical timber trade conditions as well. By coincidence, the forest fire detection network would also be of use…

This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.


fort-mason-center-socap-2016
Image credit: Kei Hareyama

From September 13 through 16, San Francisco’s Fort Mason provided the venue for SOCAP (Social Capital Markets) meeting which is held here on an annual basis. Their motto is “where the global community using business as a force for social change gathers to listen to each other, and to learn, and to get things done!” and has been ongoing since 2008 when 600 people took part; this year more than 2,500 participants attended.

201609141139000
Social Good LLC’s Yutaka (“Charlie”) Iimori
Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy

There were several Japanese entities visiting San Francisco this year. Social Good LLC, which is closely involved with Impact Hub Tokyo, was represented at SOCAP 2016 by Mr. Yutaka (“Charlie”) Iimori. Social Good’s most recent “business” concept is the application of Internet of Things (IoT) technology for the improvement of safety in forested regions. Indonesia is one of the area targeted by them to set up an IoT network based on sensor-laden bird nest boxes.

Indonesia not only needs monitoring of the fauna to promote biodiversity but to maintain tropical timber trade conditions as well. By coincidence, the forest fire detection network would also be of use in California, which in recent years has seen many forest fires devastating it. As an aside, it should be noted that Social Good is looking to link startups and non-profits in order to promote community disaster-mitigation activities too.

It is understood that several Japanese tradinghouse-related people were also taking part, since impact investing and “meaning” are “central to such organizations” according to Mr. Yasu Yonemitsu, a consultant who wrote a report for the EU about Sogo Shosha (major Japanese trading companies) and was formerly with Mitsui & Co. He says,

In particular SOCAP focuses on clean energy and sustainable foods/agriculture, so these are areas that keenly interest such Shosha groups.

upper-view-at-socap-2016
Image credit: SOCAP

The first day of SOCAP 2016 centered on neighborhood economics, on the assumption that cities are centers for change. In particular for the San Francisco Bay Area, cities therein have been hotbeds for “open innovation” and “inclusive entrepreneurship” as can be witnessed by the continued growth seen in Silicon Valley and San Francisco’s SOMA (South of Market) district, not to mention areas in the East Bay as exemplified by Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland.

See also:

impact-of-tech-africa-at-socap-2016
Image credit: SOCAP

Renewal and resilience were the main themes upon considering neighborhood economics, in addition to the strength of community in fostering a better society. Referring back to the forest fire issue in light of these, there are several novel solutions being mulled in Silicon Valley which calls upon renewal of disaster countermeasures and promotion of resilience as based upon new technologies such as alert-providing drones and mitigation-oriented mobile systems.

201609141211000
Image credit: “Tex” Pomeroy

Interestingly, SOCAP 2016 overlapped somewhat with TechCrunch Disrupt SF which started on September 12 (unfortunately located this year at Pier48 across town, unlike the nearby venue last year), and one Japanese startup also attempted to disseminate information on their earthquake sensor alarm network as a “pro-community system” at Fort Mason, on the premise that San Francisco and California should become readied for a major earthquake.

party-at-socap-2016
Image credit: SOCAP

CyberAgent launches crowdsourced jobs platform for mothers in Japan

SHARE:

Japanese internet company CyberAgent recently launched a crowdsourcing platform called Mama & Crowd, which is focused on crowdsourced jobs for women with kids. Many mothers typically want to work to supplement their household income, but it can be difficult to find a nursery that would allow for conventional work at an office. The platform aims to help these mothers work at home by giving them crowdsourced jobs they can do while still caring for their kids. via CNET Japan

mama-and-crowd_featuredimage

Japanese internet company CyberAgent recently launched a crowdsourcing platform called Mama & Crowd, which is focused on crowdsourced jobs for women with kids.

Many mothers typically want to work to supplement their household income, but it can be difficult to find a nursery that would allow for conventional work at an office. The platform aims to help these mothers work at home by giving them crowdsourced jobs they can do while still caring for their kids.

via CNET Japan

Cooliris courts photo-crazed Japan with new localization

SHARE:

Occasionally the folks from Palo Alto-based Cooliris swing through Tokyo as part of efforts to promote their photo sharing service in Asia. Our readers may recall that we spoke with them back in March, when they were making good progress in China with an early partnerships with social service Renren. So I was curious to see how Cooliris has progressed since then, both in China and Japan, and in surrounding Asian regions. CEO Soujanya Bhumkar tells me that China has seen particularly solid growth, with a 30% increase in downloads in the last quarter making the Middle Kingdom their number two install base after the US. They’ve made significant localization efforts in China, now with Sina Weibo on board as a connected service. Users can browse Weibo photos using the slick Cooliris interface, diving deep to explore pictures from various users, as well as those from people they follow or are followed by. Tencent Weibo and Baidu Yun are now also supported Cooliris services, having been added over the past year. Interestingly, India has been a new growth market for them thanks to increased smartphone adoption there, now suddenly a top ten country for Cooliris. Japan, which previously was Cooliris’s…

Occasionally the folks from Palo Alto-based Cooliris swing through Tokyo as part of efforts to promote their photo sharing service in Asia. Our readers may recall that we spoke with them back in March, when they were making good progress in China with an early partnerships with social service Renren. So I was curious to see how Cooliris has progressed since then, both in China and Japan, and in surrounding Asian regions.

CEO Soujanya Bhumkar tells me that China has seen particularly solid growth, with a 30% increase in downloads in the last quarter making the Middle Kingdom their number two install base after the US. They’ve made significant localization efforts in China, now with Sina Weibo on board as a connected service. Users can browse Weibo photos using the slick Cooliris interface, diving deep to explore pictures from various users, as well as those from people they follow or are followed by. Tencent Weibo and Baidu Yun are now also supported Cooliris services, having been added over the past year.

iPad_screenmocks4-japanese
Japanese interface

Interestingly, India has been a new growth market for them thanks to increased smartphone adoption there, now suddenly a top ten country for Cooliris.

Japan, which previously was Cooliris’s second biggest market, still remains one of their top five markets. But with the latest update of the Cooliris iOS app, Japanese localization has been added. I understand that the company isn’t going to be making significant marketing efforts, but the localization at least makes it more accessible here. They’ll continue to try to serve Japanese users in later versions.

Considering that Cooliris now supports integration with so many social services, the missing puzzle piece for the company here in Japan is obviously Line. The team couldn’t tell me too much on this point, but obviously users here would definitely like to see such an integration. So Line users should keep their fingers crossed, and stay tuned [1].

The Cooliris app has a few other significant changes recently, as Soujanya and his VP of business development Sebastian Blum (he’s the guy in the video above) inform me that the app’s group function is now the number one driver of user acquisition and user retention. Groups could be as small as just two people sharing photos privately, or it could be many more. Groups can be based around certain activities like weddings, vacations, with discussion happening on Cooliris even before that event takes place.

As I was speaking with Soujanya, I happened to have Yammer open on my Mac, as that’s one of the collaborative tools that we use here at The Bridge. He pointed out to me that while there are many corporate collaborative tools like this, there are few collaborate options for consumers. People’s photo experience is typically fragmented across multiple service and multiple friends, and Cooliris gives people a chance to bring them together in one place.

In total they have seen over 3 billion photos brought into the Cooliris app, and over 1 billion photo engagements [2]. And for those who share photos in many different online places, it will continue to be a useful service. Whether it can pick up some more steam in photo-crazy Japan remains to be seen, but this new localization is an encouraging first step.

iPad_screenmocks3-japanese

iPad_screenmocks1-japanese

iPad_screenmocks1-japanese


  1. I confess, I used Cooliris for a while this year, but eventually drifted away from it. My mobile photo use is primarily restricted to Notabli, a family-focused photo app. I use Flickr as storage for pictures taken with my DSLR, but the majority of them are private. But I can see the potential of Cooliris for people more social than myself.  ↩

  2. I understand that an engagement is when you tap on a photo and view it in higher resolution.  ↩

Salaryman turned online star: This Japanese YouTuber has 2.3M subscribers

SHARE:

Youtube recently unveiled its Youtube Rewind 2013, a look back at some of the most viewed videos and YouTubers on the site. In Japan, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu nabbed a bunch of top spots (first, third and fourth place) among all music videos. Looking at the top ten Youtube channels overall in Japan, we can see huge entertainment entities like the agency Avex and idol supergroup AKB48. But surprisingly the fifth spot is occupied by the only individual performer to make the list, Hikakin TV. He is a 24-year-old human beatbox performer who has been active on YouTube since 2006. His channel now has over 2.3 million subscribers with a whopping 400 million total views. Although he initially began performing just his human beatbox routine and techniques (which you can check out in the video below), Hikakin now broadcasts a variety of short performances on four different channels. One YouTube channel is dedicated a live report of himself playing games called HikakinGames. Considering that the majority of his fans are young digital natives who also play games, this sort of content makes sense. His online popularity eventually led to appearances on TV and other media. His published book, entitled My Job…

HikakinTV
Youtube recently unveiled its Youtube Rewind 2013, a look back at some of the most viewed videos and YouTubers on the site. In Japan, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu nabbed a bunch of top spots (first, third and fourth place) among all music videos.

Looking at the top ten Youtube channels overall in Japan, we can see huge entertainment entities like the agency Avex and idol supergroup AKB48. But surprisingly the fifth spot is occupied by the only individual performer to make the list, Hikakin TV. He is a 24-year-old human beatbox performer who has been active on YouTube since 2006.

His channel now has over 2.3 million subscribers with a whopping 400 million total views. Although he initially began performing just his human beatbox routine and techniques (which you can check out in the video below), Hikakin now broadcasts a variety of short performances on four different channels.

One YouTube channel is dedicated a live report of himself playing games called HikakinGames. Considering that the majority of his fans are young digital natives who also play games, this sort of content makes sense.

His online popularity eventually led to appearances on TV and other media. His published book, entitled My Job is Youtube, came out back in July. Hikakin has also released an Android app,HikakinBeat, which lets anyone become a creative and platful DJ.

His is the story of a salaryman turned into an online star. Hikakin is definitely a digital pioneer, whose online popularity gave him the chance to expand to traditional media.

Here he is making Super Mario beatbox sounds in the video below.

Japanese music composer community Creofuga launches crowdsourcing platform

SHARE:

Creofuga is a startup from Japan’s western city of Okayama which has been providing an online community platform for amateur or semi-professional music composers. The company recently announced that it will launch a crowdsourcing and licensing platform for soundtracks, sound effects, and other audio. It’s called AudioStock and it is expected to launch later this month, serving social game developers. Notable clients will include SummerTime Studio, Nagisa, Tokyo Tower, and Fuji TV. Since the company started back in 2007, it has enlisted over 10,000 amateur music composers, and has partnered with Bandai Namco Games and a Japanese record company to help them promote a game title and music artist. For game developers who intend to use soundtracks or effects composed by the third parties in your apps, it may be a challenge obtain rights from license holders. But with this platform, you can buy exclusive rights for the reproduction of a music piece for 2,000 yen ($20) each or nonexclusive rights for 500 yen ($5) each. At the time of the launch, there will be 10,000 pieces of music available, varying from soundtracks to narrated samples. In addition to these, you can have your narration or music tasks crowdsourced among…

creofuga

Creofuga is a startup from Japan’s western city of Okayama which has been providing an online community platform for amateur or semi-professional music composers.

The company recently announced that it will launch a crowdsourcing and licensing platform for soundtracks, sound effects, and other audio. It’s called AudioStock and it is expected to launch later this month, serving social game developers. Notable clients will include SummerTime Studio, Nagisa, Tokyo Tower, and Fuji TV.

Since the company started back in 2007, it has enlisted over 10,000 amateur music composers, and has partnered with Bandai Namco Games and a Japanese record company to help them promote a game title and music artist.

For game developers who intend to use soundtracks or effects composed by the third parties in your apps, it may be a challenge obtain rights from license holders. But with this platform, you can buy exclusive rights for the reproduction of a music piece for 2,000 yen ($20) each or nonexclusive rights for 500 yen ($5) each. At the time of the launch, there will be 10,000 pieces of music available, varying from soundtracks to narrated samples. In addition to these, you can have your narration or music tasks crowdsourced among workers on the platform. When a deal is closed between you and a worker, the startup will take a 30% commission and the rest goes to the worker.

nishio
Shuichiro Nishio

The company has also partnered with Japanese stock photo giant Amana Images, and will use them as a sales channel to better reach potential clients in need of music and sound effects. Regarding the platform’s global expansions, the startup’s CEO Shuichiro Nishio unveiled that his team is currently developing an English version expected to launch by the end of this year. He says there’s likely to be huge potential in the overseas market since many foreign developers also are in need of high quality music from Japan.

Also in this space, there is Tokyo-based Grood, the startup behind Voip, which launched its voice acting crowdsourcing platform back in February and announced international service expansions in May.

In Japan, dumbass kids go viral shooting dumbass photos

SHARE:

In Japan, the word ‘Enjo” refers to when something goes viral on social networks for all the wrong reasons. Twitter is the most common environment for such unfortunate incidents, and recently, there has been an unusual series of prank photos posted by various part-time restaurant employees. Sometimes the people responsible are customers as well, but in almost every case the results are pretty embarrassing. Below you can see some examples of some prank photos that an assortment of foolish kids have posted on Twitter. In many cases, the people behind these incidents are teenagers. News of such cases has appeared on TV, which appears to be spawning more and more dumbass kids to imitate the behavior. In an extreme case, one steakhouse was forced to shut down after waves of complaints were made to the restaurant. In Japan, these sorts of pranks also contribute to an unfounded fear of social networks as well. Now there are even websites and Twitter accounts that keeps people informed about these incidents. And as you might expect, Naver Matome, has a round-up of these viral photos too. These pranks on social networks are becoming more and more of a problem, with no sign of…

In Japan, the word ‘Enjo” refers to when something goes viral on social networks for all the wrong reasons. Twitter is the most common environment for such unfortunate incidents, and recently, there has been an unusual series of prank photos posted by various part-time restaurant employees. Sometimes the people responsible are customers as well, but in almost every case the results are pretty embarrassing. Below you can see some examples of some prank photos that an assortment of foolish kids have posted on Twitter.

In many cases, the people behind these incidents are teenagers. News of such cases has appeared on TV, which appears to be spawning more and more dumbass kids to imitate the behavior. In an extreme case, one steakhouse was forced to shut down after waves of complaints were made to the restaurant. In Japan, these sorts of pranks also contribute to an unfounded fear of social networks as well.

Now there are even websites and Twitter accounts that keeps people informed about these incidents. And as you might expect, Naver Matome, has a round-up of these viral photos too. These pranks on social networks are becoming more and more of a problem, with no sign of ending. Even planking is better than this.

MaxValue-icecreamA customer lies on ice cream. (photo via. Hamsoku)

BurgerKing-EnjoBurger King employee dives into leftover hamburger buns. (photo via m9l)

PizzahutPizza Hut employee using pizza dough as a facial mask. (photo via. 2ch)

Again? Really?! More media misinformation on Facebook in Japan

SHARE:

Here we go again. Yet another report (mis-)using SocialBakers stats to create the unfounded narrative that Facebook has serious troubles in Japan 1. Taylor Beck over on Fast Company’s Co.Labs blog writes “Why the Japanese Love Twitter But Not Facebook“: Facebook […] is proud of the 21 million users it claims in Japan. Despite alarming reports in June–derived from Facebook’s own self-service ad tool–that Facebook in Japan had declined by 19.5 percent in half a year, Facebook Japan’s new director told the daily Nikkei on August 14 that its numbers are fine: 86% of the 21 million Japanese are using the mobile service (versus the global average 71%), and 72% of mobile Facebook users in Japan use it daily, much higher than the global average, 57%. The “alarming reports” he mentions are based on SocialBakers figures (in turn, based on Facebook’s ad tool, as he says). Taylor goes on to cite another source for good measure: No independent data are available for Facebook’s latest performance in Japan, but The Guardian, among other media, have reported recent declines in Japan and other markets, especially on Facebook’s desktop use. But it turns out this new source is the same as the first….

Here we go again. Yet another report (mis-)using SocialBakers stats to create the unfounded narrative that Facebook has serious troubles in Japan 1. Taylor Beck over on Fast Company’s Co.Labs blog writes “Why the Japanese Love Twitter But Not Facebook“:

Facebook […] is proud of the 21 million users it claims in Japan. Despite alarming reports in June–derived from Facebook’s own self-service ad tool–that Facebook in Japan had declined by 19.5 percent in half a year, Facebook Japan’s new director told the daily Nikkei on August 14 that its numbers are fine: 86% of the 21 million Japanese are using the mobile service (versus the global average 71%), and 72% of mobile Facebook users in Japan use it daily, much higher than the global average, 57%.

The “alarming reports” he mentions are based on SocialBakers figures (in turn, based on Facebook’s ad tool, as he says).

Taylor goes on to cite another source for good measure:

No independent data are available for Facebook’s latest performance in Japan, but The Guardian, among other media, have reported recent declines in Japan and other markets, especially on Facebook’s desktop use.

But it turns out this new source is the same as the first. Here’s an excerpt from that article from The Guardian:

In the last month, the world’s largest social network has lost 6m US visitors, a 4% fall, according to analysis firm SocialBakers. […] Users are also switching off in Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Japan, where Facebook has some of its biggest followings. A spokeswoman for Facebook declined to comment. (bold is mine)

Nevermind that SocialBakers actually criticized The Guardian (twice) on its own blog saying that the figures are estimates intended for marketers, not journalists:

The numbers are from Facebook’s ad interface, and Facebook unlike other companies, updates this data on a pretty regular basis. No other company does that – they give you rough estimations on an irregular basis, which is not enough in todays moving social marketing world.

SocialBakers used to have charts for country user numbers (Japan’s charts used to be here), but they have now been removed because of stuff like this. The Next Web has more on the matter.

So I hope that puts it to rest. If you build alarmist Japan-hates-Facebook narratives with this particular building block as your cornerstone, you’re going to have a bad time 2.

Facebook does indeed have challenges ahead in Japan, with the meteoric growth of Line – and on this front the article had lots of good points. But overall, I don’t see any evidence of Facebook having significantly more issues than Twitter, as the link-baity headline suggests.


  1. Just to be clear, I really hesitate to do these little ‘media police’ posts. But on this site we work pretty hard to try to make sure that people understand what’s happening on the Japanese net. And while we’d like to stay positive, sometimes addressing stuff like this is necessary. Tedious, but necessary.

  2. Regarding Taylor’s peripheral assertion halfway through his piece that Twitter has caught on in China, he regrettably cites a Forbes article that is based on a very questionable Global Web Index report. I’ve already addressed that whole mess here.

An online community for Japanese girls who like ‘boys love’

SHARE:

One of the cultural developments that Japan can be proud of is its creative illustrations and manga, and the community that has grown around it. There are many communities dedicated to creators such as Pixiv, drawr, and others. We are starting to see communities dedicated to even more specific groups of people. PictBLand is one example, where the target users of the site are ‘Fujoshi’ or so-called ‘rotten girls’. This modern term refers to females who likes novels and manga about male homosexuality (love between two males is often described as ‘boys love’ in Japan, hence the ‘BL’ in the service’s name). On PictBLand users can view other people’s illustrative works, or post their own. There are many original works as well as creations that imitates well-known manga such as One Piece. It’s a good place to showcase all your work as well as a place to find inspiration. The site opened back in April of this year, and in about three months, the total number of registered users surpassed 20,000. This is an impressive number considering the niche purpose of the site. Interestingly this illustrations community was an open website at the very beginning, but it later switched to…

PicBLand

One of the cultural developments that Japan can be proud of is its creative illustrations and manga, and the community that has grown around it. There are many communities dedicated to creators such as Pixiv, drawr, and others. We are starting to see communities dedicated to even more specific groups of people. PictBLand is one example, where the target users of the site are ‘Fujoshi’ or so-called ‘rotten girls’. This modern term refers to females who likes novels and manga about male homosexuality (love between two males is often described as ‘boys love’ in Japan, hence the ‘BL’ in the service’s name).

On PictBLand users can view other people’s illustrative works, or post their own. There are many original works as well as creations that imitates well-known manga such as One Piece. It’s a good place to showcase all your work as well as a place to find inspiration. The site opened back in April of this year, and in about three months, the total number of registered users surpassed 20,000. This is an impressive number considering the niche purpose of the site.

Interestingly this illustrations community was an open website at the very beginning, but it later switched to a closed service a month after its launch (now requiring user-registration to view uploaded works).

PictBLand-works

There are other features unique to the site, such as Antenna tags and Exclusion tags. The Antenna tag lets users can show off certain works, whereas the exclusion tag eliminates creations that you don’t want to show from the timeline. As a result, all works showing up in a timeline are exactly the ones that they want to be shown. Many can be viewed freely while some require users to join specific threads in order to see the actual works.

Of course the genre of this online community could generate some controversy. But by optimizing the site to a closed space, users can freely express their love for this very specific type of illustrations. The community is slowly growing, gaining more and more fans with time. It will be interesting to see what the site will grow into in the near future.

Top 5: Private social networks for families

SHARE:

In the age of online sharing, many people have become less hesitant to share family photos on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Many people would rather share private photos just among family. Here in Japan, there are a few options out there for such people. Here’s a list of five such made-in-Japan apps. 1. Wellnote ¶ Wellnote is a private social network for families provided by WellStyle. The app allows families to share family pictures, and even print and send 30 of their favorites for 525 yen (per address). Other features includes baby health-management, where family members can track the growth of their baby. Wellnote has also partnered with major enterprises such as Nissen and Gakken to provide education and other family-related news within the app. 2. Mago-Love ¶ ‘Mago-Love’ means ‘love for grandchildren’ in Japanese. On Mago-Love, users can share family photos with selected people. The app is simply designed, allowing even not so tech-savvy grandparents to skim through photos and comment on the ones they like. By bundling up many photos, the app can create movies or send them out as printed postcards. 3. Kazoc ¶ Yahoo Japan released its app for families back in Feburary of this…

Nicori

In the age of online sharing, many people have become less hesitant to share family photos on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Many people would rather share private photos just among family. Here in Japan, there are a few options out there for such people. Here’s a list of five such made-in-Japan apps.

1. Wellnote

WellNoteWellnote is a private social network for families provided by WellStyle. The app allows families to share family pictures, and even print and send 30 of their favorites for 525 yen (per address). Other features includes baby health-management, where family members can track the growth of their baby. Wellnote has also partnered with major enterprises such as Nissen and Gakken to provide education and other family-related news within the app.

2. Mago-Love

Mago-LoveMago-Love’ means ‘love for grandchildren’ in Japanese. On Mago-Love, users can share family photos with selected people. The app is simply designed, allowing even not so tech-savvy grandparents to skim through photos and comment on the ones they like. By bundling up many photos, the app can create movies or send them out as printed postcards.

3. Kazoc

KazocYahoo Japan released its app for families back in Feburary of this year. It’s called Kazoc. The app is designed to be a digital alternative to the kind of handbooks that mothers use to keep track of their baby’s health while pregant. The app requires users to login using their Yahoo credentials.

After the baby is born, mothers can record the baby’s height and weight, and it also works as a checklist for vaccines and medical checkups. The invited family members can chat in the feed and share photos. Free accounts allows you to save up to 1,000 photos, and with a monthly fee of 250 yen users can save up to 5,000 photos.

4. Nicori

NicoriNicori might be a good app for those of you with grandparents who have not yet switched to smartphones. The app allows users to send photos using a dedicated URL that can be viewed on feature phones or computers every time a photo is posted to the app. Nicori allows photos to be shared with up to ten people, and for every photo the sharing settings can be specified so that only selected family members can see. All uploaded photos can be viewed in a calendar, giving you a better idea of how you’re spending your days with your children.

5. Raku-Communication

Raku-CommunicationThe concept behind Raku-Communication is to make families feel as if they’re living under the same roof even when they live apart from each other. By using Raku-Communication, in addition to just sharing photos, grandparents can feel as if they live together with their grandchildren by exchanging memos with them. Calling requires all your attention, and can steal away your time when you’re busy doing other things. Notes gives families a way to communicate on their own terms. You can also attach hand-written notes to photos if you like.

Some non-Japanese alternatives worth checking out: