Although English speakers outnumber Japanese speakers by more than 5-1, slightly more blog postings are written in Japanese than in English, according to Technorati, the Internet search engine that monitors the blogosphere.What are they blogging about? Mainly about "cats, kids and lunch." Blogs in Japanese are largely media of phatic communication meant to be read only by friends of bloggers, or so suggests research on comparative blogging behavior cited in this article. No doubt because nothing -- n o t h i n g -- politically interesting, let alone world-historical, happens in Japan.
By some estimates, as much as 40 percent of Japanese blogging is done on mobile phones, often by commuters staring cross-eyed at tiny screens for hours as they ride the world's most extensive network of subways and commuter trains.
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Technorati found that of all recorded blog postings in the fourth quarter of last year, 37 percent were written in Japanese, 36 percent in English and 8 percent in Chinese.
This was not an aberration. In the past three years, Japanese has been running ahead of or about even with English as the dominant language of blogging, according to Technorati. About 130 million people understand Japanese, while about 1.1 billion understand English. (Blaine Harden, "Japan's Bloggers: Humble Giants of the Web," Washington Post, 6 December 2007, A01)
There are some Japanese blogs worthy of your attention, however. My favorite is イランという国で [In a Country Called Iran], kept by a Japanese woman who has been living in Iran since 1996, teaching the Japanese language at the University of Tehran. She's been blogging about her life in Iran, her observations on Iranian culture and society, and her conversations with Iranians since 2004, her topics ranging from her grocery shopping to her argument with campus security guards who check on whether her outfit is up to the codes. In a good old expat fashion, she complains a lot -- especially about Iranian students, who like to avoid homework and come to class late -- but she also demystifies how things are, giving her audience verbal and visual images of everyday life of Iranians that are missing from the Western media.