Tokyo Damage Report

TDR reviews the most popular foreigner-in-japan blogs

That’s right, I’m starting shit. I’m sick of blogs that have nothing to say, but a million ways of publicizing it. "Yeah, I got a 300-site blogroll, state-of-the-art search-engine optimization, track-backs, click-offs, stat-hitters, Delicious, Twitter, Digg, Buzz, Butt, Phwat, Groink, Muhh, Pthh, Bthth, and Duh!"

 

In fact, I was so busy updating, networking, and pimping out my site, that I forgot to actually write anything! Whatever, who cares? I’ll just copy-and-paste a random article about anime tits.  And I’ll link to the source: My friend’s blog – even though they stole it from somewhere else. Rad! It sucks, but I’m so media-hyped and interlinked that I’ll get a million hits anyway!"

Someone’s got to call bullshit, might as well be me.

 

Here’s  the criteria I’m using to rate ’em:

ORIGINAL: The website person actually writes their own content.

GOT OFF ASS: Even people who write their own articles . . .long, thoughtful ones. . . it’s not enough, holmes! You also got to actually leave the computer at some point, go out and explore, meet interesting people, have adventures and shit.

AD-FREE: Doing it for the kids, not the scrilla.

USEFUL: The site doesn’t just say, "Hey, looka this! Wacky! OK next!" . . .Instead, they give practical information that is helpful to people living in, or planning to visit, Japan: Where to go, what not to do, how to speak Japanese, etc.

JAPANESE POV:  This means the website at least TRIES to give the Japanese viewpoint. This could mean translating stuff, talking to their Japanese friends, or just posting the background and context of a story, rather than, "Here is a thing I saw!  It was over there! In Japan!!!"

SURPRISING EVEN TO JAPANESE: Hella blogs are getting away with murder: No Japanese person would read their blog even if it was in Japanese. But because they’re posting in English, hella foreigners look at it and go, "Woooow, that is so nuts over there! I’m going to send this link to digg and boingboing!" 

Here’s the criteria I am NOT using: Whether I think the posts are about interesting stuff. That’s up to you to decide.

 

Anyway, I done read 10 posts from each website, and based on those 10 posts, rated the blogs. The ratings are displayed  in the classic "fake-scientific-hexagon" style of Japanese magazines (They use this 6-sided grid to rate everything from gigolos to car-stereos to academic performance)

Behold!

The bigger the red dot, the better the blog, and vice-versa.


 

 

 NAME: 3 YEN

TOPICS: things you can buy! Cellphones! A picture of a cute dress I got from another website! Robot maids are weird!

ORIGINAL CONTENT: almost none – 2 out of 10 posts I looked at.

CONTEXT: none

CUSSES: very little

ADS: vast amounts – for chicks! Japanese chicks! And in fact most of the articles were basically ads, too: "Sony to release new gizmo!" And so on.

WRITING: one paragraph, followed by copy-and-pasted text of newspaper article, or youtube.

ORIGINAL PHOTOS: few

USEFUL: a few ‘how to speak Japanese’ articles.

 


NAME: TOKYO MANGO

TYPICAL ARTICLES: reprints of Mainichi News, or links to things that Japanese companies are selling:

New chocolate! Plush USB devices! The youngest weatherman in Tokyo!

WRITER GOT OFF THEIR ASS:  She goes to events and writes about it, but the events are in S.F., so it’s not so helpful for people living in Japan.

CONTEXT: none, which is disappointing because the author is (I think!) a Japanese-American and fully bilingual. So why no translations?

Why do a post about toys, when the toy company has a big advertising budget anyway?

CUSSES:

ADS: date Japanese chicks! Buy my book! Vote for my site in this contest! New York times!

ORIGINAL PHOTOS: 1 out of 20?

USEFUL: no.

SURPRISING TO JAPANESE: no.

 



NAME: NEOJAPONISME

TYPICAL ARTICLES: Most of it is very academic and snarky: 3,000 words on the post-modern dialectics of CanCan magazine!  Some pop star I’ve never heard of, deconstructed! Plus, free internet wallpapers!

WRITER GOT OFF THEIR ASS: All the posts are long, thoughtful articles (good) but the authors never actually get up and go anywhere – they sit on their butt and read a Japanese magazine or TV show and then write about ‘what it means about society.’

However, they DO got interviews with musicians, artists, designers, and an architect.

CONTEXT: Yes!

CUSSES: none I could find.

ADS: no

ORIGINAL PHOTOS: no

USEFUL: The articles on Nihongo and Japanese ‘cultural code words’ are useful!

SURPRISING TO JAPANESE: yes.



NAME: PINK TENTACLE

TOPICS: modern art! (But also stuff like reports on ‘ultrasonic baths’ and 60-year-old air raid defense posters)

ORIGINAL CONTENT: only one-third – but that third is really long reports.

CONTEXT: no

CUSSES: no

ADS: only one.

 ORIGINAL PHOTOS: yes, but only photos of other peoples’ art.

USEFUL: yes – if you’re trying to find some dope art galleries.


NAME: JAPUNDIT

TYPICAL ARTICLES:Japan astronaut to try flying carpet in space lab!

Studio Ghibli drives Toyota project!

Suicides in Japan top 30,000 for 11th straight year!

WRITER GOT OFF THEIR ASS: 10 out of 12 was just links to newspapers.

 CONTEXT: no

CUSSES: no

ADS: tons! Including the randomly generated google ad: "Japanese schoolgirls: find great deals and save!"

ORIGINAL PHOTOS:no

USEFUL:no

SURPRISING TO JAPANESE:no


NAME: MUTANT FROG

TYPICAL ARTICLES: some pop culture, but mostly politics and economics:

Behind the scenes in the fracturing of the Liberal Democratic Party! What the government doesn’t want you to know about the Rape-of-Nanking-denial scandal surrounding the Defense Minister!

WRITER GOT OFF THEIR ASS: almost all the articles are real – they’ll link to a Japanese newspaper article, but 9 times out of ten they’ll take the trouble to translate it into English AND use their knowledge of Japan to provide more context and background!

 CONTEXT: hell yes!

CUSSES: no

ADS: no

ORIGINAL PHOTOS:no

USEFUL: If you are studying politics, maybe.

SURPRISING TO JAPANESE: yes.


NAME: JAPAN SUGOI

TYPICAL ARTICLES: bikini idols – 66%. Random links to Youtube taken from japanese tv – 33%

WRITER GOT OFF THEIR ASS: never.

  CONTEXT: none

CUSSES: none

ADS: hella of them! Japanese girls – want one? Kawaii friends network! J-list! This whole site seems to be a portal for a suspicious-ass dating service.

ORIGINAL PHOTOS: none

USEFUL:none

SURPRISING TO JAPANESE:none.



NAME: KIRAI NET

TYPICAL ARTICLES: Obama sushi! The doggy mascot of a major phone company publishes an autobiography! We stayed in a hotel!

WRITER GOT OFF THEIR ASS: half the articles  are links, but the other half are original. However, even the original stuff is maybe 2 sentances and one picture.

 CONTEXT: none

CUSSES: none

ADS: Date Japanese girls! Discount vacations!

ORIGINAL PHOTOS: some.

USEFUL:not really.

SURPRISING TO JAPANESE:no

 


NAME: JAPAN PROBE

TYPICAL ARTICLES: pop culture and odd news: "suntory to make cheaper beer!" "restoration of Tokyo station south dome!"  "Japanese comedian tries not to belch"

WRITER GOT OFF THEIR ASS: never. It’s all cut-and-paste newspaper articles or Youtube – but they write 2 original sentences introducing the newspaper article, which basically say the same thing as the article. Why?

 CONTEXT: no.

CUSSES: no.

ADS: "discover the cultural secrets to dating japanese women!!!" also: buy the ‘obama dream theme song!’. Plus, meet chicks! and, lose weight!(one ad space still available)

  ORIGINAL PHOTOS: no

USEFUL:no.

SURPRISING TO JAPANESE:no.

 


NAME: ALT JAPAN

TYPICAL ARTICLES: personal ‘life in japan’ stuff, plus pop culture: "I took a samurai class!" "New gandam models are sweet!" "Chocolate beetle snacks!"

WRITER GOT OFF THEIR ASS: He writes everything – mostly it’s just "Here is a thing!" but maybe 25% is an in-depth report or rant.

 CONTEXT: sometimes.

CUSSES: no.

ADS:no.

ORIGINAL PHOTOS: yes, a few.

USEFUL: There are some articles on culture, yokai, or Japanese language.

SURPRISING TO JAPANESE: a little.



Now, just for shits and giggles, let’s take a look at a bona-fide newspaper website:
NAME: Asahi shimbun (english version)

TYPICAL ARTICLES: "north korea defector aided illegal immigrants"

"Police apologize for taliban jibe" "Key Cabinet aide under fire for remark"

WRITER GOT OFF THEIR ASS: yes. They are professional reporters.

  CONTEXT: some, but the English versions of the articles are hella short, so, basically, 1/2.

CUSSES: no.

ADS: only one – less ads than 3Yen, Tokyo mango, Japundit, or Japan Sugoi!!!

ORIGINAL PHOTOS: no.

USEFUL: yes.

SURPRISING TO JAPANESE: A little – considering that the stories are reported here first!


NAME: danny choo’s Japan Portal

TYPICAL ARTICLES:  I got a new doll, and took 400 pictures of it! You can see the pants and everything! Sega introduces automatic stormtrooper joystick for Super-Mecha-Aokichan Space Adventure module!

 WRITER GOT OFF THEIR ASS: A lot! I really didn’t want to like this site, but dude also does much non-otaku stuff (if you can find it in the giant-ass site)

CONTEXT:  not so much.

CUSSES: no.

ADS: A few

ORIGINAL PHOTOS: Tons! Even if you don’t care about Akihabara, his pictures of Tokyo streets (the *Tokyo photo walk* series) are wonderful.

USEFUL: The *week in Tokyo* series is hella useful: each week profiles a different, non-famous neighborhood.

SURPRISING TO JAPANESE: Probably.



Japan Subculture Research Center

TYPICAL ARTICLES: Goto Tadamasa Excommunicated from Yamaguchi-gumi!

Yakuza bosses take legal classes to evade strict new law!

Residents of small town go to courts to evict Yakuza!

WRITER GOT OFF THEIR ASS: 2/3 is original reporting – and he writes in both English and Japanese! Sometimes he goes and interviews people, mobsters, and cops. Other times he reads Japanese articles about things and then translates it to English, giving it his own opinion in the process. This guy is the real deal – a citizen journalist.

CONTEXT: Yes! He really likes getting in there and exposing shit.

CUSSES: no

ADS: no

ORIGINAL PHOTOS: almost none.

USEFUL: not useful for everyday life, but you might learn how to tell if the store next to your house is a mob front company.

SURPRISING TO JAPANESE: definitely!
 

17 comments Tags: ,

17 Comments so far

  1. Danny Choo March 17th, 2009 2:24 am

    Approved for Tokyo CGM Night admission if you wish 😉

  2. Marxy March 17th, 2009 6:33 pm

    Hey, man, we totally get off our asses… to go to the library.

  3. admin March 19th, 2009 4:16 am

    Danny: Sorry, I have no idea what that means! If it’s ‘Tokyo Cannibal Ghoul Masticators Night’, count me in!

  4. MechanicapPencilGirl March 24th, 2009 12:07 pm

    aww no GaijinSmash.net (formerly Outpost Nine)
    lol what does your site’s chart look like?

  5. qqq March 24th, 2009 3:36 pm

    Hit it right on the head about 3Yen… that site hasn’t been relevant in at least 2 years. And about Tokyo Mango too. All crap.

    I’m curious of your opinion on Black Tokyo (http://www.blacktokyo.com/) & Neil Duckett (http://neilduckett.com/). The latter runs the Tokyo Blogs thing on Twitter. The former is one of the blogs I read most off that twitlist.

  6. admin March 24th, 2009 5:15 pm

    Wow! Thanks for telling me about black tokyo! I just went there – what’s black about it? Nothing on the front page, and a search of the archives yields no articles about african immigrants (the majority of black dudes in tokyo), only afro-americans.

    Anyone got a link to a Nigerian or Ghanan expat blog? Now that would be illuminating!

  7. Brian March 24th, 2009 10:25 pm

    No one swears on the internet in Japan?

  8. PudgyM29 March 27th, 2009 12:32 am

    Belgian beer bars (the Houblon in Ginza 3) use the hexagon to try and describe the taste of that particular Belgian beer.
    You left off Ramen Tokyo, which I think is a good blog about its topic. But the semi-anonymous weblogger needs to include the addresses of each ramen stand.

  9. DUGAN April 5th, 2009 2:44 am

    I just want to let you know that I have naruto scanlation eps 443 and you can download it free at my website. Thank you. ganbatte!!!

  10. admin April 6th, 2009 6:52 pm

    I have no idea what that means!

  11. japundit May 4th, 2009 2:17 am

    Thanks for the review.

  12. Adamu June 5th, 2009 12:42 am

    Wow, thanks for giving us a bigger hexagon than Asahi Shimbun (or is it the same size I cant tell). Cant believe I just noticed this. I appreciate that you counted some of the research as “getting off our asses” because as far as I know we NEVER actually leave the chair to complete our posts.

    I share your wish for some expat blogs from other nations besides the traditional English-speaking world. Maybe ppl from other countries just aren’t as publicly navel-gazing.

    Nigerian (naturalized Japanese) entertainer Bobby Ologun has an “official” blog in Japanese but I wouldnt expect much in the way of social commentary:
    http://blog.excite.co.jp/bobbyblog/
    This post from 2007 when he naturalized as a Japanese citizen was marginally interesting:
    http://blog.excite.co.jp/bobbyblog/6166478/

    One quibble: MFT DOES have original photos. In fact that was the whole reason Roy started the site (though I’ll admit they are few and far between). Samples:

    http://www.mutantfrog.com/2009/05/17/kyotos-%e7%b8%81%e5%88%87%e3%82%8a%e7%a5%9e%e7%a4%be-the-shrine-of-cutting-bonds/

    http://www.mutantfrog.com/2009/04/29/biking-up-and-down-arakawa/

    http://www.mutantfrog.com/2009/04/29/swan-vs-turtle/

    On the sidebar we link to Mutant Frog’s photostream:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mutantfrog/

  13. Roy Berman June 5th, 2009 3:05 am

    Nice to see we got one of the bigger hexagons!

    While I don’t want to complain about a pretty good score, I actually DO post quite a lot of photos, just none on the front page posts at the moment. If you go back a little you’ll find plenty of posts that include both original photos and getting off of one’s ass. For example:

    http://www.mutantfrog.com/2009/05/17/kyotos-%e7%b8%81%e5%88%87%e3%82%8a%e7%a5%9e%e7%a4%be-the-shrine-of-cutting-bonds/

    http://www.mutantfrog.com/2009/03/10/brazilian-community-in-the-homi-danchi-toyota-city/

  14. Jake Adelstein October 4th, 2009 12:10 pm

    Wow–I really appreciate that review. I’ve been lax these last few months about updating but now that I’m done editing my book and have found another excellent journalist to blog part-time, I think the quality and frequency of updates should improve. Of course, it’s always fun to find disgruntled Japanese journalists who are willing to contribute under pen names.
    This is the only real review I’ve ever seen of Japan related blogs. Well done.

  15. François February 12th, 2012 5:12 am

    Hi Steven,
    How is shit going in Tokyo ?
    Was just browsing through some old stuff of yours, and thinking you could do another post of the same kind with blogs that still do it in 2011. Some kept at it quality wise, some are dead or should be, and you didn't do Debito's site! (well, but it's not really a blog, true enough)
    You've probably found a couple you liked/made you wanna hurl since 2009, didn't you?
    François

  16. admin February 15th, 2012 5:27 pm

    @francois: people still do websites??

  17. François February 17th, 2012 2:36 pm

    Yeah, they seem to still do. How 1.0 of them.

Leave a reply

Mexico