Why Facebook is not popular in Japan?

22 Jul

***This post is written several years ago and the situation is not always the same now in Japan. ***

facebook It’s been over one year since Facebook was introduced to Japanese market. But it is apparent that Facebook is not popular at all in Japan, while it is very successful in most of other countries, including the U.S, not to speak of. Here’s Alexa ranking for Japanese top sites and Facebook is off top 20, and even 40 or 50.

Why Facebook is not popular in Japan? There are several reasons to be considered. But as a Japanese, I know that how most Japanese people would feel or think about the service, so it’s pretty easy for me to find the answer.
First off, there is alreay a social networking site named Mixi in Japan, which is a giant that has alreay occupied the market. (Gree is also popular among mobile phones.) It was a little too late that Facebook entered our market. Japanese people are those who like to do the same things as most of others do. We don’t want to stick out from the crowd. (I’m talking about the general nationality, not mine.) That means, when there are already so many people having accounts at Mixi, then those who don’t would choose to join it to become “majority”. Yes, this is the very word that illustrates our nationality but anyhow we like to belong to majority, rather than to try something new that no one has been doing. (In that way I know I am minority who chose to blog outside Japan in foreign language. 😆 )


But the real problem about Facebook to most of Japanese people is that we have to register with real name! (This is ironically quite opposite to the natural goodness about Facebook that is emphasized.) You may think, so what? What’s wrong with that? But here exists a big cultural difference and this is something particular among Japanese people. We would blog with nickname or pen name, and normally we would not reveal real name. We would hide faces even when we upload photos on blogs. We would not speak to Youtube, which is why most Youtube videos made by Japanese people have no sound. (I’m talking about individual and personal bloggers. Company bloggers are not that shy, of course they have to promote themselves!) These would sound ridiculous, but it’s so true that you’ll see what I mean if you browse blogs in Japanese, especially when photos are uploaded, the faces are hidden with star mark or something. This being the case, how come Japanese people would be willing to register Facebook with real name, real address and personal information? I doubt. I wouldn’t say this trend is applicable to everyone in Japan, but majority of Japanese people would be like as I mentioned above.

I was surprised at first when I jumped into blogsphere in English because of so much cultural difference! You use real name, your face is on the photo or on Youtube, you speak to mp3 or mp4 and so on… I follow as you do once as I’m here.

So I forget about Japanese way and I started to show myself on Youtube or in photos and share them here in this blog. But as for my nickname “Kirin” which I’ve been using from my previous blog, I am always wondering if I should change this to my real name. There are pros and cos. But I feel weird if I change it to my real name from now on. 😦

Would it be OK going with Kirin?

But these days I receive emails from Facebook users to invite me to join it. Then I would be using my real name and I feel no coherence between this blog and Facebook. 😦

It sounds really strange problem based on cultural difference. As I blog outside Japan, I didn’t have to stick to Japanese unspoken rules but I didn’t really know this difference until I started and read many other blogs by many other bloggers in the world.

What would you think I should do with this? This may give me another reason I don’t have an account at Facebook yet.


116 Responses to “Why Facebook is not popular in Japan?”

  1. Helen December 31, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    A lot has changed since you wrote this article. I just checked the Alexa ranking for top Japanese websites, and Facebook is now a number 8, ever more popular than Mixi!

    • kirin January 5, 2013 at 5:23 am #

      I know things have changed a lot nowadays. I think younger people today are different from those 5 years ago or whatever. I 'm not sure if I should delete this post as it's getting too old already. :p

  2. Jade January 14, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    It's 2013 now and it's a lot more popular in Japan now

  3. Asuna February 5, 2013 at 3:00 am #

    You dont have to use your real name. I always use my pen name on facebook and they dont even know.

    • kirin February 5, 2013 at 11:34 am #

      Thank you. ^ ^
      This post is already too old…I've opened my facebook account with my nickname Kirin and then I already closed it because I was tired. The content of this post is not true today. Facebook has become popular in Japan many years after it became popular in the U.S or Europe.

  4. greg175 April 6, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    In high school i had 3 Japanese teachers who are like what you said, they and i are a lot a like. i don`t want Japanese people to change at all i hope they stay the same, there are other countries that are like Japanese people especially Indians of south america . Being shy or indirect is not a bad thing ether, people stay between yes and no because they don`t want to disappoint, hurt someone or do something wrong. I feel a lot more comfortable being around Japanese people, i guess that why i only have Japanese friends because i think people from my own culture are too loud, self centered, inconsiderate, pushy and violent. Following the crowd or being apart of the majority happens in every culture but in different ways and Japanese people can only be Japanese if you don`t like the way they are, there are plenty of people like me who likes them just the way they are.

  5. el psy congroo April 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    the answer here is simple lol they have everything from nnd to 2chan to mixi and ameblo ,remote control toilets and gundams

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