The explosion of women blogging in Japan
Way back in 2001, when Heather B. Armstrong first began her website, www.dooce.com, blogging (short for ‘web-logging’) was a geek-only pastime, unknown to the average person. Five years on, Armstrong supports her husband and child through advertising revenue from her website, which attracts 17,000 visitors per day. In the time since Armstrong began writing and posting pictures of her daily life in Utah, blogging has well and truly entered the mainstream. There are now hundreds of thousands of people sharing their opinions and experiences online, with the number increasing daily.
An increasing number of foreign women are
finding that blogs are the perfect way
to share life with friends and family far away
Here in Japan, an increasing number of foreign women are finding that blogs are the perfect way to share life with friends and family far away, and create a record of their time in a new country. When I spoke to women here who keep blogs, many of them said they had started their journals after coming to Japan, and were not sure if they would be blogging if they were back in their home countries. For Nicky, an Australian in Tokyo, the other sites she found online provided inspiration, “I got so much out of reading other Japan-based blogs; it made me feel like I was in touch with others sharing the same experiences as me, and made me feel less isolated.” Molly, an English teacher living in the countryside, explains, “It seemed like a good way to send my news home, because only the people who are interested enough to read it get the scoop.” Many women saw keeping a website as a good alternative to sending out the same news over and over again by email.
New software and hosting options mean that you can set up a site quickly without being a computer whiz. For an annual fee, companies like Typepad will host your site, providing templates for layout and photo albums — you just need to pick the colors and style you like best. Blogger and Live Journal are two of the best-known free blog sites, but they are a little more complicated to use at first. Although it can be hard to see why you should pay for a service that is available for free, Typepad offers lots of extra services like photo albums and lists of books and CDs. An added bonus is that you can make some photo albums public, and protect others with passwords, which is particularly popular with parents who want to make photos of their children available to friends and family but not strangers.
For those who keep blogs, there are a variety of benefits. Natalie, who teaches English in Hamamatsu, says “It’s a way to keep friends and family in touch, and I have ‘cyber-met’ other foreigners in Japan, and feel like we have a support group.” Sallie, in Shikoku, explains, “It’s been cathartic at times, to be able to share some of the day-to-day frustrations, excitement, loneliness and bizarre experiences that come with life in small-town Japan.” Blogging offers a chance to showcase creativity too. As Nicky explains, “It is kind of an artistic adventure for me. I love taking random photos with my mobile and thinking of a quirky title to go with it.” For Deanne, love for her adopted home is a motivating factor too; “I can show Tokyo off to the world, in my own small way.”
With so many foreign residents in Japan now keeping websites, blogs are becoming a mine of English-language information for other residents or visitors. The personal opinions offered by bloggers, although unedited, are usually more up-to-date (and interesting) than those offered in official guidebooks. And with the number of personal websites increasing all the time, the impact of blogs is set to grow in the future.
Women Blogging in Japan