News and Coverage

Japanese Tech Culture: Demystifying "Weird" Japanese Toys and Tools

Developing Markets, Geek Life, Mobile and The Web
Location: Gold Room Level: Novice
Average rating: ***..
(3.25, 4 ratings)

What do Japanese geeks, teenagers, and high school girls do for hours behind their computers and cell phone screens? Lisa Katayama and Fumi Yamazaki demonstrate several examples of web apps and gadgets that are fun, creative, and uniquely Japanese. Through these, we see how crucial, hard-to-grasp aspects of Japanese culture materialize as new obsessions when technology is thrown into the mix.

Photo of Lisa Katayama

Lisa Katayama


Lisa Katayama is a San Francisco-based journalist who writes about Japanese culture, technology, and entrepreneurship for Wired, Popular Science, Fast Company, and The New York Times Magazine. She is also a producer for PRI’s Studio360 radio show, the author of a book called Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan, and a correspondent for Boing Boing, one of Time Magazine’s five most essential blogs of 2010. She’s spoken about Japanese web culture to the BBC, CNN, ABC, Martha Stewart Radio, and at venues like O’Reilly’s ETech conference and the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. Her personal web site, TokyoMango, was a runner up for the Weblog Awards in 2009. When she’s not working, she rock climbs, does triathlons, and plays the ukulele to her two dogs.

Photo of Fumi Yamazaki

Fumi Yamazaki

Fumi Yamazaki

Fumi Yamazaki is a bilingual traveller / researcher / consultant /
journalist, a guest researcher at The University of
Electro-Communications, and a researcher at Joi Ito’s Lab. She formerly
worked for NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, the largest telecom in
Japan), Internet marketing research company Interscope, and Digital
Garage where she was involved in VC investment, incubation of startups
and hosting conference and events. She was the founding member of
Technorati Japan, involved in various free culture movements including
Creative Commons Japan and iCommons. She writes various blogs including, a commentary blog about various aspects of
Japan and which she introduces interesting videos
from NicoNicoDouga, a popular video sharing site in Japan.

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