News and Coverage

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

Lisa Katayama (TokyoMango), Fumi Yamazaki (Fumi Yamazaki)
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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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