According to Twitter's official blog (blog.twitter.com), when the clock stuck midnight last New Year's Eve, Japanese Twitter users went crazy, recording 6,939 tweets per second—a new record at the time. In fact, globally 14 percent of all tweets are in Japanese—second only to English, with 50 percent—which explains why Japanese was the second language to be added to twitter menus. And according to Virginia-based research firm ComScore, 20 percent of all Japanese are using Twitter, while only 8 percent of people in the United States are users. Twitter has grown so much in Japan that it now has more visitors than Japan's most well-known social network service, Mixi. And last month, Twitter appointed their first international manager outside the U.S—in Japan. But why has Twitter been embraced so rapidly here?
The first wave of Twitter users in Japan was basically limited to influential people/bloggers who knew about the buzz generated by Twitter at the South by Southwest music and technology conference in Spring 2007 in Austin, Texas, who suggested that their readers should give Twitter a try.
Because Twitter was such a simple service and did not have much text (at the time only in English), it was fairly easy for non-English speakers to pick up. In those early days, however, to actually tweet in Japanese script you needed to add two specific characters—one space and one period—at the end of your tweet so it would be accepted by Twitter's system. But rather than being an obstacle, the first Japanese people fascinated by Twitter enjoyed such a silly obstacle. Also, if the people you chose to "follow" were all Japanese, you wouldn't see much English except for a few menu texts like "login" and "submit." All these things made it fairly easy and attractive for people to use Twitter, even though there was no localized Japanese version.