Looking for a bargain on past-life regression or new crystals for your fingernails?  Savings could be just a hashtag away. A mashup of the Japanese pronunciation of Twitter and the word for discount gives tsui-wari, anglicized to “twiwari.”

Searching #twiwari on a Twitter page or visiting twiwari.jp is like walking down a restaurant-packed street near a train station in any city in Japan on a Friday night: a non-stop stream of offers for all-you-can eat izekaya, half-price beers or a free dish of nuts to go with a happy hour cocktail.

Places that don’t usually post touts on the streets in sandwich boards are also getting in on the online action. Neighborhood businesses all across Japan are putting up offers on Twitter for services ranging from hair straightening in Hokkaido to pre-summer air conditioner cleaning in Kyushu.

For most of them, getting the discount is as simple as saying “I saw it on Twitter.” Say those magic words to the manager at Higonoya Yakitori, and get an entire ¥2380 bottle of shochu.

Steak House Texas ran a (rather complicated) one-day special where lunch customers could get free extra burgers depending on the number of followers they had. Too much math? They’ve since simplified to a free pint of beer or an extra 100-gram helping of meat to grill.

Dozens of national dry-cleaning chains have joined forces on Twitter to offer a 20% discount for the entire month of April.  The name of the promotion  – koromogae nau – is pure J-Twitterese, combining an old word for changing one’s wardrobe from one season to another with a snippet of Twitter-only slang that signals what the writer is “doing now.” But in a low-tech twist, the offer is claimed by printing out the coupon and filling it out by hand.

Most of the discounts are time-sensitive. Cafe do Craque in Tachikawa is giving away free pints of Guinness all week for St. Patricks day.

Many offers are capricious – you may not know what you’ll get til you get it. A restaurant called Kimuraya wondered, “Should we give 20% off? A free drink? Hmm . . . anyway, mention Twitter!”

Harlem Freak in Roppongi gave a ¥200 lunch discount to everyone wearing glasses one day, and is discounting anything fried for Friday (get it?)

The site twiwari.jp was set up by Internet marketing company Zakura in February. When variety show Mezamashi Doyoubi profiled the site in March,  “twiwari” became one of the few Japanese phrases to hit Twitter’s  trending topics list. Making the list “requires several thousand tweets over a relatively short period of time,” according to What the Trend, a Web site dedicated to parsing the daily moves of the trend list.

All the discounts for companies registered on Twiwari’s home page include addresses and QR codes for quick coupon access by cell phone. Twiwari said (via a tweet – how else?) that they’re working on a GPS-based iPhone app that will help users find discounts nearby, wherever they are.

One beer or a handful of peanuts may cost a restaurant, well, peanuts, but it could be worth a lot of foot traffic to companies that tweet wisely.

Found any good Twitter discounts? Seen an equivalent in other countries? Let us know in the comments.

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