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Why Japan Loves Twitter


Why Japan Loves Twitter - Page 2

The World Cup buzz is building on social media - in Brazil, in England and, most of all, in Japan.


A global survey published this week by the Adobe Digital Index showed that people in Japan led the way in mentions of the soccer tournament on Twitter, Facebook and other social media, accounting for 37 percent of global chatter about the World Cup before the matches began. That's more mentions than next four countries - the United Kingdom (11 percent); the host country for the games, Brazil (9 percent); Germany (8 percent); and the United States (8 percent) - put together.

Over all, Adobe predicts that the World Cup will have more online social activity than any other sporting event in history, with about half a million mentions of the tournament every day across 230 countries and territories. "It's going to surpass the Olympics and Super Bowl," Joe Martin, a senior analyst at the Adobe Digital Index, said in an interview.

Mr. Martin said Adobe had no explanation for Japan's outsize interest in the World Cup.

But there are a few clues.

The Japanese are one of the world's most active nations on social media in the first place: almost 10 percent of active Twitter users were based in Japan last year, according to data from PeerResearch. Last year, Japanese Twitter users made headlines when they broke the world record for tweets per second, sending 143,199 a second during a broadcast of a popular animated film.

And for weeks now, Twitter has been abuzz with Japanese soccer fans discussing the prospects of the Japan national team, lovingly referred to as "Samurai Blue," as it takes on the Ivory Coast on Saturday; comparing players (and their hairstyles); and showing off their preparations for a tournament taking place on the other side of the globe.

"Let's all join together, Japan!" said @FUKUkun_smile29, displaying his collection of Pikachu and Hello Kitty mascots dressed in Japanese national team jerseys.

ガンバレ、日本! 輪になれ、日本!

- SAKA-T (@FUKUkun_smile29) 5 Jun 14

"Shoot!" posted @MariMiyazawa, along with a picture of her soccer-themed bento art.

シュート!!弁当 - ワールドカップ弁当その1
ワールドカップ予選が近づいてきましたね。日本代表の最初の相手は、コートジボアール。 がんばれ日本!! 昨日、NHKのプロフェッ...

- 宮澤 真理 (@Mari_Miyazawa) 10 Jun 14

Especially popular in recent days was a video clip of a fully armored samurai showing off slick soccer moves. The clip, an advertisement by the instant noodle maker Nissin Foods, has been viewed over 3.8 million times on YouTube and shared countless times.

Thanks to a smattering of international soccer accolades over the years, as well as slick marketing by both foreign and domestic teams, Japan's love for soccer has grown. (The national team won the bronze medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, obscure trivia elsewhere but a story told and retold in Japan.) There has been a professional soccer league in Japan since 1993, three years before Major League Soccer kicked off in the United States.

Japanese soccer players have come of age, thanks to club and national youth programs, as well as generations of players who have ventured overseas. The country has players in some of the top club teams, like Shinji Kagawa at Manchester United in the English Premier League, and Keisuke Honda at the Italian club team AC Milan. They are Samurai Blue's superstars.

With so many good players, and vocal fans, supporters think that Japan has a good chance this year to make it far into the tournament. Marcello Lippi, former Italian national team coach, recently told a local newspaper that he expected Japan to make it to the elimination round of the tournament, together with Colombia.

News of Mr. Lippi's prediction was tweeted, and retweeted.

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