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Thread: What kind of magazines do the Japanese read ?

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Post What kind of magazines do the Japanese read ?

    This thread is a continuation of Do Japanese prefer money above all ?

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    Originally posted by Elizabeth
    And as couples have sex much less than Westerners, that leaves food and drink as their most treasured assets. I don't know, though,.....most Japanese I've talked to still say that friendship and lovers if possible are the most important things in their lives. They just aren't very skilled at making them sometimes
    My opinion from talking to all sorts of Japanese everyday (that's my job...) is that they do care a lot about food, sex and money.

    90% of men magazines are about sex, 90% of women magazines are about cooking and/or fashion (read shopping) or other sensual pleasures like massages, reflexology and assorted. When I went back to Europe last month, I was startled (positively so) at the variety of magazines, with more specialised hobbies and interest mags than Japanese could even dream of (cars, computers, video games, history, fishing-hunting, homemaking, real estate, travel, literature, sports, gossip, politics, electronics, gardening, spirituality, philosophy, religion, new age, architecture, arts... and of course the fashion and porn already available in Japan).
    Last edited by Maciamo; Oct 15, 2003 at 10:28.

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    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Yes, I'm sure that's all true Maciamo. You can tell from a glance at even the front page of their major newspapers that the journalism is much more descriptive and less detailed or analytical than in the States or Europe. Whatever the reasons for these biases and limitations, perhaps "intellectual activities" can cover a lot of academic subjects, engineering, even manufacturing and design, etc. that they do excel at. I was just saying I've never thought of Japanese society as decadent to the point of not having other ways of enjoying themselves other than through food, drink and having sex, and I don't think it's true even now.

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    We do have variety of magazines. I go to bookstore often and I see so many kind of magazines, not just sex, fashion or cooking. I'll put the data below. (Sorry for putting many data, I thought it's not persuasive enough without it.)
    These are the number of magazine of each categories(not all, but most of the major magazine available at bookstore).
    Source is here. http://www.j-magazine.or.jp/FIPP/FIPPJ/F/index.htm (it's in Japanese.)

    general(monthly) 26
    general(weekly) 14
    pictorial gossip magazine(weekly) 4
    ---------------------------
    (below a monthly and a weekly mixed)
    manga 117
    hobby/culture 107 (video games, camera, gardening, train, horse race, igo, haiku, language learning etc)
    sports 71
    cars/motorbike 69
    for young women 64 (fashion, cosmetics)
    kid's education 41
    housing 39
    computer 34
    for young men 34(sex, gamble, sports, fashion)
    literature/history 28
    music/movies 22
    for teenager boys 21(mostly fashion)
    business/money 19
    health/home 15
    travel/leisure 14
    outdoor 13
    science 5

    I've been to US and saw magazine corner in a bookstore but I wasn't surprised. It was same as our bookstore. But one thing I thought different was they don't have much manga(comic) as we have. (We have too many... )
    I think this data would be one of the evidence that we are not only interested in sex, food, fashion and money.


    But I don't know about the low quality of Japanese newspapers compared to US and Europe. I haven't read other country's newspaper. And also, I've heard a Japanese critic saying same thing as Elizabeth said. So may be it's true. I should try to read it once.

    --------------------
    mdchachi, Maciamo, Mr Hanson
    Thank you for the information about the common sentiment and the sins. My knowledge about the sins were just the name of it (uŽµ‘åßv) and the movie "Seven"...
    Last edited by qchan; Oct 14, 2003 at 12:00.

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    I have to agree with qchan here, the Japanese bookstores have incredible variety of magazines. I have always been amazed at how detail specific some of them are. Fashion, food and sex are by far out numbered at my local bookstore by the car/motorcylce, hobbies and travel.
    The Japanese seem to have a lot more magazines in general and of course the manga outnumber everything.
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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by qchan
    We do have variety of magazines. I go to bookstore often and I see so many kind of magazines, not just sex, fashion or cooking. I'll put the data below. (Sorry for putting many data, I thought it's not persuasive enough without it.)
    These are the number of magazine of each categories(not all, but most of the major magazine available at bookstore).
    Source is here. http://www.j-magazine.or.jp/FIPP/FIPPJ/F/index.htm (it's in Japanese.)
    So how comes you never find them in combinis ? There is only one place I know where to find "other" kind of magazines (actually mostly about travel) and it's in big bookshops like Maruzen or Kinokuniya. However, I was talking about what was available in a local "kiosk" or newsagent or kind of combini in Europe. I should even be more accurate. As magazines are published in just one language and there are dozens of languages in Europe, we should take each language separately. I was speaking of French-speaking magazines. A "kiosk" the size of a Japanese convenience store has a much greater variety. Even if there are some specialised interests mags in Japan (I and don't doubt it with a population of 126million, that 2x more than all French-speakers/readers in Europe).

    I've never seen a specialised history, literature, arts, architecture or real estate magazine in a combini. What you call "general weekly magazines" (TŠ§‚È‚ñ‚©) are basically disguised porn shrouded in tabloid-like gossips (where the Mainichi Shimbun in English gets its scandal/wai wai stories).

    The important here is how many readers of each kind of magazines there are in each country ; and if I can see any time people reading history or culture magazines in Paris, I rarely see anything else than porn (including manga versions) in the hands of Japanese businessmen on the train. That has been my impression ever since I came to Tokyo 2 years ago.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by torakris
    I have to agree with qchan here, the Japanese bookstores have incredible variety of magazines. I have always been amazed at how detail specific some of them are. Fashion, food and sex are by far out numbered at my local bookstore by the car/motorcylce, hobbies and travel.
    The Japanese seem to have a lot more magazines in general and of course the manga outnumber everything.
    But where do you come from originally ? Then bookstores do have a lot, but not your neighbourhood combini !

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    Originally posted by Maciamo
    So how comes you never find them in combinis ? There is only one place I know where to find "other" kind of magazines (actually mostly about travel) and it's in big bookshops like Maruzen or Kinokuniya. However, I was talking about what was available in a local "kiosk" or newsagent or kind of combini in Europe. I should even be more accurate. As magazines are published in just one language and there are dozens of languages in Europe, we should take each language separately. I was speaking of French-speaking magazines. A "kiosk" the size of a Japanese convenience store has a much greater variety. Even if there are some specialised interests mags in Japan (I and don't doubt it with a population of 126million, that 2x more than all French-speakers/readers in Europe).

    I've never seen a specialised history, literature, arts, architecture or real estate magazine in a combini. What you call "general weekly magazines" (TŠ§‚È‚ñ‚©) are basically disguised porn shrouded in tabloid-like gossips (where the Mainichi Shimbun in English gets its scandal/wai wai stories).

    The important here is how many readers of each kind of magazines there are in each country ; and if I can see any time people reading history or culture magazines in Paris, I rarely see anything else than porn (including manga versions) in the hands of Japanese businessmen on the train. That has been my impression ever since I came to Tokyo 2 years ago.
    This is starting to sound quite different from your original post. The reason you won't see the variety in a combini (and you can find a great variety in small book shops as well) is because the combini is just going to sell the most popular ones. this is no different then the rack you see at the grocery store in the US, sorry we don' t have too many conbinis where I am from. Those racks display the most popular magazines and in the US they will be covered with every trash tabloid there iis as well as People, Cosmo, GQ and all the women's magazines and normally Reader's Digest, and Prevention magazine as well as a couple cooking ones. These are the kinds that sell the best in most countries and people use them as a form of entertainment, something to read with out actually having to think . The same reason as fiction paperbacks sell a lot better then scholarly works, sometimes it is nice to read something without having to analyze. If I was riding on th etrains everyday I would probably carry something entertaining that I could read without asking my brain cells to help. Most of the Japanese I know have an incredible variety of magazines in their homes.


    And then there is manga...........

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    I don't want to persist with this(it's a little off topic), but I don't want Japan to be misunderstood.

    In conbini they sell only inexpensive magazines (about under 400-500yen), and most of them are weekly ones. Besides fashion, manga and tabloid, there are town magazine(u‚Ò‚ vu“Œ‹žWalkervfor movies, theaters, sports, museum, restaurants information), housing information(to find apartment, ƒ}ƒ“ƒVƒ‡ƒ“, real estate), help-wanted(for parttime job), cars/motorcycle, major sports, computer, travel, literature, a mail-order catalog etc. If there's only fashion and tabloid magazines in conbini, it's not 'convenient'. Arts, architecture magazines are mostly monthly and also little expensive to sell in conbini.

    On train, many businessmen are reading general<politics and economy> newspapers in the morning. And in the night after work, there are people reading sports and tabloid(which includes some porn pages) ones. They are too tired to read politic article after work. Also there are many people reading literature or history on pocket size books(there are many of them in bookstore also), and people reading weekly magazines(like manga, gereral, sports).
    When commuting on train, 'small and light' is important. Most people take an hour(or even more) to commute in very crowded trains. Even though Japanese woman love fashion, I've hardly seen anyone reading fashion magazines on train. Fashion magazines are too big and heavy to carry when commuting. It's the same for other monthly magazines. Another important thing is that 'you can dump it after you read'. People dump newspapers and weekly magazines at station or their office so that you can go home with lighter bag. We can't dump hobby magazines. This may be the reason why you don't see commuters on train reading art, architecture or hobby magazines. We read them at home.


    I've never been to France, so I don't know magazines there. I can't compare with Japan. My image of French people are intellectual and (I don't know but) they maybe have more variety of magazines than Japan.
    Last edited by qchan; Oct 15, 2003 at 07:19.

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    Taicho mdchachi's Avatar
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    I'm glad you're here qchan. There are lots of people like Maciamo who think they have the whole country figured out after being in Japan for only a couple of years. We need you to balance the perspective.

  10. #10
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by qchan

    In conbini they sell only inexpensive magazines (about under 400-500yen), and most of them are weekly ones.
    I don't quite agree with that as porn magazines are usually more expensive than average, and the women magazines are usually glossies like Cosmopolitan or Elle, which aren't so cheap.

    Besides fashion, manga and tabloid, there are town magazine(u‚Ò‚ vu“Œ‹žWalkervfor movies, theaters, sports, museum, restaurants information), housing information(to find apartment, ƒ}ƒ“ƒVƒ‡ƒ“, real estate), help-wanted(for parttime job), cars/motorcycle, major sports, computer, travel, literature, a mail-order catalog etc. If there's only fashion and tabloid magazines in conbini, it's not 'convenient'. Arts, architecture magazines are mostly monthly and also little expensive to sell in conbini.
    Yes, of course, which major city (and Tokyo is the world's largest) doesn't have mags with the restaurants, night-clubs, cultural events, movies and all. You'll also notice that these are mostly limited to Tokyo and Kansai. There are lots of travel magazines, but sometimes it's more similar to the JTB brochures than really travel writings.

    My opinion is that sports or computer mags lack variety in Japan or are difficult to find. If you would tell me about a literature or real estate magazine (not company ads, but serious analysis with the evolution of prices for each district of each major city or each area in Japan, with colour maps showing the price per square meter, etc.), readily available in combinis I'd be very interested. Same for world history, arts, tennis (not a multisport mag), formula one (not just any car or racing), psychology or men's magazine (like Esquire, Men's health, etc.), because I haven't found any even in big bookstores. Of course I can find some imports in English, but what do Japanese read ?

    I have never had to go to a bookshop to buy any magazine I wanted in Europe. When I first came to Japan, I was surprised not to find any newsagent. I realised that combini were sufficient for most people. But if you care about culture or particular hobbies, do you really have to go to a big bookshop in one of Tokyo's center (Shinjuku, Shibuya, Nihombashi...) to find your satisfaction ? How do people from the countryside do ?

  11. #11
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mdchachi
    I'm glad you're here qchan. There are lots of people like Maciamo who think they have the whole country figured out after being in Japan for only a couple of years. We need you to balance the perspective.
    Not really, but the comparison is quite easy. What's available in your neigbourhood without having to go one of Japan's huge bookstores ? I don't care if some magazine actually exist but are so little read that they can't even figure in a combini (even Metro inside underground stations). Personally I don't care, I can go to big bookshops easily from where I live.

    Some people will even argue that one can find hundreds of imported magazines and newpapers in English, French, German... in Japan. That's true but maybe just in 2 or 3 places in Tokyo (and Osaka ?). Which means if you don't live in Tokyo, they aren't available. Same for the hundreds of specialised mags qchan spoke about. Most people in Japan just can't buy them easily.

    So let's reduce our discussion to what's avaible in all Japan, in any neighbourhood or train station. There are also hundreds of French magazines I've never heard of. What I want to discuss is those that everybody know and read. From this point of view, it's clear that Japanese have pretty limited interest (but this said I don't know about Americans either, so it's only from my perspective).

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by qchan

    Even though Japanese woman love fashion, I've hardly seen anyone reading fashion magazines on train. Fashion magazines are too big and heavy to carry when commuting.
    Wat's funny is that the most common reading in trains are manga mags, which are 3cm thick, but far the most bulky (which is why so many are left in the trains once they are read...).

    I've never been to France, so I don't know magazines there. I can't compare with Japan. My image of French people are intellectual and (I don't know but) they maybe have more variety of magazines than Japan.
    Alright, I am not sure if there are really more magazines or a greater variety of them in France, counting all magazines, even those printed to just a few thousands copies and are completely unknown, but what is certain is that most people know at least by name and sight at least a few history, literature, arts or philosophy magazines. In Japan, ask anybody in the street or check insde a combini, and you won't find anything. Instead people know mangas.

    That's surely a cultural difference, but that's exactly what I was trying to point out. No need for Americans or non French-speakers to contradict what I say, because the comparison only hold between France (+French-speaking Belgium and Switzerland) Vs Japan. And as every European knows (I am not even saying "French"), the average American is low-brow. That's interesting, because from an average American's point of view, Japan may seem like an intelectual country where people spend so much time studying (jukus, etc.), but from my point of view, Japanese don't learn much at school (from what they know about the world, their language knowledge, the little they remember about their own country's literature, religion or culture), study very little at school itself (I've been told that highschool student only had 25h/week, while I've been used to at least 32h).

    Just a benign comparison...

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