Mixi is Japans biggest cybercraze. A community portal like the USs MySpace and Koreas Cyworld, the two-and-a-half-year old site has quintupled its user base in the past year and now ranks third in page views nationwide, trailing behind Yahoo! Japan and Rakuten, but beating out the massive online bulletin 2ch.net.
Mixis 5 million-strong user base comes nowhere near the 54 million unique users of MySpace or the 18 million of Cyworld, which amounts to more than a third of the population of South Korea. But a decade ago, the concept of a public forum where people shared ideas was virtually unthinkable in Japan. Today, networking sites are creating a new dimension of social interaction in Japan, bringing us in step with the netizens of the US and Korea. And, like most other cultural trends that sweep the land, its happening in a uniquely Japanese way: its heavily mobile-based, its privacy-oriented, and its happening concurrently on both a mainstream and niche market level.