Mixi, with more than 14 million registered members (as of March, 2008), is the biggest and dominant SNS in Japan. Despite the recent launch of Japanese-translated Facebook, Mixi will surely keep its dominant position for a while. Mixi and Facebook have a lot of similar functions as an SNS, however, Mixi has grown more suited for the Japanese internet culture through numerous improvements. Here are Mixi’s basic functions:
This is the most popular and frequently used function, although Facebook currently doesn’t have it. With this function, you can write about your daily lives, make comments on Mixi news (I’ll talk about it later), and sometimes share business-related advertisements (though this usage is rare). Your friends (called My-Miku -My Mixi-) can comment on it, and it’s regarded polite or sometimes obligatory for you to reply to your My-Miku’s comments. If you forget to make replies, your friends may feel ignored and will never make a comment.( I’m kind of exaggerating). That’s why the Mixi developer team recently added a reply function, making it easier for you to reply to your friends.
You have 4 options of who can read your diary; 非公開(private; only you can read), 友人まで公開(only your My-Miku can read), 友人の友人まで公開(only your My-Miku and your My-Miku’s My-Miku can read), and 全体に公開(everyone can read). You can select from these 4 options on a diary basis, so you don’t have to worry your boss may catch you complaining about your company.
You can put in photos, YouTube videos, Nico Nico Douga videos(Japan’s fastest growing video sharing site), and maps as well.
Japanese people like to belong to communities, as we can see from the fact that there are 2,409,058 communities in Mixi (as of June 4). Similar to other SNSs, these communities are rich in variety; from the most popular one about ‘Emoji(small pictures) You Can Use in Mixi’ with 460,000 members to some small inner communities you can create in a second.
Some communities allow you to join freely, while some other require the community administrator’s permission. Some political communities or communities about a celebrity can sometimes have controversial topics, which consequently fill up the comment space. But in general, most communities are well managed, and you can enjoy deeper and good conversations with people with the same interest!
Many Japanese people don’t like to show their real names and real pictures in public, preferring the anonymity, so you may be surprised to see a lot of pictures of animals, anime characters, good sceneries, celebrities(I with these celebrities’ pictures were actually mine…), or famous sports players on a profile picture space. It’s also hard to find your friends because they don’t usually use their real names. But don’t worry! If you try hard, you can eventually find them because they often use aliases you can easily guess, or through your My-Miku who is also their My-Miku. It’s rather a treasure hunt than a friend search, but is surely one of the most interesting parts!
Another interesting function you can find on a profile page is the ‘Introduction’ function. You can ask your My-Miku to write your introduction, or they may voluntarily write one. It’s actually rather a compliment than an introduction; you have to write good things about your Maimiku if you want them to write good things about you! One typical example: “She is very cute, slim, smart and kind! I wanna be her friend forever!!”
4. Mixi News
You can see the Mixi News section on the left side of your home page. Mixi has a lot of affiliated news sites, and their breaking news show up here frequently. You can comment on them and read other people’s comments. People basically like gossips so the news which appear on Mixi News are often controversial ones or 釣り(‘tsuri’- news which inspire, or rather literally, hook people to comment on them), making it one of the most frequently used and most beloved(?) functions.
These are 4 basic functions of Mixi, although there are much more interesting functions I can’t cover now. The biggest difference from Facebook may be that Mixi doesn’t allow developers to create applications and put them on Mixi. We have to play around with resources provided only by the Mixi developer team but it may be good for us because Japanese people are excel at being creative with limited choices given to us, rather than creating something from scratch.
Do you like it? Unfortunately you’re required to have not only your PC address but also your mobile phone address(Japanese carriers only) to register because the Mixi developer team wants it to be safe and comfortable for its users. If you have both, I can send you an invitation e-mail, so please feel free to send me the request to takuya514 at gmail.com or contact me on Facebook (Takuya Homma), or on Twitter (takuya514)!
As Stephen kindly explained in his comment, you can get a Mixi account if you have a friend who can give you a Japanese ISP’s email address, not free mail services like gmail or yahoo mail. I don’t have any, so please ask your friends and enjoy Mixi!