Nico Nico Douga (NicoDou), boasting its more than 6 million members and 170,000 premium users, is a phenomenal video-sharing site in Japan. Since its launch at the beginning of 2007, it’s been growing at an amazing speed, culturally influencing the Japanese society, and is now much more popular than YouTube (NicoDou takes 1/12 of the total internet traffic in Japan). It’s getting its revenue mainly from the premium users (about $700,000), banner advertisements($200,000), affiliate advertisements($150,000) and Nico Nico Market ($1 million. All numbers as of October, 2007). Here is the difference from YouTube and other video-sharing sites and some of the tips to fully enjoy NicoDou.


1. On-Screen-Comment Function

The most distinctive and unique feature of NicoDou which lacks in YouTube and other video-sharing sites is this on-screen-comment function(although YouTube recently added it). It’s not just the usual comment space you can find below the screen in YouTube. In NicoDou, you can freely add comments on the screen while you’re watching a video and the comments immediately appear on the screen(there are more than 1 million videos, 500 million views, and 100 million comments so far). With this function, you can feel that you’re watching the video with a lot of people around, just like watching TV with your friends and families, or in a big stadium if I exaggerate a bit. In fact, according to Hiroyuki, one of the executives of Niwango (the company behind NicoDou) and chief administrator of 2 Channel (the most popular and controversial BBS in Japan. I can’t cover it now but in order to understand the internet culture in Japan, you definitely need to understand the 2 Channel culture. Here’s a great article about Hiroyuki), the idea of this function derived from 2 Channel’s Jikkyo-Ita which literally means ‘a board of broadcast commentaries’. On a Jikkyo-Ita, while you are watching a sports program, you can make comments on the players, plays, or commentators like you are chatting with your friends. This way, you can enjoy the programs with many other people who are sharing the same interest simultaneously.

The comments which appear on the screen are really funny, creative, artistic and sometimes just silly. [Sample video 1]

2. Unique Tags

In NicoDou, tags are not necessarily used to make it easier to find videos, but sometimes used just for fun itself. The simplest example is the ‘Tag-War’. Since users can put only 10 tags per video and these winning tags are chosen as a result of negotiations by users, the tags have to be not only useful but also creative, funny, ironical, and innovative. It’s not uncommon to find tags like “Sainou no muda dsukai ‘waste of talent’”, “Motto hyoka sareru beki ‘deserve more praise’”, “Huitara make ‘you lose if you burst out laughing’” which people from other countries might find weird and absurd, but believe me, they are some of the most popular and frequently used tags in NicoDou! In order to win the ‘Tag-War’ and put them on the winner’s podium, I mean, on a tag space, the users will try their best to create unique tags.

3. Nico Nico Ichiba(Nico Nico Market)

You can find the Nico Nico Market section just below the video part. Products related to the video(only logged-in members can add and delete products) appear here, and you can make a purchase decision by seeing how many people have bought them and how many people have clicked them. Popular goods are anime-featured CDs, DVDs of famous anime dubbers, games, light novels(which are getting more and more popular and mainstream in Japan), and mobile novels(Keitai shousetsu-novels you can read on the screen of your mobile phone. This form of reading books is gaining popularity at an amazing speed especially among high school students.).

There is much more to it which makes your Nico Nico(Nico Nico literally means ‘smile’) experience more interesting but I can’t cover them all in this post (you can get clear ideas of what’s going on in NicoDou from this excellent blog. This blog not only explains how to enjoy NicoDou but also what the internet culture in Japan is like in a great length. I myself had a lot to learn from this blog, so I highly recommend it. It’s worth reading!). The videos are mainly in Japanese and because of its unique culture, even many Japanese people(especially elder people) find it hard to truly appreciate its fun part. However, it’s phenomenally famous in Japan and Japan is a leading country in sub-cultures like anime and manga, so if you like them and want to understand the Japanese culture more deeply, you should start by enjoying Nico Nico Douga!

Here’s how to get an account of NicoDou.


1. Click the red button which says ‘New Account’ in the homepage.

2. Enter your profiles. First, your PC address. Second, your user name. Third, your thumbnail(you can skip this part). Then, your gender (left is male and right is female). Then, your date of birth. Your place of living(select the bottom one if you are from outside Japan). Your password(enter twice for confirmation). Your secret question and the answer to it. Type of your membership(select the top if you want the premium membership and the bottom if you want the general membership, which I recommend.) Lastly, click the button at the bottom of the page and click the link in the email you will soon receive from NicoDou and congratulations!! You’re now a member of NicoDou and can enjoy it as much as you like.

[Sample Video 2]

If you have any questions, please contact me at takuya514 at, Takuya Homma in Facebook or takuya514 in Twitter.

Dr. Gang Lu - Founder of TechNode. He's a Blogger, a Geek, a PhD and a Speaker, with passion in Tech, Internet and R'N'R.

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1 Comment

  1. Great post and thanks for helping me to create an account!
    The comment function makes me think of Bejing-based startup Mojiti, a service that closed down a while ago.

    Also the design of Nico is innovative and refreshing, especially after all those over the top minimalistic Web 2.0 designs!

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