This Year in Japanese

What Japanese Search For: The Top Internet Keywords of 2016

Society Culture

Major search engines Google and Yahoo! Japan released their top Japanese search terms for 2016. The rankings provide insight into topics that most interested Japanese net users.

Top Keywords from Google

Google on December 14 announced its 2016 Year in Search list, the search engine’s global and regional keyword rankings. Pokémon Go was the top trending term around the world, showing the overwhelming popularity of the smartphone game. It led trending and news lists in Japan and ranked third internationally when paired with “Japan” as a search term.

Keywords from sports and entertainment rounded out the top three of Japan’s trending index as searches about the August Rio Games pushed Orinpikku (Olympics) into second position and the announced disbanding of popular idol group SMAP saw the boy band rank third. Japanese cinema was also a major part of the Internet zeitgeist with breakout anime hit Kimi no na wa (Your Name) and the latest installment in the Godzilla franchise Shin Gojira (Godzilla Resurgence) ranking sixth and seventh, respectively. People Googling about a series of destructive earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture in April made the seismic event Japan’s fifth trending keyword and tenth for news searches internationally.

Looking at Japan-related terms globally, “Obama apologizes to Japan for Hiroshima & Nagasaki” ranked second, showing how search trends can frequently reflect popular perceptions (US President Barack Obama during his historic visit to Hiroshima in May actually did not offer an apology for America’s decision to use the atomic bomb during World War II).

As for words searched with to wa (“What is”), most of the terms were news related, including, “What is legacy,” which often came up in reference to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. One notable exception was kitsuon to wa (What is stuttering); many people searched to learn more about the communication disorder, as the popular television drama Love Song featured a main character who stutters.

The search engine also provided regional rankings. Okizari (abandoned) topped the keyword index in Hokkaidō following an incident in May where a seven-year-old boy went missing for six days after his parents left him alone in the woods as punishment.

Japan Trending Global Trending
1 ポケモンGO Pokémon Go 1 Pokémon Go
2 オリンピック Orinpikku (Olympics) 2 iPhone 7
3 SMAP 3 Donald Trump
4 トランプ Toranpu (Trump) 4 Prince
5 熊本地震 Kumamoto jishin (Kumamoto earthquake) 5 Powerball
6 君の名は Kimi no na wa (Your Name) 6 David Bowie
7 シンゴジラ Shin Gojira (Godzilla Resurgence) 7 Deadpool
8 ピコ太郎 Pikotarō 8 Olympics
9 台風10号 Taifū 10 gō (Typhoon Lionrock) 9
10 iPhone 7 10 Suicide Squad
Japan News Global News
1 ポケモンGO Pokémon Go 1 US Election
2 オリンピック Orinpikku (Olympics) 2 Olympics
3 熊本地震 Kumamoto jishin (Kumamoto earthquake) 3 Brexit
4 君の名は Kimi no na wa (Your Name) 4 Orlando shooting
5 シンゴジラ Shin Gojira (Godzilla Resurgence) 5 Zika virus
6 台風10号 Taifū 10 gō (Typhoon Lionrock) 6 Panama papers
7 アメリカ大統領選 Amerika daitōryō sen (US presidential election) 7 Nice
8 都知事選 Tochiji sen (Tokyo gubernatorial election) 8 Brussels
9 パナマ文書 Panama bunsho (Panama papers) 9 Dallas shooting
10 EU 離脱 EU ridatsu (Brexit) 10 Kumamoto earthquake
Global Searches about Japan Global Searches about Tokyo
1 Japan earthquake 1 Tokyo 2020
2 Obama apologizes to Japan for Hiroshima & Nagasaki 2 Comic Con Tokyo
3 Pokémon Go Japan 3 Tokyo Toni
4 Bank of Japan introduces negative interest rates 4 Second hand Tokyo
5 History of Japan 5 Sumo wrestling practice Tokyo
6 Cherry blossom Japan 2017 6 Skytree Tokyo
7 Modi Japan (Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Japan in November) 7 Tokyo Game Show 2016
8 Joanna Lumley Japan (British actor Joanna Lumley stars in a three-part travel series on Japan) 8 River Tokyo
9 Japan weekend 9 Les Délices de Tokyo (French title of Kawase Naomi film An)
10 Japan snow monkeys 10 Winter in Tokyo (Title of Indonesian film set in Tokyo)
General (Japan) …とは …to wa (What is…)
1 YouTube 1 サミット Samitto (G7 Summit)
2 Yahoo 2 うるう年Urū doshi (leap year)
3 天気予報 Tenki yohō (weather forecast) 3 レガシー Regashī (Legacy)
4 楽天 Rakuten 4 EU
5 ニュース News 5 TPP
6 モンスト Monsuto (Smartphone game Monster Strike) 6 吃音 Kitsuon (Stuttering)
7 Amazon 7 マイナス金利 Mainasu kinri (negative interest rate)
8 DMM 8 パナマ文書 Panama bunsho (Panama papers)
9 Facebook 9 IoT
10 Pokémon Go 10 LGBT
Keywords by Prefecture
Hokkaidō 置き去り Okizari (abandon) An incident of a young boy left in the woods by his parents made news in Japan and abroad.
Akita Kuma (bear) Four people collecting bamboo shoots and wild vegetables in the hills around the town of Kazuno were attacked by bears from late May to early June.
Niigata 県知事選挙 Kenchijisen (gubernatorial election) Antinuclear candidate Yoneyama Ryūichi won Niigata’s October gubernatorial race that focused on the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant located in the prefecture.
Gifu 君の名は Kimi no na wa (Your Name) Fans of anime film Kimi no na wa (Your Name) traveled in droves to visit areas of the prefecture’s Hida region featured in the hit movie.
Kyoto 鉄道博物館 Tetsudō hakubutsukan (railway museum) The Kyoto Railway Museum, the largest facility of its kind in Japan, opened on April 29.
Okinawa Yuki (snow) The sub-tropical prefecture recorded snow for the first time when sleet fell on the municipality of Nago on January 24.

Yahoo! Japan: Recognizing Trendiness

Anime and manga series Osomatsu-kun by Akatsuka Fujio portrays the lives of easy going sextuplets. Popular in the 1960s, the updated version Osomatsu-san became a hit among young women when it began airing on Japanese television in 2015. (© Akatsuka Fujio/Osomatsu-san Production Committee)

Yahoo! Japan on December 7 announced the web portal’s top trends with the 2016 Search Awards.

The grand prize went to Dean Fujioka, who garnered Internet attention for his movie roles in Taiwan and Hong Kong and as a star of public broadcaster NHK’s popular morning drama Asa ga kita. The anime prize went to Osomatsu-san, an update of a popular animated series that first aired in the 1960s, while the hit Kimi no na wa (Your Name) captured the award for most searched movie. Pokémon Go was the top trending game and the PlayStation VR led the way in the consumer electronics category.

PPAP performed by Pikotarō easily took Yahoo! Japan’s newly introduced prize for buzzword of the year after the video went viral shortly following its release. The search engine also began introducing trending terms by prefecture. In Tokyo the election of Koike Yuriko as governor in July was a hot topic, while the Group of Seven Summit in Ise-Shima in May garnered attention in Mie.

Most Searched Awards, Major Categories
Grand prize, actor Dean Fujioka
Athlete Fukuhara Ai, member of Rio Olympic table tennis team
Author Murata Sayaka, author of Konbini ningen (Convenience Store People)
Anime Osomatsu-san
Movie Your Name
Video game Pokémon Go
Novel Kimi no suizō o tabetai (I Want to Eat Your Pancreas)
TV drama Sanadamaru
Buzzword PPAP
Special award, Olympic sport Table tennis
Consumer electronics PlayStation VR
Trending Keywords by Prefecture
Akita 大曲花火大会2016 Ōmagari National Fireworks Competition 2016 Held in August, 2016 marked the ninetieth anniversary of the event.
Tochigi 作新学院野球部 Sakushin Gakuin High School baseball team The school won the National High School Baseball Championship, ending a 54-year drought.
Tokyo 小池百合子 Koike Yuriko Koike won the hotly contested Tokyo gubernatorial race to become the capital’s first female governor.
Shizuoka 三島スカイウォーク Mishima Skywalk Opened in December 2015, the 400-meter Skywalk is Japan’s longest suspension bridge.
Nagano 御柱祭 Onbashira Festival Held every six years, the festival’s high point is when revelers conveying sacred logs to the Suwa Shrine hop aboard to ride them down a steep hillside.
Mie 伊勢志摩サミット Ise-Shima Summit The May G7 Summit in Ise-Shima was the first to be held in Japan in eight years.
Okayama and Kagawa 瀬戸内国際芸術祭 Setouchi Triennale The art festival is held every three years on a dozen islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
Hiroshima カープ 日程 Kāpu nittei (Carp schedule) Fans of the Hiroshima Carp closely followed the games played by the baseball team as it went on to win its first Central League title in 25 years.
Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Ōita, and Miyazaki 九州ふっこう割 Kyūshū fukkōwari (Kyūshū reconstruction discount) The travel campaign offered a variety of discounts, including on hotels accommodations, to support rebuilding efforts in the region through promoting tourism.
Okinawa 沖縄のうわさ話 Okinawa no uwasabanashi (Okinawa gossip) The web forum for residents and visitors to the prefecture emerged as a vital source of local news and travel tips.

(Originally published in Japanese on December 24, 2016.)

Internet Yahoo Japan Google