Japanese literature is full of minimalism. From haiku to senryu, the nature of Japanese having a written language based on kanji (漢字) means that much can be expressed in a short space.
So it was surely natural that, soon after tweeting came to Japan, the Twitter novel would take off here. For those unfamiliar with the trend, a tweeter composes a storyline and expresses within the usual size of a Twitter message (i.e. 140 characters), closing it with the tag ＃twnovel. Of course, unless you’re really concise, you probably have to serialize and continue the story in subsequent tweets. Many Twitter novels are also chain stories, with followers continuing the narrative and bouncing them back and forth.
Real literature development or fad — at any rate, Japanese tweeters like it and have been furiously typing out fiction. By November last year there were in excess of thirty thousand novels in Japanese and even a print book published collecting examples by professional writers. And it’s not just novels; there are also haiku, tanka, and many other forms of Japanese poetry. Even snobs can’t complain that the medium isn’t ideal for those reductive genre.
Remember, this is also the country where mobile novels (“keitai shousetsu”, 携帯小説) went supernova (and continue to be successful). Also democratic (amateurs are just as popular as “professionals”), keitai shousetsu have crossed over into other regions (movies, print books). Short, undemanding and easily accessible (e.g. on your phone) — the two forms of digital literature share a lot.
Now, our question is: how can companies use this phenomenon to their marketing advantage? Surely it is only a matter of time before publishers start tweeting teasers of new releases — or even whole books.