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Overview of Japanese search engines

Posted: July 17th, 2009 | Author: james | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Japanese search engines have a long history of its own.  There were many Japanese search engines established in the 90s while only a handful of them still exist in today’s world.   This article is aiming to emphasize on a list of Japanese search engines and portal sites for foreigners to understand current status of the search engine industry in Japan.  Please see Comscore’s data for current search engine market share in Japan and the breakdown below for more information.

Top Search Properties in Japan Based on Share of Search Queries
January 2009
Total Japan Internet Audience*, Age 15+ – Home & Work Locations
Source: comScore qSearch
Share of Searches Searches Per Searcher
Total Internet 100.0 100.5
Yahoo! Sites 51.3 61.9
Google Sites** 38.2 55.4
Rakuten Inc 2.2 8.5
Microsoft Sites 1.7 9.3
NTT Group 1.5 12.0
Amazon Sites 1.0 6.4
Excite Japan 0.8 19.8
NEC Corporation 0.7 23.7
MIXI, Inc. 0.3 6.1
Nifty Corporation 0.3 13.3

*Excludes searches from public computers such as Internet cafes or access from mobile phones or PDAs.
**Google Sites includes searches from YouTube.com

Major search engines

Yahoo! Japan yahoo japan copy

Yahoo! Japan is by far the bigger search engine and portal site in Japan.  It has presented itself as a leading online media with many great services to be named in here.

Yahoo! Japan’s biggest shareholder SoftBank plays a major role on its success in the Japan market.  SoftBank is one of the three mobile phone operators besides NTT DOCOMO & KDDI in Japan and this has lifted Yahoo! Japan to be the industry leader in mobile search.  Notably, Yahoo! Japan is also the biggest auction site and a broadband service provider (Yahoo! BB).

Google Japan/ Google google japan copy

Google Japan’s market share combing with Google.com make Google the second most dominant force in Japan only trailing behind Yahoo! Japan.  It has been steadily gaining support from the local Japanese users during the past few years, especially after Google acquired YouTube in November 2006.   According to Alexa here, Youtube is the 4th most popular site overall and the 1st online video site in Japan.

However, Google tend to have a better reputation in producing the more relevant search result in Japanese according to what I was told by the local Japanese.  With Google’s innovative technology and resources in the World today, I’m expecting the search giant continue to serve as Yahoo! Japan’s main competitor for many years to come.

MSN msn

MSN messenger is the most popular instant messenger in Japan just like how well AOL instant messenger is doing in America.  Microsoft’s presence in this segment certainly has benefited MSN to earn its spot in the Japan market.

Biglobe biglobe

Biglobe is a subsidiary of NEC Corporation; a very powerful multinational IT conglomerate and a broadband service provider in Japan.

Minor search engines


Goo, a web portal that is well known for its Q&A service and Online Dictionary.


Excite is one of the smaller search engines in Japan.  Notably, its Online Translation Ttool seemed to be very popular among the local Japanese.

Also, Excite’ s portal site for women draws similar comparison to Yahoo! Shine.


Raukten and Amazon

Two of the biggest online shopping sites in Japan.


The biggest social networking site in Japan.


Another broadband service provider and a web portal.

Thanks to the fast broandband connection in Japan, other media like blog sites and online video sites often attract a large volume of users for visiting.

In Tokyo, it is very common to see the passengers to use their cellular phones to either blog or watch video on the train.  On an average of 2 hours per day is consider to be  standard commuting time for salaryman in Tokyo.  So there is no surprise to see why cellular phones in Japan are the most advanced in the World.

This is it for now, and thank you for reading my article.  Please leave your comments below if you have question or feedback for me.