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Friday, October 18, 2013

A Million Views On Japan


A friend of mine taught me the true meaning of that word, and I no longer use it lightly.

When I first began writing articles for this blog back on July 11, 2009 - just over four years ago - I had conceived of it as a vehicle to only publish the 90 or so comedic writings I had written about Japan while I was in Japan back in 1990-1993, when they appeared in various English-language mags (not magazines!), as comedy column under the original tittle: It's A Wonderful Rife.

At that time, I did not even think that the title could be considered racist - and for those of you who believe it to be - sorry. It was never my intention. But let me explain my reasoning...

It was created because I loved the old movie It's A Wonderful Life, starring the American icon Jimmy Stewart.

I could do Jimmy's voice with ease - still can - but it was the dark and moody content of It's A Wonderful Life that changed to exalted happiness that always made me cry after our hero discovers that life isn't crappy and that he had friends he didn't even know he had... that life was worth living and enjoying even if money and other problems plagued him.

I never had money issues until a few years ago - but I'm not starving, as I still buy my son's love with LEGO and video games—so it wasn't that aspect of the movie that drew me to love it.

No… it was how, when times were tough, friends poured out of the woodwork to lend a hand. It always made me cry. I'm tearing up as I recall it now.


That's what Japan—It's A Wonderful Rife is all about. Friends.

I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft...

I changed the name of the blog to its current moniker after a year (adding 'Japan') hoping to make it more obvious to search engines and its users, and to make it more appropriate to the subject.

Yeah… I switched the "L" to an "R" (from life to rife) because the Japanese can't say their "L's" properly—but I'm not sure if that's racist seeing as how Japan does not have the letter "L" in its alphabet, and the country changes any "L" word into an "R" word via katakana.

So that's what I did. I katakana-ed the word "Life" into "Rife". I suppose I could have taken it a step farther and made it "Ri-fu", but then it would sound even farther away from my inspirational movie title. So Rife it was.

Rife is an English word, as most astute readers are aware. It means 'abundant'… 'copiously present in an increasing degree'.

While admittedly I was only going to do maybe 90+ blog entries and shut it down… ego got in the way, and I realized this could be more than a weak comedy platform about my life in Japan.

It could be a realistic offering of my life in Japan. A weak one. (ba-dum-bum.)

In this blog, I've sometimes presented the same personal event in three different ways, as I become more comfortable in what I can actually say and describe… and so, as this blog grows, so do I… becoming more confident… revealing further embarrassing personal details about myself (no longer embarrassing) and others (since tempered, as they have lives they may not want to share)… and this blog has grown.

It's no longer spewing edited-for-spelling versions of my original Wonderful Rife entries.

It's now a diary.

It's now a news entry with editorial.

It's a science magazine.

It's an op-ed channel.

It's a history book.

It's me trying to make sense of Japan - 20 years after leaving - as some sort of Encyclopedia Japanica (Can I establish a copyright now?). I might be doing okay at figuring things out. I learn as I go.

It's certainly not just me spewing out what I know—though I have done that when talking about women. Write what you know, eh?

I don't know women. Never have… never will. But I have a pretty good idea - and hopefully, I'm more correct than wrong.

So… why all so nostalgic, you should be asking if you were polite—and I assume you are…

Well… there's a good chance one of you dear readers was my 1-millionth visitor to this site in the past few hours.

One million.

In the blogging stratosphere, that's the benchmark.

According to my friend and fellow blogger Mike Rogers (see his blog Marketing Japan), he told me a year+ ago that not many blogs make it to 1-million (his has), and that it's a testament to longevity and quality of content. He wasn't talking about himself, but the blogging segment in general.

I'll take that as a compliment from all of you. Thank-you very much! :) (I'm blushing).

Mike, by the way, was my inspiration.

He was writing a lot back in 2011... and I wanted to emulate him. Without Mike knowing, I was trying to beat him... trying to publish more stories than him in a single calendar year... and dammit... it was difficult, but I did it. So what, right? If Mike had known I was challenging him, he would have crushed me.

But really, it was just a ways to a means to challenge myself to write more often. It was never really about me versus anyone. I just needed a mark to hit.

Mike and a few others have questioned WHY I don't write with more edge... to ask the nasty questions and then spew vitriol to challenge the Japanese status quo. I could do it, but because Mike and others do that well enough, I don't need to.

Besides... I have my own style that I hope is more like a friend talking to you in an easy-going, self-deprecating manner. I critique Japan while critiquing myself. Fair is fair, right?

In this blog's first half month of existence, I had 794 hits, and then followed that up with a drop down to 496 hits in August 2009. That's total hits. For the month. Dropping in reader visits is hardly encouraging for a new blog where one hopes to grow an audience... but it got slightly better, eventually breaking 1,000 hits a month.

By the way... to show how naive I was, I wondered immediately why I wasn't gaining a thousand hits a day... this was funny stuff and didn't everyone want to learn about Japan from a guy who had been there?

Even though I had been surfing the web since the late 1970s on message boards, I really didn't know how difficult it was to grow an audience running my own site. But I was learning. Unless it's porn-related, it takes more than a few blogs a month for a search engine to become comfortable with you.

The search engine helps people find you.And Google likes me because I write often.

After personal issues dictated a halt in the blog at the start of 2011, I came back a few weeks later determined to use writing as a way to feel good about the world… I began writing every day… and I haven't missed one in 2-1/2 years.

And then the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and radiation problems hit the northeast sector of Japan… and I began writing twice a day and more - publishing at a rate of over two articles a day for 2012… and I watched my visitor rate climb - slowly, but surely…. to over 1,000 hits a day.

When the blog became more about me gaining more and more readers… I stepped back a second or two and thought: "No." It's about me gaining more knowledge for myself.

And for you, as I'm a sharing kindda guy. I'll give you the clothes off my back, and if any of my female readers want to do the same, I'm cool with that.

So… I research the hell out of news articles I see or those that are sent my way by readers and friends and friendly readers and readers who are now friends.

I know as a former daily newspaper reporter that they (the media) only give you part of the story owing to space restrictions. Me? I don't have that concern.

I also have questions of my own that I want answered in a news article, and often, it is not... so I start digging and researching to find the answers so that when I present an article for us, it will be more complete than any other article out there.

As complete as a blog can be, of course, considering I'm not researching a book on any one subject. I'm creating an Encyclopedia Japanica. Patent pending. I just realized that. Publishers take heed. Let's make lots of money.

You'll notice I don't have ads on my blog. I've tried Adsense from Google, but my attempts to set it up keep failing and I can only assume it doesn't want me to have ads. I would only set it up to make a few shekels - I'm not going to get rich... but when even the Internet gods conspire to not allow me to set up ads on my site - well... so be it.

I tried to sell out, but apparently some little angel doesn't want me to. Thanks, Clarence! Can you spare $10? What's that Clarence? I could sell some of your angel dust to make money? Uh... no... that's okay.

I still don't have a lot of blog Followers (officially) - 65 of you… which is more than Jesus, so I suppose that's pretty cool, but also kind of sucky for Jesus. Then again... he didn't have the Internet.

(BTW: I'm not doing a Beatles "more popular than Jesus" thing.)

I do get a lot of visits from people who simply choose not to 'officially' follow me (and be asked to give up personal details to nosy search engines), but simply follow by coming and finding me from time to time.

It's why I can never get a handle on what drives my readership.

Well… obviously, if I write about sex or boobs or porn it becomes popular enough to attract 60,000 views… while others… well… they do not.

For example… for the month of October, until October 10, everyday was a drop in attendance from 2,200, culminating with the nadir of 1,496 for October 9, 2013.

Great numbers, actually, especially when you see how I started with this blog, but just the month previous, I was getting over 2,000 hits a day… what was I doing wrong?


It's the way things ebb and flow… like a heartbeat.

The beat got strong again on the 10th at 2,021 hits… and then went nuts on the 11th, at 3,260 hits. That's an anomaly. But since that day, I've been over 2,300 hits… with each day being better than the last. I had 2,700 hits on the 17th...

I can't explain it… and I don't want to. Let the good times roll.

That's what George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) realizes when we come to the end of It's A Wonderful Life… that personal sacrifice (I spend a fair bit of time writing these here blogs) is for the greater good, even if one doesn't see it… and karma, dude, pays back.

I'm not at the end of Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife… but I already know I've helped a few people here and there - and by reading my stories et al, you have all helped me.

Writers have are fragile egos. Fragile eggshell minds. But thanks to you and the 1-million hits, the eggshell is hardening quite a bit.

I've made a few friends from this blog, reconnected with others thought lost, and stay connected with friends. It's nice, you know...

Thanks for reading. I shall endeavor to offer more brain-expanding science blogs, history pieces, news and diary bits. Oh… and stuff about tits, sex and porn, of course.

Japan... it IS a Wonderful Rife,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Clarence was George Bailey's guardian angel in the It's A Wonderful Life movie. If you didn't know that, you need to watch the movie.

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