Hanging Out With Google Japan
As many of the readers of Search Engine Journal may know, I am currently living outside of Tokyo, Japan and have been working on connecting with Japanese search engines and bloggers. Last year at a CNet Search Technology conference I had the chance of meeting with representatives of Yahoo Japan, Technorati Japan, Livedoor, Goo and of course, Google Japan.
Today I took a trip into Tokyo to meet up with v7n’s John Scott who was in town and had the chance to drop by Google Japan’s Tokyo offices in Shibuya.
Googleplex Japan is not the mammoth campus like Google has in Mountain View and its other research centers. It is however one entire floor in Cerulean Tower, which is the tallest building in the Shibuya area at 41 stories tall with 6 underground floors – remember this is Tokyo where space is limited and breathing room sparse.
Google Japan does have a similar feel to what Google offices are popular for : airy workspace, a pool table, well stocked snackroom, and those Google colored stabilizer balls you always see rolling around the Google offices.
Making full use of their wall space, Google Japan has the largest “smart wall” Internet browser I have ever seen.
Kaori Saito & Angela Lee of Google Japan took an hour out of their busy schedule to discuss local & mobile search initiatives (Google.co.jp just added the Local tab to home page & search results – and is a hit), social networking, China & censorship, RSS (and the lack of it on Japanese sites), AdSense, search engine privacy issues (yes, the Japanese Government and Police force have also requested search usage information from Google Japan, which has replied in the same fashion as in the US – with a NO), Matt Cutts, Google News Japan, and blogging – which is extremely popular here in Japan.
We also discussed the branding of Google in Japan (which is overshadowed by Yahoo Japan – which more or less IS the Internet in Japan) and where Googlers from the US like to hangout while visiting Tokyo; Akihabara.
Recently there has been an obsession with Google’s snackrooms. Google Japan may lack the 5 gallon jugs of water which the Google Plex sports, but more than quenches the thirst of their hard working staff with these vending machines along with drink & snack bar (snack bar like in American English; “a selection of snacks”, not the Japanese meaning).
John prays to the Gods of SEO that he won’t get kicked out of Googleplex Japan.
While Google is facing copyrighted image problems back in the United States, Google Japan may want to take a trip a few blocks down the street to see what this Gift Shop is doing with the Google logo.
It was a fantastic day and I thank Google Japan for hosting us. I’ll also be reporting from Search Engine Strategies Tokyo this April. If you have any questions for the Japanese search market, please feel free to post.