Diaries Becoming more Trendy in Japan, Less Secret amid Pandemic

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Mizuha Matsuka makes a diary entry.

One social trend that has emerged from the coronavirus pandemic is that people are rediscovering the benefits of keeping a diary. Sales are on the rise, and a bookshop specializing in the personal journals has opened.

The ways people use the diaries to enrich their lives are becoming diversified, beyond just a record of their daily lives. Trending these days is the mutual reading of diaries and exchanging of impressions.

“Sometimes it’s hard because of the coronavirus outbreak, but my diary helps me,” said Mizuha Matsuka, 33, who works at a public relations company in Tokyo.

Since she began working at home more and more this spring, she has at times despaired over her isolation, such as a lack of communication with colleagues.

“By putting my anxieties down on paper every day in a diary, it calms me down,” she said.

Diaries are selling well despite the pandemic. According to Tokyo-based stationery company Designphil Inc., monthly online sales of its Midori brand diaries from March were 110% to 120% of that from the same month last year.

When the company interviewed some purchasers, it received a variety of responses, such as using its diaries to keep a daily record of the temperatures and overall health of family members, or for writing down what they cooked at home. Some said they started exchanging diaries with their children or spouses.

Designphil produces a wide variety of diaries, which it said is also contributing to growing sales. There are about 40 different types under the Midori brand alone. There are many elegant ones with Western-book-like bindings or with different illustrations printed on each page. Those diaries are favored by younger customers, particularly women, according to spokesperson Masami Nakamura.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Midori brand diaries come in various designs and are popular with young people.

In April, a bookshop specializing in diaries opened in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. Called Nikkiya Tsukihi, the shop sells a wide variety, including the diaries written by famous people as well as self-published ones.

“It’s fun not only to keep diary but also read the diaries of other people,” said Shintaro Uchinuma, the shop’s owner. “It gives a strong sensation because every person’s lifestyle and feelings are completely different.”

The shop has organized a group called Nikkiya Tsukihi-kai on a membership basis. Members interact with each other by posting their diaries and making comments on each other’s diaries via an email newsletter or other means.

“I hope it will give them an opportunity to realize that keeping diary has a potential of becoming a way of expressing themselves,” Uchinuma said.

Gaining in popularity is using diaries as a language-learning tool. Eikaiwa no New, an online English language school based in Osaka, offers a service that allows students to exchange diaries in English with foreign teachers over the internet. The teachers correct mistakes in the students’ entries, and the corrections are sent to the students together with the teachers’ diaries in response.

“This not only improves language skills, but also allows for learning about cultural differences,” said Tatsuya Iwasaki, the head of the school.

Naoko Kuga, a senior researcher of the NLI Research Institute, said the trend is about making adjustments in lifestyle.

“The pandemic has changed the way we work and increased the time we stay at home, so people are spending more on ways to improve their quality of life,” she said. “A diary, which allows you to reflect on yourself, is gaining notice as one way to do that.”