Japan Has Had Longer Tweets Since Day One. It's Fine!

Thanks to the nature of the Japanese language, we've always been able to cram a lot more words into every tweet.

US Twitter is freaking out about a planned change to the service that will allow for 280-character tweets, like this one from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey:

This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit. Pr… https://t.co/tYHA2VTS5l

Are you worried about living in a world where every tweet is that long? Then let me offer you some words of advice, sent from the future — or at least from a place where tweets have always been this long: Japan.

Thanks to the way the Japanese language works, you can sometimes say an entire word with a single character. Think of it like how you can say "pizza" with one emoji. Even if it's not always one word per character, you can definitely say a whole lot more in 140 than you can in English.

Take, for example, this tweet by Misato Nagoya, a lifestyle writer for BuzzFeed Japan:


It's exactly 140 characters, because we've mastered the art of writing things exactly 140 characters long in Japanese too. But here's how you'd translate it to English:

I don't want to go on a trip abroad, don't want a cute pet, don't want an expensive car, don't want fashionable clothes. Not at all. All I want is just to live in a comfortable home, cook by myself, and eat what I wanna eat. That's all. But it is not easy to make these tiny dreams come true. My life sucks.

That tweet is pretty depressing — trust me, Misato is fun in real life! — but it's also 307 characters long. And it's totally normal for Japanese Twitter.

Here's another one from Misato:


Again, exactly 140. (We're good at this.) In English:

If I have baby, I would love to raise with lots of love. BUT after real moms told me how hard it is, I think it is almost impossible for me. Too few kindergartens in the city to find a place to leave my kid. The difficulty of keeping a work-life balance. The high costs of raising kid including education. I am already overwhelmed doing things just for me. How could I take care of my child too? So all I can and should do now is to support moms who are raising children.

That's 471 characters!

But this is just how Twitter is in Japan, and we love it just as much as you do in the US. And we have just as many hilarious memes, weird Twitter subcultures, and massive cultural moments based on tweets as you guys do.

Twitter even seems to recognize that we don't need any more characters here — while they are testing the new 280-character option around the world, they are not offering it in Chinese, Korean, or Japanese, because we've all been living in the long-tweet future since Day 1.

Don't worry — it's fine here in the long-tweet future. You'll love it, or at least you'll only hate it as much as you hate Twitter already.

Topics in this article

Skip to footer