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Lisa Katayama of Tokyomango: Geeky Girl We Love

If you're into gadgets you've probably realized some of the coolest, strangest and geekiest gadgets and gizmos come from Japan. If you're a real webmeister, you've probably noticed the hottest Japanese items are often premiered to the US (and the rest of the world) via Tokyomango, a site started by Lisa Katayama nearly a year ago.

Lisa, who grew up in Tokyo and now lives in San Francisco, has been sharing her insight into Japanese culture and gadgets (as well as her general knowledge of techie things) with Wired Magazine for two years and is also the associate editor at PLANETº Magazine. She has a book coming out in Spring 08 about secret Japanese tips and tricks and has quickly gained a reputation for her witty, hilarious and insightful pieces. Think golden poop. Think cell phone straps. Think beer for dogs. Think anything you ever wanted to know about Japan's "Beauty Adviser" Nintendo DS games. Think where does Lisa find all this goofy stuff?

When she's not writing, she's game for any team sport or activity (like speeding down hills on skis or a bike), crafting, eating, watching chick flicks, playing video games and traveling all over the world. I managed to snag an interview with her and asked her a couple questions about her site and well, overall coolness. Click here to

Geeksugar: You seem to have an endless supply of amazing gizmos and off beat news, without revealing your secrets and sources, please tell us about your experience and how you came to love Japanese culture and gadgets so much.
Lisa: I was born and raised in Tokyo, so Japanese culture and gadgets are just a part of my existence. It was only when I started working at Wired that I realized that people considered things like Tokyo street trends and novelty gadgets to be newsworthy. I started Tokyomango as a dumping ground for stories that wouldn't get published in the magazine, and also for a place to debunk common myths and sensationalized conceptions of Japanese pop culture and lifestyle. A lot of people write about Japan, but most of them aren't Japanese.

Geeksugar: Do you use a PC or Mac?
Lisa: I use my 15" MacBookPro at home.

Geeksugar: How many hours are you online everyday?
Lisa: 8-10. On weekends, I try to stay completely offline.

Geeksugar: Your first computer was a ...
Lisa: Sony Vaio.

Geeksugar: How many gadgets do you carry in your purse? What are they?
Lisa: My cell phone (Nokia 5300) and if I remember to bring it, my iPod video. I don't like carrying too many things around, it gets confusing.

Geeksugar: What’s your favorite item or news story you’ve ever written about?
Lisa: A couple months ago, I walked around my neighborhood investigating the life and death of a homeless man I was good friends with. That was really meaningful and fascinating in a much more human kind of way than the tech/culture stories I usually do.

I also put some galleries together for Wired.com showcasing adult toys, cell phone straps, and doggie gadgets from Tokyomango.

Geeksugar: How many blog feeds are in your RSS reader?
Lisa: 112.

Geeksugar: Who do you think are the top 3 sexiest male geeks in the world?
Lisa:

  1. Astro Boy —I want to sweep him off his rocket-jet-fuelled feet and get intimate with his nuclear reactor heart.
  2. Brendan Fraser in Blast From the Past — Why can't hot, courteous guys emerge from nuclear holocaust fallout shelters more often?
  3. That dude with the iPhone—Have you seen how those fingers roll smoothly across the touchscreen? Hot!

Geeksugar: How do you feel about being called a "geek” or “techie”?
Lisa: Am I a geek? I think you're the first person to call me that. But I'll take it as a compliment.

Geeksugar: What are a couple tech/gadget trends you adore?
Lisa: love that video game music has taken on a following of its own. Have you seen the Mario Piano Guy or the dude who plays the Zelda track on two guitars? Pretty cool. Other than that, I'm not so into tech trends. I follow them, sure—but only in an objective, journalistic way. My day-to-day life is pretty analog.

Geeksugar: What is one item you’ve featured that you had to purchase?
Lisa: The golden poop cell phone strap. I actually bought these in bulk and had a contest where I gave a bunch of them out to people who best answered the question: Why do Japanese people love poop so much? We really, really love poop. I just Googled my blog for the word "poop" got 156 hits. That means I've written about poop every other day since I started Tokyomango.

Geeksugar: What’s the most useless thing you’ve featured?
Lisa: I don't know where to start! When looked at a certain way, everything on my blog is utterly useless; but take into consideration the odd, quirky ways in which the esoteric few will find these products pleasurable or convenient, and anything has the potential to be surprisingly useful. Take the portable heated wooden toilet bowl, for example. Why would anybody want to carry around such an expensive, awkward toilet contraption? But maybe some people would really appreciate the butt shower. Aside from that, this CD crusher is probably the stupidest thing ever.

Around The Web
Join The Conversation
Fireman-Fritz Fireman-Fritz 6 years
People, I listened to public radio and followed the story about Erina Matsui to see her art and was very facinated and entertained by her work. Thank you Lisa Katayama for the tip and insight into Japan via Tokyo Mango. Respectfully, Fireman Fritz
Fireman-Fritz Fireman-Fritz 6 years
People,I listened to public radio and followed the story about Erina Matsui to see her art and was very facinated and entertained by her work.Thank you Lisa Katayama for the tip and insight into Japan via Tokyo Mango.Respectfully,Fireman Fritz
ScootMagApril ScootMagApril 8 years
Checkout Lisa's new book, "Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan." It collects cool "everyman" ways for how to do all sorts of household and personal duties like paint your nails while you walk, remove a stinky smell from plastic food containers, easily peel a hard boiled egg, get a baby to stop crying, make a sled go faster and much more. Check it out at: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/index/main,book-info/store,books/products_id,7143
ScootMagApril ScootMagApril 8 years
Checkout Lisa's new book, "Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan." It collects cool "everyman" ways for how to do all sorts of household and personal duties like paint your nails while you walk, remove a stinky smell from plastic food containers, easily peel a hard boiled egg, get a baby to stop crying, make a sled go faster and much more. Check it out at:http://www.chroniclebooks.com/index/main,book-info/store,books/products_id,7143
wendy1 wendy1 8 years
Her blog is nice. I also think Japansugoi and Plasticbamboo are great blogs about crazy Japanese things. I find there is so much about japanese culture that is just so fascinating and odd.
beingtazim beingtazim 8 years
love her! great interview Geek! i especially like what she says about poop. very funny.
7bits 7bits 8 years
CG fingers FTW. BTW I think I saw her at costco yesterday..
gigglegirl gigglegirl 8 years
Don't EVEN get me started on that dude from the iPhone commercials. His hand-eye coordination is off the hook!
Home Home 8 years
She is adorable and charming. I'll have to check out her site. That portable heated toilet bowl is hilarious.
c0rkie c0rkie 8 years
she's kewl! :D
c0rkie c0rkie 8 years
she's kewl! :D
freegracefrom freegracefrom 8 years
I love Tokyomango too! Glad to learn a bit about the girl behind the site. :) Thanks for the interview, geeksugar.
Food Food 8 years
I love that site! happy to hear it's run by a cool geeky gal!
calamari calamari 8 years
I love reading Tokyomango and I'm so happy to see this interview with Lisa. Very cool!!!
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