Personal, Portable, Pedestrian

Personal, Portable, Pedestrian

Mobile Phones in Japanese Life

Edited by Mizuko Ito, Misa Matsuda and Daisuke Okabe

How mobile communications in Japan became a pervasively personal tool that connects families and friends, creating "always-on" social engagement.





How mobile communications in Japan became a pervasively personal tool that connects families and friends, creating "always-on" social engagement.

The Japanese term for mobile phone, keitai (roughly translated as "something you carry with you"), evokes not technical capability or freedom of movement but intimacy and portability, defining a personal accessory that allows constant social connection. Japan's enthusiastic engagement with mobile technology has become—along with anime, manga, and sushi—part of its trendsetting popular culture. Personal, Portable, Pedestrian, the first book-length English-language treatment of mobile communication use in Japan, covers the transformation of keitai from business tool to personal device for communication and play. The essays in this groundbreaking collection document the emergence, incorporation, and domestication of mobile communications in a wide range of social practices and institutions. The book first considers the social, cultural, and historical context of keitai development, including its beginnings in youth pager use in the early 1990s. It then discusses the virtually seamless integration of keitai use into everyday life, contrasting it to the more escapist character of Internet use on the PC. Other essays suggest that the use of mobile communication reinforces ties between close friends and family, producing "tele-cocooning" by tight-knit social groups. The book also discusses mobile phone manners and examines keitai use by copier technicians, multitasking housewives, and school children. Personal, Portable, Pedestrian describes a mobile universe in which networked relations are a pervasive and persistent fixture of everyday life.


$43.00 X ISBN: 9780262090391 372 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 55 illus.


$45.00 X ISBN: 9780262590259 372 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 55 illus.


Mizuko Ito

Mizuko Ito is Professor in Residence and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning at the University of California, Irvine, and Director of the Connected Learning Lab. Remy Cross is Research Manager in the Connected Learning Lab. Karthik Dinakar is research affiliate at the Center of Complex Interventions. Candice Odgers is Professor of Psychological Science at the University of California, Irvine.

Misa Matsuda

Misa Matsuda is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Chuo University, Tokyo.

Daisuke Okabe

Daisuke Okabe is Lecturer at the Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University, Shonan Fujisawa Campus, Japan.


  • Geert Lovink taught me how to think critically about technology, and I always turn to him for thoughtful and humane analysis. Too few technology writers have any sense of social and cultural context, and too few technology critics have an appreciation of why people find technologies attractive and how they improve people's lives. I recommend Dark Fiber to those who haven't yet learned to think critically about Internet technology and the culture that has grown up around it, and to those critics who fail to see the real advantages afforded by the Internet.

    Howard Rheingold

    author of The Virtual Community and Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution

  • This is an important book. Through a range of well designed and intelligently contextualized case studies, it both locates and dislocates common assumptions about the singularities of technology and of culture in determining how the 'keitai' is finding its place in Japanese society. Reaching beyond Japan and beyond the mobile phone, the book provides a theortetically rich and empirically sophisticated template for all future work which seeks to understand the nature of sociotechnical change in personal communications.

    Roger Silverstone

    Professor of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science

  • Lead users play a key role in determining the fate of both technological and industrial development in the digital era. The only way we can fully understand the astonishing development of 'keitai' services is through a multi-perspective analysis of Japan's youth, the cutting-edge lead users of mobile technology. This book is critical to thinking about technological advancement in the 21st century.

    Ichiya Nakamura

    Executive Director, Stanford Japan Center