The Nanbanjin Nikki

ザ南蛮人日記

Shigesato Itoi’s ephemeral essaylike things

Shigesato Itoi is known in the West as the author of the cult videogame series, Earthbound (in Japan, Mother 2 – the sequel Mother 3 wasn’t released overseas, but there’s a pro-level fan translation available). Itoi is know in Japan for a whole lot of things, a small sample of which include being a renowed copywriter (he came up with “Gameboy” and “oishii seikatsu”), a celebrity tarento, an Iron Chef judge, a music afficionado and lyricist, the co-author of a short-story collection with Haruki Murakami, a radio host who presented a talk show aimed at middle-aged men “to listen during bathtime”, the developer of a celebrated paper planner/notebook, the voice artist of Daddy in My Neighbor Totoro, and so on and so forth. Itoi’s Japanese Wikipedia page has more than a hundred bullet points, and doesn’t even mention videogames in the summary paragraph.

One of Itoi’s writing outlets is the ほぼ日刊イトイ新聞 Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun “Itoi’s Almost Daily Newspaper” – not a newspaper at all but a website, in which he publishes “something like an essay” (エッセイのようなもの) every day. There’s a lot more stuff in the site, but its bread-and-butter are the daily essaylike somethings, writing under the penname of Darling (in English like that: dārin). The “almost” in the site’s title apparently came from his reluctance in promising daily updates, since he might miss one for some reason or another, or just be uninspired. He nonetheless hasn’t missed a single update so far. In fifteen years.

Itoi’s daily musings predate the popularity of blogs, but the column entries are much like blog posts in tone and content. There’s one crucial difference, though: the archives, or lack thereof.

1999年6月6日の創刊以来、
糸井重里が一日も休まず
ほぼ日刊イトイ新聞のトップページに
書き続けている「今日のダーリン」。

この「今日のダーリン」は、
創刊以来、バックナンバーを残したり、
アーカイブを設けたりしていません。

過去、一時的に読み返す場所を設けたり、
配信サービスを終えてしまったメルマガに
まとめて全文を掲載したりしたこともありましたが、
現在、そういうことはしていません。

読者のみなさまからの反響が大きかった回などは
「postman@1101.comから。」といったコンテンツに
再度掲載する場合もございますが、
「今日のダーリン」は、基本的には、
「毎日、更新されて、
 毎日、消えていくコンテンツ」というふうに
とらえていただければ、と思います。

「いつか無くなるものを求めちゃいかんのだよ。
無くなるものは、求めるためではなく、
そいつで遊ぶために、この世にあるんだからな」
(『セフティ・マッチの金の言葉』より)

The “Daily Darling”.

Without taking a single day off ever since the launch of “Itoi’s Almost Daily Newspaper”, in June 6th, 1999, Shigesato Itoi continues to write it.

From the start, the Daily Darling left no trace in the form of archives or back issues.

In the past, we did set up some places were the entries could be re-read, and we published an old e-mail newsletter (now discontinued) in collected editions. However, we’re not doing anything of the sort anymore.

At times we do republish certain content, like the reader’s responses column – when the reactions get particularly lively. But we’d like the Daily Darling to be understood primarily as something that renews itself every day, and every day is then gone.

“You shouldn’t pursue something that will be gone later, you know?
Things that will be gone aren’t meant to be pursued;
that stuff’s in the world for us to play with.”
(From Golden Words of the Safety Matches [?] )

Bonus wordplay: The website URL, 1101.com, is a cool goroawase number-pun. If you split the numbers as 1-10-1 it can be read as i-to-i, spelling his name.

Comments

this means that you will be posting daily from now on? 8D

By gobr on .

Sure! Right about when the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, when the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves…

By leoboiko on .

Dogs and cats, living together…

Are you familiar with the phrase “Kill your darlings” in the context of creative writing? That’s what naming these things “darlings” reminds me of.

By Matt on .

True! and it fits the lack of archives. I wonder if there was an actual connection. Perhaps he explained it once in some entry. We’ll never know.

Kidding! that one’s one of the old, archived ones. It seems I misunderstood the column title badly: “Darling” aren’t the essay-like things, but a sort of pen-name or title assumed by Itoi himself in a fit of eccentricity. (genitive is hard…) I’ll fix the post presently.

Personally, I dislike the advice to “kill your darlings”, for about the same reasons as this guy. If you feel good about some line or character or prose style, then write even more of it, and let your audience find you…

By leoboiko on .

I had no idea that ephemerality is a thing right now, with an entire ecosystem of competing mobile apps that provide self-destructing texts and images (the most famous being Snapchat.)