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.






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,, 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.

6 thoughts on “Shigesato Itoi’s ephemeral essaylike things

  1. 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.

  2. 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…

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