A Partial Guide to Magazines in Japan

Unofficial guide to Japan's major magazines as of 1997


There are more than 3 thousands magazines published in Japan, about 70% of the titles are monthly. Estimated circulation is approx. 3 billion copies per issue for monthly magazines total, and 2 billion for weekly. Each year 150 to 200 new titles appear while about 100 close.

Above figures based on 1992 statistics

Circulation of Major Magazines

         Weekly Asahi          419
         Sunday Mainichi       236
         Weekly Yomiuri        330
         Weekly Gendai         744
         Weekly Post         1,060
         Weekly Bunshun        727
         Weekly Shincho        552
         Weekly Taishu         281
         Weekly Asahi Geino    609
         Weekly Hoseki         507
         Newsweek Japan        133
         AERA                  350
         Josei Jishin*         688
         Weekly Josei*         536
         Josei Seven*          766
         Hanako*               301
         an an*                650
         Bungei Shunju         598
         Chuo Koron            100
         Gendai                150
         Hoseki                140
         Sekai (World)         120
         Big Tomorrow          330
         PLAYBOY Japan         125
         POPEYE                204
         Hot-Dog-Press         510
         non no*             1,166
         WITH*                 870
         MORE*                 783

         *magazines for women

Source:PR Handbook '97, Unit:1,000 copies

Some backgrounds of weekly journals

While major national papers, which boast 10 million circulations, have become less original, magazine journalism seem to keep their characters sharp. Weekly magazines are divided into two groups; the ones issued by publishing houses, such as Weekly Bunshun, Weekly Shincho, Weekly Gendai and Weekly Post; the others by newspaper companies, such as Weekly Asahi, Sunday Mainich and Weekly Yomiuri.

Publishing-house magaziens have insisted on their positions to critisize giant newspapers. They also think it their mission to report the theme that national papers do not cover. Newspapers put importance on the objectivity. Weeklies, on the contrary, stick to subjective, cynical view points. In a sense, their method is a kind of scandalism. Newspapers take advantage of their big organization and privileges such as press club sysytems. Generally, magazines are so small that they use "guerrilla" way to capture huge targets.

Another characteristic of Japanese weeklies is they pack everything in one issue, from political criticism and economic review to leisure & hobby guide to novels, even erotic pictures. The reason can be traced back to the starting period of these magazines when Japan was so poor that people wanted to find cheap entertainment that could satisfy most of their interests. The large circulations of these publications prove the concept still meet Japanese tastes, maybe.

History of Japanese Magazine

The first magazine of Japan was Seiyo-Zasshi, published in October 1867 by a scholar Shunzo Yanagawa... See an experimantal chronology.