Japanese chat community culture is super interesting - Talk with Shuichi Tsutsumi

Japanese chat community culture is super interesting - Talk with Shuichi Tsutsumi

Hey, what's up? It's Takuya. I had a talk with Tsutsumi-san about his online developer community. He shared the secret to run a successful tech community online. We found that there is some unique Japanese culture behind the community. Let's dive in.


Tsutsumi-san, a prominent figure in the Japanese engineering field, founded the "Engineers and Lives" online community without a specific aim. Initially envisioned as a podcast focusing on engineers' daily lives, it evolved into an interactive space where members discuss various lifestyles anchored by their engineering backgrounds. The community is known for unique features like the 'Times' culture on Slack, akin to tweeting, and the use of text-based stickers that cater to the intricacies of the Japanese language.

Tsutsumi-san emphasized the importance of organic growth, flexibility, and personal touches, such as one-on-one onboarding. He doesn't view himself as the central figure but values the community as a space for members to learn, share, and inspire each other. The community, in his eyes, is akin to a personal cafe or bar, fulfilling his aspiration for a gathering spot. Despite challenges, the platform continues to thrive by blending professional and personal interactions and maintaining a genuine and approachable environment.

How his community started

The conversation reveals the nuances of building and maintaining a digital community, emphasizing adaptability, interactivity, and the importance of consistent value delivery.


  • Tsutsumi-san, known as shu223 on social media and GitHub, is a notable figure in the Japanese engineering field with over a decade of experience, majorly as a freelance iOS engineer.
  • He's been involved in numerous publishing activities, writing technical articles on his blog, and conducting interviews with engineers on YouTube.

Creation of "Engineers and Lives":

  • Tsutsumi's community, "Engineers and Lives", was established without a specific goal in mind. He initially wanted a podcast that discussed engineers' lives, diverging from the prevalent technology-centric podcasts.
  • The focus was more on daily life, like everyday worries and family, rather than just technical aspects.

Community's Unique Features:

  • Instead of a typical one-to-many community structure, Tsutsumi-san fostered a platform where everyone is active, resembling like a "multi-master database".
  • The community isn't just about engineering. Participants discuss a variety of lifestyles all underpinned by their engineering background.
  • While most communities would be chat-based (like Slack or Discord), Tsutsumi-san implemented regular Zoom meetings where questions & answers were recorded for future community members to access.
  • The emphasis is more on real-time communication and video archives rather than text-based interactions.

Evolution of the Community:

  • Originally, Tsutsumi-san had a consultation model where he charged 500 yen for advice. This model was transformed into the community when he realized the potential of collective content.
  • Initially, he answered questions in a live setting, but soon realized that he might run out of unique advice to give.
  • To continue providing value, he shifted his focus to teaching content publishing, which saw the community grow significantly.

Insights & Reflections:

  • Tsutsumi-san believes that content publishing is what differentiates him and has built his reputation.
  • He also observed that a one-to-many model can often lead to exhaustion of content and ideas. The community needs to be more interactive to sustain itself long-term.
  • Maintaining a balance between being informational and being entertaining is crucial.
  • Despite the challenges, the goal remains to nurture a community where members can learn, interact, and inspire each other.

The challenges he struggled to foster the community