Twitter CEO Seemed Unaware Of Japan's Most Famous Twitter Meme

[Image: KazSm4]

Every time Castle in the Sky is shown on Japanese TV, the country’s Twitter users flood timelines concurrent tweets. In the past, they’ve set new world records in the process. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey says he has no idea about this.

When Castle in the Sky is shown on TV, the characters say the word “balse” in a Spell of Destruction to bring down the city named “Laputa” during the movie’s climax. At this moment, Japanese Twitter users tweet out the word “balse” (バルス). Online, this is called the “Balse Festival” (バルス祭り or “barusu matsuri”), and it’s been a way for Twitter to test its capacity.


The Balse Festival set a new record during a Castle in the Sky showing in 2011, battering Twitter with 11,349 tweets-per-second. This topped the previous record of 8,868 tweets-per-second, when Beyonce announced she was pregnant.

That record was shattered in 2013 during another Castle in the Sky broadcast which hit 143,199 tweets per second. The 2016 Balse Festival hit 345,000 per minute, which obviously didn’t break a record, but was still impressive. See for yourself:


However, the broadcast did have a countdown to the movie’s balse climax.


Only two minutes and thirty seconds to go! And here is what this September’s Balse Festival looked like:


It even made the evening news.


Yet, when NHK asked Dorsey about the Balse Festival, he replied, “What’s that?” The interviewer replied, “It’s ‘balse.’” Dorsey, then said he didn’t know what that was. Once he was explained what it was, Dorsey said he thought it was wonderful and talked about the power of people tweeting at the same time.

[Image: NHK]

Twitter, however, certainly does know what that is. In 2013, Japanese site IT Media reported that Twitter’s Japanese branch contacted the main U.S. offices weeks prior to the Castle in the Sky broadcast to give a heads up so the platform could withstand the inevitable pounding. When the anime was shown in Japan, engineers in San Francisco worked the early morning hours U.S. time as the servers were, at the peak, clobbered with four times the number of tweets per second as the previous record breaking benchmark.

Perhaps Dorsey misheard or the initial question wasn’t clear, because he should know what the Balse Festival is.


Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

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About the author

Brian Ashcraft

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored five books, including most recently, Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Most Desirable Spirit.