October 21, 2008 / 3:38 PM / 10 years ago

Blog offers potted history of life as a plant

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - It has long been accepted that talking to plants can help them flourish, but have you ever wondered what they’d say in response?

A woman looks at a blog of a potted plant named "Midori-san", meaning "green" in Japanese, during a photo opportunity at a cafe in Kamakura, near Tokyo October 21, 2008. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Well a plant in Japan has its own blog that may help you understand.

“Midori-san,” a 40 cm (16 inches) potted plant on a cafe counter in Kamakura, near Tokyo, blogs every day with the help of a sensor that measures electric signals and a computer algorithm that translates them into Japanese.

The plant, a hoya kerrii, is commonly called a “sweetheart plant” because of it leaf shape.

“We were initially interested in what plants are feeling and what they are reacting to where we can’t see,” said Satoshi Kuribayashi, a researcher involved in the project at Japan’s Keio University.

The strength of electronic signals on the surface of Midori-san’s heart-shaped green leaves, which react to light and human touch, are measured by a sensor attached to the plant, and this data is sent to a computer in the cafe.

The computer uses an algorithm to translate the signal data, as well as other factors -- including weather and temperature -- to translate them into words, which are automatically posted on Midori-san's blog (plant.bowls-cafe.jp/index.php)

“Today was a sunny day and I was able to sunbathe a lot... I had quite a bit of fun today,” Midori-san, whose name means “green” in Japanese, posted on Oct 16.

The latest entry reads: “It was cloudy today. It was a cold day.”

Kuribayashi said he hopes that in the future, the blog will reflect even more accurately of Midori-san’s feelings.

Blogging with computers and mobile phones is popular in Japan, which had the greatest number of blog posts by language at 37 percent, followed by English and Chinese posts, a study from blog search engine Technocrati in 2007 showed.

A recent study by the Universities of Oxford and Oviedo found that Japan has the best performing broadband Internet connections in the world.

Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by David Fox

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