Japan is a country that has always fascinated outsiders. In addition to being an economic behemoth, Japan has been successfully welding its own brand of soft power the World over through influential cultural exports in food, design, anime, music or fashion. That is until Asia’s new economic giants a.k.a China and Korea warmed up to the prospect of winning foreign hearts in addition to their market shares. Will these upstarts erode Japan’s cultural capital overseas? What is unique about Japan that shows it still has major cultural capital and relevance in the face of growing competition?
With advertizing agency Asatsu-DK, we asked our community of creative individuals to create a poster or a movie that shows what they love about Japan that is uniquely Japanese and that no other countries can do as well as Japan.
The project clearly inspired our creators. We received 322 entries from 41 countries, from Europe, Asia, North America and Africa. Most entries displayed both love for and knowledge of Japan. You can view all the entries here. As an appetizer, below is a beautiful video from Antonio, an Italian creator that shows how a sushi master’s skills can embodie the essence of Japan.
When we analyzed the body of work, it became apparent that in the eyes of our community, there are not many places in the world that have such a rich and uniquely different culture. It can be overwhelming for outsiders yet it is surprisingly accessible, partly because of Japanese’s willingness to teach and guests’ willingness to learn. Japanese culture is akin to playing chess. It is easy to learn yet could take a lifetime of practice to master. The more you do it the more you enjoy it. It is the love, devotion and relentless pursuit of perfection that Japanese put into their art and the happiness they derive from it that makes foreigners want to learn and understand how to make it perfect too, like the Japanese do.
A selection of the best work in print and in video were exhibited in Tokyo between March 26th and 28th at the ADK Shochiku Square 1st Floor Gallery. We also held a conference to present the results of our findings, as well as the best work to an audience of journalists, marketers and advertizing professionals. The feedback was extremely positive.
We hope that this project will inspire Japan’s tourism and economic development boards and that many other countries will be keen to explore how they can better communicate about themselves too, with the help of a global community of passionate and creative talents.