Japan, known as The Land of the Rising Sun, is one of the nations with the longest recorded histories and has long fascinated writers, thinkers, poets, and artists with its enigmatic allure, whether it be through its delectable cuisine or its fascinating culture that has endured for countless years. Japan likely comes to mind first when you think of a nation where modern and ancient cultures coexist. In Japan, it is common to see people using their iPhones to browse social media or sipping coffee while donning kimonos and geta (Japanese wooden sandals).
The term “Japanese culture” is used to refer to the combination of television (Anime), comic books (Manga), and music (J-pop, J-hop, J-rock and more). Each category started carving out niches within pre-existing categories until they had entangled themselves in hundreds of interconnected rabbit holes. Interest in Japanese popular culture has increased significantly on a global scale. Even while the younger generations in Europe, North America, and Asia may seem more interested in this fascinating culture, specific modern components have gained a devoted following worldwide.
This article will explore the cultural insights of Japan that, in turn, affect how the Japanese consume social media. Today, with more than 126 million people, Japan is a nation that has not only a long, rich history but also a vibrant, active, creative sector that draws enthusiasts from all over the world. Let’s find out what about Japan piques the interest of people from all over the world!
Cultural Japan social media insights: Key facts
1. The country of islands
Japan has diverse and unique island cultures. According to the Japan Statistical Yearbook, Japan is home to about 7,000 islands, from the smallest uninhabited islands to some of the largest in the world. Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa Island are the five “mainland” islands, each offering something different. The following will highlight the 2 most well-known ones.
- Honshu: Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Osaka are a few of the major Japanese tourist destinations that can be found on Honshu Island. The Japanese Alps and the imposing Mount Fuji define the landscape of the island’s western region, providing a stunning contrast to a high-tech metropolis like Tokyo. Kyoto is home to many of the world’s most famous temples.
- Okinawa: The subtropical sand beaches and woods in the Okinawan Islands are perfect for beach lives with plenty of water activities. The language and culture of the Okinawa islands are distinct from those of the rest of Japan. The traditional cuisine, which incorporates conventional Japanese and Taiwanese elements, is said to be one of the reasons Okinawans live longer than anyone else. This is also where karate started.
Key population statistics:
- Today, Japan’s population is over 126 million, 75% living in urban areas like Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Osaka and Nagoya. With such densely populated cities, space is precious, and land prices are extremely high.
- Japan’s population has been ageing since 2011, with some of the world’s oldest people living in the Okinawan Islands.
- Data indicate that between 2021 and 2022, Japan’s population fell by 446 thousand (-0.4%).
💡Takeaway: Japanese culture is extremely diverse, including people’s likes, personalities, and preferences. Brands are advised to avoid using one communication to appeal to everyone; personalisation on social media is crucial to target distinct groups in Japan, where interests range from a love of traditional traditions and culture to an interest in cutting-edge technical trends (and everything in between).
In Japanese culture, being polite or having a polished demeanour is crucial. Each civilisation has its way of expressing manners. The Japanese code of conduct can occasionally be exaggerated compared to other countries. It also stresses respect for seniority, which age and rank matter greatly in Japanese protocol.
- Customer Service
Japan’s service & hospitality sector is one of the most outstanding in the world. Respect and humility are inseparable and always go hand in hand. Employees are often taught to greet each customer and manage typical scenarios by repeating highly polite remarks.
Japanese culture requires bowing to express respect, gratitude, greetings, or apologies. They bow instead of shaking hands, and how long and deeply you bow depends on the situation and the people.
💡Takeaway: Understanding the background of this behaviour will support you in curating decent and appropriate communications that strengthen relationships between you and your audiences. For instance, typically, ladies place their hands together on their thighs with their fingers touching, while men maintain their hands at their sides.
Although Japanese anime culture has become more well-known internationally in recent years, nothing can fully match Japanese local anime culture. Many visitors are drawn to Japan by the variety of anime produced there. Anime is well-liked by a wide variety of people because Japan has many high-quality anime shows and series with stories that both children and adults can enjoy. New forms of enjoyment for anime have also emerged, such as “cosplay,” which involves dressing up as anime characters, or “pilgrimages” to sites featured in the genre. The most well-known comic books and animations in Japan have inspired a variety of stores, cafes, and fashion.
- Anime typically works with manga (Japanese comic books) by taking the stories and turning them into animated television series.
- The age-defying feature of anime may have contributed to its capacity to transcend national boundaries and become popular on a global scale, such as in Doraemon and Naruto.
- International brands are catching on to anime-based advertisements, such as Loewe’s perennial pieces featuring Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away”.
- The increasing popularity of internet distribution and application games, which make up most of Japan’s exports, is anticipated to impact the market’s expansion significantly.
💡Takeaway: Brands are recommended to harness the power of anime through creation or collaboration. Using anime characters or manga stories to promote your products/services to penetrate Japan market has proven to be an effective social media marketing tactic, especially when it is popular among all age groups to generate buzz. It is also essential to select anime with a strong fan base and show respect to the original creators.
NESCAFÉ animated commercial. In this two-minute video, a girl is shown driving around the city and giving Nescafe drinks to diligent workers so they can accomplish more.
4. Four Seasons
The four seasons play a major role in Japanese culture. Japanese have appropriated, interpreted, and valued nature over the years; each season has its beauty of sceneries, unique events, celebrations, elements & offerings. A wide variety of Japanese genres and media, from poetry and screen painting to tea rituals, flower arrangements, and annual observances, feature elegant depictions of nature and the four seasons. For instance, the viewing of cherry blossoms in the spring and donning yukata at festivals in the summer are two activities that the Japanese look forward to. Various dishes and fruits are available according to the season; roasted sweet potatoes are a traditional fall delight!
- Spring: The favourite season among Japanese. During this time, sakura or cherry blossom viewing is the dominant event, while sakura-inspired goods and menus are released for a limited time. According to Skets, a Japan-based online opinion platform, 98% of Japanese consumers love sakura due to its beauty and rare occurrence.
- Summer: This time of year is about customary festivities, ghost stories, and fireworks displays. Prints and motifs featuring fireworks are released in the summer. Festival fare from food stands and peaches from the summer season are frequently marketed as limited-edition.
- Autumn: In Japan, autumn heralds the kouyou, or “leaf change,” phenomenon. Both the city and the countryside may both enjoy kouyou. Seasonal chestnuts are used in the cooking, and warm dishes like beef buns and oden are served.
- Winter: Last but not least, the winter season in Japan is marked by the celebrations of Seijin-no-hi (Coming of Age), cleaning, and Christmas and New Year. The main highlight of this season is the New Years’ celebration, which traditionally is a time for families to get together.
💡Takeaway: When marketing to Japanese consumers, it is advised that brands take advantage of nature. For instance, creating seasonal social media ads is very effective in Japan and international market targeting. According to research by Japan-based marketing consultancy VLC, around 75% of respondents had purchased ‘limited’ edition products. Consumers have been drawn to and are familiar with “Limited Edition” because of Japan’s use of social media and collectivist social ethos.
During the season, enter a participating Starbucks location in Japan to see petals gently fall before your eyes thanks to the AR camera feature on your phone. Shidare, Somei, and Yae are three of the most well-known cherry blossom kinds found in filters.
5. Religion & Spirituality
The two main spiritual practices in Japan are Shinto and Buddhism. Both religions live peacefully in Japanese society, and both Shinto and Buddhist traditions are present in daily life. Japanese people frequently have Shinto weddings and Buddhist funerals, and Shinto shrines can be seen at Buddhist temples.
The native religion of Japan, known as Shinto, lays faith in the kami, or spirits, that live inside of everything, from animals to mountains. The word kami can mean “god” or “spirit.” Natural energies known as kami can appear as objects, locations, or even people and are said to evoke awe and veneration.
The Korean Baekje kingdom was a conduit for the introduction of Buddhism to Japan. In summary, Buddhism includes several spiritual ways to help people achieve enlightenment to free them from suffering on earth and the cycle of rebirth. Japan’s aristocracy initially accepted Buddhism before gradually spreading it to the general populace. Buddhism eventually gave rise to several Japanese sects, including Nichiren, Pure Land, and Zen. While the particular practices of these sects vary, they all generally centre on maintaining a pure heart and mind while diligently engaging in rituals and contemplative meditation.
💡Takeaway: Japanese religious view is one of the elements that strongly influences their guiding principle in daily communication. Brands must study thoroughly before integrating these spiritual elements into their campaign. For example, relating your communication message with the symbol of a shrine, where people seek support from Shinto, can transmit a message of safety, good health, success in business, safe childbirth, good exam performance and more.
Important dates & celebrations in Japan
The three most important occasions in Japan are New Year’s Day (Ganjitsu), Kenkoku Kinen no Hi (National Foundation Day), and Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Festival). These Japanese festivals are a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the country’s culture. The full list of Japanese holidays is provided below:
- Ganjitsu, New Year’s Day
- Kenkoku Kinen no Hi, National Foundation Day
- Hina Matsuri, Girls’ Festival
- Shunbun No Hi, Spring / Vernal Equinox
- Showa No Hi, Showa Day
- Golden Week
- Summer Solstice
- Mountain Day
- Keiro no Hi, Respect for the Aged Day
- Taiku no Hi, Health and Sports Day
- Kinrō Kansha no Hi, Labor Day / Thanksgiving
- Tennō Tanjōbi, The Emperor’s Birthday
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