Tradition vs. Pop Culture: Attracting Tourists with the Cool Japan Campaign


Cool Japan
Tokyo Olympics
Soft Power

How to Cite

Close, N. “Tradition Vs. Pop Culture: Attracting Tourists With the Cool Japan Campaign”. Mutual Images Journal, no. 5, Dec. 2018, pp. 31-48, doi:10.32926/2018.5.clo.tradi.


In 2008 the Japanese government set a goal of attracting 20 million foreign tourists by the Olympics in 2020. The country managed to achieve that goal by last year and has since revised their goal to 40 million tourists by 2020. A big part of the drive to increase tourist numbers has been the government led Cool Japan campaign. Attracting foreign tourists remains one of the mainstays of the Cool Japan campaign, as can be seen in the tourist-focused events and advertising witnessed overseas. One of the key aspects of the Cool Japan campaign has been to promote creative cultural industries, in particular businesses associated with anime, manga and gaming. This can be seen in such promotional activities as the closing ceremony for the Rio Olympics and the appointment of anime characters such as Doraemon, Atom Boy and Sailor Moon as ambassadors for Japan.


However, the campaign has been accused of lacking focus as it tries to simultaneously promote aspects of both traditional and modern Japanese culture. This can be seen in the Japan National Tourism Organisation’s promotional campaigns featuring more traditional aspects of Japanese culture such as temples and festivals. In addition, there have been accusations that the Cool Japan campaign has done little to understand what foreign visitors are actually interested in and how best to promote the country. This paper investigates the success of the Cool Japan campaign and looks at the extent to which this fractured focus is actually attracting tourists. The research draws on data collected in Japan with those experiencing Japan as part of their vacation and interviews with tourists. The focus of this paper is on how the Cool Japan campaign influences potential tourists, and how effective the use of anime characters to promote Japan actually is.
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Copyright (c) 2018 Natalie Close