Nikki Wicks
Jun 29, 2015

Instagram country spotlight: Japan

ASIA-PACIFIC - Campaign Asia-Pacific has teamed up with Instagram to bring you a monthly series looking at the creative ways that the photo and video-sharing social network is being used in different markets.

Ads on Instagram launched in Japan in May
Ads on Instagram launched in Japan in May

This month, we look at some of the big trends in Japan. (In case you missed it, here are the previous entries, on South Korea, Australia and Indonesia) #NoFilter

1. The Japanese Community

In Japan, people from late teens to thirties are embracing Instagram in their own unique way. From pet lovers to foodies, fashionistas, architecture buffs, the diverse Japanese Instagram community is a highly engaged one that has doubled its size over the past year.

The community is active on-ground, forming offline-to-online friendships through self-organised events. In June, the Instagrammers Japan community (@IGersJP) organised a week-long photo exhibition in Tokyo featuring the works of 1,500 local Instagrammers. This follows on from a huge community moment, ““#MeetMeJapan”, the first nationwide InstaMeet across all 47 prefectures in Japan with the aim of showcasing Japan’s beauty and culture to the world.


GINZA. #meetmejapan #MeetMeJapan_Tokyo #yeahtokyoyeah

A photo posted by ケンタソーヤング( ´・A・ )」 (@kenta_soyoung) on


2. From online to print

Japanese publishers are taking interest in the influence of Instagrammers who have gained popularity based on their shared perspective of the world, particularly on topics about food, pets and kids. This has led to publishing deals for photobooks based on their Instagram moments with breakfast enthusiast Kei Yamazaki (@keiyamazaki), Maru (@marutaro) the most popular Japanese dog and adorable Yu, a toddler boy and Mu, his bulldog (@ayasakai).



A photo posted by ayasakai (@ayasakai) on


3. A new way to promote travel

The visual nature of Instagram combined with the receptive environment of a community sharing things they love, creates a natural opportunity for the travel vertical and destination brands. In Japan, more prefectures and destination spots are turning to Instagram to attract both domestic and international visitors. This includes the most famous temple in Kyoto, Kiyomizu temple (@ feel_kiyomizudera), and Shirakawago (@shirakawa_go), a village that offers the world a glimpse into their seasonal views. The recent addition of Places Search with Instagram 7.0 makes it easier to discover places around the world and discover what’s happening right now. 



4. LOLs

We highlighted in our previous trend piece about local comedians and how humour resonates well with the Instagram community in Indonesian. A similar trend is emerging in Japan where Japanese comedians use Instagram to capture a new mobile-first audience with their humorous take on the world. Naomi Watanabe (@ watanabenaomi703) is one of the most popular female comedians on Instagram with 1.6 million followers. She combines strings of words and phases as a form of comedic punctuation, a format of hashtagging the conversation that is increasingly used by Japanese celebrities on Instagram.


5. Pet stars

One of the most popular lifestyle verticals in Japan is pets. The Japanese love their pets and even maintain their own pet accounts for their rabbits (@prettyjohnjohn), cats (@ryotukoro), parakeets (@kotorinai), dogs (@hacth427) and more. Maru (@marutaro), the most famous dog in Japanese Instagram community is now the ambassador of Iwate Prefecture's tourism campaign. Not surprising since Maru’s photo received the most likes globally during the Worldwide InstaMeet held in March this year. 


6. Instagram Ads  

Ads on Instagram was launched in Japan in May 2015, making it the eighth market worldwide. The launch saw three exclusive brand partners, Chikin Ramen from Nissin (@chikinramen_hiyoko), Lancome (@lancomejapan) and Tsuchiya Kaban (@tsuchiya_kaban).


7. Engagement with sports fans

Sports stars and teams such as Nippon Ham (@fighters_official), the Japanese professional baseball team and the Japan Football Association (@japanfootballassociation) are using Instagram to share game highlights and locker room moments with the players. What’s key is the ability to engage directly with their fan base and rally support during game season. Nippon Ham called on their fans to share selfie photos using the hashtag #伝説を作る準備はできた, which was reposted on the digital Instawall during a recent baseball match.


8. Reach a global audience through visual storytelling     

Japanese Kabuki actor Takatoshi Horikoshi, who succeeds the stage name Ebizo Ichikawa XI (@ebizoichikawa.ebizoichikawa) is from one of the most prestigious houses of Kabuki actors in Japan. Ebizo is always looking for ways to open up the centuries-old Japanese performing arts to the global community. By sharing images of the characters he acts, and the selfies taken moments before or after his daily performances on Instagram, Ebizo aims to convey the true essence of Kabuki. Ebizo admits that it’s not always easy to connect with an international audience, especially given the language barriers. However, he believes that the more images he can share from his daily life, the more he can educate.

Ebizo offered a look inside the world of Kabuki during a week-long takeover on Instagram Japan (@instagramjapan). His story was documented by a French Instagrammer (@aurelieko) living in Tokyo. 


「世界の人に歌舞伎を観てもらいたいです。」そう語るのは、歌舞伎役者で俳優の十一代目・市川海老蔵 (@ebizoichikawa.ebizoichikawa) さん。日本の伝統芸能を受け継ぐ一人として、彼が今最も力を入れていることは、海外に向けて歌舞伎を発信すること。言葉の壁など、その難しさを実感しながらも、少しでも多くの人に知るきっかけを作れるよう、彼は歌舞伎役者としての日常を写真や動画にしてシェアしている。「写真なので、色味を見て欲しいです。あとは想像外のメイクとか、衣装とか、日本ならではの雰囲気を味わって頂けるようにできたらいいなと思っています。海外の活躍されている方々で、日本の文化からインスピレーションを受けている人は結構多いらしいんですよね。そういったものの原型が歌舞伎にあったりもするので、それをもっと理解して頂けるようにしたいと思っています。」 . 今週 @instagramjapan では、日本を世界に伝える市川海老蔵さんの特集を5回のシリーズでお届けします。知られざる歌舞伎の世界を是非お楽しみください。 Photo of @ebizoichikawa.ebizoichikawa by Shinsuke Yasui

A photo posted by Instagram Japan (@instagramjapan) on


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