All About Japan

Building the &Tokyo Brand

Video Tokyo Greater Tokyo

So, Tokyo's doing a bit of rebranding. The &Tokyo campaign, which officially kicked off in October 2015, aims to promote the city as one that constantly generates new styles while bringing tradition and innovation together, with the “&” in the logo meant to express Tokyo's many ways of making connections.

The campaign's central promotional video actually does a fair job of walking the balance beam between new and old. Case in point: we see a pair of foreign visitors (who are apparently staying at the most opulent of high-end accommodations) independently navigating the city, including the soon-to-be-moved Tsukiji Fish Market manned by none other than iconic comedian-slash-scary-actor Beat Takeshi; avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama sitting unnervingly silent in the midst of some of her work; and an about-to-be-disastrous sumo match featuring our male protagonist and legendary former yokozuna Musahsimaru.

Intercut with scenes of tea ceremonies, bathhouses, onsen and fireworks we get snippets of anime and even gaming—a rare admission of the existence of actual pop culture in a government promotion. We even conclude with our duo going out to a bar, karaoke and clubbing—which are things people in Tokyo actually do. It's as if the Tokyo Metropolitan Government actually has an idea what the city's about and is embracing it rather than trying to pretend all of Japan is still a mysterious land of kimono and handicrafts.

For an official production, it's unexpectedly on the nose. We'll see where that ampersand goes from here.