Do we know a lot about Japan and it’s market influencers? Not really. But the land of rising sun has it’s own powerful personalities. Let’s see how the brands are working in this beautiful  country.


Going digital


Technologies are changing faster and faster over the years. So with the change of platforms’ algorithms, UGS becoming more common and everyone actually can become pretty powerful within the network. Influencer campaigns became more popular across the globe. So, Japan is not exception – brands can promote themselves in the Japanese market using influencer marketing, digital PR 2.0. Worry less about using Snapchat or Instagram Story, just follow those your target audience love and adore. Wherever they are, your audience will follow.

UGS actually is an amazing thing, that allows brands to be natively advertised by influencers. It’s becoming traditional, same as common advertising methods of previous century. This also caused by some some reasons. And one of them – we are bombarded with the tones of information every day. Cause it’s not about the news anymore – social networks brought to our lives not just the stories of our friends, but also the the of people we’d never met before. So, the importance of influencers across the social platforms is great, and the experts are proving it


How to: collaboration with influencers

As we already got, Japanese market is not same as the European or US one. Starting from general customs, food, the attitude of people, art, etc. That’s what makes the country so incredibly interesting, but when it comes to marketing it can suddenly be daunting thing to deal with.

The first thing you need to know about working in Japanese market – it’s different comparing with other nations. Global campaigns supposed to be adopted, but working with instagram ones is pretty thу same. Japanese Influencers can be compared to ready made marketing machines. But they can be quite naive about the whole process. Many of them require step by step support and often need someone to give them a call to explain points. Some don’t use email on a desktop computer and others struggle to open excel or word documents. At this point you really don’t want to be having another problem such as a language barrier, many do not speak or read English.

However when handled well, they are absolutely wonderful to work with. Most of them have very good due diligence, you will rarely find a typo in articles and the photos they take are wonderful in a Japanese way. They are helpful, polite and nice.


Brands expectations vs. reality

JapanBuzz has worked on many campaigns for luxury fashion brands and each starts the same way — setting expectations and convincing clients to accept the current landscape of influencer marketing in Japan. Many come with global campaign ideas and want to treat the Japanese market the same as other nations, this can take a little adjusting and the process can be a little daunting. Instagram campaigns can be easier to carry out as Instagram is self contained, only a few things differ in terms of expectations.

Blogs however can really cause a lot of issues, due to a lack of luxury sentiment and low quality photos, many blogs in Japan are hosted on feature limited blogging platforms that often lack transparent tracking information. For this reason clients often consider publisher websites to be individual blogs. Talking to someone who knows the scene in Japan helps clients understand what they want to achieve from the market and how they can do it. This will allow them to understand how their Japan strategy sits within a global campaign strategy.


No doubts, that influencers marketing is welcome all over the industries. But there is a range of products dependent on influences mostly. Most popular – lifestyle products and fashion industry, including cosmetic brands, perfumes, clothes and so on. So let’s start from the luxury brands.

Since the 1980’s people have welcomed luxury brands in Japan.  Many Japanese people are fond of history & tradition, so the stories of luxury brands resonate well.  Customers buy luxury brand products to express their identity or wealth, however recently due to the recession, many people can’t afford them.  In addition, national and international mega fast fashion retail shops play an important role in the Japanese fashion retail industry.  Some people no longer show their identity by wearing the clothes and spend less at good quality stores like Uniqlo. These challenges affect luxury brands, however many are still succeeding by effectively involving the consumer through the use of digital marketing.


Hermes — Fashion show in Japan

As a means of PR, The Hermes 2015-2016 FW Collection was held June 2015 in Japan, even through the same collection had been held in Paris. In this campaign, Hermes selected a number Japanese fashion influencers and let them advertise the campaign via Instagram.  In addition, Hermes collaborated with WWD JAPAN who constantly posted the looks the models wore and reported the latest information via the campaign site and social media. This campaign successfully used fashion influencers and Instagram, to help the consumers feel familiar with the luxury brand.

This campaign was held in the Ginza and Osaka Hermes shop in December, 2014.  People could create a digital snow dome, where the customer was superimposed inside the snow dorm.  After taking a picture inside the snow dome at each store, the customer received a QR code.  When entering the code on the campaign website, the customers could get their own shareable snow dome.  They could share this on social media, and also send the message as a Christmas card.  This campaign allowed people to be involved in the Hermes’s brand experience.  It is an effective way to increase fans of the brand.


Not just fashion

As we see Instagram bloggers in Japan are becoming a real power. So, lately five Japanese social influencers spent a week tweeting, instagramming and facebooking their way around New Zealand sharing their experiences with more than 51,000 followers. Bloggers won the trip after entering a Tourism New Zealand social media competition as part of the 100% Pure New Zealand branding campaign targeting the younger Japanese audience (aged 23 to 35), and visited New Zealand. Naoki Inohiza, Country Manager Japan, Tourism New Zealand says: 

The competition and its timing reflect both our strategy to focus on attracting visitors during the shoulder season and the proven method of using social influencers to easily spread the word about the variety of exciting activities available in New Zealand.

Let’s start from those, who has a media background and became famous not just because of instagram. Similarly to the top users worldwide, Japan’s top 25 is heavily dominated by females, with no males in the top 10 and only 4 in the whole list.




Followers: 4.2 mln

Model / Actress

Kiko is a famous japanese model and actress, so that’s not a surprise she gained a fame also around instagram. 4,2 mln followers at the beginning of 2017 is pretty serious number. Her way of fame was pretty common – she became a model, than – a face of a famous teen magazine Seventeen. But the start of her adult life was not easy and there was a scandal with the magazine, so she decided to have a 1 year break, thinking of how to get back to a model’s career. Her will was strong so fame was already there – face а some magazines, model at the runways.

Famous for being model and actress, Kiko attract beauty brands and fashion world representatives. Though, in 2010 she became a beauty ambassador of Chanel (she was just 20). International word famous brands involving her to their campaigns – in 2014 she became a face of Reebok classic collection.


Naomi Watanabe


Followers: 5.9 mln


Japanese actress, comedian, and fashion designer. Naomi rose to fame in 2008 for her imitation of Beyoncé Knowles and was given the title “the Japanese Beyoncé. She has made several movies, featured in various drama series, can be seen in numerous ads and has become a regular guest on Japanese game shows. And of course she is still getting the Beyonce entrance every time she is introduced.




Followers: 4.1 mln

Model / TV Personality

Rola is a racially mixed celebrity known for her colorful personality and distinct style in Japan as well as internationally. She debuted as a model when she was only 16 and has graced the covers of magazines numerous times and continued to ‘wow’ her fans with her various looks. She recently caught the eye of a producer and played her first official Hollywood role as a female fighter in the movie ”Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”(Opening January 2017).

Her taste in fashion and production of fashion books, etc. are highly regarded in the entertainment and fashion industries. She is attracting a lot of attention for her forward-thinking trends and activities. So that’s not surprisingly that brands eagerly collaborate with her. One of the last collaborations – Fenty&Puma @fentyxpuma, collection designed by Rihanna.

Yukina Kinoshita


Followers: 3.7 mln

Model / Actress / TV Personality

Japanese model, actress, and television personality. She was a member of the musical group Pabo. She became famous primarily as a television personality, appearing first on the quiz show Quiz! Hexagon II, where she became known as a o-baka tarento (dumb celebrity). It was during this time that she became a part of the bands Pabo and Aladdin the Second. She has appeared in commercials for popular brands such as Pizza Hut, Kirin Brewery Company, and GREE, as well as in Japanese fashion magazines like Pinky and Vivi. In 2007 she was a regular on Pokémon Sunday.


Anne Nakamura


Followers: 1.7 mln

Model / TV Personality

From her high school to college years Nakamura was part of the cheerleading team and served as the captain during her third year at high school, and participated in the national competition during both high school and college. When she was a sophomore in college, she participated in a model audition from a form invited by her friend and won the Grand Prix. But Nakamura did not join the entertainment industry, and later entered to her current agent where she received an offer and made her debut.

While working as a model in fashion magazines and appearing in television programmes, she became a member of G Race in 2010 and served as a Super GT Image Girl. In 6 October 2015 Nakamura was awarded the “Sunglasses Department” award of the 28th Japan Megane Best Dresser Award. According to a Lespas fitness awareness survey, she was chosen in first place of the women’s ideal figure.


Jun Hasegawa


Followers: 1.5 mln

Model / TV Personality

I think nowadays, young girls want something different. Certainly, ViVi is doing better saleswise because it is a more trendy magazine,” says Hasegawa, who says she doesn’t mind the term “haafu.

Hasegawa became a popular model when she was an exclusive model in the fashion magazine Vivi in 2005.[6] She appeared in the magazine for eight years and appeared in the magazine, Glamorous, and has shown a wide range of activities such as the tarento industry. She does ad campaigns for Shiseido and sports brand FILA, among others. With her exotic looks, Hasegawa has become sought after. Industry observers say the “half” or “haafu” look of models like Hasegawa is now more in demand.




Followers: 1.2 mln


Nenaka Chieko began her career as a model in high school. After being hired to an affiliation office, she began to do full-out talent activities, including participating in variety programs, acting in dramas, and releasing a photobook. She was given the stagename “Rinka” by her affiliation office’s CEO and has used it primarily in her career. Rinka began modeling for big-name magazines like JJ and CanCam in 1993 at the age of 20. She has remained a model for these magazines until recently. She was the director of a lifestyle store ‘MAISON DE REEFUR’ in 2012, and also started as the director of a brand ‘LI HUÀ’ from 2015.  ‘LI HUÀ’ creates the perspective not just clothes but space, life, culture, and all of the beauty resonant with each other.


Maggy Gibb


Followers: 1 mln


She is Japanese Canadian model and tarento (famous for being famous). Maggy is of Scottish Canadian (her father Iain Gibb[5] is a voice actor and narrator) and Japanese descent. As she spent her childhood in Halifax, Canada, she speaks both English and Japanese (and as we already know, that’s not very common). In 2008, at the age of sixteen, she was scouted by her current agent, and won the Best Smile Award in the LesPros Girls Audition 2008. Then she made her debut in entertainment industry. In April 2009, she appeared in the sports news program Sport on Fuji TV. This show made her name popular. She also hosts the variety show Buzz Rhythm with Japanese comedian Bakarhythm on NTV since April 2015.


Masami Nagasawa


Followers: 2 mln


Haruna Kojima


Followers: 1.6 mln

Actress / “Idol” singer, member of idol group AKB48 under Team A.

Erika Toda


Followers: 1.6 mln


Reina Triendl


Followers: 1.3 mln

Model / TV Personality


Akemi Darenogare


Followers: 1.2 mln

Model / TV Personality



Followers: 1.2 mln

TV Personality

Yu Yamada


Followers: 1.1 mln

Actress / Singer / Model / TV Personality


And now some words about those, who became famous mostly because of social media.


Akimoto Kozue


Followers: 331k

Multi-talanted model / Blogger / DJ

Her fame started to rocket when she appeared on Shibuhara Girls in 2011, a reality TV show by MTV Asia about aspiring women in Japan who strive to be in the entertainment industry. We got to know Koz in the super popular show as an aspiring model who tried to break away from the shadow of her father, a famous sumo athlete and a national icon. On an international level, Koz has been featured on campaigns for Givenchy, Kenzo, Adidas, and more. She has also been walking down the runway countless times and seen on many fashion magazines like Vogue and Nylon.




Followers: 90k


The founder & designer of CANDI, Natsu studied art & design at Central Saint Martins University. As soon as coming back to her home city Tokyo, she became famous as a fashion blogger and started to direct her serial page for a Japanese fashion magazine. After doing quite amounts of collaboration designs with domestic fashion brands, companies, and artists in a couple of years till 2013, she started her own brand CANDI, naturally.


Rei Shito


Followers: 40.7k

Street style photographer

Rei Shito is a street style photographer based in Tokyo. Before starting this fashion blog, she worked at STREET/FRUiTS/TUNE, street fashion magazines in Japan, as a photographer and doing PR for several years. She is taking pictures all over the world, but mainly photos of everyday Tokyo Street Fashion Scenes, especially around Harajuku.

I think Tokyo is a powerful city and is really exciting, where something new is always happening! Everyone I saw & photographed on the streets had his/her own individuality, and also had his/her own personal style.Seeing and talking to them always recharges me with a positive energy!…And I really love it! I am always on the street, shooting those who have their own style.

As a part of this beautiful street style culture she is working with a lot of international fashion companies. Among them: H&M, Chloe, Dr,Martin, Reebok, Lumine, United Arrows


Let’s integrate

If you run a good campaign targeting the right crowd of people by utilising the popularity of influencers, it can be a very powerful marketing tool. It feels more so when we consider that in Japan a very high proportion of consumers follow niche trends. Social media users in Japan are using a combination of both western and Japanese social media platforms. While western platforms such as Facebook initially struggled to find their audiences, it can be argued they are now becoming much more popular. Instagram, for example, is growing significantly with 4% of Japanese internet users using it on a daily basis. If you are able to make that first big impression in the right way, many customers will jump on your trend.

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