Gōtokuji Temple: a monument to the 1000 cats

The most famous cat in the world is perhaps the Maneki-neko, or the cat-shaped figurine with a raised paw that comes directly from Japan.

However, few people know that the alleged origin of this statuette comes from a Japanese temple: the Gōtokuji Temple.

The Gōtokuji temple

Located within the Setagaya district, one of the residential areas of Tokyo, it is not well known by general tourists and is rarely visited by them. However, in our opinion this is an unmissable destination for all Japan lovers.

The Gōtokuji temple is an unmissable destination for all cat lovers precisely because it houses several thousand Maneki-Neko figurines of various sizes.

The history of Gōtokuji Temple

Gōtokuji Temple is a well-preserved feudal cemetery from the Edo era. This makes it one of the most iconic National Historic Landmarks in the area.

Legend has it that Naotaka, the lord of Hikone, was invited into the temple by a cat who beckoned him with its paw. Suddenly a storm broke out and the lord was impressed by the luck that the cat brought him at just the right time. This pushed him to help with the restoration work on the temple, completed in 1633.


Subsequently, the Shofuku-den was built as part of the temple to house the lucky cat, hence giving it the name “Maneki-neko”. From then on, many people visit Shofuku-den to pray for well-being, prosperity, luck and happiness.

You can find the famous and numerous cat statues of all sizes in one corner of the temple.

The cemetery and history

Inside the temple there is a cemetery that belongs to the Naotaka clan, who made the temple his best-known legacy. The cemetery is also home to many famous Japanese figures, including karate master Oyama Masutatsu and several Prime Ministers.

Furthermore, in the temple you can also find beautiful gardens that offer a serene retreat from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.


The symbolism behind the Maneki-neko

The Maneki-neko is one of the most beloved Japanese symbols in the West. However, the statue is not directly a bringer of happiness, but gives the possibility of establishing bonds with certain people. The final result depends entirely on your own efforts.

The message behind Maneki-neko is that if you live in constant gratitude, luck and happiness will come spontaneously.

Guardians of Japan - Episode 01: "Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan" review

Here we are again with a new web series by Japan Italy Bridge! As you know, we aim to communicate and promote Japanese culture and companies in Italy and vice versa.

Since it is not possible to travel in this period, we have decided to try to shorten the distance between Italy and Japan even more by telling you not only about our experiences but also by sharing what we know about the Land of the Rising Sun.

We have already produced a web series dedicated to the promotion of Japan here in Italy called "Bringing Japan to Italy" and now we start with this new series dedicated to the history of Japan and mainly to those figures that fascinate us Westerners: the Samurai. For those who have been following us for some time, you already know that we have a fairly rich column on this subject on our blog and now we have decided to delve into it all through a video podcast.

So at each episode we are going to analyse the life and adventures of Japan's most important Samurai and we decided to dedicate the first episode to the review of the TV series "Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan" that you can find streaming on Netflix! We had already anticipated the arrival of "Age of Samurai" on Netflix and now after a full immersion we are ready to tell you what it is about, our impressions and also some curiosities!

We hope you enjoy this first episode and we are really curious to receive your feedback. Stay tuned because in the next episodes not only will you be able to discover the true history of Japan, but there will also be many surprises waiting for you, enjoy!

Authors: Erika Panzeri, Angie Antenucci // Japan Italy Bridge
Editing: Erika Panzeri // Japan Italy Bridge
Some of the footage in the video is owned by Netflix, we do not claim property of that footage.

Business Focus: How to approach the Japanese market

Here we are again with the column dedicated to the Business Focus and today we are talking about how to approach the Japanese market. Starting from start-ups up to large companies, very often we tend to forget to approach and target the Japanese public and this is a mistake from the beginning. Why eliminate a slice of the market that represents the third world power in terms of consumers?

How to approach the Japanese market

Autore: Erika 

As we mentioned earlier, the Japanese market represents the third largest slice of the world by consumer level. Instead, did you know that social media platforms, even the biggest ones, consider the Japanese market as the second largest market in the world? This is because China, which would occupy the second place, has blocked many foreign companies and corporate policies, causing the focus to shift to Japan.

However, very often companies make the mistake of excluding Japan from their marketing strategies. This is because the Japanese market is also one of the most difficult to approach. In reality, you just need to be able to adapt to their mentality and ways.

The obstacles of the Japanese market

mercato giapponese

One of the biggest problems that Western companies find when approaching the Japanese market is primarily the language barrier. In fact, the average Japanese customer prefers to use their own language for both private relations and business exchanges. In fact, according to EF, Japan ranks 55th in the chart table in terms of knowledge of English.

If we add to this the fact that Japan is a country that is very attached to tradition and also to its customs and traditions, the approach to this market becomes even more difficult. However, this should not stop us, but rather stimulate us to find a way to reach this market. So, what kind of marketing strategies and tactics could we adopt? How to deal with this situation?

Digital is the solution

mercato giapponese

The strategy is actually not that complicated, digital and new media are our solution. If we're talking about startups in fact, often the available budget is limited and splitting this on different platforms to have more presence could actually be counterproductive. Better to focus your savings on digital. Over the years of working with Japanese companies and people, we've tried many different ways to promote companies. So here are our tips on where to focus.

Facebook & Instagram ads

In the past, we've already addressed how new digital media, and social media in particular, can help us set our company sailing internationally. In particular, the ads feature of Facebook and Instagram is one of the best tools to target specific users. Both start-ups and established companies should take advantage of this tool to be able to reach their audience.

The two social media platforms obviously have different demographics, with Facebook reaching a more adult audience in Japan and Instagram reaching a younger audience. By combining the two platforms and using them to promote your company, you can reach a wider audience. Obviously, before embarking on a promotional operation, it is important to study your mission and your target audience to be able to reach the right niche audience on the right social.

Twitter ads

One of the most successful social networks in Japan is definitely Twitter. Twitter has more monthly active users (45 million) than any other social media platform such as Instagram (33 million) and even Facebook (26 million) in Japan.

Twitter is a bit of a "controversial" platform, you either love it or hate it. However, when used for business it can become a really powerful and effective media as much as Facebook, especially when it comes to ads. In some cases, depending on the industry, it could even outperform Facebook. Twitter also reaches a very young audience and many Japanese companies have used Twitter ads not only to increase their brand awareness but also to increase their profit organically. If you want to reach the young audience in Japan, Twitter could be the solution for you.

Influencer Marketing

And finally we come here, to Influencer Marketing, what we believe to be the strategy that works best internationally today. In today's world, we are all bombarded by the myriad of advertisements, focusing on influencer partnerships could become a positive thing.

However, influencer marketing can be a double-edged sword. The first step to pay attention to and that will determine the success of a good campaign is the correct choice of the influencer with whom to collaborate. In this case it becomes even more important to be able to find the right influencer who is in line with your image and who has an audience in line with your target.

Obviously, being able to collaborate with big names like Chiara Ferragni or Naomi Watanabe is really difficult, however, there is a category that should not be underestimated: micro-influencers. They have limited followers compared to the others, but they also have a higher engagement rate. These could not only be loyal customers or brand advocates but also be able to bring the audience to your niche.

Investing in marketing is always a great choice and startups that may not have an infinite budget can narrow down their strategy to something targeted and functional. The Japanese market may seem strange but it has the potential to be the springboard for your company. Absolutely not to be ignored.

Business Focus: Content Strategy, everything you need to know before you start

We continue our column on Business Focus talking about Content Strategy. Last time we talked about Native Advertising which is closely related to content marketing. So today, let's go and see what to do before jumping into the fray!

Content Strategy, how to lay the foundation for a solid campaign

Author: Erika 

Probably some of you have already heard of Content Marketing, after all it is one of those types of promotion that is going for the most along with Native Advertising. However, a campaign cannot work separately from a more comprehensive and long-lasting strategy.

"Having a precise and structured content strategy is key to creating winning digital campaigns."

This is not only one of our mantras, but it should be that of every company that decides to approach (even for the first time) digital marketing. In fact, there is no content marketing without content strategy, or at least not one that works profitably.
So it's extremely important to study and understand how we can leverage a winning strategy for our business, whatever it may be.

What are Content Marketing and Content Strategy

Content Strategy

First of all, let's understand what it actually is.

Content marketing is the creation and distribution of useful and valuable content. All this aimed at a well-defined target audience in order to attract and acquire potential customers and make them take profitable actions.

The content strategy instead deals with the more "theoretical and strategic" aspects. In the strategy we must in fact include all sides related to the planning and management of content throughout its life cycle. This includes not only the creation and publication of the content, but also a careful analysis. In fact, we're talking about a study that involves aligning content with a company's goals, content development, production, measurement and even archiving. This entire phase precedes the implementation of the content itself.

Content strategy is what lies upstream, everything that defines and regulates the practical development process. In fact, the figure of the content strategist does not deal with the production of content, but focuses the attention to the planning of the same. This is the person responsible for deciding not only when content should be published but above all why it should be produced. In fact, each content is a single brick that goes to lay the foundation for the success of the whole communication strategy. It is therefore important to have a well-defined project, studied and that can be analyzed in every step.

Content Strategy: What you need to know before you start

We've said that content strategy is ultimately nothing more than a strategy that envisions a company's business goals and then uses content as the primary means to achieve those goals.

Content can be of various types but one of the important focuses that these have in common is the intelligent use of stories and creative writing, in any form, but we’ll talk more on that in another article.

Content marketing, even in Japan, focuses on a variety of content that can range from a blog post to a confirmation page. The task of these productions is to build a connection of trust between a company's products or services and its target audience. This becomes more fundamental in Japan, where gaining the trust of the customer means everything and has much more weight than in other countries. In fact, as we've mentioned in the past, the Japanese people are basically a traditionalist nation that doesn't like change. In fact, once the target audience trusts and relies on a specific company, they never leave it again.

But this is just the beginning of the Content Strategy concept, so let's take a more specific look at what is involved in a good strategy.

Content strategy: The Vision

Content Strategy

When we decide to approach something, if we want this thing to be successful, the fundamental basis is to have a clear vision of what this is all about.

Defining the goals, objectives, what we hope to accomplish and how we hope to accomplish it are the first steps toward writing a good business plan. This starts with a vision of what we want the company to be in three to five years, and then creating an action plan to achieve that vision. This is the foundation of a good strategy.

In addition to making a list of all these things, it is equally important to measure with milestones and goals that are solid enough to challenge ourselves but at the same time flexible and adaptable to any situation. And in this regard, this pandemic has certainly taught us very quickly that everything is mutable and everything can change in a matter of very few days. Hence precisely the importance of having stable and precise goals, but at the same time flexible and adaptable to any occasion. This will allow you to have things well clear and under control, and to start your journey from a stronger position.

This is all part of content strategy. Dealing with the vision, the pros and cons of how and why a piece of content will be created, managed, archived or updated.
At the end of the day, content strategy boils down to writing and planning content with specific goals and objectives in mind. Nothing we're going to share should be disconnected from everything else in the content and business goals. That's really where vision and purpose come into play.

Planning for success

Whatever project you're working on, whether it's personal or for a client, if you want to grow your content it becomes a matter of visibility. Inevitably we will find ourselves fighting for the top spot on google or finding our audience on social. To do this though, it means we need a strategy or otherwise a plan of action.

By now we know what we want to achieve with the content that we are going to create. The correct question to ask ourselves now is "how can we achieve it? In what way?" So let's talk about the method.

Surely the first step is to have an edge over the competition, but we can't all be Chiara Ferragni and be first in the field. So how can we do that? The answer is to have a solid and smart content marketing plan in place.

Getting discovered is one if not THE big ask in recent years and at the root of it all is always interpersonal relationships. Getting our friends and their friends to read and share is the first step toward expanding our audience. This could be the beginning of our strategy.
However, in order for this to work, we need to find the exact target of not only our audience but also our content. To get to this point we need to take a close look at what has already been done and how it is working, so let's talk about analytics.

Here's another important word in all strategies and, more generally, in all work: analysis.

Content review is indeed one of the most important steps in developing our strategy but it's not the strategy itself. Doing a careful review of all the content that has already been shared, even by our competitors, will help us better understand what can work and what can't. Next, we can go deep into analyzing our own content and repurposing it to see what might be more successful.

Thinking strategically really comes down to asking good and right questions at each step of the process.

Give the right purpose to your content

Content Strategy

In today's world, where our smartphones and dashboards are crowded (or rather overcrowded) with all kinds of content, it becomes really important to carefully select what we are going to share. Throwing any kind of photo or video into the ether just to create presence no longer makes sense. It's much better to invest time and energy in creating content that has a chance and a clear purpose.
Let's remember that we want our content to be successful, to reach our audience and to make us gain something, be it brand awareness or other kind of profit. So why waste content before it has a chance?

The audience is now used to receiving endless content input and we want to make sure ours succeeds. We want to make sure that our content reaches our audience and leaves a good impression. We already know that Japanese audiences are not easy to impress. So, how can we achieve this? Simple, by planning our content and thinking strategically.

The key is always to have a strategy before creating any content. We should not just push out content for the sake of it, but rather think about its quality as well, and fit it into a specific time frame.

So, before we jump into the content creation fray we need to ask ourselves the right questions. What do we want to achieve? How does this new content fit in with the content we already have or are thinking about planning? What is the big picture of our content?

These are all fundamental questions to answer before we begin our production. Let's not forget that we have a specific purpose, whatever that may be, and that purpose needs to be well defined. For example, are you creating content to increase brand awareness or generate leads? There are many purposes, but the important thing is to be clear about what they are so you can plan the right strategy.

Give your content a purpose and you'll give your audience a reason to read, watch a video, like or re-share. The audience is not a flock of people but a living, intelligent organism, capable of understanding exactly where a piece of content is coming from and why we are publishing it. This is even more valuable with Japanese audiences who are increasingly attentive and selective in their search for content.

If we're creating a piece of content for a reason and planning it in advance as part of our strategy, the audience will notice. Similarly, if we were to do the opposite and throw things out randomly, without a specific strategy behind it, the audience will notice it too.

That's why purpose is so important.

Here’s the bottom line

Creating an effective content strategy that manages to connect with an audience and inspire them to action can seem really complicated. However, as we've come to realize, it's the foundation of any successful marketing campaign. Creating content that has a purpose, that is part of a larger vision and that connects us with our audience is the foundation of any good communication strategy.

It's not always a skill or resource that we find within all companies, which is why there are realities like ours that take care of following this whole part even on behalf of third parties. We take care of creating this model, producing the content and maintaining the work done and then repeating it. Our efforts are put into creating a strategy that will allow your potential audience to discover you. This makes it easier for you to focus on other aspects of your work, or just relax without having to think about it!

The power of social media: TikTok and the Japanese pop star

We continue with our Business Focus column and today we are discussing the TikTok and Miki Matsubara case. Do you already know what we are talking about?

We've said many times before how social media is a powerhouse for businesses and individuals alike, and in this year's pandemic we've had confirmation of that. Even those who did not believe in the digital revolution have now had to change their minds.

How TikTok resurrected a Japanese pop star hit song

Author: Erika 

In these months of quarantine and forced isolation, we have seen an increase in creativity on social media. A clear example of this is the rapid rise of TikTok, the favourite social media of young people, which has seen the number of users constantly growing to become the second most downloaded app in 2020.

From pranks to animals to the now famous dance videos, many TikTokers have launched trends that still accompany our days. But today the power of TikTok doesn't just stop with its trends. The case of Miki Matsubara and how a video shared on this social managed to revive one of his hits from 1979 has caused a stir.

In December, users of the platform resurrected the song 'Mayonaka no Door: Stay With Me', which made Matsubara a star in Japan back in 1979. More than 40 years later, the song is still catchy and joyful enough to become the perfect soundtrack to TikTok videos featuring Japanese mothers;

"I did the TikTok when my mum was doing things around the house," one user tells The Japan Times via email. This clip reached more than 1.5 million likes and views in a very short time, propelling "Mayonaka no Door" to the top of Spotify's Global Viral 50 chart for three weeks.


I’m asking her to sing this next karaoke night 👸🏻 #japan #japanese #おかあさま #fyp

♬ 真夜中のドア/Stay With Me - Miki Matsubara

Unfortunately, Matsubara died in 2004 and was unable to enjoy the revival. However, the song's composer, 71-year-old Tetsuji Hayashi, tells the Japan Times that this new hit "seems very strange... it was so long ago".

Music and social media

But is it really that strange? Let's start with the fact that when a song is good, it's still good even after forty years, but let's also think about how much power social media has gained these days. Unfortunately, much of the Japanese music industry still seems to operate as if it were 1979, thus giving little importance to the digital and social media world. The Matsubara case is a case in point.

TikTok Mayonaka no Door

Singer-songwriter Tetsuji Hayashi says new technologies are rewriting the rules of how a song becomes a hit, "it could be from another country or another generation". It's been a few months now, but the 'Mayonaka no Door' case shows how the interaction between Japanese artists and international listeners has changed over the last few decades. International social media also allows a new generation to fall in love with an artist who might previously have been discarded from playlists simply because of her or his nationality. With the rise of K-pop and the unstoppable BTS, social media sites such as TikTok are also increasingly trending Japanese songs.

The power of TikTok


Based on recent statistics, TikTok users spend more than 850 minutes per month on the app, more than 14 hours per month. If we look at the data from October 2019 to March 2020, we can see a significant increase in the amount of time the average user spends on the app, also due to the lockdown.

This social media has spread like wildfire globally, particularly in Asian nations, becoming an entertainment outlet thanks in part to its search based on hashtags. In fact, as of June 2020, the most popular categories on TikTok all have over a billion views. If we go on to count lip-synching and dance videos, we arrive at a total of over 150 billion views.

2020 was marked by lockdowns, and it was during this time that people jumped on new media in search of entertainment and an outlet for their creativity. In fact, TikTok took second place on the list of most downloaded iPhone apps, surpassed only by Zoom for obvious reasons. TikTok even surpassed the downloads of Facebook, Messenger, Gmail, Netflix, YouTube and Instagram, across all app stores, making it the most popular app globally in 2020.

Moreover, in a world like the digital marketing one, we know how important the engagement rate of a social media is. Recent data show that engagement rate varies at different follower levels for Instagram, YouTube and other social media. However, at all follower levels, TikTok has a considerably higher rate than other platforms. In fact, Upfluence analysed that micro-influencers have an engagement rate of 17.96% on TikTok, compared to 3.86% on Instagram and 1.63% on YouTube. While mega-influencers have an engagement rate of 4.96% on TikTok, 1.21% on Instagram and 0.37% on YouTube.

The figures speak for themselves and in 2021 we can only expect a steady rise of this social network and who knows, maybe we can rediscover some other Japanese hits! Do you already have any idea on what the next music trend for TikTokers might be in 2021?

Business Focus: Native Advertising, what it is and its importance, also in Japan

We continue with our Business Focus column and today we are talking about Native Advertising. Have you ever heard of it?

Native Advertising: what it is and its importance, also in Japan

Author: Erika 

At a time like this when the whole economy is almost at a standstill, the smartest move is to invest in advertising and marketing. But we know, there is a sea of information and possibilities in this field. However, recently many companies are asking "What is Native Advertising?", let's find out together.

Before we go on to talk about native advertising, we need to take a brief look at the world of online advertising.

The difficulties of online advertising

By now, we are all bombarded with so much information that the advertising market is often saturated. So how do you find and reach your niche audience?

The attention span of online users has been steadily declining for some time now. The average user has an attention span of around 8 seconds. Just think that a goldfish has an attention span of around 9 seconds, which shows how difficult and important it is to hit the user in the first few seconds of viewing.

If we then move on to analyse visibility and the famous CTR, we see that the majority of advertising banners are no longer even displayed, or even clicked on accidentally. In addition, users are also fed up with the exorbitant number of advertisements, very often unwanted. It is precisely here that the various AdBlocks make reaching our target audience even more difficult.

Basically, nobody looks at the banner ads on the various sites anymore. This is where content marketing comes in.

Native Advertising

Content Marketing

By now, more or less everyone has heard of content marketing because most online advertising today is done through this form. Many companies, especially those with an international audience, have realised that content and influencers are an excellent (if not the best) marketing tool.

Indeed, branded content is now all the rage on social media and has become a much more effective form of advertising than traditional promotional campaigns.
In a nutshell, this content has a 7 times higher user trust rate than traditional display advertising. They are permanent and can capture visibility and traffic even in the long term. In addition, if we add in a properly done SEO operation, this content has a higher medium to long term ROI.
If we then consider that over 51% of the time spent by users on digital media is spent on a mobile platform, we understand how fundamental it is to have a format that works on these devices.

Mobile and advertising

In a very short time, we have gone from a horizontal 16:9 view to a vertical 16:9 view. Thanks to Stories, Reel and especially smartphones, this format is now one of the most popular formats for all digital advertising campaigns. In fact, our phone screens are already smaller than a computer screen, so why waste precious visual space with display ads, overlays and totally intrusive pop-ups?

It is precisely on these devices that advertising should be designed to optimise screen space and, consequently, the flow of navigation (continuous scrolling, of course). So how do we do it? With Native Advertising of course!

Native Advertising

What is Native Advertising

And here we come to the highlight of our article. In essence, Native Advertising is advertising that adapts to the context in which it is placed. For example, they inherit the function of the platform they live on (e.g. Facebook likes). Furthermore, they do not interrupt the user's navigation and are relevant to the viewer. These are characteristics that lead to a greater engagement with this type of advertising.

Basically, nothing new you might say. For years we have already been developing native campaigns such as sponsored posts on various social media, sponsored articles, widgets and so on. However, there are several recognised forms of Native Advertising:

  • In-Feed: paid ads placed in an editorial site
  • Paid Search: paid ads placed on the results page of a search engine.
  • Recommendation widgets: paid advertisements promoting content related to an article.
  • Promoted listings: paid advertisements inserted in the product listing of an e-commerce.
  • In-Ad: content inserted inside a standard advertising format.
  • Custom: special tailor-made initiatives conducted by a brand in collaboration with a publisher, i.e. sponsored articles.

As this is a less overt form of advertising than others, it is important to emphasise when a piece of content has been sponsored or not. Transparency must always be guaranteed.

Creating content that the public loves

We have often had to create content for a Native Advertising strategy, from brands selling Japanese lifestyle products to children's products. However, the main aim is not to sell, but to build the audience for the client.

To do this, it is important to follow several rules because the "sponsored post" cannot be too different from the rest of the content that the chosen platform usually offers. The length, the tone of voice, the language, the font, everything must be in line with the other content. However, it is essential to create a title that is clickable and captures the visitor's attention.

It is very important to be able to capture the user not with numbers and questions, but with a narrative that fascinates him. By now, even the least astute of internet users can tell when someone is trying to sell them a product. Because of this, it is important to differentiate our "sponsored post" by telling personal experiences and creating empathy for example.

The audience has to be involved but above all entertained. Making a person laugh is one of the hardest things to do, but when you succeed, you have captured their attention forever. And so the customer is retained.
Be empathetic but objective, try to help the audience in some way and share your experience. The product does not necessarily have to be mentioned repeatedly, once is enough, also because with the opposite you could risk falling into what in jargon is called "branding" and thus achieve the opposite effect desired by Native Advertising.

Native Advertising

Native Advertising in Japan

And here we come to Japan. Despite being a country extremely focused on traditional media and advertising on them, things are changing recently. Due in part to the recent pandemic, the advertising market has seen a significant surge in digital. In fact, Japanese advertisers spent nearly $15 billion on digital in 2021. With the rise of digital media in Japan, companies can no longer ignore the importance of integrating a digital strategy into their overall marketing.

However, fundamentally the Japanese people remain a very traditional people, very tied to history and past experiences. The Japanese people are extremely trust-based, so digital advertising still depends on having a good online reputation. Therefore, SEO and social media operations become key to getting better results in the Japanese market.

One of the keys to a successful campaign in Japan is the use of correct localisation. We can't say it enough, but the Japanese are extremely meticulous when it comes to choosing the right product before making a purchase. Using their language and visuals becomes really important. Writing content that is correct and in line with your target audience is one of the foundations for building a good campaign. Attention to detail and high product quality is the key to winning over Japanese customers.

In conclusion

Native advertisements should resemble any other article on the chosen platform, both in style and function. Be resourceful, truthful and above all remember to entertain your audience.

Business Focus: Digital transformation, the key to increase the economy

This pandemic has hit the world economy hard and one of the keys to recovery is digital transformation. Let's continue our business focus and today we are talking about just how much an online presence can influence the economic development of Italy and Japan.

The Digital transformation: could it be the key to increasing Japanese consumer spending?

Author: Erika 

In recent months, many companies have launched themselves into the digital world and many shops have transported their windows into the area of e-commerce. This clever move has allowed them to continue working even during the months of lockdown, and not to stop their production.

However, in Japan, as well as in Italy, the economic recovery has slowed down considerably. For what reason? The reason for this is that in both countries the spread of e-commerce and online presence is lagging far behind other countries.

digitalizzazione giappone

During the months of the lockdown, people drastically reduced their visits to shopping areas. However, in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, retail sales have increased and on average above the pre-pandemic level. This means that the majority of sales were made through online sites and e-commerce.

The situation is different not only in Italy but also in Japan. Here, sales are still below the levels recorded before the pandemic. In these two countries that are so different and yet so similar, people have locked themselves in their homes without spending money. In fact, at the end of June, Japanese households' cash and bank deposits reached a record figure (1,030,000 billion yen).

However, this did not help the economy, which was already severely affected by the repercussions of COVID-19. According to some, this brake is due to the insufficient development of the e-commerce sector and the scarce online presence of companies in the two countries, both Italy and Japan.


In fact, according to a 2019 statist survey, only 16% of Japanese people said they had purchased online in the previous year. This figure ranks fourth among the 45 developing economies. It is therefore conceivable that once the digital transformation arrives in Japan, the potential for increased household spending could be enormous. In fact now, after months of pandemics and constraints, consumers are tired of staying at home and are willing to spend.

How to get the digital transformation to Japan?

Everything we have said so far, are hypothetical speeches with enormous potential. However, in order to turn this potential into a real economic recovery, the government and firstly the companies themselves would have to invest in digital. We are referring to the creation of e-commerce, websites, social media channels and influencer marketing so that the business linked to these companies can restart.

In support of this theory, leading Japanese companies plan to invest 16% more in digital for the fiscal year 2020. In fact, a total of 765 companies aim to spend 471.8 billion yen ($4.45 billion) on technology, shows a survey Nikkei on listed companies and those with 100 million yen or more capital. This marks a second consecutive year of double-digit growth.

With the pandemic disrupting the flow of people and goods, companies are turning to technology to adapt sales and distribution channels to the new norm. Seven & Holdings, the company behind the 7-Eleven convenience stores, expects technology investment to increase 19.9% to 121.2 billion yen - the largest sum on the list.

Investments in technology have already borne fruit and a return on these investments that can only accelerate. In fact, the companies that have embraced the digital transformation are the ones that are doing the best in this pandemic.

"Business leaders are forced to adapt to the coronavirus, and now they realise the importance of digital transformation," said Saisuke Sakai of the Mizuho Research Institute. "IT investments could grow even more in the future." / source: Nikkei

This leads us to understand that now more than ever it is time to invest in digital and create an online presence for your company in both Japan and Italy. Only in this way, companies will be able to keep their work going and have constant sales even in these uncertain times.

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Business Focus: E-commerce after the pandemic

The effects of the Coronavirus are still being felt, however, we are not talking about positive cases but about online presence and e-commerce. We continue our Business Focus features and today we are talking about how e-commerce platforms have influenced this 2020 and how they will influence our future.

The importance of e-commerce during and after the pandemic

Author: Erika 

During this 2020 we understood how extremely important it is to have an online presence, for any company, even more so for shops. Not only social media but above all e-commerce has also depopulated due to the pandemic. With the forced closure of shops, in fact, many businesses have found themselves having to run for cover and create an online presence very quickly.

The impact that the lockdown has had on the habits of us Italians, but also of the entire world population, is extremely evident. In fact, in recent months, e-commerce has become one of the main channels to buy essential products without having to leave home.

We can in fact see from the data how between February and March 2020 online sales in Italy grew significantly compared to the same period in 2019. The favourite moments for Italians to shop are during the weekend. Precisely because of the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19), on 8 March online sales increased by 90% compared to the same period of the previous year.


Some data

According to the GfK Consumer Panel, almost 4 out of 10 Italian households made their first online purchases in March. While, from the beginning of the year to date, 2 million new online consumers have been registered in Italy (out of a total of 29 million).

Between February and March 2020, online sales in Italy grew significantly compared to the same period in 2019. In fact, compared to the first six months of 2019, the total amount was 700,000 new consumers.

According to a recent survey conducted by Ipsos on the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on individuals' attitudes and behaviour, in Italy, 31% of respondents said that the frequency of buying goods online has increased. On the other hand, almost half of the respondents stated that their frequency of online purchases has not changed at all.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, online retail platforms experienced an unprecedented increase in global traffic between January 2020 and June 2020, even surpassing the Christmas holiday traffic peaks. Overall, retail websites generated nearly 22 billion visits in June 2020, compared to 16.07 billion global visits in January 2020.

e-commerce pandemia

In short, having an online shop is now an inevitable option for any business. Moreover, according to analysts, the online commerce sector is the one that will grow the most in the world economy, with an increase calculated up to +55%.

This is precisely the time to equip and invest in digital technologies and focus on digital transformation. Adapting your services to online sales is the smartest move to make at this moment in history.

The cornerstones of a perfect e-commerce

By now we already know that the online consumer is much more demanding and sometimes more suspicious than the classic customer who visits us in the shop. However, user satisfaction is one of the fundamental cornerstones of a good e-commerce. Reliability and quality of service, user-friendly interface and customer service are fundamental points.

In addition, there can be no lack of excellent communication and marketing management specific to an online shop. Japan Italy Bridge not only builds high-level e-commerce but also communicates your brand online on various platforms. In fact, SEO optimization for an e-commerce and brand awareness help to increase sales and the customer's perception of the brand itself.

In particular, communication and marketing are the highest obstacle to overcome but also the focal point for the scope of an e-commerce. Investing in professional translations and a team that follows the social and digital marketing part helps to position your brand on search engines.
What Japan Italy Bridge recommends is to create a multi-channel system that will lead you to a winning e-commerce and increase your sales and revenues. together with that, you may also discover markets that were previously cut out of your sales strategy.


This COVID experience has taught us that we must always be ready for change and differentiate our presence on offline and online platforms. The way we sale our products and the means with which we do this have drastically changed. Virtual retail market has received disruptive effects that no one would have imagined until recently. This has had a major impact on the economy and organisation of many companies. Nowadays it is in fact normal not only to receive take-away food at home, but also other types of materials.

After the experience of the pandemic, it has become crucial to have an online presence. If your company is interested in building an e-commerce or interfacing with the digital audience, you can contact us and find out about our offers.