When I first came to Tokyo, in 1987, I thought: is this place obsessed with America or what? US flags and other icons were ubiquitous. There was a love hotel built to look like the Statue of Liberty and daily I walked past something called American Boulevard, next to Seibu Shinjuku Station, selling what was considered cool US stuff.
However, British goods barely got a nod and I was gobsmacked when a local presumed that Detroit was home to luxury carmakers Rolls-Royce.
Who knows how temporary it is but, look up from the pavement—not sidewalk—in many popular Tokyo shopping and entertainment spots today and you are more likely to be greeted by the red, white and blue of a Union Jack (albeit often upside down) than a tired old Stars and Stripes flag.
Open your eyes and you will see Union Jack-emblazoned underwear, beach and club gear, fashionably ripped T-shirts along with accessories, gadgets and games.
The UK government’s GREAT campaign was perfectly poised to exploit the royal wedding, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, thereby raising the UK’s global profile for business and pleasure. If Tokyo’s fickle fashionistas are any measure, the effort succeeded in style.
Food for thought
There must be a magic recipe behind a business that is still solid after more than 11 years, in a part of town where 36 months is said to be the average industry lifespan, and where a history measured in weeks is not unknown.
But, when it’s food and beverage and in Roppongi, there must be a story, too. Naturally, there’s also a British angle—the chef, founder and general manager.
British Business Awards
A quick reminder that the BCCJ’s biggest annual event of the year will take place in less than two months.