Marketing to Japan (1/2)


Following on from our recent blog post about localisation and the importance of considering your audience, we decided to delve a bit deeper into Japanese culture and give you some hints and tips on what to look out for when doing research or business in Japan.

Age in Japan

As mentioned in our previous post, mode of address is important to consider when communicating in Japan, depending on who you’re addressing.

Children only learn the basic set of characters ‘hiragana’, aside from ‘katakana’ which includes foreign loan words such as chocolate, so need to be addressed informally. They do learn a certain amount of other characters including ‘kanji’, during their time at school, so your linguist will be able to address different age groups appropriately.

Did you know the average person would need to know at least 1,945 kanji to be able to read a Japanese newspaper?

One thing to bear in mind when marketing to young people in Japan is that you’re not considered an adult until you turn 20. For some purchases, such as mobile phones, you need a legal guardian to obtain one on your behalf until you turn 20 years old.

When marketing to Japan, it is also worth considering that it is the country with the highest population of elderly citizens. When developing new products, it’s worth keeping this demographic in mind when developing and marketing new products.

Fun fact: Japanese people, both young and old, really love karaoke! Perhaps there is a gap in the market for a karaoke-themed retirement home…


You won’t find any genders or the mention of plurals in Japanese and sentences can be interpreted in a number of ways, depending on the context. This is why it’s important to always send a whole document or survey to Japanese translators even if you just want one question or a sentence translated.

As you can see in our example below, (source: although the Japanese is exactly the same for all five cats, how the sentence structure is interpreted can affect the meaning, giving five possible English translations.

Japanese cat translation

We hope you enjoyed this post. Stay tuned for the next instalment in the series to learn more about Japanese culture. In the meantime, if you need help with your market research translations for Japan get in touch! Call +44 1727 862722 or email to talk to a member of our friendly team.


"As always, Caroline was extremely helpful in getting the text to the translators at short notice, which ensured the turnaround time was very good and our client was happy. Thanks again!"


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