Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Employing Cool

Brutus a few years ago, with the coverline "Cool Japan!?" Vanity Fair with a 90s cover under Cool-Britannia influence.

Japan is employing a "new" brand to market its contemporary culture to the world – cultures of anime, manga, fashion, design etc.

The "brand" is "Cool Japan".

But a new brand? Britain tried – somewhat successfully, I guess – to brand Britain "Cool Britannia" back in the 90s (and before) with the rise of the young Tony Blair to carry the hopes of cool culture. (Little did we know how uncool, indeed how totally uncool, he would be at that first blush.) I never quite got "Cool Britannia" because I grew up with the likes of a very cool David Bowie, and to me, the big "employees" of the brand – Oasis - have never seemed remotely cool. But that just meant I wasn't the target audience.

"Cool Britannia" was a play on "Rule Britannia". of course: "Cool Japan", however, does what it says on the can. (And shouldn't be mixed up with "Cool Biz" in Japan, which is an attempt to get businessmen to dress down and use less air conditioning in the hot summer.)

Like "Cool Britannia" had, "Cool Japan" has been running for a while, getting itself established (before the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry established and official section in June this year). I wish "Cool Japan" every success – there's an international audience of Japan fans waiting for more information. There's a wealth of people ready to supply it. (Witness this weekend's huge, self-published manga festival – Comiket – at the big expo site, Tokyo Big Sight, just for one example.) Here, torch carrier Danny Choo lends a hand. Others, such as Roland Kelts, want to see a little catch-up. (Danny's entry was this week. Roland's back in May.)

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