The Advertising Museum Tokyo: Copywriting Fun
Japan boasts a world-renowned culture. Japanese cuisine, sports, and art scenes have been exported to every major city across the globe. What about Japanese copywriting?
Did you know that Tokyo is the setting of Japan’s only advertising museum? That’s right! If you’re a fellow advertising geek, then you better add Tokyo to your list of places to visit!
Take a break from writing and enjoy reading our guide about this one-of-a-kind place in the land of the rising sun.
A Brief History of the Museum
The Ad Museum Tokyo opened nearly twenty years ago in 2002. It has over 1,000 square meters full of marketing, advertising, and copywriting memorabilia.
It is unique because it is the only museum of its kind in Tokyo and all of Japan. This is surprising when you consider how well Japan has been able to market its arts and culture to the world.
The goal of the museum is to preserve the hard work that Japanese citizens have poured into advertising.
The facilitators of the museum also believe that advertisements and copywriting preserve the sentiment of the time they were created in.
Visitors to the museum are encouraged to experience the wide array of emotions that go into a successful advertisement and how these emotions do not waiver through time.
The Ad Museum Tokyo’s Collection
Roughly 280,000 items are on display here, all preserved with an exquisite attention to detail that is traditional to Japan.
Here is a taste of some of the things that are available for you to see:
Since Tokyo is a cosmopolitan city, you are sure to find influences and advertisements from other places in the world while browsing the galleries.
The Ad Museum Tokyo does house seasonal exhibits and promotional events as well. However, the museum focuses on showcasing its permanent exhibits and how Japan’s marketing tactics have evolved over time.
Although the museum does display traditional pieces like ebira, or paintings, you will notice that signs, posters, and packaging materials are more common.
Hikifuda, or flyers, are still a commonplace advertising medium in present-day Japan. This may come as a surprise when you consider how technologically advanced Tokyo is.
Paper-based advertisements are still depended on to get the word out. Even business cards, a personal form of marketing, are still widely used throughout the country.
This is the kind of sentiment that the museum would like to display: what has worked for advertising in Japan and what hasn’t.
The pieces invite you to ask, “What lessons can we learn from the past?”.
The exhibits at the museum can help you answer that question. The museum houses three permanent exhibits:
Each era of Japan’s history possesses a unique art style that is apparent in its advertising.
Japanese Advertising History
Advertising is a great way to understand what’s really on the public’s mind. Japanese advertising is very telling about what new developments were popular at the time.
It also shows us what the social hierarchy was like during different stages of the country’s development.
Who was being advertised to? Every population was being marketed to in Japan. The rich and the poor alike were seeing their faces on a variety of mediums.
Mass production exploded as the economy gained strength. People had money to spend and copywriting told them where to spend it.
The history of advertising in Japan is broken up into 5 main time periods:
The symbols popularized by that era are still referenced in modern-day marketing campaigns.
Advertising in Present Day Tokyo
Japan has managed to hold on to tradition throughout time. This is arguably why they are so successful as a global economic power.
Despite the advanced nature of Tokyo, traditional shrines are still prayed to for financial and scholastic prosperity.
Walk into the center of the city and you will see Edo-era-style murals line the city walls. The imagery of the past is alive and well in the minds of present-day citizens. It has become trendy to reference these eras as well.
Woodblock prints have been replaced with graphic design, but the messages remain similar. TVs are on almost every train in Tokyo, and commercials can appear on the latest vending machines.
An elegant advertising campaign is easily visible wherever you go in Tokyo. The city’s contemporary magazines, newspapers, and multimedia are available to enjoy in both the museum and the museum’s library.
Audio Visual Booth "Four Feelings"
Every marketing major knows that any successful campaign has to elicit emotion from the viewer. That is why The Ad Museum Tokyo decided to devote an entire exhibit to emotions.
They even added an audiovisual touch to help bring these relics into the present day. More advertising platforms become available as technology progresses forward, especially in Tokyo.
In this exhibit, you can experience what it would be like to view past advertisements with contemporary technology. The nostalgia offered by this series ties into the emotional pieces that the museum displays.
Some images are meant to make you feel sad so that you realize that there is something missing in your life. Nowadays, this is accompanied by a sad tune to heighten the effect.
Other images on display showcase beautiful women enjoying a sunny day. Naturally, your brain registers this as a joyful experience and nudges you to join in on the fun.
These examples and so much more are waiting to be enjoyed by you at The Ad Museum Tokyo!
The Collection Table
Speaking of technology, the museum uses a large touchscreen display to showcase some of its collection as well.
Here you can see digital images from their collection. There is also the opportunity to watch commercials.
Want to see what Japanese commercials were like during the dawn of television? Or, watch an advertisement from the 1950s? It’s all available with the tap of your finger.
Searching for a more traditional experience? No worries.
The museum also features a table full of analog advertisements and storyboards that you can enjoy.
Yoshida Hideo Memorial Foundation
Yoshida Hideo was Dentsu’s fourth president and was an advertising pioneer during the 1950s technological boom in Japan. His foundation was created in 1965, 2 years after he passed away, to preserve his legacy and values.
Today, the foundation awards scholarships and grants to young marketing scholars all throughout Japan. The foundation is responsible for The Ad Museum Tokyo and the library housed within it.
Courtesy of the Yoshida Hideo Memorial Foundation, visitors to The Ad Museum Tokyo are granted access to a well-stocked advertising library.
Here, visitors can browse award-winning titles while relaxing at the reading stations.
Interested in a Career in Copywriting?
By now it’s clear to see the copywriting can be a lot of fun! For centuries, advertising has been a stable career choice throughout Japan and the world at large.
Social media posts and digital designs are sure to end up in The Ad Museum Tokyo one day.
Copywriting has a bright future and will continue to grow as our world becomes increasingly virtual. Japan’s global presence influences other nations to follow suit and take their advertising to the next level.
It’s fun to see how the styles have changed throughout the year and to know that the next big idea is waiting to be communicated by someone.
Although some things may have changed, the basic principles of advertising, marketing, and copywriting have generally stayed the same.
Once you learn these skills, you can create the foundation needed for a successful career in copywriting.
We’re Here to Help
If you are fascinated by The Ad Museum Tokyo, then a career in copywriting may be for you. Feel like you need more resources to be sure?
Sign up for our free copywriting course. It is based on user feedback to ensure you get the most out of your time.
Also, be sure to check out our other blog posts to stay updated on the latest, advertising, marketing, and copywriting trends.