• SHARE

What if there’s only one piece of fried chicken on a plate?

In a 30-second video by university student Daisuke Serita, a group of friends, rather than each grabbing for the food, collectively demonstrate the cultural virtue of “enryo” (reserve) and offer it to each other.

Serita’s film, “Enryo no Katamari,” won the grand prix Wednesday in the my Japan Creative Contest for Students to Express Japan, which was organized by adoir, a university student group, and sponsored by the Japan Tourism Agency.

The point of the competition was to express something unique and good about Japanese culture through a 30-second film or interactive Web media. The winners for the second category were Sanae Kagami and Tomoki Fukushima, who created “A to Z things to do in Japan.”

Viewers can click on letters in the alphabet that show iconic images, from Japanese high-tech toilets to pachinko to rush hour. Each photo is linked to a blog post describing the topic.

“I wanted to include something we’re familiar with in our daily life, not something traditional,” said Fukushima, who studied for a year in Britain. “So we even added negative things, such as trains in rush hour and homeless people.”

In total, there were 211 entries from participants representing more than 10 countries. The judges included Hiroshi Sasaki, known for Softbank’s hit commercial featuring a white dog, Koichi Kawajiri, former editor in chief of the magazine Kokoku Hihyo, and interactive creative director Kazuhiro Suda of the Hakuhodo ad agency.

Shuntaro Okamoto, 22-year-old organizer and student at Sophia University, said he came up with the idea of introduce unique, positive aspects of Japanese culture through a video clip when he was traveling in France last summer.

“A Frenchman I met at a cafe asked me about Japan, but I could only tell him about tempura or samurai,” Okamoto said. “I realized we actually don’t know much about our country.”

“Japan may be recognized (by other countries) superficially, like as a country of samurai or manga, but (we) wanted to show there are many great things about Japan” that are not in a guidebook, he said.

According to Tourism Agency commissioner Hiroshi Mizohata, who attended the awards ceremony, the number of tourists to Japan has declined.

“Why? It’s because both the central and local governments have not been aggressively promoting Japan” overseas, said Mizohata, adding Japan’s goal is to take in 30 million tourists.

“We should be more confident about our culture and promote it individually,” he said.

At the same time, he said he is concerned that fewer young Japanese are traveling overseas.

“They spend money on mobile phones or the Internet,” but not on real encounters with people, he said. “You’ll be able to rediscover good things of your culture after traveling abroad.”

As well as the event my Japan, Okamoto has organized two short video competitions for university students since the group was first set up in 2008.

One was to create a commercial for a Tomy toy and the other was to raise awareness of social issues.

All of the works can be viewed on my Japan Web site: my-jpn.com

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW