Sending Emails in Japan

Gillian Hamilton Rogers

29 January 2013

Many people love Japan with its unique culture and outlook on life. However, it’s this difference that makes marketing to a Japanese audience a bit more specialised. I thought I’d share some advice we give to clients who are looking at sending email campaigns to a Japanese audience. 

Mobile nation: 

Recent studies estimate that there were 107 million mobile phone users in Japan at the end of 2012, accounting for 84% of the total population. It is imperative your email campaigns are optimised for viewing on a mobile phone or smartphone, and where possible link to a mobile website. Offer an option between text or html versions, as 63% of mobile users have feature phones which don’t support html emails

Mind your language: 

Email campaigns to a Japanese audience should always be in Japanese

It's all about design, darling: 

Think Tokyo lights at night– bright, varied colours and characters. Japanese Kanji font characters convey more meaning than words so can replace images, leaving what appears a text-heavy email. There is a trend towards more ‘clean’ looking emails (especially from Western brands), so this may be worth considering. If in doubt, test it and tweak it! If you’re a global brand then don’t deviate too far from your brand guidelines

Don't get lost in translation: 

In Japanese culture colours, numbers, plants and animals all convey meaning beyond what you might expect. Make sure you understand them, as you don’t want your email’s message to get lost in translation

Concept of Kawaii: 

Kawaii or ‘cuteness’ is a strong cultural theme and you will often see anime or Pokémon style characters being used by brands

Social signals: 

Social Bookmarking is very popular so ensure you include local and global icons within emails

The legal bits: 

Japan has one of the strictest data protection and communication laws in Asia Pacific. Make sure you’re clued up on, and comply with, the various legal requirements, including the Regulation of Transmission of Electronic Mail and PIPA Law

Land of the silver surfers - older people are online here too: 

With one of the highest numbers of older internet users (or silver surfers) in the world, ensure you have catered for them if they fall within your target demographic. A recent study showed 95% of seniors (over 60 years old) in their survey used home computers every day

If you bear these points in mind, as well as following recognised global email best practice techniques, you can look forward to a very successful email campaign.

For a more detailed guide on sending emails in Japan, please contact

Do you send emails in Japan? What is your experience?
We’d love to hear about it on twitter: @MetiaAPAC,  Facebook: or Google+: Metia Digital Marketing Group