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  What do you imagine when you hear the word “Japan”? Sushi? Mount Fuji, or ninja?Probably there are also many people who imagine the Japanese pop culture of anime, manga like One Piece and games such as Nintendo.

  “Pop culture” means culture for majority. For instance, manga and anime, games, music, TV programs are included.

  Japanese pop culture lovers around the world gather for events that transmit Japanese pop culture. For example, “Anime Expo”, the largest exposition in the United States, and “Japan Expo” which held in France annually. For Japanese anime and manga are translated into various languages, broadcasted and published worldwide, such a culture has even spread to population groups that are not particularly fond of Japan, and being popular among many people.


  In Japan, more than 300 anime cartoons are produced every year, and more than 30% of the population watch them. The sales of Japan-originated content overseas are approximately US$ 26 billion. Focusing on the animation industry only, the sales have been steadily increasing year after year, from US $ 5.6 billion in 2015 to US $ 7.6 billion in 2016.

  The number of contracts in 2017 was 6,639, which was 1.5 times of the previous year, and the number of contracting countries and regions has reached 221 now. By country, the Asian region is leading, with China taking first place, followed by Korea and Taiwan.


  In 2018, the global game market was expected to exceed ¥15 trillion, against the background of game console and mobile game hits. By country, Japan is the third largest game market, following the United States and China. At the Tokyo Game Show held every year, it is said that the number of visitors was 296,890, which reached the highest in the past. The most popular booth belongs to eSports. As it becomes a demonstration sport at the Asian Games, eSports is now attracting attention in Japan.

  In a survey conducted at Japanese game companies, companies that are thinking of expanding business overseas in the future or planning to start it has risen to 80%. It is clear that they are eager to start overseas operations.


  In Japan, it is not unusual to see adults reading manga on the train. Although it may be thought strange that adults read manga, among the manga loved in Japan, there are many manga that have profound contents, a carefully crafted story, and can be instructive or impress, even if adults read them.

  Japanese manga comics are translated into, and sold in, many languages around the world, and the word “MANGA” has become an international word referring to Japanese manga. For example, “One Piece” and “NARUTO” are distributed in over 35 countries and regions.


  Taking pictures and going to events dressed in the costumes of anime, manga, and game characters is called cosplay (costume play). Although the hardcore fans tend to make costumes themselves, the casual fans buy cheap costumes on e-commerce sites or elsewhere and enjoy themselves. In Japan, there are also Halloween costumes, mainly popular among young people, with the market size of commercial cosplay costumes amounts to ¥43.5 billion.


  There are also many enthusiasts overseas. At the “World Cosplay Summit” held every year in Aichi, the participating countries has been increasing year after year, with 34 countries in 2017. The need to go to the holy places (regions and sites that have become the settings of anime and manga) to cosplay and take pictures has also increased and in 2016, the Anime Tourism Association was founded. It is engaged in planning tours and introducing recommended traveling routes, with the goal of attracting 4 million foreign tourists annually by 2020.


  Speaking of products related to anime and manga, figures and plastic models imitating the shapes of characters and robots are famous. The export volume of plastic models rose sharply in 2017, and it is expected to exceed the past peak in 2018. The major export destinations are Korea and China and, increasingly in recent years, the United States and Thailand.

  Spurred by the popularity of anime and manga, the popularity of figures has also been spreading all over the world. Looking at the domestic and overseas breakdown of the Good Smile Company, a company that sells figures, it is obvious that the number of overseas sales has exceeded 40% in 2018. In anticipation of such overseas needs, figures that are less expensive than those sold in Japan, and figures of overseas works that are not well known in Japan, are also made.


  Among foreign tourists visiting Japan, there are also many who buy character products for souvenirs. Pokémon, Hello Kitty, and Sailor Moon seems especially popular.

  Characters born in Japanese manga and anime have added value to products and are purchased by foreign tourists as mementos that can be bought only in Japan.