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New ad campaign features Japan in all its stunning glory

By Oona McGee

If you’ve ever visited Japan and fallen in love with its beauty and culture, prepare to be swept off your feet again with the latest ad campaign from Guess.

Shot by famed Chinese photographer Chen Man, the photos (see below) take us on a journey through cherry blossoms and tea houses, featuring girls with samurai swords and parasols.

From Tokyo to Mount Fuji, the series features Japan’s wild and peaceful landscapes, while paying homage to the country’s traditional roots and modern lifestyle at the same time. The result is two models who come off looking both elegant and bad-ass.

One thought-provoking image stands out for its allusion to gender stereotypes and femininity. When a girl puts down a pole flying pink koinobori carp, traditionally used as a symbol of strength for the Boys’ Day national holiday (now known as Childrens’ Day), you know she’s heralding a new dawn for gender stereotypes.

Another photo featuring dramatic red and black looks, styled by Satoshi Hirata, pays homage to Japan’s long rickshaw tradition, which is still going strong today. The black, shiny rickshaws can be seen at tourist spots with passengers draped in bright red blankets to shield themselves from the cold.

Then there is a hanami picnic under the cherry blossoms. The model’s adoring gaze up into the cherry blossom tree makes the viewer feel like a pretty little bird.

How about the shinkansen bullet train meets samurai steam punk as it passes through rice fields beside Mount Fuji on its way up to Tokyo.

Source: Japaaan Images: Guess Japan

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© RocketNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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All stereotype and cultural tradition apart, these are great! We DO need to portray Japan in a more vibrant perspective and these photos do just that, that shows a Japan I would like people to see. Well done!

3 ( +7 / -4 )


0 ( +4 / -4 )

Bad taste

0 ( +7 / -7 )

tinawatanabe: "Bad taste"

Why's that? If nothing else, it's interesting. I'm guessing you just don't like it because it's by a Chinese person. Beats a lot of the garbage out there, and the color and images are rather stunning.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

smithinjapan, Not accurate depicting Japanese traditions. Japanese would never make anything like these. Quite insult.

-7 ( +8 / -15 )

That first picture, those stiletto heels, that must've been a hard shot for the models.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Actual Japanese culture not required.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"... a new dawn for gender stereotypes."

Doesn't she mean exactly the opposite of that?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Not accurate depicting Japanese traditions. Japanese would never make anything like these."

You obviously haven't seen much of what passes for Japanese haute couture these days. It's all pretty atrocious, regardless of the country of origin.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Stick figures! But still makes me want to pull out one of my swords and join the pair...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tinawatanabe: "smithinjapan, Not accurate depicting Japanese traditions. Japanese would never make anything like these. Quite insult."

Like I said, you just don't like it because it's done by a Chinese. In any case, as usual, your bias leaves you blind. Just last week there was a music video, made with Japanese input, introducing Japanese culture that was WAY worse than this, and even included pedophilia. You didn't seem to object? If this were made by Japanese or had a Glico runner in the foreground you'd be praising it, bottom line.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )


You're dissing a lot of creative Japanese photographers, designers, et al (especially

styled by Satoshi Hirata

when you say

Japanese would never make anything like these.

Also, moderator/editor,

Is this supposed to be a question?

How about the shinkansen bullet train meets samurai steam punk as it passes through rice fields beside Mount Fuji on its way up to Tokyo.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

smithinjapan, No, Chinese has nothing to do because I did not notice it at the first glance. No, I did not see anything worse than this last week or any week, maybe I missed it. I did not say I prefer Japanese make, I said this is not Japanese would make.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I may one of the few people left in the world who does not like the fake filter style.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


smithinjapan, Not accurate depicting Japanese traditions. Japanese would never make anything like these. Quite insult.

You'd do quite well to drop phrases such as "we Japanese" and "no Japanese." There are 124 million Japanese citizens, you do not represent all of them. Its quite sill, like saying "Americans always" "Americans this or that."

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Tinawtanabe: and you're still wrong; there are plenty of Japanese artists/designers who make similar things if not more showy. As SaitamaRefugee and others have said: you re making extreme generalizations that are simply incorrect. And it's strange you say, "Japanese would not make this", but then later claim you did not know it was a non-Japanese who made it. How's that possible?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

We DO need to portray Japan in a more vibrant perspective and these photos do just that

Yeh, but people will really be let down when they get to Tokyo and see everyone wearing plain black or gray colored clothes. I get a culture-shock just going to Tokyo from Kansai.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm sure they didn't have permission to trample on the shibazukara near Mt. Fuji in those heels.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

photos of a Japanese and gaijin would give the impression that Japan is multicultural, when the truth it is actually far from it in both population and acceptance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yep, just another typical thing I see everyday in Japan... while daydreaming...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

smithinjapan, I meant I did not notice Chinese until I read the article. I did not like the picture before reading the article.

SaitamaRefugee, I've never said "we Japanese", I've never even said I'm Japanese. I've never felt I represent anything. I may have said "no Japanese" or "Americans always", but please point them out when I used them, so I can judge the usage.

borscht, I don't remeber Satoshi Hirata. The one I remember I didn't like was at some car race, a group of people was wearing a red costume with a horse head, which was not like samurai at all. I still can't believe Japanese made it. But saying I can't believe doesn't mean it's impossible.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Ridiculous pictures! They look like some crazy morph of Matrix + Tomb Raider + think of any another movie along the same genre + some anime manga geek's (who has never been to Japan) adolescent fantasies of Japan in their minds (For you long term residents: Think "Charisma Man" pre-arriving in Japan type male. I'm no artist or photographer that's for sure, but don't you think some of those pictures look like rank "Photoshop" work?

So, you may ask yourself what type of picture scene I would pick for Japan... Here I go:

A nice shot of 50+ people patiently waiting in line on the stairs of the 2F Shakey's Pizza in Omotesandou on any given Saturday or Sunday afternoon. (In my opinion one of the best deals in town if you don't mind yourself letting loose of an "onara" or two (or 100) afterwards, preferably while walking through crowded Takeshita Dori on your way back to Harajuku station and also letting loose of a few onara on the semi-crowded Yamanote-sen train.) I asked my 11-year old just now what he would pick for his Japan picture and he replied, "A beautiful picture of the 7-11 bento corner by oba-chan's house fully stocked and with no people in front to spoil the picture. Not a bad idea for a Japanese-culture picture, I think. And for a really negative, but very REAL picture of Japan, although I wouldn't recommend taking photographs there, a picture of the swarms of foreigners at Narita arriving flights passport control in lines (or queues for you English speakers out there) between 1500 and 1830 local Japan time when most of the inbound flights from North America, Asia, and God knows where else arrive.
1 ( +3 / -2 )

I like the idea, but anorexic women in over-stereotypical scenes leave me cold. There is so much beauty in Japan. These photos just seem so plastic to me. I tried to like them, but most of them seemed so soulless.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think its better traditional gender stereotypes, uch

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I may have missed it... but what is this advertising? Japan? Make up? Kia Asamiya steampunk samurai women?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tinawatanabe: "I still can't believe Japanese made it. But saying I can't believe doesn't mean it's impossible."

That's a little more down to earth, but you don't see the problem in saying, "I can't believe Japanese made it", especially after saying, "No Japanese would make it" and being proven wrong about the fact that Japanese have and do make things like it? It means you have some false image of how ALL Japanese are, or some idealization that is not true, and not real, and worst yet if it's something you don't like it 'can't be Japanese'. Cut the generalizations already -- it only makes Japanese look bad.

Quite frankly I'm not a huge fan of the photos either. They're interesting, and some are quite dazzling in terms of color, but on the whole there's just too much packed in. I don't think they're any more tasteless than the 'kawaii ambassadors' that go overseas to 'represent' Japanese culture, and are definitely a whole lot better than a lot of other stuff you can see 'about' Japan. In any case, there ARE people who like it, here and abroad, so all the power to them.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Bad taste.

What are those girls doing? What is the meaning of their acts? What do their acts have to do with the landscape?

The pictures have no comprehensible message. That is why they are bad taste.

By the way, why is the driver of the cart a black man?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

smithinjapan and David Barnes

I said "Japanese wouldn't make this", and this one was made by Chinese. So, I was right. What 's wrong with my remark? I know Japanese artists make lots of horrible pictures, but my point was this pictures involves Japan's tradition wrong. So, I said Japanese wouldn't make these. I'm not saying Japanese make good pictures or better pictures than other people. My point is the depiction of Japan's tradition in these pictures is wrong and insulting.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Wow, kendo in 8 inch stiletto heels. Difficult to say the least!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

First picture

People do not wear high heels when practicing sward.

A shinai should be held using both hands. If one holds a shinai by one hand, he is not ready for an attack and is just carrying it.

When you have Mt Fuji and a lake, there should be a reflection on the surface of the water. Just look at the back of your 1000 yen note.

Third picture

Cherry trees bloom in late March to early April. During that period, your do not need an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun, nor have a watermelon which is available only in the peak summer August, nor have chrysanthemum flower on the hair which symbolizes September. The color of the grass is too dark for early April.

Fourth picture

The peak of the mountain is hidden by the cloud, which makes the picture less impressive.

The carp streamer is usually made up of a pair of carp, one black/blue male carp and one red/pink female carp. The woman holds two pink carp. What does that supposed to mean? Is she advocating same sex marriage?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Japanese would never make anything like these.

Well then, that's sad! These photos are fresh and exciting. Young Japanese artists should be striving to make something new and exciting rather than being worried about the strict constraints that older people such as you are trying to impose on them.

People do not wear high heels when practicing sward.

That's so funny! Like... I never would have guessed!!!

It's comical how you are taking these photos so literally.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I thought they put 2 villains from some power ranger shows there.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I visited Japan and my experience was never so exciting as these photos. I want my money back!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The initial picture made me think this was some hokey side-scrolling fighting game:

a. The fighters are in high heels b. The fighters are not dressed in a way you would expect the normal population to be dressed c. Good luck getting that close to Fujisan without having forests, buildings, and telephone poles in the picture

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Shot by famed Chinese photographer Chen Man, . . ."


3 ( +3 / -0 )


They cut Japan's traditional samurai outfis into pieces and made up totally different sexy clothes that fit the western looking women. If this is not outright disrespect for Japan, what?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Kill Bill style marketing of Japan, why not! I like these photos, they are pure modern Japan and really depict the deeper sense of the soul of the Japanese. Good job!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If this is not outright disrespect for Japan, what?

Yes, yes... nobody can do anything a little bit different for fear of "disrespecting" tradition.

This kind of thinking is great for leading to something new and fresh... not!

This is also how the older generation in Japan tries to control and suppress the younger generation...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Apart from the Japanese rickshaw guy, not one Japanese, hell, not even one Asian. Reminds me of Tarzan magazine - a fitness magazine for Japanese readers and not ONE single Japanese model - always two stick-thin Caucasian models - one man and one woman. Don't know about the women, but I don't think anorexic men are setting a good example. Is this some sort of Asian inferiority complex?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Apart from the Japanese rickshaw guy, not one Japanese

Pukey2, Look closely, even the rickshaw guy is not Japanese. I think they meant a black guy.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Not about Japanese culture but about girls. Nice girls.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


Some Japanese do have dark skin, especially those who spend a lot of time in the sun.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Quite frankly these photos would put me off visiting Japan, not entice me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Lovely pictures I would say. I'm just having difficulty understanding why there is a blonde in a "Japanese Cultural" thing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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