Adobe Stock Visual Trends insights: Japan 2022

Group of people standing in a line cheering.

Credit: Adobe Stock / Mint Images.

At Adobe Stock, we aim to inspire our creative community with up-to-date insights on the aesthetics gaining consumer interest and engagement. Every year, we analyze campaigns across industries and research cultural and commercial signals to identify the most relevant themes reflecting our lives today. Our creative services group synthesizes data from major brand campaigns, the latest news and events, and social media to create our annual Creative Trends forecast.

We want to help creative leaders and stock buyers inform their campaign visuals, while helping our stock contributors produce powerful content that connects with audiences on both a global and local level. To this end, for the first time, our team has expanded our trends forecast to include specialized insights on the imagery gathering momentum with Japanese consumers.

As we look to the year ahead, our team has identified two visual trends specific to the Japanese social and visual landscape. These trends depict a local consumer appetite for stronger familial connection and inclusive imagery. Like all countries and cultures, the Japanese social and visual landscape is always evolving. Here, we identify two of the most significant trends connecting with Japanese viewers now. We hope our creative community can tap into our curated collections for inspiration and guidance to create relevant content for the Japanese marketplace.

Collage of images: Top left: Illustration of a family hugging. Top right: Small child hugging his mother. Bottom image: Young man with his grandpa embracing.


Credit: Adobe Stock / Kei, Adobe Stock / Monet, Adobe Stock / Nabi Tang/Stocksy.

Family Ties: An evolving family structure and moments of close connection

For many years, the definition of a mainstream Japanese family was fixed as multigenerational and including (but not limited to) a mother, a father, and two children. Today, we are seeing a shift in how families are represented as brands embrace eclectic images of more diverse families.

Less traditional family structures are being openly celebrated in advertisements, on television, and in movies. For example, major brands are portraying single parents bonding with their children in their campaigns. This Nintendo Switch commercial depicts a mother and her daughter happily enjoying a game of Animal Crossing together. A single mother bonds with her two daughters over breakfast in this Zojirushi advertisement. Actress Michiko Kichise stars as a loving, single mother in a Japanet Holdings television commercial about a boy working hard to pass his junior high school entrance exam. And, a new television drama centers on a man who has just become a single father as he raises his five-year-old son. Yet another commercial takes aim at Japanese stereotypes, implying that you don’t have to fit into expected roles to live a full life.

Considering the global pandemic, more of us are seeking closer connections with family. Brands are exploring evolving family dynamics by showing more intimate relationships between parents and children. Fathers are taking on more significant roles in raising children, as seen in this animation for Morinaga Dairy Co. The idea of stay-at-home dads is gaining traction too. One study found that about half of both male and female participants were open to the idea of a full-time househusband. One emotional Novartis advertisement, "Our Back,” taps into our need to spend time with our loved ones as we look toward the future.

Explore the gallery: Family Ties.

Open Mindedness: Growing acceptance in changing times

In looking to the future, we are seeing more acceptance of diversity and individuality in Japan. There is more awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues and an understanding of the spectrum of gender identity. This visual trend includes representations of different ages and abilities as well. LIFULL ads like this one embody this shift, showing a wide variety of people in different circumstances living their lives happily.

Thought-provoking campaigns like Pantene’s #HairWeGo have challenged the practice of requiring Natural Hair Certificates in Japanese schools. These strict regulations about hair color often force students with lighter colored hair to dye it black. Pantene’s commercial has attracted a lot of attention as social acceptance of a variety of styles, identities, and experiences grows. Shiseido’s “Color Has No Limits” brand messaging leans into these ideas of freedom and individuality, showcasing transgender models and their hair color choices. Panasonic’s “Your Normal” campaign is all about being true to your own personal definition of normal — no matter your gender, appearance, or career path.

Visuals that break down boundaries between genders also resonate with Japanese viewers. This surreal Sogo & Seibu commercial is all about being who you are as an individual in the face of traditional gender roles. Genderless makeup like Korean cosmetic brand LAKA is popular in Japan. Vogue even wrote a profile piece on a Kabuki actor highlighting genderless makeup.

Japanese consumers identify with designs, illustrations, and photographs that embody these visual trends. We believe they will continue to gain traction and scale throughout 2022. We are excited about extending our trends program and hope to grow this initiative to more regions in the future.

Explore the gallery: Open Minded.

Collage of images. Top left: Two older woman smiling next to eachoher. Top right: Woman on a cell phone smiling. Bottom image: Man in a wheelchair in front of stores.


Credit (clockwise from top left): Adobe Stock / imagenavi, Adobe Stock /, Adobe Stock / one.

Adobe Stock creators wanted

Visit our 2022 curated inspiration galleries to see more examples of how these visual trends are surfacing in mainstream stock imagery in Japan, and globally. As consumer demand for these images continues to grow, consider weaving these themes into your illustrations, designs, photography or video productions, and uploading your best work to Adobe Stock.