2023 Japanese Visual Trends: Celebrating shared experiences and individual identities

Group of people sitting in the forest.
Image credit: Adobe Stock/Buritora.

While the worst of the global health pandemic may be behind us, its impact will remain with us for years to come.

Every country and culture are adjusting to the long-term effects of the pandemic in their own ways. Brand messaging and visuals provide insight into how each has coped with the pandemic and is working to move forward.

In Japan, like other countries, people are eager to rejoin society after spending so much time at home and cut off from social life. The lockdowns took their toll, and studies show that loneliness increased after the pandemic.

In its survey of 3,000 people living in Japan, the Japan Science and Technology Agency found that 47% reported that they feel lonelier. In light of the prolonged time spent alone, it’s unsurprising that the visual trends we see reaching mainstream commercial relevance focus on the excitement to participate in group experiences as well as a deeper understanding and comfort with one’s own unique identity.

Group of people toasting over a meal. Group of young girls walking and holding hands.

Image credits: Adobe Stock/amanaimages, Adobe Stock/Maroke.

Embracing time spent together

After long-term isolation, people are seeking to spend time with their community and colleagues again in public spaces. They’re also eager to welcome family members back into their homes to celebrate holidays, birthdays, and other milestones.

Across the last year we’ve seen a wide range of creative campaigns presenting people working, traveling, and playing together in public spaces outside the home. Businesses are encouraging people to participate in public life and support corporate, travel, and service sectors throughout the country.

In a recent KFC Christmas commercial, we see a crowd of young and old revelers coming together to celebrate the holidays. An ad by the Glico confection company shows two close friends enjoying a snack and spending time together at a park. The product’s tagline is “Pocky is about sharing happiness and bringing people together.” Even an ad for the Taisei Kensetsu construction company focused on the spirit of teamwork.

These ads for teamwork and togetherness are not only reflecting more varied lifestyles, but increased diversity. One dreamlike clip from the Parco fashion company showcases stunning clothing, worn by models of mixed ethnicities.

Collage of person dancing, and woman relaxing surrounded by plants.

Image credits: Adobe Stock / One, Adobe Stock / MaaHoo/Stocksy, Adobe Stock / Maru54.

A blossoming celebration of self

Traditionally, Japan has emphasized the importance of the individual fitting in as part of a group identity. But the pandemic has upended the old stereotypes about Japanese conformity. That’s because pandemic isolation has helped spur a growing appreciation for the authentic elements of people’s own unique identities. According to a recent survey, about 70% of Japanese Gen Z citizens feel their identity is both recognized and accepted.

Over the past few years, the combination of growing self-awareness and acknowledgement of diversity has led to a widespread growth in the celebration of the self. We’re seeing brand messaging with positive representations of all ages, identities, and relationships, who are happy with their unique individuality.

For example, a lighthearted Shiseido ad for cosmetics targeted at older women encourages viewers to be themselves, regardless of age.

We’re seeing this positivity not only in ads and images, but across many art forms. A recent Billboard article showcased self-acceptance and celebrating individuality in Japanese music.

Today’s brand images are also showing some old gender stereotypes falling away in Japanese society. For example, men are shown engaging in a much wider range of activities and inhabiting more types of identities. Male parenting influencers are growing rapidly on social media, sharing their daily challenges— and innovations — on TikTok, Instagram, and other platforms.

One recent survey found a rise in support for men taking care of the house and children, with 38.4 percent respondents responding that husbands should also prioritize housework and childcare.

Fashion, beauty, household goods, and other in-home brands are presenting men taking care of the home and their children.

The beauty industry is featuring more men in ads for grooming — a domain once reserved for women. For example, a Musee Platinum ad is a fun, lighthearted twist on typical hair removal product spots.

As we all move forward, we’ll continue to see society’s changes reflected in branding, social media, and across our global cultures.

Collage of man cooking, two people napping, group of friends laughing together and young girls dancing.

Image credits: Adobe Stock / buritora, Adobe Stock / LGBTQ+, Adobe Stock / VICTOR TORRES/Stocksy, Adobe Stock / One.

Brand images that resonate

Adobe Stock image creators are constantly refreshing their work to reflect their unique communities and personal experiences at this moment in time. Explore our site to find a wealth of images and creative content reflecting teamwork, celebration of self, and other themes to support your campaign or project.