NOTE: See below the Highlights and Abstract for teaching materials on this subject.
Post-Fukushima, Japan utilised Tokyo 2020 to re-image Japan’s blemished place brand.
Fukushima and Tokyo 2020 positioned as a dual shock enabling strategic leverage of host culture.
Details ‘EnjoymyJapan’ and ‘Tokyo, Tokyo’, the two key branding campaigns deployed.
Functional, and, more recently representational innovation is increasingly central to justify hosting.
Tokyo 2020 illustrates the multidimensional nature of mega-event led re-imaging processes.
Recovering post-Fukushima, Japan utilised Tokyo 2020 to re-image the country as a safe and culturally distinctive destination by deploying creative place-branding initiatives. This paper investigates how and why, by drawing on insights generated via three complimentary methods – (i) 26 in-depth interviews, (ii) a 33-day walking observation, and (iii) policy and media document analysis – offering a unique and detailed case study. Analysis is principally framed around two state-led national and Tokyo-city ‘representational’ innovations deployed: ‘EnjoymyJapan’ and ‘Tokyo, Tokyo’, augmented by ‘functional’ country-wide tourism infrastructure innovations: both playing a critical role for re-imaging Japan. Conceptually, the paper argues how straddling both types of innovation, particularly representational innovation(s) as of late is a key strategic objective and principal reason for hosting: helping to develop, distil and better articulate a place’s cultural identity. Separately, yet relatedly, in addition to recovering post-Fukushima, the paper notes how Japan simultaneously sought to mobilise tourists’ engagement away from busy metropolitan tourist zones, beyond the country’s so-called ‘Golden Route’: a key part of the country’s pledge to United National Sustainable Development ambitions. Finally, more broadly and critically, the article notes how these complex processes are fuelled and enabled by a dual shock: produced by ecological (Fukushima) and economic shock (Tokyo 2020) affording host-culture to be leveraged for re-imaging purposes.