Capitalizing on Creativity in Rural Areas: National and Local Branding in Japan


  • Anthony S. Rausch Hirosaki University


In an effort to help local and rural areas respond to globalization, the Japanese national government in 2006 initiated a local products branding policy, allowing cities to brand their local products and services. The result has been an explosion of recognition for existing local products and frantic identification and development of new potential local products throughout Japan. This paper will consider the implications of this policy in terms of what has evolved to this point and the potential that can be identified in missed opportunities. The research is initially organized on the notion of intentional creation of creative areasâ€"areas recasting themselves as cradles of creativityâ€"and the creative character of the local products and services that are branded. Using data from a national government local products promotion policy and an independent brand research association, the research considers the limit of creativity expressed through branding for a nation or a broader geopolitical unit, along with the danger of branding overlap and dilution that may emerge; it then examines the specific case of a rural Japanese prefecture and the branding of its local products. Focusing on Aomori prefecture, a rural area of northern Japan, and more closely on a distinctive area within Aomori called Tsugaru, the research reveals the complexity of branding for rural places in contemporary nation-states. Key words: branding, creativity, Japan

Author Biography

Anthony S. Rausch, Hirosaki University

The author graduated from Monash University and has lived in northern Japan for the past 20 years, where he focuses on a wide range of issues in the context of the rural Japan setting, including volunteerism, local media, lifelong learning, and economic and social revitalization.