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Hit The Streets of Tokyo Without Leaving Instagram

Relying on a trio of locals snapping photos of everything from food to bikes to apartment buildings, a new campaign created by Blast Radius Amsterdam for Onitsuka Tiger makes the massive city feel more like a small town.

A trio of Tokyo locals is taking the world on an intimate tour of their city via Instagram as part of an international “My Town My Tracks” campaign created by Blast Radius Amsterdam to promote Japanese shoe company Onitsuka Tiger’s fall/winter line of AW13 sneakers.

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Unintended side effect: The campaign could stoke interest in traveling to Japan, which would surely please the Japan National Tourism Organization.


Explaining the thinking behind “My Town My Tracks,” Blast Radius copywriter Vanessa Inggs says, “There was a natural connection between the unique look and feel of this season’s running-inspired street shoes and the intriguing diversity and dynamism of Tokyo’s inner-city network of streets and alleyways.”

So the agency decided to take consumers deep into Tokyo to explore some of the city’s most interesting districts. “The difficulty is that, as outsiders, we only ever see clichéd ideas and sanitized snapshots of these different neighborhoods,” Inggs says. “We wanted to give Onitsuka Tiger fans an authentic way to discover the real, raw side of Japan today, so we literally put the camera in the hands of those in the know, following three locals around their neighborhoods and seeing their city through their lens.”


The stars of the campaign are Houxo Que, a 29-year-old graffiti artist and live painter who lives in Tokyo’s Kichijoji district; Chris Akira, a 22-year-old brand manager, event producer and DJ, who works in Nakameguro; and Asami Ito, a 27-year-old actress and barista who knows the ins and outs of Shimokitazawa.

The brand ambassadors were found through the agency’s contacts in Tokyo and hired after being interviewed by Skype. “It was important to us to find individuals who were real locals following their own paths and with unique stories to tell,” according to Blast Radius art director Karian Weijers.

We’re introduced to the locals through videos shot by British photographer Laurence Ellis that quickly give us a sense of who they are, where they live and what their interests are. (They all wear Onitsuka Tiger shoes–this is an ad campaign, after all. But the videos are not a hard sell.)

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We really get to know the subjects and their neighborhoods through their Instagram photos, which are also being used offline in store windows and shelf displays.

While Ito shares everything from the best places to buy vintage clothes and drink coffee to moments of cuteness known as kawaii in Japan, Que captures the colors and natural beauty of his surroundings, showing how they have inspired his work as an artist. Akira’s photos of Nakameguro, an area full of boutiques run by young designers and new restaurants, celebrate the graphic and abstract.


More than 1,000 candid photos will be shared on Instagram throughout the “My Town My Tracks” campaign. “As well as helping us tell a more authentic story, Instagram was the perfect way for us to home in on the little things that make each of the three neighborhoods so different and highlight the love of detail that defines the Onitsuka Tiger brand,” Weijers says.

About the author

Christine Champagne is a New York City-based journalist best known for covering creativity in television and film, interviewing the talent in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes. She has written for outlets including Emmy, Variety, VanityFair.com, Redbook, Time Out New York and TVSquad.com.

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