tokyo’s yoga neighbourhood capitalizes on (what else?) yoga to attract people

Citizens of Yoga practice yoga together (l); the official cat mascot of Yoga de Yoga (r).

One of IAYB’s raisons d’etre is to observe, monitor and critique how yoga is used to market products unrelated to yoga. Some of these are funny and some of them are just stupid. But only the Japanese can do yogableaching in a way that’s cute and charming.

Yoga, a neighbourhood in western Tokyo, is trying to capitalize on its namesake to “revitalize its businesses and attract more visitors.” The Asahi Shimbun reports:

Yoga acquired its name from the Sanskrit “yuga,” which means yoga. From the late Heian Period (794-1185) to the early Kamakura Period (1192-1333), the area was home to a training center for “yuga,” a discipline of the esoteric Shingon school of Buddhism practiced by monks.

Nowadays, the Yoga shopping street promotion association has come up with a new, pun-like catchphrase: “Yoga de Yoga,” meaning “Yoga in Yoga,” which has led to the opening of a yoga school.

Although around 270 shops on the main shopping street are association members, their numbers had been declining until around four years ago because aging owners had no one to inherit their businesses.

Then, some of them became interested in the origin of the area’s name. The idea: “We could attract people with a catchy phrase like ‘Yoga de Yoga.'”

A local neighbourhood business association sponsors regular weekly yoga classes at the Yogajinga Shrine, a few minutes walk from the Yoga Station. So far, that seems to all that Yoga de Yoga has to offer.

Yockey welcomes you to Yoga!

Yoga is as popular in Japan as it is everywhere else in the world, with new studios popping up on a regular basis. The Japanese were a little slow to jump on the post-millenium trendy yoga bandwagon, as yoga in Japan had a bad public image associated with the 1995 Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. The religious cult responsible for the attack, Aum Shinrikyo, had roots in yoga philosophy and practice.

But in recent years, as the memories of the gas attack have faded and the Japanese obsession with Western pop stars (especially Jennifer Aniston) have grown, so has the interest in yoga.

Let’s hope that Yoga’s yoga classes are more effective at rustling up business and visitors than Yoga’s pink bear mascot, Yockey.

  1. Americans can learn from the subtlety, understatement and modest, retiring tone of most Japanese aesthetics and advertising.

    Not a fan of being hit over the head with anything.

    • while i agree that japanese aesthetics are, for the most part, more subtle and refined than american, japanese advertising is anything but! some of the most insane, abrasive and nonsensical advertising i’ve ever seen has been japanese (i lived there for two years and watched a lot of TV).

      case in point:

      the best thing about japanese advertising is seeing washed up (and even still famous – people who wouldn’t be caught dead in western TV ads) american celebs hawking shampoo or canned coffee.