Odnarotoop: Portland in Japan

Travel Portland launches our first consumer marketing campaign in Japan.

Non-Japanese-speaking Portland band Ages and Ages sings “Odnarotoop” in Japanese; the song’s name comes from the Japanese pronunciation of “Portland” spelled backwards.

Since 2004, Portland has been enjoying a moment in the spotlight in Japan. Media coverage, which previously focused on Oregon as a whole and its outdoors offerings, shifted to focus on the creativity, urban planning and culture of Portland. In the ensuing years, interest in Portland has increased along with print, TV and digital coverage; Portland businesses like Blue Star Donuts and Keen have opened franchises in Japan; and department stores have created displays and fairs featuring Portland products.

In Japan, there’s a bit of a tradition of one-off novelty songs that become cultural touchstones. So, in this spirit, we have created and released our own song about Portland: written and performed by a Portland band, Ages and Ages. The song’s name, “Odnarotoop,” roughly comes from the Japanese pronunciation of “Portland” spelled backwards.

We’re getting the song, and Portland, out into the world with an animated music video (“GIFeo”) that showcases scenes of the city. To increase social sharing, the video includes an interactive component that allows users to upload their faces and put themselves into various GIFeo scenes — which they can then share on social media channels.

Once the user creates a video, they are guided to learn more about the businesses and locations included in the song, and encouraged to visit our freshly updated and expanded Japanese-language website, further encouraging them to explore the real-life version of Odnarotoop.

The campaign kicked off with a mix of public relations outreach, a content partnership with VICE Japan, social media promotion, grassroots promotion, alignment with identified businesses and a temporary installation at T-Site in Tokyo from May 10–26, 2016. The installation introduced people to Portland by showcasing a mix of Portland products and the “Odnarotoop” music video featuring Ages and Ages.

Visit the campaign home page (odnarotoop.com), where you can create your own video. For non-Japanese speakers, click the yellow buttons near the bottom of each page until you are prompted to upload a photo. You will be agreeing to our privacy policy as part of this process. You can also learn more and connect on the Facebook page and Instagram account.

 Odnarotoop lyrics [English original]

These are the mountains that rise in the distance
And this is the river that runs right beside us
And these are the bridges that always connect us in

These are the streets where we meet up for breakfast
and maybe some ice cream or a few dozen donuts
and these are the places we drink when we’re finished in

Odnarotoop, Odnarotoop
everyone’s open, so do what you want to in Odnarotoop

And this is the music we play in our basements
and our in the street where the city can hear us
so sing right along if you’re planning to join us in Odnarotoop

Odnarotoop, Odnarotoop
everyone’s open, so do what you want to in Odnarotoop

This is the coffee we drink in the morning
and this is the treehouse my neighbor is building
everyone’s open and ready to greet you in Odnarotoop

And these are the bikes that we like to ride naked
and this is the art that we’re all busy making
everyone’s open so do what you want to in Odnarotoop

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