#Tokyo2020: Let the Memes Begin


Despite almost missing the opportunity due to health concerns about Fukushima, Japan has been chosen to be the host of the 2020 Olympic games. Like any important globally relevant event, memes were a popular way to react and respond to the event.




Popular Japanese memes were simple edits of the initial announcement, which netizens used as a springboard to build off from. When an official less-than-ceremoniously unveiled the Tokyo pick via a plain white card which read, “Tokyo 2020”, photoshoppers were quick to insert new content, remixing and replaying the exciting moment again and again online.

However the celebrations of the announcement in Japan were sprinkled with images shaming Japan’s animal rights abuses and the ongoing environmental disaster at Fukushima. It’s important to note that these reactions came predominantly from western netizens. Bloody images of Taiji’s dolphin hunting practices, which were brought to international attention by the documentary, The Cove, stood in stark juxtaposition with playful images of Doreamon working out.

Despite the critiques of animal rights, and the very serious situation in Fukushima, celebratory and playful images took the day. There are some fun illustrations, but most notably, Doreamon is everywhere! (The robot cat is “the first special ambassador in support of Tokyo’s Bid to stage the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.“)

And in an odd twist, gaming site Kotaku pointed out that popular anime film Akira had predicted that Tokyo would host the Olympics in 2020. It seems dying for a meme but we’ve only come across this one from Know Your Meme so far.

Do you have any insight into memetic responses to the Olympics announcement? We’re still researching online reactions and are especially interested in hearing from Japanese-speaking readers. Please get in touch!