Israel's Embassy Asks Japanese to Visit - in Anime

Embassy takes a novel approach to encouraging tourism with a promo video in Japanese anime style, as ties flourish.

Ari Yashar ,

Avigdor Liberman, Sumo wrestler Konishiki Yas
Avigdor Liberman, Sumo wrestler Konishiki Yas
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Israel's ties with Japan have been budding rapidly, as evidenced in last week's Japanese Culture Week in Jerusalem attended by Japan's Deputy Foreign Minister who called the two nations "close neighbors," and in an unprecedented Industrial R&D Agreement in July.

Now, the Israeli Embassy to Japan is riding on the wave of mutual interest with the release of a unique promotional video last Friday, which was created in full Japanese anime style by the Japanese Manganimation studio.

The animated video, entitled "Nice! Israel - Saki and Noriko's sisterly travel - Vol. 1" follows the journey of two sisters to Israel.

Watch (Japanese):

Their adventures begin in Japan when the older sister Noriko suddenly invites Saki to travel to Israel, at which she thinks to herself "...where is Israel?" The question leads her to discover information about the Jewish state and its various attractions - starting with the Max Brenner chocolate bar.

While on the plane to Israel, 28-year-old Saki has a flashback to telling her "office lady" administrative co-workers about going to Israel, at which they warn her "isn't it dangerous? It was just in the news. And isn't Israel just a desert?"

Her apprehensions quickly fade upon landing in Ben Gurion International Airport however, where she says "it's different than I thought, even inside the airport is cool too!" In response, her sister Noriko touts Israel's hi-tech industry that has been labeled the "Silicon Valley of the Middle East."

The official Israeli Embassy to Japan - mascot Shalom-chan, a parrot with an olive branch - is also featured prominently in the video providing information about Israel.

Among other facts he shares, Shalom-chan says: "the capital is Jerusalem. It's a country with a long tradition and modern culture," while detailing that Israel enjoys 60 years of relations with Japan - and that "shalom" means konnichiwa, or hello.

The video also praises Israel's impressive wine industry as the sisters visit a local Tel Aviv bar on their first night in the country after checking into a hotel. At the bar, Saki asks Noriko if she had a fight with her husband given the sudden nature of their trip, and whether they're considering divorce.

Noriko reveals she traveled to Israel before marrying her husband, saying "it's a place of our memories." The first episode closes on that point of tension, leaving the audience on a cliffhanger for part two.

Nearly 10,000 Japanese tourists have visited Israel this year according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, as Israel seeks to strengthen promising relations with the Land of the Rising Sun, holder of the third largest GDP in the world, even as ties with America reportedly face a crisis point.