I believe it was Miranda Hale who first called my attention to the totally awesome Biznss Kitteh video from Japan. It’s a television ad that’s only 14 seconds long. There is a lot of stuff going on here related to Japan and its culture. First watch it without reading further, trying to figure out what the ad is promoting and what everything means. Then watch it again after reading the explanation I’ve put below.
A detailed explanation was kindly provided by Yokohamamama, an American who lives in Japan and produces the wonderful eponymous website; be sure to see her latest post on how to make o-bento rabbit apples, which includes a scientific experiment.
The video you sent (cho kawaii! super cute!) is for Jaran, a travel/ hotel reservation company. I looked at their website, and most of the info was geared towards tourism, family and couples travel. The commercial was promoting that they also do reservations for business travel.
The voice in the background is saying/singing “shucho, shucho”=”business trip, business trip”. The beginning says “Hotel reservations for business trips, too!” The cat is “Nyaran”, a play on “nyao”, which is Japanese for meow, “nyanko”, a cute way of saying “cat”, like calling a cat a “meow-meow”, and “Jaran”, which is the name of the company. They’ve combined “Jaran” and “Nyanko”.
Kitteh says: “My name is Nyaran! Today is a business trip!” He’s on the Shinkansen (bullet train), with a pet bottle of green tea and an Ekiben (a Station Bento lunch), and you can see Fuji out the window, which means he’s on his way to Osaka/Kyoto. You can tell it’s winter, because it’s clear and Fuji is snow-capped. His fish-shaped Meishi (name card/business card—*very* important to the Japanese) says “Nyaran” in Hiragana.
The Power Point presentation is for “Nikkyu Manju”= “Paw-shaped Sweet Buns”. Wiki has a nice short article on Manju, if you’ve never eaten them. They’re sweet and good, and taste nice with green tea. Hiroshima has a unique Momiji-Manju (maple-leaf sweet bun), and Nyaran seems to be marketing a new Kitteh Paw Sweet Bun. He says “These will really sell!”
Then the female narrator’s voiceover says again “Business trip hotel reservations, too!” (just in case you got so wrapped up watching that cat that you forgot what the commercial is about, I expect). “Ra, Ra, Jaran!” (the company name).
I think the cat is used for three reasons:
1) It’s a word play involving the name of the company and a cute word for cat (more memorable)
2) He’s cho kawaiiiiii (super cute)—this is the Land of Cute, after all. Most things are marketed that way.
3) It’s a commercial for hotel reservations, and what better image of restful sleep is there than that of a boneless, sacked out cat?
There are three other biznss kitteh video ads for Jalan: “Visiting a spa,” “Dreaming of a hot date while wearing a cat robe,” and “Getting a massage,” but we’ll take up these another time.