This Riveting Footage Will Make You Want to ‘Drop Everything and Head Straight to Sapporo’

With Japan's tourism down 99.9%, a film hopes to put Hokkaido island on your must-visit list

The sights and sounds of a Japanese sword being made are part of the compelling travel video for the island of Hokkaido. Spandy Films
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If you’ve never seen the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and its largest city, Sapporo, in winter, get ready for 90 seconds of breathtaking footage—food and nature porn included—with nary a branded sales pitch.

Who needs one, with cinematic shots and captivating sounds like these?

The video bills itself as a groundbreaking piece of travel filmmaking, with a “dream-like series of fleeting yet extraordinarily powerful images that make the viewer want to drop everything and head straight to Sapporo.”

Mission accomplished. (And swagger justified.)

The work, dubbed an “ice-cold mini-epic” and set to a taiko drum soundtrack, comes from London-based production house Spandy Films. With a one-word intro, “Winter,” and no dialogue, the spot features snippets of national parks, jazz musicians, sushi chefs and sword smiths, set against an unspoiled, snowy montage.

The creatives at Spandy describe their “dimension-bending, flow-motion, hyper lapse” shots as a way to make Hokkaido stand out from the destination pack and break from the advertising norm.

“It’s easy for commercial videographers and photographers to tall into the trap of relying on tried and tested shots and motifs,” says Sofia Panayiotaki, Spandy’s CEO, noting that the boutique company uses “leading-edge talent and original thinkers to break that mold and keep pushing the medium forward.”

“Hokkaido, The Sound of Japan,” from producer-directors Laura Innocenti and Giacomo Calistri, aims to lure visitors later in the year to the island’s natural hot springs, ski resorts, active volcanoes and dining scene. There’s also the National Ainu Museum dedicated to indigenous people, delayed from its planned spring debut and opened recently with social-distancing attendance caps.

Like many parts of the world, Japan’s tourism industry has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tourism visits in June were down 99.9% compared to a year prior. U.S. residents are currently not allowed to visit Japan under most circumstances.

However, it’s clear tourism marketers are thinking ahead and trying to get attention now for travel plans made after pandemic restrictions ease. Iceland this week launched a tourism promotion that lets aspiring visitors record their screams, which are then released into the island nation’s rugged wilderness as a sort of cathartic therapy.

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@TLStanleyLA T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.