Japan Word of the Day #11 – Sakura (Edo-period stealth marketing)


Today’s Word is: Sakura (サクラ)

Sakura, as many of you already know, means cherry blossoms in Japanese, for most cases. However, there is an alternative meaning to the word in certain context.

In Edo period (1603-1867), sakura used to refer to a group of people who get free admissions to shows in exchange of promising to give enthusiastic shout (to encourage audience) and loud applauses. In present days, sakura means a shill, or a stooge. It refers to any hired actors who pretend to be genuine customers unrelated to the vendors and visibly compliment products in front of people. Another word for sakura is “yarase (ヤラセ),” which could also be used for actors on TV shows who pretend to be the voice of general public (but actually just reading scripts).

It is basically same as the modern day undercover marketing or stealth marketing. Merchants use the same techniques from long time ago!

word-of-the-day-stealth-marketing-sakura-rinkya-japan2 There could be several sakura viewers in theater audience.


Image source: Japan Life Design Systems

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