The common characteristics of Japan web design

The common characteristics of Japan web design

As you guys might have know, I’m a Japan design lover. I really like their sense of design in architecture, product as well as web designs. I always go and search inspiration from Japanese Web Design directories, and through out the years I found out that their designs are unique and having a few common characteristics which I would like to share it to you guys today.

After a few hours of mind-map and research, I categorizes the common characteristics into nine different categories with two web screenshots as example. Note that I write this article from an foreigner point of view and I might get wrong. Please do notify me there’s something needs improvement. Enjoy reading!

Traditional Design Approach

Japan is a modern country and yet well preserved its traditional culture and designs. This reflects well on the web design as well especially promoting their historical places, cultures or heritage products.



Clean and Emphasize on White Space

We can see a lot of Japanese designs are clean and simple. This is no exceptions on the web too. Simple designs can give a comfortable view to the visitors and easier to navigate thanks to the uncluttered layout structure. It looks even spacious on widescreen monitors.

Collabo Miu


Big Product Images

Ok, web designers always says that Apple website is a fine example of good web design because it focuses on the beauty of their products by putting it big and bold. Some Japan websites done exactly the same thing too and maybe even bigger, almost filling up the whole screen. Japan industries are really competitive and to stand out of the crowd, their products have to innovative and attractive to the potential customers. This shows well in the examples below.



Smiling Faces

Japan is a friendly country and the people there are really kind. And people always says that smiles is the way to break the ice and built trusty relationship and smiling people leave good impressions too. So to portray the people are really enjoying or the service are very friendly, a welcoming picture of smiling users is crucial.


American Home


Japanese seems love 3D a lot. It gives a whole new experience to the users although some might felt it’s not very user friendly. The 3D elements being used a lot in navigation and more.



Highly Interactive Flash

Again, Flash shines in this categories. The flash sites enable users to have fun with the application, to create and play with it, for example creating custom toys to personalized screensaver, games etc. It is really creative!



Less Color / Monotone

To express professionalism in web design, well structured layout is crucial as well as minimalizing the color variety. With less color used, the website looks more tied together as a whole. I also see many Japanese sites done in mainly dominated by black and white color too.


Tokyo City University

Colorful Illustrations

As contrast to the previous category, here we speak about Japanese colorful illustration sites. Color schemes are needed to express certain mood, with colorful approach we can express cheerful and content rich feeling. One concern is that by using many colors together, will the design looks harmony? The examples below shows how it should be done. Plus the illustration designs can create down to earth and friendly feeling too. Both are well blended elements.

oolong tomonokai Suntory



Japan is rich in typography, by combining Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji, it create a harmony piece of type designs. It would be better if presented in calligraphic type.

Nagoya Ad

shohei itoh @ Nine Design Inc.

Final Thought

I hope you guys enjoy reading this article. What do you think? Actually the examples above share one than one categories written above. And many of them using Flash as platform, perhaps for Japanese designers Flash is the first choice tool to create intriguing and engaging web experience.

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