Everything started when we realised that the Japanese where outnumbering any nationality in regard of tourist visitors to Catalonia and specially Barcelona. There was a clear reason for this: it seemed that the Japanese loved Gaudi. For us citizens of Barcelona, is a city topic to see Japanese people in the subway asking for the Sagrada Familia station.

It must be said that the love story between Japan and Catalonia can be extended to the rest of Spanish culture. Flamenco is very well valued by Japanese, and even bullfighting is one thing that a lot of Japanese tourists want to see when they come to Spain.

Both Catalonian and Japanese societies value capacity and commitment to do quality work. Artistic sensibility is another think that can be attributed to both cultures.

I haven’t been to Japan, but it seems that we share other traits of our character: we tend to be reserved, it’s hard to make new friends, but once you make a friend, it’s for all your life.

Executives of Japanese companies are known to be reluctant to leave Catalonia once integrated in our society. They speak of quality of life, good schools for their children and good Japanese restaurants (I can assure this). The fact is all the major Japanese companies with presence in Spain have their headquarters in Catalonia (more concretely, 123 of 178, more than 69 % ).

We can also talk about other phenomena, like the origins of the huge success of Manga in Spain. For instance, Dragon Ball Z was first aired in Catalonian TV with a huge success that lead to its broadcasting in almost all TV stations in the country. We have also the Saló del Comic i del Manga de Barcelona (formerly Saló del Comic de Barcelona), a result of Catalonia being the entry point for Manga in Spain.

Bear in mind that here we are oversimplifying and generalising, as there are many subcultures inside Spain, Catalonia and Japan. Galicia, the Basque Country, Andalucía or Catalonia can be as different as Kantô from Kansai, Tôhoku, Kyushû, Okinawa or Hokkaido.

Some Japanese enterprises that have its headquarters in Catalonia:

Asahi Chemical Industry, Calsonic, Fujitec, Fuji Photo Film, Hosokawa Micron, Hitachi Sales, Hitachi Koki, Hitachi, Honda Motor, Ikeda Bussan, JST Trading, JVC, Kondo Bosekisho, Kao, Kenwood, Kitz, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd, Mori Seiki, Nippon Denso, Nippon Electronic, Nippon Express, Nissan Chemical Industries, Nissan Motor, Nippon Seiko, Otsuka Pharmaceutical, Otsuka Chemical, Pioneer Electronic, Rico, Riso Kagaku, Sakata Inx, Sanden, Sanyo Electric Trading, Sekisui Chemical, Seiko, Epson, Sharp, Showa Mfg, Sogo, Sony, Sumitomo Chemical, Takasago International, Tomen, Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank, Yamaha Motor, Yazaki, Y. K. K., Kanase Kogyo, Icom, Asics, Terasaki, Clarion, Yamashita Rubber, Citizen Watch, Dainichi-Seika, Dentsu, Asahi-Glass, Nippon Daiot, Bando Chemical, Matsushita Electric Works, Mitsubishi Pencil, Yoshitomi Seiyaku, Topcon, Dainippon Ink and Chemicals, Kana Flex.

Main Spanish companies with presence in Japan (marked with * are Catalonian companies):

Zara Japan Corp. (fashion) Lladró* (porcelain), Freixenet Japan Inc. (wine), Adolfo Domínguez Japan (fashion), Yanko Japan Limited. (shoemaker), Grupo Antolín Irausa Japan (automotive components), Chocovic Japan, Ltd. (chocolate), Colomer Japan Co., Ltd.* (leather).

As you can see, there are some imbalance between our commercial relationships. Blame the euro!

Some links (in English and Japanese):

http://www.xtec.es/recursos/musica/japo/japan.htm (Exchange of experiences in DTM Educational Application)

http://www.spain-japan.com/catalonia/ (Catalonia Resources in Japan)

http://www.gaudi.com/barcelona/bcnoia.html (Tourist and style guide of Barcelona)

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