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Merchants planning booth design at trade shows in Japan

Top 10 Trade Shows in Japan

Do you have a specific industry you want to enter, expand to, or explore more? If your answer is yes, then you might be interested in attending trade shows in Japan! Trade shows in Japan are events in which companies of a certain industry gather together in one venue to showcase their products or services to exhibitors. But that’s just the gist of it! The purpose of this article is to help you learn more about what exactly trade shows in Japan are, and what to do before, during, and after attending one.

What are trade shows in Japan?

Participants of trade shows in Japan in the event's venue

Trade shows in Japan are opportunities for companies to buy, sell, and network within their specific industries. These events usually last between three days to one week. For example, the IJT Autumn which is the largest trade show for the jewelry industry went on for three days in October 2023, while the IPF Japan 2023 which focuses more on industrial technology will last from November 28 to December 2. In trade shows in Japan, businesses with their booths or stalls are referred to as merchants, while eventgoers, individuals, prospective customers, and clients are called exhibitors.

For merchants, trade shows in Japan will allow them to find sales partners and reach out to new potential clients and customers. Some trade shows would have a program flow that contains a chance for some businesses to give a welcome speech or presentation. This could help widen their reach and increase visibility to the audience to attract them. 

As for exhibitors, merchants may offer great value deals that are exclusive to trade shows in Japan. Additionally, it would be an optimal time to network with potential business partners provided that trade shows are industry-specific.

How are they important in business scaling?

For both merchants and exhibitors, trade shows in Japan offer an abundance of networking opportunities. With a filtered community tailored to cater to a specific industry, it is easier for everybody to navigate the event and meet industry professionals, clients, partners, and suppliers. Trade shows in Japan may also aid in strengthening connections and opening doors to new collaborations that are essential for scaling.

Focusing more on merchants, trade shows in Japan undeniably offer a large platform for brand exposure which is also helpful if a business is planning to launch and promote a new product. A wide audience of individuals gather in one venue with a common industry of interest. These individuals can come from different countries, work in different fields of the industry, and seek a variety of products or services. This makes trade shows in Japan the optimal platform for businesses to expand their reach. Furthermore, businesses can gauge the competitive environment and analyze their environment to make necessary improvements and implement effective strategies in their own companies to give them a stronger position in the market.

As for exhibitors, trade shows in Japan provide the convenience of face-to-face communication and learning opportunities. By being in the event in person, it will be much easier for exhibitors and merchants to build lasting impressions and communicate their concerns. Additionally, in-person interactions add trust and credibility as relying solely on digital communication may lead to customer hesitations and concerns of legitimacy.

Being able to get responses instantly and witness a merchant’s product or service in person, exhibitors will be able to save a significant amount of time which ultimately makes transactions much more efficient. This is necessary for business scaling on the exhibitor’s end as it allows for quicker progress to be made in terms of forming new connections and potentially making purchases or subscriptions that will help boost growth.

How do I find the right trade show for my business?

Before attending trade shows in Japan, it would be ideal to know that you’re attending one that will present you with the best opportunities for your business. You can use certain factors to identify if a trade show fits the vision and goals that you’ve set for attending one. Some of these factors may include audience reach, media coverage, and past exhibitor success stories.

Top 10 biggest trade shows in Japan (October 2023)

Before we get to specific factors, here is a table of the top 10 biggest trade shows in Japan as of October 2023. For more information, please refer to the official website of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).

RankingTrade ShowAbout
136th INTERNATIONAL OPTICAL FAIR TOKYO (iOFT 2023)Eyewear brands from all over the world gather at the iOFT, the biggest optical trade fair in Japan. This event is held annually and requires an admission fee of JPY 5,000 for each person who will be attending without an invitation ticket.
2H.C.R. 2023 – 50th International Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition 2023The H.C.R., a trade fair focusing on medical care and health, is organized by the Japan National Council of Social Welfare/ Health & Welfare Information Association. The organizer holds this event annually in the hopes of connecting related businesses with one another.
3iREX 2023 – INTERNATIONAL ROBOT EXHIBITIONIf you’re interested in industrial, service robots, and related equipment, iREX is the trade show for you. Admission is free for those who have pre-registered online, or those with invitations. Registration at the event will cost JPY 1,000.
4BATTERY JAPAN [September] -15th Int’l Rechargeable Battery ExpoBATTERY JAPAN is a bi-annual trade fair for rechargeable batteries. At this show, you can expect products such as components, materials, devices, and finished rechargeable batteries. Similar to the previous shows, admission is JPY 5,000 for individuals with no invitation.
54th AI EXPO TOKYO 2023 (Autumn)AI tech companies gather at the AI EXPO TOKYO twice a year to introduce their technologies and services to global markets. For more details on admission, please refer to their official website.
6RoboDEX [September]Focusing on machinery and industrial technology, RoboDEX is a platform for businesses to exhibit robots, components, and AGVs that may be critical elements in factories and logistics sites. Admission may be done online, while same-day registration at the event will cost JPY 5,000.
7The 96th Tokyo International Gift Show Autumn 2023Holding over 90 shows in the span of 50 years, The Tokyo International Gift Show presents a platform for personal gifts and household goods. More details on admission fees are available on their website.
8SMART FACTORY Expo [September]Another fair focusing on machinery and industrial technology is the SMART Factory Expo. You can find AI solutions, systems & software, networking solutions, and more. This fair is held annually, so be sure to check their website for more details if you’re interested in attending!
9PV EXPO [September] -17th Int’l Photovoltaic Power Generation ExpoFor those interested in solar panels and the photovoltaic (PV) industry, the PV Expo is a bi-annual trade fair that may suit your business. At this fair, you can find residential or industrial solar panels, manufacturing equipment, and more. Admission can be accomplished online or at the event with a fee of JPY 5,000 per person without an invitation ticket.
1014th Japan IT Week AutumnThe largest IT fair in Japan held annually is Japan IT Week Autumn. This trade fair exhibits cloud computing products, information security, digital marketing solutions, and much more. For more information on admission and details, please see the official website.

How do I know if a trade show is right for me?

Before going to trade shows in Japan, it’s important to do your research beforehand. You want to be sure that you’ll see a lot of what you like!

Audience reach 

One way you can evaluate the potential of trade shows in Japan is by examining the audience reach. Some trade shows in Japan may have been around for much longer than the rest. For example, the Tokyo International Gift Show (TIGS) was established back in 1971 and is set to have their 97th show in February 2024. For first-time trade show goers, it may be recommended to attend larger and more popular trade shows to get you started.

These kinds of trade shows in Japan usually have a long history with their merchants and exhibitors as it is something both parties anticipate. From there you will be able to meet countless people and companies who can connect you to more events aside from those you have initially discovered.

Past exhibitor success stories

Lux Fine Gold is a jewelry business based in the Philippines with partners from Japan, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Turkey. Initially functioning within the Philippine market, Lux Fine Gold saw significant growth in several aspects after attending several of the International Jewellery Tokyo (IJT) shows as an exhibitor. By attending trade shows in Japan since 2017, the company was able to build bridges with suppliers and customers who fuel a large portion of the profits. After a record of successful transactions, Lux Fine Gold was given a VIP status which allowed the company a handful of privileges. Some privileges include hotel accommodations covered by the event organizer, access to a VIP lounge with meals, and early venue entrance.

GOTO INC, a telescope and planetarium projector manufacturing company, also discovered a critical juncture in their business upon attending the Tokyo International Trade Fair (TITF) in May 1959. GOTO INC. started in Tokyo and decided to pursue expansion towards the global market by introducing a new planetarium projector which they called the Model M-1. They brought this to the TITF and showcased the abilities of the product.

Media coverage and industry buzz

By checking your preferred trade show’s website, you may find a directory of all the businesses that will be attending the show as merchants. More often than not, these businesses will have social media platforms or websites of their own for you to gauge early on what you would want to see from them at their booth. Sometimes, businesses can also use trade shows as a platform for them to launch a new product or service, as the aforementioned GOTO INC did with Model M-1. 

Additionally, it is important to know about which industry a specific trade show is for. This will allow you to conduct minor research and maximize the internet to check for media coverage related to the trade show. You may read articles, press releases, and news reports about the event, to discover key themes and trends discussed. With such information, you can analyze factors of consideration such as your potential return on investment (ROI) from attending the show. It is crucial to consider the costs that will be incurred in participating in a trade show (e.g. travel, accommodation) with the potential benefits that you expect to gain in terms of business opportunities and exposure.

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What is it like inside trade shows in Japan?

How do you fit in and make a great lasting impression on the businesses you meet at trade shows? This section of the article will guide you through some general points on Japanese business etiquette and operational execution at the show.

What are some key cultural nuances I need to know before going to trade shows in Japan?

  1. Business card etiquette
    • Be respectful when exchanging business cards. Once you receive one, take a moment to read and examine it before putting it away.
    • Exchanging business cards in Japan is a bigger deal than one might assume. To learn more about Japanese business card etiquette, check out our article on Japanese business cards.
  2. Politeness and respect
    • Ojigi, which is the Japanese term for bowing, is a respectful gesture that will leave a positive lasting impression.
    • Use honorifics; if somebody introduces themselves as ***-san, it is ideal to refer to them that way.
  3. Dress code
    • Dress appropriately; trade shows generally do not have a strict dress code, but if you want to make a good impression, you’ll want to consider dressing in smart-casual clothes.
  4. Gift giving
    • Receive gifts with both hands as it emphasizes your gratitude.
    • If it is not your first time meeting a business at a trade show, consider bringing a small gift from your home country.
  5. Silence and non-verbal communication
    • Remember that silence is completely normal. It allows individuals some mind space for thinking.
  6. Language consideration
    • Not everybody may speak English as their first language. Remember to speak slowly and avoid complex language.
  7. Hierarchy
    • Seniority is an important factor in Japanese business culture. Be sure to respect your elders and prioritize their input in decision-making processes.

Taking your business a step further with a Japanese company? See our article on Japanese Business Etiquette for a comprehensive guide on the Dos and Don’ts in Japanese corporate culture!

How do I market my booth at trade shows in Japan?

Pre-show marketing strategies

One way you can widen your reach at a trade show is to be one step ahead! This means that your game plan starts before the actual event takes place. With digital marketing strategies, your business will be able to reach and communicate with prospective show-goers so that they can anticipate your attendance at the show. Digital marketing will also allow you to build your presence online, adding credibility and reputation to your image once you’re at the trade show in person and introducing your business to others.

There are several effective digital marketing strategies such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-per-click (PPC), and social media marketing. However, this is a wide topic on its own. If you would like to learn more about the specific strategies you can implement before attending a trade show, we’ve got you covered with our Guide to Digital Marketing in Japan.

At-show promotions and networking

On the day/s of the trade show, you’ll need to seize all the opportunities presented by the event to make sure you can get the most out of it. You can do this by networking with the exhibitors and merchants and promoting your own business. However, don’t forget about some of the important points on Japanese business etiquette listed above. You can also check out our other article on business networking in Japan for a crash course on how to network and how to be a pro at it! It’s important to build as many connections as you can in your industry as these relationships can provide you with valuable insights that could contribute to business growth.

For merchants, it would be ideal to bring multiple staff members to the show. You could have some staff at the booth and some staff tasked to walk around the venue and drive potential customers to your business. You may also prepare physical materials (e.g. brochures, pamphlets, flyers) for people to take home and refer to in the future.

As for exhibitors who wish to make a lasting impression through their presence, it would be helpful to do some research on the booths you wish to visit before coming to them. This will provide you with background knowledge of a business and allow you to engage in a substantial conversation with the staff at the booth. Doing so will show the merchant your interest in what they have to offer. Towards the end of your conversation would be a great time to exchange business cards as well.

Leveraging social media and digital platforms

As mentioned previously, digital marketing would be one of the strongest instruments in making your presence known. During trade shows in Japan, you can check the organizer’s website and social media pages for updates on popular booths, businesses whose booths you have not yet seen, and possible programs with speech opportunities. 

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You can also use this to your advantage by connecting with businesses digitally before and/or after meeting them in person. This way, you will be able to keep in touch even after the trade show.

How do I operate a booth at trade shows in Japan?

If you’re thinking of running your booth at trade shows in Japan, this section of the article will guide you through critical aspects you’ll need to consider. These include how to design your booth, sell your product, and make sure you’re complying with local trade regulations.

Logistical Considerations

Booth design and setup

Most trade shows in Japan are quite big which means that there will be hundreds of businesses and brands with their booths as well. You’ll want to design and promote your booth so that your brand stands out and is easily distinguishable. This will help exhibitors remember your business and make it easier for them to come back to your booth later on. Additionally, trade shows can be crowded so people are bustling through the venue trying to visit as many booths and meet as many people as they can.

That being said, it would help to set your booth up in such a way that exhibitors can easily see your selling point. Also, consider placing some flyers or promotional materials in a reachable spot for exhibitors to refer to. This will save lots of time for both you and your potential customer! 

On-site services and support

When it comes to attending to a potential customer’s needs, you need to make sure that communication is done smoothly and that you can give them reasons to engage with your business. In doing so, you can build their trust and show them what kind of customer service they can expect from you.

Feel like you need some selling tips? We have a comprehensive guide on selling products in Japan to teach you how to do it effectively, so you might want to give it a look!

Booth size

Choosing a booth size at trade shows in Japan could be tricky. You would need to consider the price of a space and understand if you will be able to maximize it. For some businesses, a smaller and compact booth is enough to cover their selling point and entertain their customers. On the other hand, other businesses may need bigger spaces to accommodate a larger collection of products and sometimes a private meeting room to hold conversations with some of their VIPs. Nevertheless, it really depends on what you think is optimal for your business.

Financial Planning and ROI

Speaking of optimizing your presence at trade shows in Japan, this section of the article tackles important considerations when you’re budgeting for the show, estimating and tracking your return on investments (ROI), and other financial aspects of attending a trade show.

Budgeting for the show

If you are attending trade shows in Japan, you’ll need to come up with a budget by considering your goals and researching potential costs. Goal setting is much more important than one would initially think. By setting your objectives for participating in trade shows in Japan, you will be able to discern what aspects and expenses you will want to prioritize in your budget to attain those goals. After setting your goals, gather information on all potential expenses. These would include booth fees (for merchants), travel costs, marketing materials, and more.

Estimating and tracking ROI

Once you have set your goals and found all the necessary expenses you expect to make, it’s time to estimate your ROI. To do so, you can allot a certain monetary value to each of your goals which represents how much you anticipate you will be gaining from attaining them. This will make it easy to compare your expected net profit to your costs. 

From here, you can use the following formula to get a percentage that represents your expected ROI:

ROI = (Net profit/Total costs) x 100

Sponsorship and funding opportunities

Costs may also be mitigated through sponsorship and funding opportunities. Most beneficial for small to medium-sized businesses with limited budgets, these kinds of opportunities will help secure spots in larger trade shows in Japan that have higher booth fees or admission fees. We have an article on subsidies in Japan in case you’re planning to attend a trade show soon and need some funding opportunities to help you maximize the experience.

How much do things cost?

Some common fees that a business may incur when attending trade shows in Japan include both fees, registration fees, marketing and advertising packages, shipping and handling, and more. For your convenience, we’ve constructed a table containing the average cost of certain fees that you might encounter.

Expense NameCost (¥)References
Booth Rental90,000 ~ 1,400,000Japan Home and Building Show 2023
PAN-Exhibition for Wash and Clean 2023
Admission or Registration FeeFree ~ 5,000JETRO Database
International Hardware and Tools Expo Tokyo
Technology and Equipment Rental30,000 ~150,000FOODEX Packages and Equipment Rental

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

It is important to develop a general understanding of Japanese regulations in terms of importing your product or service into Japan. This provides you with assurance that your transactions and engagements are completely legal and abide by Japanese law when you attend trade shows in Japan. To do so, you can check the official Japan Customs website for information related to this. Furthermore, looking into details about your product and whether it is compatible with Japanese law will add credibility to your brand. Some products or services may require certifications before being permitted for sale within Japan, so be cautious!

Next, Japanese businesses and consumers alike have a common trait which is their high expectations for product quality. If you want not only to make sales at trade shows in Japan but to leave a mark as well, we recommend that you take measures to ensure that your products or services meet or exceed Japanese quality standards. Additionally, it would be helpful to make customer service a point of emphasis for your business to ensure that all your clients can rely on you and your honesty concerning what you are selling them.

Lastly, businesses in trade shows in Japan must also take measures to protect their intellectual property. You can do this by registering trademarks and patents, providing non-disclosure agreements, and working with legal professionals. With a large and diverse community of businesses in the same industry gathering in one venue together, you must not forget the uniqueness of your brand and be sure to make efforts to protect it.

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What can I do after attending a trade show?

Some questions you can ask yourself after attending trade shows in Japan could be about whether you’ve attained your goals, who you were able to meet, what you were able to buy or sell, and more. To do this, you would need to analyze the quantitative and qualitative data that you’ve gathered during the trade show.

For example, if you estimate your ROI in the planning process, you’ll want to compare it with the real result of attending the trade show. Were your goals met and does your estimated ROI match the actual outcome? Additionally, it would also be helpful to debrief with your team and gather feedback to identify what you did successfully and what can be improved. If you also managed to gather customer feedback, you can add this to the comments you receive from your team.

As mentioned earlier, trade shows in Japan hold lots of networking opportunities. If you made it a point to form relationships with other businesses, we strongly recommend coming up with a follow-up strategy to keep in touch with them even after the trade show. You can do this by sending personalized emails, arranging phone calls, or other forms of communication to discuss prospective collaboration plans.

It will be crucial to implement any points of improvement discussed with your team and to make sure that you can maintain these relationships that you form with other businesses. By doing so, you will be able to work on different aspects of your business such as marketing and partnerships. By detailing your initial goals, analyzing what progress you were able to make, and acknowledging what further steps your business can take, you can set your business up for sustained growth in the Japanese market. However, it is also important to remain adaptable and responsive as market dynamics tend to move and change quickly. This is another reason it is important to maintain strong connections with other businesses.

Aside from trade shows in Japan, you can also consider joining a chamber of commerce for an upper hand in market entry information, further networking opportunities, and inclusion in a community of businesses in Japan. We have an article on chambers of commerce in Japan, so if this piques your interest, we recommend you read it!

Conclusion

To sum it all up, trade shows in Japan are industry-specific events that provide networking opportunities, business exposure, and growth. If your business is looking to work on those points, then you should consider attending trade shows in Japan. This article also tackled some important points on what to do before, during, and after a trade show.

Before attending trade shows in Japan, you’ll need to do your research and plan an optimal budget. During the trade show, you’ll want to maximize your set budget by taking all the opportunities presented to you during the event. Afterward, debrief with your team and compare your set goals to what you were able to achieve and use this information to create strategies for sustained growth. Of course, it is much easier said than done, but if you’re looking to attend your first trade show in Japan, then we hope this article helped you!

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