“Japan’s bountiful visual culture has long been a place to take inspiration from,” explains Georgie Lillington of Fashion United. “The futuristic yet traditional culture has become a fascination among western communities, translating into our creative industries, particularly fashion.”

From Merch sellers toiling on their laptops, to major global brands jostling for the hottest new design, the influence of Japanese culture and, of late, Japanese writing on Western tshirt design is impossible to overlook.

“Japanese kanji and kana symbols have become a huge part of western fashion, with both high end and high street brands using them in their designs,” Lillington adds. “Global brand Adidas has been at the forefront of using these symbols, adding them to apparel underneath their logo. Hype have also used the symbols in their designs, along with other imagery like cherry blossoms. Asos have joined this trend too, offering hoodies and tshirts with Japanese symbols.”

On Merch By Amazon, everything from single words to entire phrases, when translated from English to Japanese, creates a beautiful presentation of Japanese characters that, when stylized, can be used as the centerpiece or heart of an entire design.

Consider the above right example in this section of the Japanese word for “Luck” (you can use https://translate.google.com/?tl=ja to translate English words to Japanese). Imagine, for instance, using this symbol to create a St. Patrick’s Day-themed tshirt for the thousands of Japanese Americans celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Tshirts that present messages in Japanese are very strong sellers today on Merch By Amazon. What’s more, consider how inadequately leveraged this approach is across many messaging themes/niches. From tshirts about working out (inspiring Japanese words/phrases could be used in regard to fitness) to designs honoring mom for Mother’s Day or specific professions (Japanese words for “strong” or “hero” could be used for messages about nurses, police officers, firefighters, etc.), the Japanese writing system still hasn’t been put to adequate use in most of the major or most profitable niches.