Pop Up Portland in Tokyo Recap

Recently, a group of Portland and Oregon companies traveled to Tokyo, Japan for a trade and export mission. Pop Up Portland 2015 in Tokyo took place from April 18-25, 2015. The week-long event was part of a business development mission organized by the Portland Development Commission for Athletic and Outdoor (A&O), maker, and design companies. The purpose of the mission was to increase trade opportunities for Portland and Oregon companies. Participating companies met with distributors, retailers, media, and consumers in the hopes of securing trade deals and increasing brand awareness in the Japanese marketplace.
The trip was recently highlighted in the Portland Tribune and below is a recap of the group’s activities and outcomes.

First off, “Why Japan?”
You may be asking yourself, ‘Why Japan?’ Japan is actually Portland’s most established international market for a variety of factors:

  • Longstanding ties that reach back to the 1800s
  • It is the third largest economy in the world after U.S. and China (but with much higher average per capita income, about 300% of China’s)
  • Significant outreach by Oregon’s political leaders that dates back to Governor Atiyeh in the 1980s
  • There are more than 120 Japanese businesses and organizations in the Portland metro region, including many large companies such as Ajinomoto, Sharp, Epson, Tokyo Electron, Mizuno, Montbell, Snow Peak and Itochu, etc
  • Portland and Japan share a similarity of ethos that can be seen in the significant media coverage that Portland gets in Japan

Who Came With Us?

The Pop Up Portland team this year included:

Our Week

The Pop Up Portland expo was held at maach ecute, a venue in the bustling neighborhood of Akihabara. Akihabara is known for attracting geeks and electronics nerds and is filled with video game arcades, but it is also quickly becoming a hipster shopping area, making the maach ecute location perfect for attracting the kinds of consumers interested in Portland-made products.

The expo took place over five days. The first two days were primarily to conduct business to business meetings. Portland brands met with distributors and high end retailers such as Beams, Tokyu Hands, Isetan, Ships, Muji, and others. One face to face meeting can set the foundation for years of partnership in Japan and many of the outcomes of this trip speak to the importance of having face to face interactions in conducting export related activities in Japan. We also held a media event on the first day of the Popup, which attracted a few dozen reporters from the Japanese media including True Portland guide, Japan Times, and others. The expo was open to the public on the last three days of the trip, giving locals a chance to experience and purchase products for themselves. In the course of one week, the participating companies sold over $20,000 in product and over 55 articles have been written on the trip. At a post-trip debrief held at PDC, participants were excited about the business outcomes, the cultural knowledge gained, and the relationships made. All of the companies are excited about the possibility of participating in next years’ trip. One participant even said she “takes any opportunity to brag about the PDC and this trip”


Over $20,000 in sales.

All participants secured new partnership or collaboration opportunities, including new distributors and retail shops. Companies were also able to further their relationships with existing distributors and retailers, as was the case with PPW and Seamus.

POPUP Portland was covered by over 50 (57 to be exact!) Japanese media outlets as of today. Some national media such as Asahi Shimbun and Tokyo Timeout as well as famous bloggers and media sites featured the event. Below are a few samples written in English.



Subsequently, one of our stellar participants, Tess Darrow of Egg Press, got a personal shout out by President Obama about Egg Press’ trade with Japan during his recent visit to Oregon to promote the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. How cool is that?!