New Zealand says 'San Kyu' to Japan

As Japan prepares to host thousands of rugby fans, New Zealand has come together with their national rugby team to say ‘Thank You’.

As Japan prepares to host thousands of rugby fans, New Zealand has come together with their national rugby team the All Blacks, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to say a heartfelt and culturally significant ‘Thank You’ to the Japanese people. 

Part of a campaign launched today – New Zealand says 39 – the All Blacks have expressed a deep gratitude on behalf of New Zealand to the people of Japan for looking after their team and fans as they arrive for the tournament. 

New Zealand Says 39 acknowledges at its heart the deep connection between the two nations and the shared passion and pride in hospitality toward others - called omotenashi in Japan and manaakitanga in New Zealand.

The number 39 in Japan means [San Kyu] and is a cultural symbol that is meaningful, recognisable and respected as meaning thank you. 

Jamie Tuuta, Chair of the Tourism New Zealand Board, who spoke at the event says, “We know that to the Japanese hospitality (omotenashi) is as important as manaakitanga is to us in New Zealand, and so we are here today to acknowledge that and send a message from all of New Zealand to Japan, to thank them for looking after our team and our fans.

We might have come for the rugby, but these kinds of events are really about the people to people exchanges, about our countries coming closer together and about the sharing of cultural values.”

At today’s event, the All Blacks, wore a special tee shirt with the number 39 on the back.

All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen says of the campaign, “Rugby is a shared passion for both our countries which makes this gesture of gratitude really special for us. It’s an honour to be here and to be able to say thank you to all of Japan. The team and I sincerely want to thank the Japanese people for being such friendly and welcoming hosts.”

Over the coming weeks New Zealand will say 39 to the people of Japan through a showcase of gifts, appreciation and manaakitanga from their own culture. 

There will be pop-up style events set up for six days over three different weekends. At the events visitors will be able to experience the best and most iconic parts of New Zealand - a blend of traditional and modern cultures.

VIP guests from New Zealand will officially attend the event on Saturday 21 September and Sunday 22 September including players from the All Blacks team. All events will be free to attend.

New Zealand said farewell to The All Blacks on September 9th with around 60 Air New Zealand staff performing a mihi and haka on the tarmac in front of the aircraft. All Blacks players TJ Perenara, Rieko Ioane, Aaron Smith and Management team member Gilbert Enoka received the haka on the tarmac.

The aircraft flying direct from Auckland to Narita was rebranded flight 39 for the journey as a mark of respect and gratitude to Japan.

The meaning of manaakitanga: creating deep connections between people, extending hospitality, care and respect.  

To view or download New Zealand Says 39 campaign assets see here.
To view or download images from the launch of New Zealand Says 39 in Japan see here:

  • Getty Images subscribers can access Images here.
  • All media can access images and video clips here

New Zealand Says 39 event dates and locations: 

21 September: 11:00 – 18:00: Roppongi Hills, Oyane Plaza, Tokyo
22 September: 11:00 – 20:00: Roppongi Hills, Oyane Plaza, Tokyo
05 October: 10:00 – 16:00: Aoyama Farmers Market, Tokyo
06 October: 10:00 – 16:00: Aoyama Farmers Market, Tokyo
12 October: 11:00 – 18:00: Kashiwa no ha, Chiba 
13 October: 11:00 – 18:00: Kashiwa no ha, Chiba