This man loves Japan. His name is Tommy Lee Jones.

Pictured is Tommy Lee Jones in the Boss Rainbow Mountain Blend canned coffee ad.

Tommy Lee Jones is plastered on a Suntory billboard in Tokyo.
Photo: Luke Plunkett (Kotaku)

You may like Japan. But if you’re Tommy Lee Jones, you totally *heart* it. Who loves Japan? Why, Tommy Lee Jones, that’s who!

With Jones appearing in a Super Bowl commercial this Sunday to sell trucks, let’s take a look back at his long career as a seller of canned coffee in Japan.

Since 2006, Tommy Lee Jones has appeared in a series of Boss coffee commercials. Boss is Suntory’s brand of hot coffee that is sold canned (hot or cold). In the commercial, Jones is an alien visiting Japan. He always got another job — such as a train station attendant, taxi driver, or a tanned presenter — while living in a new environment. Some ads are even touching!

A foreigner acting in a Japanese commercial is nothing new. And, perhaps, many foreigners come to Japan to do advertising like the country normal. However, Tommy Lee Jones didn’t just star in Japanese salary commercials: After the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Jones sang in an advertisement full of Japanese celebrities. All of them – including Jones, are featured in the ad for free to lift the country’s spirits. However, Jones is the only foreigner.

A theme on the site Naver has a collection of quotes that Jones has given to the Japanese press over the years. According to Jones, Japan is the only country he still visits while promoting his films. It’s not just for work – Jones is even quoted saying that he visits Japan on his private time (he is particularly fond of Kyoto).

Tommy Lee Jones appeared as a samurai in a canned coffee commercial.

A few years back, the website Kirai found Jones in Nara feeding deer.

Tommy Lee Jones lines the shelves at a convenience store.

When Hollywood celebrities visit Japan, they talk about Japanese food – so does Jones, who especially digs Japanese fish ayu. However, in interviews, he also talks about his appreciation for Japanese art (such as Hokusai and Yoshitoshi) and kabuki. You get the feeling that this guy knows more about Japan than simply how to order good sushi.

Tommy Lee Jones has glowing eyes in a canned coffee commercial.

Long-running coffee ads made Jones a part of Japanese pop culture. He’s no longer simply some Hollywood star to put on a pedestal. Rather, he was a familiar face.

What makes the coffee ads work is that Jones, so far, really seems to enjoy making them — he likes to wear different uniforms, visit different areas of Japanese society. Japan and experience various slices of life in Japan. He’s willing to make goofy faces and do things that some might find “too silly” or even embarrassing. He is participating.

Pigeons fly out of Tommy Lee Jones' coat.

And because of these ads, Jones’ face is plastered all over the country – a country he loves very much and a country that likes him too.

Tommy Lee Jones watching the sunset.

This article was originally published on August 21, 2012. It has since been updated. This man loves Japan. His name is Tommy Lee Jones.

Curtis Crabtree

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