Tourism New Zealand is leading a $3.5 million campaign in Japan based around the Rugby World Cup to 'thank' Japan for hosting Kiwis at the tournament and sell this country as a place to visit, study and do business.

The campaign video features All Blacks Kieran Read, Beauden Barrett, Sam Cane and Anton Lienert-Brown, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Kiwis from around the country.

The campaign draws on the similarities between the Japanese concept of omotenashi and the Māori concept of manaakitanga to raise awareness of New Zealand as a destination.

It also uses Japanese word play. In Japanese culture 39, or san kyu, is a symbol commonly used to say 'thank you' and All Blacks at today's launch event wore a special t-shirt with the number 39 on the back.

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All Blacks Beauden Barrett, Kieran Read, Anton Lienert-Brown and Sam Cane in the ''NZ Says 39'' campaign. Photo / Supplied
All Blacks Beauden Barrett, Kieran Read, Anton Lienert-Brown and Sam Cane in the ''NZ Says 39'' campaign. Photo / Supplied

Tourism New Zealand chairman Jamie Tuuta said it was more than a tourism campaign, even though it was hoped to attract more visitors from Japan — a market which has dipped slightly in the last year to just under 100,000 visitors and is worth $266m in tourism revenue.

It is New Zealand's third biggest market by visitor spend.

He said good manners were highly valued in Japan and the concepts of omotenashi and manaakitanga were important in the two countries.

The 'NZ Says 39' campaign will target Japanese consumers on social media from today.

Tourism New Zealand has contributed $1.5m and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage $2m for the campaign which will run until November.

Tuuta said the All Blacks had recognition in Japan beyond the rugby-following public.. and it was more than a tourism pitch.

 Beauden Barrett with fans as the All Blacks team arrives at a camp in Kashiwa. Photo / AP
Beauden Barrett with fans as the All Blacks team arrives at a camp in Kashiwa. Photo / AP

''It's much deeper than a tourism campaign - it's about deepening the country to country relationship,'' he said before a launch function this evening.

All Black coach Steve Hansen said rugby is a shared passion for both our countries which makes this gesture of gratitude really special.

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''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 welcoming hosts."

Read, who is captain, said: "On behalf of the All Blacks, we want to say 'domo arigato gozaimasu' to the people of Japan for looking after us. The team loves coming to Japan, we're always made to feel welcome, the fans are so passionate, and we love catching up with them.''

The All Blacks kick off their own campaign for a third successive Cup win with their first pool match against South Africa on September 21.

Tourism New Zealand has worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Education New Zealand, the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, NZ Story, Te Puni Kokiri and Air New Zealand.