"Lovers in Japan" is a song by English alternative rock band Coldplay. It was written by all members of the band for their fourth album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. The song is built around an introductory tack piano sound, then followed by chiming guitars and soaring choruses, supported by the pianos and rhythms that accompany the song's lyrics. "Lovers in Japan" also includes the track "Reign of Love" on the album.
When asked about the development of the song, during a track-by-track reveal, drummer Will Champion said: "We were in a studio in New York, this place called the Magic Shop, and it had this thing called a tack piano there, which sounds like an old honky-tonk piano, where you put little tacks in the hammers, so it sounds like more of a harpsichord almost. And so we wanted to use that kind of sound, but we didn't have a tack piano, so rather than sample it, we went and bought an old piano from the shop up the road from our studio, and we bought a load of tacks, and me and Guy and Jon spent a couple of hours pushing tacks into the piano hammers."
In an interview with Q magazine, when asked about why "Lovers in Japan" had a hidden track, bassist Guy Berryman explained that the band could not make up their minds, because they had discussed that they did not want an extra song on the album, and instead they wanted to keep the album concise with a total of ten tracks. Champion followed with, "We just preferred to have less titles and more stuff. The album as a whole has got the most on it, but it's the shortest. We wanted to make it almost impossible for you to not listen to it all in one go." In addition, vocalist Chris Martin revealed that the band had always wanted a song title which was two in one. He added that the reason for having two titles in the track listing of Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends was due to American singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake doing it for his last album, FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006).
Coldplay released "Lovers in Japan" in the United States on 4 November 2008 as the fourth single of their fourth album. The song is also featured in the band's 2008 EP Prospekt's March, entitled as "Lovers in Japan (Osaka Sun Mix)", when it was released on 21 November 2008. Chris Martin in discussion about the song, said: "We've been playing it live better than it is on the record. So the live version has informed this Osaka Sun version, which is just a bit more lively."
"Lovers in Japan" appeared on Billboard's Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks chart in the peak position of 32 on 29 November 2008. The track peaked at number 10 on Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. The song appeared in Billboard's Pop 100 chart, in the peak position of 65. Although the song did not chart on the UK Singles Chart, as it was released as a radio-only song in the United States, the song peaked at number 41 on the Japan Hot 100 Singles chart.
Critics were positive towards the song. Alexis Petridis of The Guardian review of the album, wrote: "Chris Martin's melodies ... shine: even his loudest detractor could hardly deny his way with a tune as evidenced here by '42' and 'Lovers in Japan'." Evan Sawdey of PopMatters noted that the song is "stunning, jaw-dropping highlight". He added that Martin pounds away at a bouncy toy-piano melody ... leading into a chorus where guitarist Jonny Buckland "gets to unleash what might be the catchiest guitar riff he's written (and yes, he absolutely bathes in the moment)." Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle added that "Lovers in Japan" was a "joyous, romantic anthem that combines wistful rock riffs and gorgeous piano." He also wrote that the song is one of "the disc's best moments". Jed Gottlieb of the Boston Herald reported that the piano sound in "Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love" hints at the 1968 song "Lady Madonna" by The Beatles, "before taking a neo-classical, Chopin-does-Britpop route." Jeff Crawford of the City Messenger wrote, "...'Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love' and 'Strawberry Swing' rank among the band's best work". Josh Hathaway from The Plain Dealer wrote that "Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love" works "in just the opposite direction with 'Lovers' playing like an update of vintage Simple Minds, an almost anthem that never fully takes flight, before giving way to the gentle 'Reign of Love'."