This article traces Japanese and Australian media portrayals of the cultural aspects to the bilateral relationship. The article examines popular discourse about Japan and Australia in the media of each country, demonstrating how this has reflected the evolution of the cultural relationship. In Australia, the press has swung from portraying Japan as a problematic source of income from the resources trade, through to the home of 'cool' technology and fashion. In Japan, discourse about Australia has ranged from images of a country populated with cute animals, to a regional partner sharing the same democratic ideals. The article draws from the personal experiences of the author who was a correspondent and journalist for Australian and Japanese news corporations during the 1980s and 1990s. The author covered the 'koala wars' and the frill-necked lizard boom prompted by the Mitsubishi Mirage television commercial, as well as monitoring the growth in Japanese tourism to Australia. The author also draws on data from tracking surveys conducted by the Embassy of Japanese in Australia.