Lead singer Chris Martin explained to Entertainment Weekly: "No one associates romance with Japan. Everyone thinks Japan is just about Hitachi and neon signs, but every time we're there, we see these amazing sunrises. It's very sexy."
This Indie-Pop tune blends into a layered piano based hymnal with fairytale lyrics. Bassist Guy Berryman explained to Q magazine July 2008 why they combined the two songs: "Couldn't we make our minds up? No, it's because we didn't want to have an extra number on the CD. To keep it concise at 10 tracks." Drummer Will Champion added: "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."
Drummer Will Champion told MTV News the story behind the piano sound on this track: "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 (bassist) Guy (Berryman) and (guitarist) Jon (Buckland) spent a couple of hours pushing tacks into the piano hammers."
Chris Martin (from The Sun newspaper May 13, 2008): "We always wanted a song title which was two in one - buy one get one free. Part of the reason for having two titles in a couple of places with slashes is because Justin Timberlake did it on his last album. I just thought it was cool. You have to know how to steal and where to steal from."
Coldplay's EP Prospekt's March featured a new mix of this song titled "Lovers in Japan (Osaka Sun Mix)." In an interview on Coldplay's website, frontman Chris Martin said of the new version: "Well, 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."
When performing this song on Coldplay's 2008 American tour, a shower of transparent confetti butterflies drops down from above the stage, and as they fall they glow in the stage lights. The effect was inspired by a visit Martin took to the butterfly section of a zoo with his children. He told Rolling Stone
: "Even if the show's going s--t, I know that there's two moments that'll be fine. The song 'Viva La Vida
' - and when the butterflies glow in the dark."