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Contemporary Japanese Popular Culture
Introduction
In the recent years, the world has experienced considerable advancements in
technology and this has allowed people to interact with others rom other parts o the globe!
Similarly, globali"ation has also increased the manner in which dierent cultures have come
into contact with each other! The contemporary Japanese popular culture is among the
cultures whose inluence has increased in the recent past! This has made the culture a global
orce that dominates some ields, such as computer games, animation, and comics! #n the
other hand, Japan$s popular culture has also ormed a regional orce in television drama, ilm,
and music among others! This implies that the Japanese people engage in various ways that
can be used to boost their culture as well as encourage other people to adopt their way o lie!
%n analysis o Japanese popular culture sheds light into concerns and attitudes o the
Japanese people presently as well as a lin& to their past! The contemporary Japanese culture
can be traced to long'established orms o art! Studies have revealed that a signiicant portion
o Japanese leisure time is preserved or reading Japanese maga"ines or newspapers, listening
to radio, or watching television! Conse(uently, this has assisted the Japanese in propagating
their culture through generations! In addition, the contemporary Japanese popular culture has
penetrated other parts o the world! Some parts o the globe, such as )ast %sia and the *nited
States among others have adopted some Japanese ways o lie! This paper will ocus on
Japanese contemporary popular culture, and the inluence it has on other parts o the world!
#verview
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Japan$s culture has experienced immense evolution through the millennia! In the
ancient J+mon period, Japan experienced a lengthy isolation rom the rest o the world!
Thereore, the Japanese did not experience the ways o lives o other people rom other
cultures! ,owever, in the contemporary world, the Japanese culture has become hybrid and
adopted some practices rom North %merica, )urope, and %sia among other parts o the
world -%llen and Sa&amoto ./! This has also assisted the Japanese people in spreading their
culture to other sections o the globe! The ollowing section will ocus on some aspects o
Japanese popular culture as well as the manner in which the Japanese have developed such
cultural aspects over the years!
0ascots
The Japanese people have been superstitious ever since their ancient years! They
would develop dierent orms o artistic representations o animals and other ob1ects to act as
their good luc& charms, especially in the business enterprises! The mascots are some o the
most widely used good luc& ob1ects by the Japanese people! 0ascots are generally any
artistic representations o people, animals, and other ob1ects, which are worn by individuals
in the streets or within the business entities owning the mascots! Traditionally, the Japanese
people have been using mascots as a way to enhance luc& and as a method o being riendly
to the people in the society! The mascots are viewed as a brand or organi"ations and people
can identiy their cli(ues with them -)ye 0aga"ine Para 2/!
In the contemporary Japanese culture, ear is depicted as one o the wea&nesses
among the people! Through the use o mascots, people are alleviated rom their burdening
phobias o animals and other things! In the olden days, the mascots would be worn by
dierent people, who would wal& around the streets playing with people and distributing
happy eelings to the Japanese people! 0ascots were viewed as the bonding glue in the
society because everyone would relate to them in one way or another! They were sources o
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ree entertainment or the people and they still have the responsibility o entertaining people!
0ascots also encourage the Japanese people to ace their ears -)ye 0aga"ine Para ./!
The contemporary Japanese culture in the twentieth century saw the transormation o
the use o mascots in sports and in business! In the sports setting, the Japanese traditional
sports started incorporating mascots as part o the good luc& charm or the sportsmen! The
mascots lead the cheering s(uads, and they motivate the sportsmen to put up strong ights! In
the business settings, over the twentieth century, entrepreneurs started using mascots as
mar&eting strategies! 3usiness entities would brand their mascots with their products and let
them create awareness o the products in the streets! This trend has ta&en shape in the
Japanese streets, and it has also been adopted by other people across the world! It brings out
an entertainment actor in doing business and this has been identiied as a good method to
enhance the sales and the mar&et shares o dierent business entities -)ye 0aga"ine Para 4/!
*sing mascots or one on one conversations has become a new trend or the Japanese
people! 0ar&eting is no longer done aggressively through indirect media! 3usiness entities
and dierent organi"ations have adopted the use o mascots as their mar&eting and
communication avenues! The mascots can get through to many people in a day than most o
the other mar&eting platorms! The good thing about mascots is that they can get through the
cultural and social barriers among the people! The mascot can approach anyone because it
has a concealed human personality that is camoulaged! People have a lot o conidence
tal&ing to a mascot and they are li&ely to do as the mascot says because o the playul
character and the conidence associated with them -)ye 0aga"ine Para ./!
In the western world, the Japanese mascot icons have been adopted as a ashion trend!
The icons are li&ely to get outdated, but in Japan, 0ascots are an integral part o their culture!
Children everywhere have dierent items bearing the icons and images o their avorite
mascots! They have become accustomed to living in a society where branding with mascots is
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a tradition -)ye 0aga"ine Para 5/! This means that the culture will carry on through many
uture generations! 0ascots are overly used as symbols because the Japanese culture is
dependent on the non'verbal communication tools! 0ascots can be conigured to represent
practically anything in the Japanese culture!
%ccording to the Japanese culture, people are open to doing whatever their peers
suggest as long as it is guided by the morals and ethical values o the society -)ye 0aga"ine
Para 6/! 7or instance, i a Japanese person is invited or dinner by a riend or a amily
member, he is open to doing anything suggested by the host! The host would also suggest
they do whatever the visitor wants! This lac& o individualism has been capitali"ed on by
people using mascots in their business entities! The mascots act as a tie brea&er by advocating
people to buy dierent stu, visit dierent restaurants, and purchase dierent services among
many other things!
T8
%ter the invention o the television, the Japanese people embar&ed on a course to use
the new media to enhance cohesion among people! Television in Japan is extensively used as
a tool to advocate or nationalism among the Japanese! %lmost every household in Japan has
a television set! 9hen the Japanese people are not busy at wor& or doing something
important, they sit to watch dierent television programs! The national television
broadcasters are in the limelight o reaching out to the Japanese people to embrace their
traditions and to pass on their culture to the uture generations -:ane&o 2;2/!
The globali"ation phenomenon has led to an increase in oreigners among the
Japanese people! The Japanese are (uite proud o their culture and they are not li&ely to
accommodate a multi'cultural society! They still ma&e the oreigners eel lost because they
are radical in observing their cultural norms! 7or instance, the Japanese television shows are
dominated by programs enhancing the understanding o people on matters o their culture, the
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television shows on local people producing music using traditional instruments, the
preparation processes o traditional meals, and art wor& by the Japanese people! Television
has also aired oreign people learning the dierent aspects o the Japanese culture -:ane&o
2;</!
The interracial Japanese people are slowly being accepted into their homeland culture
through advocacy in the televisions! It is a well &nown act that the Japanese people are very
&een in ollowing the ideas brought orward through the television! In the past several
decades, the rise in the number o interracial Japanese people has created clear boundaries in
the Japanese society! The ma1ority in the society believe in the society being a single cultured
community where the cultural norms are ollowed in unison among dierent people! The
television has helped create more cohesion between the indigenous Japanese people and the
interracial members o the society as well as the oreigners! This has been attained by
promoting television shows that depict the interracial Japanese people and the oreigners
trying to get into the rhythm o their culture! They are now accepted in the society as long as
they continue observing the traditional norms -:ane&o 2;</!
Cultural nationalism in Japan is enhanced through the television! This has been a
phenomenon in existence since the mid twentieth century when most o the civilians living in
the urban areas started installing television sets in their households! Part o the reasons why
the Japanese people are united by their culture is because the entire nation ollows similar
norms! There is no cultural diversity in the nation, and the authorities, as well as the people in
the society are proud o it! The television acts as an easy way o ensuring that the
contemporary cultural developments across the society are broadcasted to all the people! The
Japanese are rather rigid when it comes to implementing cultural changes= thus, the media has
to step in to advocate or the changes ervently beore they can be ully accepted by the
people -:ane&o 2;2/!
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In contemporary Japan, the Nihon1inron, theory o the Japanese has been the theme in
the television shows in Japan! The Nihon1inron is a genre that has been used by television
programs to highlight the uni(ue eatures o the contemporary Japanese culture -:ane&o
2;2/! It is an enlightening show because it reintroduces people to their traditions while
clariying the essence o certain norms! The authenticity o the shows using this genre in the
Japanese Televisions is guaranteed by the elite in dierent cultural learning institutions as
well as the elderly members o the society who have lived through the norms o the Japanese
or many years! Interviews conducted with the locals in the nation indicate that Television
has become an integral tool in the development o the contemporary culture o the Japanese
people!
In the contemporary Japanese culture the traditions o the people have been
inluenced by the political and economic partners o Japan! The *!S! in particular has been o
great inluence to the culture o contemporary Japan -:ane&o 2;./! This has been ueled by
the intermarriages between the %mericans and the Japanese leading to the rise o a multi'
cultured society in Japan! In the initial days o the emergence o the interracial society in
Japan, the Japanese alienated themselves rom the outcasts, but with media advocacy set in
place, the society has been harmoni"ed!
The political and economic ties between the western nations and Japan also have a
great inluence on the contemporary Japanese culture! The western nations have selectively
adopted the use o various aspects o the Japanese culture! 7or instance, there are many
television commercials in the western nations that have adopted the use o traditional music,
art and ideas rom the Japanese people! %s the oreigners interact with the cultural norms o
the Japanese, they alter some o the norms by incorporating secularism! This has had an
impact on the perception o the Japanese people living in the western nations through the
television -:ane&o 2;./!
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0anga
0anga is among the aspects that characteri"es the Japanese culture! 0anga involves
comic with exceptional characters placed in diverse circumstances in their lives! 0anga is
used to display the history and culture o the Japanese people! 0anga incorporates various
aspects o the Japanese daily lives, such as gender, amily, economy, religion, and politics
among other actors! These actors are incorporated in the manga world, which ma&es it
interesting or the Japanese people -%llen and Sa&amoto </! The manga culture has been
practiced by the Japanese since the 2;
th
century! ,owever, manga has been improved,
depending on advancements made by Japan!
In the early years, some scrolls were discovered with drawings o religious igures,
which airms that 0anga has been in the Japanese culture or a long time! Currently, manga
is not 1ust used to display drawings or pleasure! Instead, manga is used to integrate various
aspects o Japanese lives that orm their culture! The Japanese have developed increased
interest on manga as it relates well with their regular lives! Thereore, by analy"ing the
composition manga, an individual can have an overview o the culture o the Japanese people
-%llen and Sa&amoto ></!
%nime
%nime describes an episode or a movie in which a story is conveyed using an
animated cartoon! The anime is similar to the western cartoons, but the characters in anime
are more detailed, which then boosts the connection o the character with the viewer! %nime
can be expressed through manga or through animated comics! The culture o anime in Japan
can be traced bac& into the 2.
th
century! Since then, animated ilms have evolved to become
Japanese popular culture! #ne o the individuals who have contributed towards development
o this culture is #samu Te"u&a -%llen and Sa&amoto >;/!
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#samu created an animated character, %stroboy, who attracted the interests o the
Japanese people signiicantly! #samu Te"u&a is said to have been inspired by 9alt Disney,
which compelled him to try animations that would get the approval o the Japanese! #ver the
years, anime has developed into the Japanese popular culture to the extent that it has
inluenced other aspects o Japanese lives! 7or example, business activities such as, clothing
lines and toys have been made into anime products -%llen and Sa&amoto <</! Thereore, the
anime culture has allowed the people o Japan to explore common grounds which boosts their
culture! The anime culture also oers the Japanese people with an opportunity to spend their
leisure time in a pleasurable manner!
Street ashion
7rom the mid 2?
th
century, the Japanese started emulating western ashion into their
culture! This airms that actors, such as globali"ation and technology advancements, have
allowed the Japanese to cultivate a hybrid culture in which they adopt practices in other
cultures that can have signiicant impacts in their lives! The clothes ound in these cloth lines
display a combination o both traditional and current trends! Japanese designers are &een to
adopt new trends but also preserve some traditional trends! Thereore, both oreign and local
labels dominate dress styles in Japan! This implies that the contemporary popular Japanese
culture retains some traditional aspects as well as adopts current trends -7ashion Institute o
Technology 2/!
The clothing culture o the Japanese people has also been inluenced by other aspects
o their culture, such as music -7ashion Institute o Technology 2/! 7or instance, Japanese
hip'hop has gained popularity among the youths in the recent years! Conse(uently, such
youths are li&ely to imitate the dressing code displayed in such music! 7or instance, some
youth in Japan dress in oversi"ed clothes as compared to tanned clothes! This trend is also
observed among other youths in dierent parts o the world! Just li&e other parts o the world,
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the Japanese youths$ dressings are inluenced by the music industry! %dvancements in
technology also allow young Japanese to learn the trends in other parts o the globe which
can stimulate changes!
The Japanese clothing culture has inluenced other countries, such as Taiwan, :orea,
and China, which have adopted some aspects o its clothing lines! Cultural and geographical
ainities are some o the actors that have augmented the inluence o Japanese clothing
culture to the countries mentioned -7ashion Institute o Technology 2/! In addition, people
rom the stated countries have body shapes that resemble that o the Japanese, which may
encourage them to adopt Japanese styles! The *nited States 9est Coast is also inluenced by
Japan$s street ashion! Thereore, globali"ation has played an integral role in assisting
dierent cultures across the globe get into contact with each other!
Cinema
The culture o cinema in Japan can be traced bac& to more than 2;; years ago! %s
early as 26?<, Japan had started producing movies up to the present day! The movie industry
in Japan is among the best in the world with high inancial perormance! Japan has also been
&nown or producing high (uality movies that earn respect across the globe! 7or instance, the
country has secured the %cademy %wards our times, which is higher than any other country
has ever done in %sia! This has earned it a leading position in producing movies, which also
earns the country income that can be used to propel other aspects o the Japanese economy
-0arcos ./!
#ver the years, Japan has received international recognition owing to the cinema
culture that it has cultivated or more than 2;; years! The Japanese have used their cinema
culture to showcase other cultural practices they hold! Thereore, the cinema culture serves as
a platorm through which religion, music, and clothing among other Japanese popular culture
items can be relected -0arcos 4</! This culture has also served as a source o income or the
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Japanese people! To maintain the development o this culture, the Japanese have continuously
adopted emerging technologies to ensure that their movies meet the expectations o the
international mar&et!
0usic
The music o the Japanese people can also be used to reveal the manner in which they
have cultivated their culture orm the early times! Currently, the Japanese music industry
ran&s second in the whole world! Japanese musicians dominate the industry with music that
has adopted both traditional and international music trends -0arcos <>/! Japan has numerous
music genres, such as western classical music, roots music, roc&, hip'hop, and reggae among
others! The music industry has been used to preserve the culture o the Japanese people! The
content in music wor& relects the culture o the Japanese! ,owever, Japanese musicians have
also adopted some music trends rom international trends! This airms that although the
Japanese have been &een to preserve their traditional culture, they have also adopted cultures
rom other countries in dierent parts o the world!
Conclusion
The contemporary Japanese culture is a combination o the traditional norms o the
Japanese people and the changes that have been inluenced by dierent aspects o lie! Some
o the aspects o the contemporary Japanese aspects li&e the mascots and television are being
used to help convert the interracial and oreigners in the Japanese society into seasoned
members o the society! The Japanese are proud o their culture and they are striving hard to
ensure that the western culture does not erode their culture! ,owever, to some extent, the
contemporary popular Japanese culture retains some traditional aspects as well as adopts
current trends!
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9or&s cited
%llen, 0atthew and @umi Sa&amoto! Popular Culture, Globalization and Japan. AondonB
@outledge, .;;<!
)ye 0aga"ine! The Japanese obsession with adorable icons is rooted in cultural tradition!
.;24! 9eb! .5 July .;24!
7ashion Institute o Technology! CJapan 7ashion Now!C 2< September .;2;! .5 July .;24
DhttpBEEitnyc!eduE6<.F!aspG!
:ane&o, :en1i! Constructing Japanese Nationalism on TelevisionB The Japanese Image o
0ulticultural society! New Cultural frontiers, 2!2B -.;2;/, 2;2'22F!
0arcos, San! CJapanese 0ythologyB 7rom Traditional Theatre 7orms To Contemporary
Popular Cinema!C -.;2./B 2'<<!