The J-Wave

 

This week I had the pleasure of leading a class discussion on Anne Allison’s piece, “Attractions of the J-Wave for American Youth.” I have to admit that this article did resonate with me personally because I myself am fascinated with Japanese pop culture. My brother has been a fan of anime since before I can remember. My interest stemmed from stories and pictures that family members living in Japan shared with me. I began collecting everything Hello Kitty, researched geisha history and even visited Japan myself where I was able to see Harajuku first hand where I came across young women dressed similar to the ones in the photo above.

I have to agree with Allison when she states that the attraction to Japanese pop culture products is stemmed from attractions to what is different. Harajuku fashion, anime and geisha are something of a fantasy and it’s something about the unknown that always seems to draw you in.

These new models of global imagination do carry a lot of attractive power. My interest in Japan lead me to visit the country myself. I loved my experience! I was able to visit and see firsthand all of the magical places I had read about or seen on T.V. I do not mean to romanticize an entire country–but I do think that Japan is very fascinating. However, the author of the article suggests that their cultural products aren’t necessarily translating into soft power. Allison proposed in her article that soft power should be re-imagined. She thinks that it should be assessed not just in terms of interests it has for the producing country, but on how their cultural products are imagined. What do you think?

4 thoughts on “The J-Wave”

  1. Thank you for your post.

    I can definitely see where you are coming from. I recall when I was really into Japanese pop culture when I was in Middle School and I will admit to gushing when I was given the opportunity to visit Japan a few years back. I think one of the authors made a good point, as you touch on in your post. Should Japan be doing more to strengthen its soft power through cultural products such as anime manga, etc? Should Japan be doing more to leverage political gain through promoting soft power.

    As we saw in the articles, the Japanese government is already reaching out to public abroad through cultural and public diplomacy initiatives through MOFA and the JET program. I personally don’t think pop culture alone is enough to gain interest abroad that could be politically significant, but exchange programs, such as those through JET and the Tomodachi initiative can perhaps increase the likelihood of such influences, at the least getting young people interested in Japanese pop culture is a start and Japan should continue to promote its own interesting array of culture to continue to promote an attractive image abroad.

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