Japanese Culture in the World

by Ryoko Yorifuji

In last class, we see a PV which was made Japanese fashion by Gwen Stefani. It seemed that she got inspiration from Harajuku, but in my opinion, the PV is crazy. And I think many things; why are back dancers’ hair styles traditionally Japanese hairdos? Why they wear a school uniform with the hairdo? Does she look down on Japanese culture? Anyway, I was shocked that Japanese cultures are misunderstood. However, possibly we may misunderstand foreign cultures too. So, I mention the gap.

First, I mention that I felt senses of incongruity before. I sometimes watch movies. From these movies, especially making in the USA, we can find some strangeness. For example; “The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”, in a scene of wedding, the ceremony is Japanese fashion. The bride and groom stand in front of a torii and wear like a yukata. In fact, we don’t hold a ceremony in front of torii. And a bride generally wears a white kimono. And “Godzilla” in the movie, fishermen in fishing boat printed the Hangul eat sushi and watch sumo on TV while warming themselves at a kotatsu. I think there aren’t kotatsu and TV on the boat, don’t eat sushi and the Hangul isn’t Japanese! Moreover some foreigners think Characters are cool. So, they wear T-shirts printed Characters and tattoo on Characters. But they decide from Characters’ form, these meanings are sometimes strange. I saw a foreigner wear T-shirts printed “妹”, the meaning is “sister”. But it seems that such T-shirts are popular in foreign countries. In same case some foreigners tattoo with Characters odd meaning; “台所”, the meaning is “kitchen” or “日本製”, the meaning is “made in Japan”. Such as these things, Japanese cultures are misunderstood. But they may be regarded as exotic things, Japanese admire foreign cultures too.

Second, I’m worry that Japanese cultures aren’t distinguished from Chinese or Korean cultures. In fact, these cultures are used Characters and these exist in Asia. So I understand foreigners cannot tell them. Recently I hear that Korean culture is introduced as Japanese culture in France. What is more, Korean culture makes a profit by using the problem. To prevent such an incident, Japanese government makes an effort to impress our culture on foreigners.

But after all, I’m glad that many foreigners are interested in Japanese cultures even if the understand is made mistake.

However, I think Japanese misunderstand about foreign cultures too. For example, I study French now, I learn many French words are misunderstood in Japan. In Japan, Japanese foreign languages are flooded. Especially, Japanese English is the best. Japanese English is that the meaning change and made in Japan. For instance, the former is “sandbag”. The original meaning is “blackjack”, but it changes to “punching bag” in Japan. And the later is “Office Lady”. This meaning is “female office worker” in Japan. This word is made in Japan. Such as things, I think this is one of the intercultural misunderstandings. I know nothing about foreign culture, and perhaps foreigners are the same. So, I would like to study right foreign culture.



Tim Story (2007) “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” by 20th Century Fox

Roland Emmerich (1998) “Godzilla” by TriStar Pictures

Music video

Gwen Stefani (2004) “Harajuku Girls”

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