Why is Japan

Chatterbox: Down to Earth

Why is Japan

Why is Japan so interesting to so many people? Lately I've been noticing that people often watch anime, choose to learn Japanese in school, take trips to Japan... I've never seen it as very interesting, especially compared to Europe, but then again, I don't know very much about it so I probably shouldn't judge - I was wondering what it is about Japan, that I might not know about, that makes so many people want to go there?

submitted by Poinsettia, age ageless
(July 18, 2023 - 9:32 am)

I was wondering the same thing!!! I mean, Japan's cool, but it's not... like... overwhelmingly cool? I think? And I don't rly get what's so great about anime anyway... unless, is Pokemon anime? I rly don't know. Well, actually, I LOVE Studio Ghibli and I think that is, but I grew up watching that so I'm not counting it. But yes, last year at school we did a "where do you want to visit?" And about like half of my classmates said: Japan! And SO MANY PPL WERE GOING ALL THE TIME!!


I said Rottnest Island btw. Cuz, umm... quokkas?!?
And also btw, I actually think Japan is more interesting than Europe. But that's personally. 
submitted by CelineBurning Bright, age As Needed, The FireMist Sea
(July 18, 2023 - 10:23 pm)

Ooh, interesting! What are quokkas, though?

submitted by Poinsettia, top
(July 19, 2023 - 8:53 am)

Quokkas (in my opinion): so so so cute but don't be fooled. These little Australian wallaby-like creatures throw their babies at predators to defend themselves! While all the while smiling like a crazy maniac, earning them the title of happiest animal in the world. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to visit them bc, did I mention they're cute? Look up pictures! Preferably not the ones with the crazy smiles. ADORABLE!! They're infamous for living on a little island with almost no predators so they're not scared of humans at all. Which means, quokka selfies!! Ppl love to do this with them. And they happily smile for the camera (oc)!

submitted by CelineBurning Bright, age As Needed, The FireMist Sea
(July 19, 2023 - 8:28 pm)

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?????????? They throw their babies at predators? What happens to the babies then?

submitted by Sinusoidal
(July 20, 2023 - 5:41 pm)

That's a really good question, here's what I think!  Keep in mind that I'm American so all of my opinions are from an American perspective and may not be shared by everyone.

-First of all, Japan is actually a fairly new country in terms of international exposure.  Here's a little history lesson - from the 1600s to the late 1800s (the Edo/Tokugawa period), Japan operated with an isolationist foreign policy.  This means that they were generally shut off from other countries and opposed most international interaction.  Thus many countries didn't really interact with Japan until just last century.  It's likely that, because of this, Japanese culture was and still is regarded as new, interesting and exotic in the eyes of foreigners.

-I also think that the popular consumer culture of Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea is appealing to Americans because it is very similar to and draws influences from America's own consumer culture.  This and the previous bullet point have likely heavily contributed to the popularity of Japan as a tourist destination.

-Japan is also a very beautiful country!  It has its own nature, food and customs that Westerners are unfamiliar with, and therefore many people like learning about it.

-To talk about anime specifically, I think a lot of its newfound popularity comes from the fact that it displays that animation is not just for kids' entertainment, but for everyone.  However, I think the reason for someone's interest in anime depends on the person - for me, for example, I don't watch anime just because it's Japanese but because its stories and art interest me.  But did you know that not everyone in Japan watches anime?  I believe its popularity is mostly based on personal interest than its Japanese-ness.

submitted by Sterling, age they/them, lost in a fantasy world
(July 19, 2023 - 9:41 am)

Huh... interesting. I never thought of things that way. And thx for that tidbit of history! So basically ppl like new and exotic things/foreign things/novelties and stuff like that. So will the Japan craze die out? This is kinda like psychology, studying how the human mind works. Very interesting!

submitted by CelineBurning Bright, age As Needed, The FireMist Sea
(July 19, 2023 - 8:21 pm)

@poinsettia that’s actually so funny you bring this up! in science class last year, the advanced class was split into table groups. my table group, which was 6 people, half of us girls and the other half boys were all kind of shy except for this one girl. she was super funny to be around, and we would always talk about a random subject everyday, from getting the boys in class to join chorus to the superiority of flutes (not true xD). but anyway, one day, she was talking about a video she watched online about how Japan has bananas in vending machines, so we all kind of grew an obsession?

we called ourselves the japan table and before the teacher moved us (still not forgiving you for that, Ms. D,) we wanted to go on an international trip to Japan together, just the 6 of us.

i got super nostalgic just then aaaaaa i miss them so much- 

submitted by the-antiquarian-
(July 19, 2023 - 1:16 pm)

That's rly nice :)


And you're making me miss my classmates now too (I'm transferring so...)!!

submitted by CelineBurning Bright, age As Needed, The FireMist Sea
(July 19, 2023 - 8:23 pm)

I'm Japanese American, and the whole obesession with Japan and East Asian culture in general honestly creeps me out a little. It's pretty weird to have your culture suddenly become "trendy," with everyone drinking boba and being obsessed with K-pop and anime. I love boba, and I respect K-pop and anime even though I'm not really into them, but the whole thing feels like everyone is saying "oooh look how cool and exotic this stuff is." Which is very problematic. Also, why is Japanese culture revered so much while African and Indigenous cultures are generally still considred sort of "primitive"? It's just weird whenever any one culture becomes really popular among people who aren't from that culture. I'm not saying that it's bad to like Japanese stuff (I may be biased but yes, Japanese stuff is very cool). It's just that there's a fine line between appreciation and appropriation. Anyway, those are just my thoughts.

submitted by Lupine
(July 26, 2023 - 12:10 am)


Frankly this thread has been keeping me off of the CB at large. I have been working on a comment but it's kind of been bad for my mental health so yeah. Thank you.

And... it's like they like it because it's weird and different. And that makes me weird and different. (in yet another way XD) And they treat me that way. Also, they get to choose. Boba tea? Cool. Natto? Not cool and I will torment you. That sort of thing. Anything that doesn't fit their westernized version of Japan is thrown out and stomped on. 

And I can't express enough how much I hate how it makes Japan exotic. It's not a harmless thing. Like, even if it's just "oh, haha, that comfort food you've grown up with your whole life is so weird and exotic", it hurts. I've gotten the same reaction over my hair and eyes (I have no idea about the hair, it's literally brown-black). 

And anything "trendy" is ruined for me. Like, I love boba tea and make it a lot, but I can't have it without feeling weird. (technically boba tea isn't Japanese, but it is a common thing in Japan.) 

I have more to say but no time so I'll post this. Thank you again. 

submitted by Blackfooted Bobcat
(July 26, 2023 - 3:25 pm)

@Lupine and @Blackfooted Bobcat, that makes sense... 

submitted by CelineBurning Bright, age As Needed, The FireMist Sea
(July 26, 2023 - 5:41 pm)

Thanks for all of this info. By the way, is boba the one with the water balls that are edible? (That's the best I can describe it, sorry). If so, I love that too! (I tried it for the first time about a week ago.)

This has been making me think about my obsession with Japan. There are definitely a lot of "non-Westernized" parts of Japan that I also like (I.e. the strong focus on respect in Japanese culture) and if you're wondering how I know this when I'm not Japanese, I did take a Japanese class with many culture notes. 

Before I continue, I would like to point out that I do not mean for the following to offend anyone  As my exposure to Japanese culture is limited to a semester of Japanese, sushi, and Studio Ghibli, please correct me if I'm wrong  

I don't think manga or anime are really part of the original Japanese culture. They are just aspects of Western culture (comics and action movies) that Japan adapted to. See, after the Meiji Restoration, Japan started to become more "modernized", and when modern was US comic books, they made Japan comic books aka manga to get along better with Americans. Same with anime. 

Second, I can totally relate to not wanting to be "trendy". This may touch on a different topic, but I have spent my life willingly running from what's popular, and I like that. I don't want to be "popular"  But when the trend changes, I struggle between doing what I want and not making others think I am one of them. 

Third, it is true that today real Japanese culture is being adapted to fit Westernized needs. "California Roll"? Seriously? I used to love that, but now it's really making me think, what a way to ruin Japanese cuisine being part of its unique culture. I would much prefer to do an original Japanese hand roll and call it the Osaka roll or something. 

Fourth, this "Japan trend" is actually focused more on Westernized aspects of Japan due to the Meiji restoration that original elements of Japanese culture. Japan probably wouldn't be trendy if it didn't have, say, anime or manga, which are, unfortunately, the key central elements of the American idea of Japan today. It's like when a popular group influences the weirdo kid to become one of them, and then makes them trendy as well as then points out their weirdo-ness  

Fifth, manga wouldn't be manga without Japanese elements embedded in. Because we're not used to them, we grow up reading manga and laughing at other cultural elements of Japan that are authentic. Like you said, Bobcat, America creates a westernized mold and throws away anything that doesn't fit that mold, which is super aggravating and doesn't allow for people to develop a rounder education about Japan. 

Sixth, I think it's completely fine to recreate elements of Japanese culture to experience yourself! In fact, it helps you develop a better understanding of the culture, as long as those projects aren't westernized in the disguise of Japan (My phone keeps doing Kapan). 

Wow that was a long post... sorry Admins!

submitted by Sinusoidal
(July 28, 2023 - 8:52 am)



and that is sad

and that does suck 

submitted by CelineBurning Bright, age As Needed, The FireMist Sea
(July 26, 2023 - 5:11 pm)

Hmm, that's interesting! I personally wouldn't mind if Mexican culture became super trendy (I'm partly Mexican); in fact I'm delighted whenever I see an instance of how Mexican and American culture are blending. Like, Spanglish is definitely starting to be a thing now, which I really like because basically in my family we've always spoken it :) I'm not too upset about appropriation either, because I see it as a natural human process; it's been going on ever since humans began, and if we were to give it up now, we'd also have to give up cotton, wheels, most of the English language (most of our vocabulary was culturally appropriated from Latin, French, German, and so on) and stuff like that. But what does upset me is when people talk about or imitate a culture they aren't from, without really understanding it. For instance, when there are Latin American characters in books written by Americans, they're very rarely represented properly; they're often just American characters disguised as Latins by having dark hair, eating pseudo-Latin food, and calling their grandmothers "Abuelita," while acting completely un-Latin. So yeah, if that's what's happening with Japan, I totally get it :) I really wish people would make more of an effort to understand the mindset that people from another culture have, or even just learn more information about the authentic version of it vs. the popularized version of it.

submitted by Poinsettia, a sea of crystal waters
(August 2, 2023 - 10:28 am)

@Lupine & Blackfooted Bobcat: ty for saying this. i'd never heard an actual Japanese perspective on the American fascination with Japan, but i think i needed to. i honestly never considered that it could be harmful, which seems to be the problem. so thanks for speaking up.

submitted by Artemis
(July 26, 2023 - 6:37 pm)