Exporting Japanese pop culture

Cool Japan - クールジャパン

At an intersection in the Orchard Road shopping district of Singapore, passers-by confront a giant billboard of the reigning pop diva of the day…

Bookmark and Share

It is not Beyoncé Knowles or Britney Spears, but Ayumi Hamasaki of Japan.

In central Hong Kong, buses carry huge posters of the J-pop starlet Namie Amuro and boy bands like Smap. In Ho Chi Minh City, markets bombard shoppers with posters of acts like Glay and Soulhead. Pirated versions of animated Japanese films are huge sellers from Bangkok to Seoul. Ditto for “manga” comic books.

The sudden ubiquity of Japanese culture isn’t just an Asian phenomenon. Sushi has transcended fish-bait jokes and now gets served at sporting events in the United States. Children in Miami, Rome and Sydney ask mom and dad for Hello Kitty, Doraemon or copies of “Spirited Away.” New York’s fashion aficionados increasingly buy the designs of Jun Takahashi and the Bathing Ape label.

All this gets at a trend about which economists are getting excited: The increasing export of Japanese culture. If Japan’s gross national product is getting you down, try its “gross national cool” on for size.

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

Comment (日本語もOK)

Leave a Comment • コメントをしましょう!


Guidelines for adding photos to comments: Width: 630 pixels | Orientation: Horizontal (Landscape).

We reserve the right to remove posts that do not follow these basic guidelines: comments must be relevant to the topic of the post; may not include profanity, personal attacks or hate speech; may not promote a business or raise money; may not be spam.

Related Posts with Thumbnails