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No.1
Culture, No.1  Jul. 28, 2010

TWO ASIAN SOCIETIES IN TRANSITION

“One of the first things that struck me when I began studying in Japan is how little the university students here study,” said Zhang Cheng,[1. The names of the Chinese students interviewed for this article have been changed.] answering my first question in fluent Japanese. Zhang (age 21) comes from a family of scholars; both parents are professors at an elite university. He lived the first four months of his life in Japan, where his parents were conducting research, and during high school he spent short periods in Japan, the United States, and Canada as an exchange student. In a country where travel abroad is still inaccessible to many, Zhang’s opportunities were exceptional. He was on the elite academic track, with almost all of his high school classmates going on to study at Peking University or Tsinghua University. He himself enrolled at PKU, and ... ... [Read more]

No.1
Culture, No.1  Jul. 27, 2010

JAPANESE CULTURE TAKES ON THE WORLD

Japanese culture has a much more prominent position in the world today than most people in Japan realize. The “Cool Japan” phenomenon has really started to take off around the globe. Personally, I think of the current interest in Japan as the third “Japan boom.” The first boom, which started back in the nineteenth century, focused on things like geisha, “Fujiyama,” and ukiyoe woodblock prints. In those days, people had a taste for the exotic, and the interest was driven chiefly by curiosity about the Other. The second boom came during the 1980s, when animated cartoon versions of Japanese manga like Candy Candy and Captain Tsubasa were shown around the world and Japan started to attract attention for the high quality and entertainment value of its popular culture. Even so, the image of Japan as somehow “exotic” remained strong through the late 1990s. The ... ... [Read more]

No.1
Culture, No.1  Jun. 4, 2010

JAPAN'S DISAPPEARING ACT

TAKAGI TŌRU The “economic superpower” banner that Japan has proudly carried for so long has started to fade. One thing I can say from my own experience is that it is definitely getting harder to research stories overseas than it used to be. When I first started traveling overseas as a journalist back in 1996 or so, all I had to do was describe NHK as the “Japanese BBC,” and people were generally more than happy to make time for an interview. They obviously felt that it was to their advantage to appear on Japanese TV. Nowadays, it’s a struggle to get people to even see me. And I don’t just mean in Europe and the United States–the same is true of countries like India and Turkey that are supposed to be friendly to Japan. People just aren’t interested in Japan anymore. IKEUCHI SATOSHI ... ... [Read more]