Reading Assignment

Read Popular Culture and Everyday Life by Yoshio Sugimoto ( Go to Course Reserve and find the article under Suzuki) and post your comment by 4pm 12/29/05.

10 Responses to “Reading Assignment”

  1. Meg Sullivan says:

    When I was in Japan I remember seeing all four of the four Japanese phenomena. I saw manga stores, which unlike there are book stores just for manga, which I found increasingly frustrating, as I can’t read Japanese. The pachinko stores were crazy loud and had this scary beefy guy as a mascot. I didn’t see to many karaoke places but that just might have been that I didn’t know what they were. I most shocking and funny was this thing called a host club which is a club which women can go to talk to cute guys, they actually had a menu with the guys faces on it.

    I didn’t quite get the part about the religion. I understood how Buddhist, Shinto, and Christianity seem to be the three main religions, but the when it comes to the new religions they seems to be the cults of the US.

    The yakuza’s code of honor really surprised me; my view of the yakuza was that they were like the mob in here, that they aren’t tied to a neighbor hood. That seems like a romanticized view of these people.

  2. Laura says:

    I find it intriguing that the Japanese have a group-oriented society, as opposed to the American self-oriented society. I’m interested to learn more about how the Japanese society developed in that way. In other English classes I’ve been in, we’ve talked about myths of cultural identity — ie. an American myth is George Washington saying “I cannot tell a lie” about chopping down the cherry tree. We’re not all strictly following that myth, but I’m curious to find out what other myths the Japanese culture is based on.

  3. Sarah McNeil says:

    After reading, โ€œAn Introduction to Japanese Society: Popular Culture and Everyday Life,โ€ I find myself most interested with the way media effects a society. The idea of a centralized mass media is an interesting to think about in terms of both Japanese culture, as well as American culture. Here, we take for granted how much the media affects our daily lives, so much so that when reading the section of our article on entertainment media, I found the stories such as the one about a paper shortage causing Japanese to purchase a surplus of toilet paper, funny and totally absurd. But when we reading the mention of the Redback Spider Search, with rumors that the spiders were everywhere, a threat to families in every community, it reminded me of the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the fear and sense of danger that the media instills daily in its viewers here in the United States. The media has the ability to shape and create values, beliefs and even lives and many take media power for granted.

    It is also interesting to consider the way that class affects ideological themes and thought within the culture. The elite, who have popularized high culture in Japan, making it the dominate image for what Japanese life is really like, is interesting despite the fact that it is only the relatively well-off who can afford that lifestyle. This idea of centralized mass media, with consideration to class makes cause for further consideration. Because funding comes from elite, media represents an elite portion of society, even though that popularized elite culture does not reach down to the rest of the social scale.

  4. tyler says:

    ….i think i screwed something up when i tried to post a minute ago. so i’m gonna try again. if it shows up twice…sorry.

    There are several interesting parallels with contemporary American society expressed in everyday Japanese life. The most striking is the disillusionment which springs from a well educated working middle class. Perhaps it is more salient in Japanese culture at present than our own but nevertheless, it leads to important questions for the future. As Suzuki-sensei noted, Japan has a very high suicide rate, when juxtaposed with statistics from the United States, we find that suicide rates are generally higher within the educated classes. This is particularly poignant in relation to the breakdown of the nuclear family as a result of long work and school hours coupled with the mind-numbing effects of television and the depressing state of housewives in both of our cultures. There has to be, at some point, a demonstrative conflict highlighting the discontent of societies which, on the surface, appear only to exist for material gain with very little emphasis on social and emotional relationships and it seems logical that more countercultural movements and artistic trends will surface to counter the effects of societies driven by capitalism.

  5. Greg says:

    I have to agree with the comment Josh made (“I think in Western Society there is very little founded information available about the ethics and practices of the Eastern world.”). I started getting into foreign cultures around the 9th grade. I was taking french classes, I had a sister living in foreign country, another sister at USMA (United States Military Academy) and probably going to be sent to another country (which she was), studied wars (mostly WWII and the Vietnam war), and for as long as I can remember, had been playing video games, most of which were made by japanese developers. However, it was quite sad that the best resources of information I could find were video game magazines like Nintendo Power. At that point, all the libraries I lived near either had little kids books with little to no information or huge books with words I couldn’t understand. However, last year when I was a senior, 3 of the 5 senior guys were foreign exchange students (I went to a really small private school), and just talking to them about their home countries (South Korea and Vietnam) was quite interesting.

    So on to something I noted that Josh didn’t :).

    The one thing in the article that really stood out to me was when I read over the part about religion. I have always gone to private religious schools. Since I’ve always liked history, I’ve always found it interesting to try to study religions of foreign cultures. Shintoism sounds very interesting.

  6. Matt says:

    To me, there isn’t much difference in Japan’s mass and alternative cultures than ours. The only difference in cultures is the folk culture. With our country being less than three hundred years old, it is hard to say we have any folkish culture at all. Japan’s folk culture gives it its special identity though, which personally attracts me. The one difference between our mass culture and Japan’s is that they take things to the extremes, whether it is reading Manga, playing video games, karaoke, work or what not. Not like here where we take certain things in moderation, mainly out of laziness or lack of ambition.

    I found it funny that most people practice multiple religions. When I was in Japan last summer, our tour guide made a joke that most Japanese are Christian for only one day of the year, Christmas. They like to celebrate Christmas, but mainly for the sake of giving gifts and celebrating.

    I found it funny that most people practice multiple religions. When I was in Japan last summer, our tour guide made a joke that most Japanese are Christian for only one day of the year, Christmas. They like to celebrate Christmas, but mainly for the sake of giving gifts and celebrating.

  7. Josh says:

    I have to say that in the past 24 hours I have really gotten an eye-opening glance into a very complex and extremely different society than I had expected since taking JAPN 001 earlier this year. Studying world cultures and their histories has always been an underground hobby of mine which sort of stems from reading the Lord of the Rings saga when I was younger and being overly astounded at the different races in it. I found that where Tolkien got many of his ideas were from what he observed in the real world, so I decided to start doing the same and see what kinds of wonderful and mysterious things awaited me in places just across the sea.

    I had studied several cultural regions before I had reached college age – most of them European or Middle-Eastern(one of my favorites – nomadic cultures astound me) – but after watching the videos last night and reading the article this morning, I could already tell that Japan was going to be the strangest and most interesting yet.

    I think in Western Society there is very little founded information available about the ethics and practices of the Eastern world. I certainly wasn’t aware of nearly anything Asian until I had reached High School, but even then Asian Culture was hurriedly passed over. Beyond the slanted eyes common to the indigenous races and perceptions of actors like Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, we seemed to know close to nothing. That is what first found me interested in the mystery clouding my journey to uncover the deeply traditional yet constantly changing people on the other side of the earth. That, and I also got into video games like Final Fantasy and Dance Dance Revolution – plus, after taking three eastern martial arts, I was beginning to wonder about what I had learned meant.

    Now, though, I feel this course can show me Japan for what it really is. The world Yoshio presents is colorful, chaotic, and rank with vibrant history and traditions to go along with it – and it is continually expanding as well down a starkly different path than the rest of the world. It is more competitive, more media-based, and more dualistic than cultures than Americans are used to seeing. Customs survive there that would be considered very strange to us, but all the same our contributions are significantly viewed as they have seeped in over the past two centuries. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Japanese celebrate our well-known custom of going out and getting “hammered” at bars after a long day and also enjoy having a good time by singing Karaoke with their friends and colleagues. It’s definately not the rigid, class-based society I always thought it would be – though I probably would have been right saying that about fifty years ago. It’s a fast paced world trying to understand itself and hold on to a suitable living situation amongst overpopulation and urbanization while still retaining its folklore and grassroots beginnings. A beautiful combination to say the least, but one that seems to stand upon the edge of a razor. Very, very interesting… ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Karen says:

    I think that Sugimoto brings up a number of points that will be helpful to keep in mind during this course. That despite Japanโ€™s tendency toward a sort of homogeneity there is no universal โ€œcultural styleโ€. That social class, education, location and financial resources all exert an influence. That despite the usefulness of creating categories to talk about differences, any individual may fall into one or more different categories. And that cultural practices change over time.

  9. Heather says:

    The article was very interesting. I work in a bookstore and I also have a habit of reading manga, so I found the “Four Japanese Phenomena” and the โ€œTabloid Pressโ€ section intriguing. A lot of people in America sped up to fifty dollars on magazines on pop culture and it is weird to see that the Japanese also have the craze running through their society. Especially since these magazines sound much like our own. The part about the manga I find funny is that in Japan it seems the focus of much of the manga was towards guys where as in the US you find the shelves filled with mostly manga aimed towards girls.

    The other part that I really want to know more about is the different festivals. In the Folk Culture section they mention local festivals, but is there a difference between festivals in different regions? Iโ€™ve read about some festivals but I would like to know more about them and also holidays. Is there a big difference between the two, holidays and festivals? With what I know so far about festivals it seems that they are very different from the holidays in the US, so Iโ€™m kind of curious.

  10. ใƒžใƒผใ‚ฏ Mark says:


    ๆœฌๅฝ“ใซใ‚„ใใ–ใฎๅ…ฅไผš่€…ใฎ็š†ใŒๅฐๆŒ‡ใ‚’ๅˆ‡ๆ–ญใ—ใชใ‘ใ‚Œใฐใ„ใ‘ใพใ›ใ‚“ใ‹ใ€‚็ฝฐใ ใ‘ใซใจใ—ใฆใ™ใ‚‹ใจๆ€ใ„ใพใ—ใŸใ€‚ไธ€ๆ–นใ€ๅ…ฅใ‚‹ๅ‰ใซใ‚‚ใ†ๅฐ‘ใ—ใ˜ใฃใใ‚Š่€ƒใˆใ‚‹ใงใ—ใ‚‡ใ†ใ€‚ใ‚ใฃใ€ๅฎŸใฏใ€ๆŒ‡่ผชใ‚’ไธŠใ’ใ‚‹ใ‚ˆใ‚Šใ€็ตๅฉšๅผใฎๆ™‚ใใ†ใ—ใŸใ‚‰ใ€้›ขๅฉš็Ž‡ใ‚’ๆธ›ใ‚‰ใ—ใพใ™ใ‹ใชใ€‚ใจใ“ใ‚ใงใ€ใ€Œ็ตๅฉšใ€ใฏใ€Œ่ก€็—•ใ€ใจๅŒใ˜็™บ้Ÿณใงใ™ใ‹ใ€‚

    Does each new member of a Yakuza really have to cut off their little finger? I thought that was only done as a punishment. On the other hand, I suppose this way people think a little more carefully before they enter. Ah, actually, instead of giving each other rings, if people did that at weddings, I wonder if the divorce rate would go down. Changing the subject ever so slightly, is the pronunciation of ‘kekkon’ (marriage) the same as ‘kekkon’ (bloodstain)?

    ใ‚ใฎใ€ใจใ“ใ‚ใงใ€blogใฎๆ™‚่จˆใฏ้•ใฃใฆใ€ไปŠใƒใƒผใƒขใƒณใƒˆใงๅˆๅ‰ไบ”ๆ™‚ใ”ใ‚ใงใ™ใ€‚ใกใ‚‡ใฃใจ็œ ใ„ใงใ™ใ€‚

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