Assignment 3 due 11am January 7 Wednesday

Read Popular Culture and Everyday Life by Yoshio Sugimoto and post your comments by 11am Wednesday 1/7/09.

This is not a blog marathon.

12 Responses to “Assignment 3 due 11am January 7 Wednesday”

  1. Carly Krasner says:

    After reading Popular Culture and Everyday Life, I was suprised to learn about the similarities and differences between Japanese culture and American culture.

    In terms of similarities, reading about newspapers and the weekly publications gives me the understanding that Japanese commuters are very similar to American commuters. They like reading about the royal family and actresses, similar to our tabloids like US Weekly. Additionally, the presence of cultural centers and emphasis on learning and cultural endeavors is similar to that of Americans. Many American school children participate in after school and extracurricular activities, including music lessons, acting groups, and sports. Adults also engage in these types of culture, going to see plays, like Broadway shows, and musical concerts and art festivals.

    Some of the differences I observed is the prevalence of culture and celebration of new seasons and agriculture, like the cherry blossom days and the celebration of Spring and Fall. Americans, perhaps because the US is much of a melting pot, do not largely take part in events like this. Indeed, many Americans attend church on Christmas and Easter, but American holidays like Thanksgiving, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day are not celebrated in communal fashion like they are in Japan. Rather, they are celebrated through department store sales.

    Ultimately, the differences and similarities in Japanese and American culture and everyday life make sense; the US is a melting pot as previously stated and therefore many cultural and communal activities get lost as different cultures and ethnicities assimilate into one. Furthermore, as the focus of materialism increases in the US, cultural importance is lost.

  2. Josh Typrowicz-Cohen says:

    anonymous post above is mine

  3. Anonymous says:

    As a 22 year old male the section of “love hotels” stood out the most for me. It wasn’t clear how clandestine these operations are compared to American operations. I believe in the US Nevada or, Las Vegas more specifically, is the only place where prostitution is legal (might as well, the desert is a pretty boring place). Also there aren’t a huge number of hotels in the US that advertise rooms by the hour though I’m sure there are plenty that do offer the service. My point is basically that this article makes it sound like this is something that is technically illegal in Japan, but the cops essentially look the other way and occasionally make an arrest as a publicity stunt.

    Overall I feel that a lot of the things that are popular in Japan are also popular in the US. Comics (I mean who wants to read lots of words, besides maybe the British?), drinking and sex (can’t continue a culture without it). In all seriousness, however, I feel that across the globe a lot of cultures appreciate the same basic things they are simply adapted to that area’s tastes.

  4. Ben says:

    While reading the article on Pop Culture & Everyday Life, I was stuck by several similarities to US culture. In particular, their mass culture sounded quite similar to ours, with TV entertainment’s quality and focus. Their popular press sounded very familiar, appeasing a mass appetite for “gossip, scandals and other grubby realities of life.” This also made me think somewhat of British tabloids. The rest of mass culture sounds similar to that found in most well developed consumer oriented societies, with purchases driving the media and vice versa.

    The folk culture was interesting to read about, with the discussion of how they manage to integrate religion into everyday life across towns to whole regions. Folk culture seemed like it could arise from alternative culture feelings in a town over a period of time, allowing the society to integrate the counter feelings in a healthy manner that allows them to be addressed openly, but completely and in a way that is beneficial to the region.

  5. Fiona says:

    First of all, the article is very academic and well-structured.

    Secondly, within each culture category, facts and figures are well used to support the argument. I like very much the reasons the author offers to explain how these categories came into being as well as how they became popular, e.g. While television has ”homogenizing effects” on its huge amount of audience, radio ”addresses segmented audiences with differing needs and requirements”. What’s more, the concrete examples of each culture category provide readers with more detailed argumentation.

    Last but not least, the article covers a relatively longer time spectrum, e.g. under the ”Four Japanese Phenomena”, gekika goes back to 1960s and 1970s while pachinko pinball was invented even immediately after WWII in Nagoya.

    On the whole, I like the article very much. Many of these culture phenomena are to some extend not strange to me at all, because I used to hear or read about them relatively often since I was a kid. However, reading it from a different perspective, more academic and more original is a new experience for me.

  6. Sarah Castillo says:

    I thought it was interesting how religion could be combined together to serve their specific needs. While Shintoism and Buddhism are still the most practiced and known, people go to Christan churches for their marriage ceremonies and worship the mana. This fusion of religions is very uncommon in the United States where people a typically incouraged to pick one religion and sometimes forced to reject the practices of others.

    The four phenomena also caught my attention because they focused on the escape from the realities of life. The idea of escaping reality all revolved around pulling apart from the crowd and being alone for a while. Even in activities like karaoke, where we typically see it as a group activity, Sugimoto gave the spin on how this group activity could become a personal escape.

  7. Julie says:

    Similar to many people that have a commented, I found that the culture of Japan is quite similar to that of America. I think a reason for that is the different generations in Japan and cultures. The country tries to celebrate many traditions and holidays from the West and China. In this manner many other forms of development are still going on around such as economic growth. This seems to trigger all of the alternative lifestyles that an average Japanese citizen can have.

    There were some striking points that caught my attention in the paper. One is the similarity of the use of media to affect the mass. The formality and morals appear to be an adopted form of what the people see proper by watching shows and such on television. It is becoming increasing popular to watch TV during meals like in America. I also remember that when I was in a Japanese comic/manga store, they had a section completely dedicated to more or less porn comics. After reading the paper, I now understand why though it is still disturbing that the nation finds it completely normal and continues to exploit the sex culture. It is especially odd that they even have “love hotels” where registration is not needed. What happens if your married half is out on an affair? Does the nation not care for this relationship?

    The anti-government sentiment is interesting in the sense that it can bring the two generations together as noted in the fishing industry. I’m actually more curious to see how the youth will lead the country image to become with this anarchist sentiment. Maybe because of the adoption of all these different cultures, the people find it okay to have multiple religions.

    The last thing was the pachinko. It’s just seems off that the number of these exceed the number of middle schools and are still growing. What does this signify for the country?

  8. Yan Chen says:

    After reading the “Popular Culture and Everyday Life”, I was surprised that how some cultural facts are similar to Chinese culture while other facts are entirely different as comparing to Chinese culture. Both cultures enjoying karaoke while the Japanese view karaoke as a way ordinary people can escape the stringent realities of working and community life and Chinese generally go to karaoke boxes for fun and entertain themselves with their friends and family. Both cultures considered the New Year as the biggest holiday in the year, yet their ways of celebrating it are quite different.

    Sex industry and religious view are the two facts that I found differs the two cultures. I was surprised from the fact that many Japanese find it quite acceptable to belong to two or more religious groupings, whereas it is nearly impossible to see that in China. The “love hotels” that is so popular in contemporary Japan is also hard to find in China.

  9. Alexandra Raboy says:

    After reading the article on Japanese pop culture I was surprised at how similar it is to American culture. Both cultures are fascinated with sex, have motorcycle gangs, rebellious youth, and are heavily influenced by TV and the mass media. Every society is comprised of different sub-cultures reflecting the times, and Japan is no different. Contemporary culture in Japan is changing, as is American culture. It was also interesting to read about Japan’s fads, such as Karaoke and the national obsession with it. Every culture has its own unique style. While the Japanese are universally recognized as one of the most polite countries with hardworking businessmen and demure women, they are not immune to media exposure, especially in such a technology savvy country. Japan’s pop culture challenges the norms and expectations of the wold ways. Overall, I really enjoyed this article, and found it pretty entertaining. I liked how similar it seems, despite the sex hotels.

  10. Sean Mulcahy says:

    I was quite fascinated with the section involving sex hotels. Some would think that with all the moral codes and strict discipline Japanese children seemed to be raised with that a booming industry of sexual hot sports would be impossible. I would see this as a form of rebellion, men and women deciding not to conform to the mainstream in a society where uniformity is almost a golden rule. Sure, it’s not long haired hippies dropping acid and protesting, or the Sex Pistols calling the queen of England a fascist but this is a way to break the rules and expectation. I had always seen the Japanese as all prim and proper, serious folks but never in my wildest dreams did I envision sex hotels where husbands could actually call their wives from a phone booth that imitated train and crowd noises to fool their spouses into thinking the train was late. Its wild, it’s cool and absolutely was unexpected, way to go Japan, keep on rocking in the free world.

  11. danielle says:

    I found Popular Culture and Everyday Life to be a very interesting article and learned many new facts about Japan while reading it. It was informative when the author chose to break up Japan’s population into three subcategories and then delve into them in a deeper sense. The accompanying chart was also useful. These three categories are mass culture, folk culture and alternative culture, something very different from our classification of peoples in America. Several points within these subcategories jumped out at me and proved to be striking. Manga is a new term for me, yet it displays the joyous phenomena of funny literature such as cartoons, comic strips, funnies and charicatures as some of the most popular literature in Japan. This gives way to what seems like a very caring and light hearted community. It seems as though the U.S. is always pushing for peace with other countries, when we might be able to see Japan’s successes with peace within the self in simply allowing ourselves to smile and laugh more. It is obvious that sarcasm does exist in these types of Japanese societies, but it seems to be a more open minded approach (gekiga) than what we are used to in the U.S. that is often cruelty embedded. It appears that the Japanese are often smiling, laughing and having fun. Another fun activity we read about here is karaoke. I found it interesting to learn that this is believed to have originated in a snack bar in Kobe with tape recordings for professional singers. In the film we viewed, today, I also found the karaoke booths located in Japan to be a rather fun new entity. This also gives merit to the good hearted Japanese that are simply rejoicing in tradition and truly enjoying themselves while doing so.

  12. David Ausmann says:

    After reading Popular Culture and Everyday Life I was struck by how different Japanese culture is from American culture, and yet, we still face many of the same hardships. Both cultures seem to have specific activities they have adopted which allow them to feel free from the structure that comes with school and work. Many Americans look for an escape from everyday life in TV, sex, radio, and sports, amongst many other things. The four Japanese phenomena described by Yoshio Sugimoto appear to be used as a way to escape from the rigors of everyday life. Reading cartoons, playing pachinko, singing karaoke, and commercializing love and sex are all things the Japanese use to “let loose”.

    Another thing I found interesting was that although most Japanese are Buddhist and Shinto, most consider it acceptable to be married in a Christian church. In America we would view this as being inconsistent.

    I thought it was interesting that during the spring and fall equinoxes it is customary to visit and clean the family tomb. It is also interesting that many pray to/worship the souls of those who have passed on. The Japanese appear to have a great respect and awe for their ancestors.

    I thought it was interesting that Yoshio Sugimoto says the frustrations of regimented school and a strict workplace result in irrational alternatives to the normal way of life. Some examples of these are new religious sects that appear and socially deviant behavior that appears in groups such as the Bikies.