“There are a lot of moments where people start to develop one mental image of Japan and then they just get hit by something that seems so diametrically opposed to that. You get a lot of people going, "Huh?" IT builds up an expectation and then knocks it down, much more than other countries I’ve been to.” — Dru
This conversation is actually one of my favorite ones we've had so far. We talk about the dichotomy between the perceptions of Japanese culture that we Westerners have, some really interesting consequences of that dichotomy. We also dive into the exchange of Japanese and American culture over the last few decades, and how we're able to live here and experience Japan while not giving up any of our American pop culture.
In this episode we cover:
The existence and mingling of zen and weird Japan
“What Japanese people think American people think Japanese is like”
1,000 year old trees in Omiya Bonsai Village
Otakus and weaboos channeling the true spirit of Japan
Japan creating all our favorite childhood pop culture
Venetian Blinds by Ping Pong
Half Day by Bad Snacks
Powerup! by Jeremy Blake
Star Wars Cantina Theme (8Bit Remix Cover Version) by 8 Bit Universe
Harry Potter Soundtrack - Hedwig’s Theme 8-Bit by Miles_Metal
Delightful Life by Jekk
Here are links to the articles and videos that I used as reference in the ending section of the episode.
“Bonsai” [Quartz Obsession]
“An Unusual Way of Speaking, Yoda Has” [The Atlantic]
“Lots of Harry Potter Books in China, Not All By the Author” [New York Times]
“China Cracks Down on Foreign Children’s Books” [The Guardian]
“The Death and Resurrection of Japan’s Used Panty Vending Machine” [Tech In Asia]
And, as promised, here is the summary of “Harry Potter and the Big Funnel” (from NYT):
After six years at Hogwarts, Harry Potter becomes an intern sorcerer and is assigned to teach at the Honiton School. Harry has a painful time in his aunt’s house, as Dudley has met a belly-dancing girl. As Harry prepares to report to his job, Bat Bug warns him disaster awaits.
At the school, his students become wooden stools one after another. Harry doesn’t know whether an evil student is behind this, or if his old benefactor Hagrid is making a mistake, or if the shadow of Voldemort has returned. Did it have something to do with the big funnel?