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Japan's new sakoku? - click opera — LiveJournal
February 2010
 
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Wed, Jan. 7th, 2009 03:04 am
Japan's new sakoku?

44CommentReply

imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jan. 7th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC)

I asked Marxy for comments on the theme, and he responded (for publication here):

"I think both of us fell in love with Tokyo because of its "third culture" internationalist power, and everyone seems in agreement now that it's just totally crumbling and being replaced by a very inward-looking domestic culture. All the "internal organs" — shops, magazines, artists — of the internationalist set have either disappeared or become marginalized. The New Sakoku sounds neat if it means a supersaturated Japanese-ness to re-export abroad, but so far, 21st century mainstream Japanese culture has just looked as provincial and limited as lowest common denominator American mass culture. There is a word tanrakuteki in Japanese, which means "short-sighted" or simplistic, and it very accurately describes the current intentions of youth culture. Everyone wants things they immediately understand, and that disqualifies most curosity about overseas innovators.

I fear that this is ultimately a class issue though. Third-way internationalist culture was always about educated upper middle-class arty kids trying to one-up and differentiate themselves from the middle mass. They, however, had a lot of power as a segment as they were the first to consume foreign goods in a nation with mass inferiority complex towards an imaginary "global standard." Once Japan caught up and consumerism faltered in the late 1990s, all the rationale for worshiping the internationalist set fell apart. Now Japan's working class cultures (i.e., yankiis) are the ones who have the greatest pull on mass culture. They are the style leaders and the ones who seem to be doing something interesting with the consumer possibilties. Third-way internationalists look like weird arty snobs, which they always were. Basically everything has "normalized" to the patterns of Europe or the U.S. rather than taken some unforseen turn."


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jan. 7th, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)

Interesting to inject a class angle into the conversation... I tend to keep it at a national level.

I wonder if the dominance of yankii style is a sign that the ganguro trend wasn't -- as some said at the time -- the end of something (radical late 20th century Japanese street style) but the beginning of something (21st century proletarian-dominated style)? And does this mean that Japanese culture is now dictated by the grass roots rather than small, powerful elites? Or is there some unholy alliance between the two?


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Jan. 7th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC)

The original kogal were rich private school girls, but of the "rich delinquent" stream of culture. Not really aesthetes like your "third-way" crowd. Their popularity gave way to the ganguro, who were working class epigones and took it to a new place. Since then, the gyaru thing has been solidly yankii. Gyaru is a non-Tokyo thing: getting pregnant at 19, marrying, divorcing at 24, working as a hostess.

Kogal were originally "wealth as prerequisite of delinquency" whereas Ganguro was "delinquency as protest against no social mobility." But for the first time, you had a working class subculture take over directly the aesthetics of an upper class one.

Whatever the direction, they are way more influential on culture at the moment than the third-way crowd, who have roots back to the original innovators in Japanese consumer culture like Tsutsumi Seiji, etc.

Marxy


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kineticfactory
kineticfactory
this is not your sawtooth wave
Wed, Jan. 7th, 2009 11:27 am (UTC)

There is a word tanrakuteki in Japanese, which means "short-sighted" or simplistic, and it very accurately describes the current intentions of youth culture.

"Tanrakutheque" would be a great song/album/project title.


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