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Posts Tagged ‘Japanese mascots’

Several older Japanese people have asked me if Americans’ image of Japan is of a “traditional” culture of samurai and geisha. While that may be true for older generations, I think that young Americans’ view of Japan more prominently features Kyoto-exclusive Hello Kitty charms in maiko gear and scantily clad female samurai anime-character figurines being sold on the streets of Akihabara.

A phone strap featuring Hello Kitty as a daruma

The stereotypes of Japanese culture have, of course, changed quite a bit since the war. Of course there’s still “‘traditional’ Japan,” but among young people, there’s also “cute Japan,” championed by Hello Kitty, and “weird Japan”: the Japan of otaku, Akihabara-style, wacky game shows, and Engrish goods. (Frankly, the view of “weird Japan” and the problems therein deserve their own post.) The industry of cute is booming in Japan, and you can’t turn a corner without seeing anthropomorphized or cartoonized EVERYTHING from anpan (Anpanman!) to Buddhist monks (a temple in my region). More on this in a bit.

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