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iKjeld.com » Videos » » I am Japanese

I am Japanese

Tamarah Cohen of Kansai Gaidai University has created a very interesting, and to many Japanese probably surprising, video series that explores the notion of Japanese identity. Highly recommended.


Monday January 12, 2009
We Japanese

1. Introductions (16 min)

2. Awareness of Difference: Earliest Memories (23 min)

3. Advantages (32 min)

4-7. Disadvantages: Sense of Belonging (19 min); 22 = 2 – 1: Adulthood (8 min); Looking Apart (8 min); Gender and Ethnicity (17 min). Watch

8. Family: Two Unusually Ordinary Examples (10 min)

9-10. Patterns (18 min); Isolation (10 min). Watch

11. Believe It Or Not! (6 min)

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Comments

  1. Friday February 20, 2009Max Hodges says:

    “they don’t really know who you are or care who you are? They just want to show you off.”

    wow, you’re really showing your bias here huh?

  2. Friday February 20, 2009Max Hodges says:

    “Do you think mainstream Japanese women are also accentuating their Asianness when adorned in light-colored big hair, tinted contact lenses, long curled eyelashes, eye-enlarging make up, and six-plus centimeter heels?”

    I think you misunderstand. It’s not about looking more Asian, it’s about being a part of a specific Tokyo fashion tribe. Yes, she absolutely looks more Japanese with the make up and hair. Too bad you didn’t show us much of her fashion which she referenced in her conversation.

    It’s an authentically Japanese look. Japanese generally look up to American and other Western cultures and look-down on other asians. So members of these particular ‘delinquent rich girl’ fashion tribes model themselves after foreigners, but they don’t actually want to BE foreigners. Most of them don’t speak English or want to live overseas. As Yasumasa Yonehara put it, ‘they want to be foreigners in Japan’. I suppose its a compromise: a way to drop-out without entirely leaving the system. They want to enjoy Tokyo but don’t want to follow the rules of Japanese society.
    Max

  3. Friday February 20, 2009Kjeld Duits says:

    I think that Tamarah Cohen caught the essence extremely well. It is about people born to parents with different cultural backgrounds, and regardless of how they dress, they have the problems presented in Cohen’s video clips.

    Japanese generally look up to American and other Western cultures and look-down on other asians. This is quite a generalization, and is definitely not true for the majority of young people in Japan. Until the 1980s, the West was indeed a model eagerly expressed in fashion trends like Ivy League. But in thousands of interviews I found that these days many young people are very proud to be Japanese and don’t see the West as a desirable role model anymore. This is the very reason for Harajuku’s originality since the mid 1990s.

    It is a mistake to interpret Japanese fashion as a rebellion against rules. Unlike in the West, fashion in Japan is not used to make a political statement. It is instead a fun thing, or used as language to show certain interests in a certain kind of music and other pop culture. In interviews with journalists, young people may say that they rebel because they believe that is what the journalists want to hear. They follow Japanese rules quite strictly in their social interactions, and many actually go shopping with their mothers, which is not exactly a sign of rebellion.

    Maybe the only exception was a tiny group of people in Tokyo’s Shibuya, but none of the people interviewed in these clips belong to that group. Not wanting to follow the rules of Japanese society also doesn’t describe the interviewees.

  4. Saturday February 21, 2009Max Hodges says:

    Sorry if I was not more clear. My comment above was directed specifically towards Cohen’s comment, “Do you think mainstream Japanese women are also accentuating their Asianness when adorned in light-colored big hair, tinted contact lenses, long curled eyelashes, eye-enlarging make up, and six-plus centimeter heels?” which refers to the segment with in “Japanese IV-VII” starting around the 28 minute mark. But it seems Cohen thinks the girl wants to look more “Asian”, and Cohen seems bewildered by how that fashion style could make her look more Asian. Thus my comments above.

    You might enjoy Yonehara’s thoughts on conformity, rebelling and delinquent youth culture here:
    http://mekas.jp/en/interviews/396.xhtml#5

  5. Thursday March 12, 2009Kjeld Duits says:

    It is very clear now. Thanks too, for the link to the interview. I really liked that.

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