Japanophilia, or the obsession with Japan

Anyone here obsessed with Japanese culture (i.e. anime/manga, cherry trees, samurai, kendo, taiko, karate/judo/aikido, sushi, teriyaki, Kurosawa, “Beat” Takeshi Kitano) and things related to it (Little Tokyo, Comic-Con) and consider themselves or have been called a Japanophile?
I find America’s rising obsession with Japan so interestingly ironic. 20 years ago in elementary school and throughout high school, anyone who looked remotely Asian was called Chino or China.
My mother and other Japanese tenants in nearby apartment buildings in Boyle Heights were and still are called Chin@ by neighbors.
Nowadays, elementary and high school students carry “manga” (Japanese comics) books with them and are fascinated with Japanese culture. Some high school students I’ve worked with are so obsessed with Japan that they are studying the language via podcast and the internet on their own so that they can one day travel there.
An American Caucasian friend of mine who now lives in Tokyo with his Japanese girlfriend has told me that he feels most at home when he arrives to Narita Airport. Another Mexican American/Chicano friend has told me he believes he was Japanese in his past lifetime because of his deep interest in Japan and the culture.
Oh, how I wonder what it would have been like to be “cool” for bringing salmon and riceballs to school in my pink New Kids on the Block lunchbox while envying my classmates who had normal sandwiches and bags of pepinos.

An article by Oxy professor, Morgan Ptelka. http://www.discovernikkei.org/forum/en/node/1709

6 thoughts on “Japanophilia, or the obsession with Japan

  1. I don’t know maybe younger kids might be, I think Japanese kids are more obsessed with our LA style culture. They imitate many of the styles you wouldn’t think like cholos, and lowriders.

  2. I’m reading your post and I’m like ‘o I should send her a link to this paper I read a while ago,’ and at the end of your post, there it is!

  3. Grew up on the east coast, but it was the suburbs in the ’80s and my town had plenty of japanese salarymen coming in for the branch office. Seemed special and exotic, and Japan was going to win the world back then.

    Japanese in college was a trip… a bunch of anime dorks studying a curriculum designed for ’80s business go-getters.

    Tokyo has the same role in west-coast fashion as Paris does in east-coast. The stuff you hear about is absolutely ridiculous, but that’s just cloth sculpture. It’s the mid-level and underground fashion where the crossovers come. The azn rappers wearing BAPE, the little mexis dressed up in neon for their electro parties… there what the kid on the Tokyo street looks to for style. Or the kid on the Tokyo Street is where they look. All a cycle.

  4. I think there’s always been some “philia” and “phobia” going on forever.

    I remember in the 80s, it got really polarized because Japan became a huge economic powerhouse. There were people who idolized Japan, and others who bashed Japan. Usually, though, people did a lot of both, at the same time.

    Some people were still fighting WW2 in their minds, and other people were feeling guilty about the atomic bomb.

    New Wavers wore clothes with Japanese written on them, and a big red circle that looked like the Karate Kid poster. Maybe that was a kind of resistance against the racism and Japan bashing going on.

    Nowadays, I see some kids wearing clothes with Arabic writing, and it looks like flipping the bird to the War on Terrorism.

  5. Right on alienation.
    I still trip out when I see Chicanos sporting tattoos in kanji characters. Some of the common characters I’ve seen are 力 (“chikara”, power) and 男 (“otoko”, male/man).

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