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Japanese = American???


16 Apr 2002
Konichiwa!!! Hello. Since after WWII, Japanese culture has been adopting American Culture in dress...food...even the language has slowly evolved to more American style . I think that the Ancient Japanese traditions should be celebrated & treasured in Japan . I have friends who don't know even now that Japan existed... let alone where it was. The people who do consider them different, in look, life, all culture and food etc. No one seems to realize the similarities between Japanese , and American. Japan and the USA .

Most people don't know Japan is one of the world's capitals for technology . Japan has the fastes land tranz. The bullet train, She-n-kan-n-se-n, a hover train that flies on magnets and goes 342mph . The Japanese had the first self-active robots . I saw a "black&white " picture of it shaking the president of China's hand . Many computers , printers and other software products are Japanese . In the mid-1900s, the USA had to set a policy to importing cars from Japan because Japanese cars are stronger and last longer, and at that time were cheaper . So more cars from Japan were bought than American cars . Asian Culture is just for laughs in my school. Hu-bla-wa gu is how people saw they speak . SAYOUNARA!!!
Japan does indeed have a varied and interesting culture, history and place in the modern world. However, that is also true of other counties. It is often quite shocking to find how little people from one country know about another, or even about their own.

Some time ago I attended a conference at which an international business consultant explained how much of the American economy was ultimately controlled from Japanese and British company boardrooms. Which were in turn influenced by politicians, who listened to public opinion, which was often swayed by imported American television programmes. We live in a very inter-connected world, so it is important to know about more than our own area.
While I am proud of my Japanese heritage, traditions and culture, I would not want to turned those feelings into chauvinism. No one country or culture is better than another - merely more successful at a given moment in history or better known.

If we could take a time machine back to any point in history, we would find that some countries had stronger trade, bigger armies, more famous leaders than their neighbours. However, as the Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Spanish, and many others found out, history is fickle. The top country of one period can be the small fish of another.

What is consistant (barring another dark age) is the growth of human knowledge worldwide. This is not something that comes from being top country, it is derived from the individual and group contributions from countless thinkers and doers all over the world. Although some countries, such as Japan, the nations of the European Union, USA, Canada, Australia, and so on have an advantage because of their more widespread educational opportunities, the next *Big Idea* could originate with a computer programmer in Calcutta, a rural doctor in Benin, or a poet in San Salvador.
Although all this is true, the fact that some cultures tend to fade out of existence in the presence of a more powerful culture does not mean that we have to accept it.
I just came back from Asia two weeks ago, and the majority of what I saw was American, with a slight local tint to it, from TV, to the shopping, almost everywhere there was an American influence. Nations don't do enough to protect their cultures, and they do need to do more. People have to go to isolated corners or communities to get even a small understanding of the culture in question.
It really is sad.

In your post (above), you said, "I just came back from Asia two weeks ago, and the majority of what I saw was American, with a slight local tint to it."

Could you define American? As a Japanese woman who has lived in the UK for over five years, I have discovered that many things that people consider to be American would more accurately be described as European.

I don't want to make light of the American contribution to world culture, which is considerable, but it should not be ignored that the French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and of course, the British have a lot to do with the way the world looks and acts today. People were speaking European languages (including English) over large areas of the world before American television shows reached them. Similarly, people were adopting non-local forms of dress, housing, and various imported (and then customised) institutions.

An Englishman, like my husband, would spot British influences, where an American may spot American influence. An ancient Greek or Roman would certainly spot the influence of his culture on the public building of all world capitals.

I agree entirely that countries should not deny their heritage. I believe strongly that all cultural traditions and histories should be studied, protected and passed on. However, they must also be allowed to change.

Unfortunately, I do not know any native Americans to whom I could ask the question; however, I assume that they would wish to preserve their own culture and heritage, while making the best use of the imported and developing culture that is all around them in the USA today.
My apologies, Yes I guess technically speaking, what is normally defined as American is usually European in origin. However, since I come from Canada, a nation overshadowed in most areas, cultural and internationally, I tend to define that kind of thing as American. Though "American" culture really is the sum total of most of Europe's culture, both are pretty accurate (sp?).

What I'm talking about, though, are pop-culture type things as well, MTV with mostly American singers, Soda Pop cans, and Donuts with Britney Spears stamped on all of them.

I agree with you, though, that a lot of it is of European origin (sp?), though regardless of that, my point was that it is difficult to find things that are of a local-cultural value, even in the midst of the ruins of Thailands ancient capital (for example), the European influence was strong.

I hope that answers your question :)
One problem is that many aspects that are/were imported into mainstream Japan haven't become internalized yet ...

i.e. food. As in any country (ahem ... just an example here), Chinese food has a slightly different taste than where you eat it. Therefore the idea that Chinese food had become internalized.

Although, music has done very well, while many parts of adopted "American ideas/things" are still in need of internalization. Ie... lady first ... individuality ...

In the late Tokugawa era, Japan was able to control the flow of foreign influences with the use of Dejima Island. Now, society changes on the outside but on the inside are having trouble adapting to the rapidity of these ideas that come into Japan.

Sadly, though ... many Japanese aren't very interested in Japanese things. Well, besides the smell of TATAMI mats and sushi, that is.

I believe that eventually, Japan will come to a peaceful mixture of Japanese and foreign.

Excuse the ramblings.
Culture is sliping !!!

Konichiwa !! Culture in most countries is slipping away right in front of our eyes . People today don't care or just show little respect for their heritage, culture, history and ways of life . Eventually, all culture of the "old country" will be forgotten . How big can a history book get ? Teenagers especially care more about pop than the ancient world . Life stiles in Japan, China , USA, Germany, England, everywhere are changing to similarities . The entire world wants to become a giant country: one language, currency, government!, and religion!. This will lead to the collapse of the areas from the past . I bet you a million bucks you'll never see anyone in Japan wearing a traditional kimono outside, not in a festival or holiday, that is! Or a Mexican in Aztec custom . "The past should be remembered in respect, beauty, tradition, Arts, and as our future !" If it wasn't for the architecture of the Japanese pagodas buildings, over 30 floors might have never been made . Such grace held in such art of history should be treasured where ever it is found!!!

I spend a lot of my time doing lectures, demonstrations, exhibitions and workshops on Japanese culture. I am also a member of several societies which work to preserve and promote Japanese traditions and heritage. So I don't believe that the situation is a dire as you claim.

'Modern' does not mean 'American'. Innovation in fashion, music, industry, and every other sphere of human activity is coming from many sources. So while it is true that blue jeans and rock music have American roots, that does not mean that a Japanese fashion designer who uses denim, or a pop group from Liverpool are becoming American any more than a child in New York who watches Pokemon animation and owns a Sony music centre is becoming Japanese.

While it is true that you don't often see Japanese people wearing the kimono, that does not mean that they have abandoned their heritage. For example, how many toga-wearing Italians do you know, or Scots who wear the kilt every day? Yet, they are still Italian and Scottish, respectively.

I do wear the kimono - at least three or four times each week. I enjoy wearing the kimono, but I can tell you it is not a practical garment. My work is usually in a school, university or museum, and does not require me to run, lift things, drive, operate equipment, or deal with messy materials. So if I were a typical Japanese office worker or housewife, I would not wear the kimono.

I agree that there is a lot of similarity in the lifestyles of young people in the countries you mentioned, but there are also many differences. The Germans, Chinese, British and Japanese are not becoming American. They are simply doing what every previous generation has done - adapting to take advantage of the society they live in.

I have great respect for Japanese culture, but it must be allowed to change to fit the realities of life for each generation. That does not mean abandoning the past. It is simply writing a new page to the history.

Of course, children and adults should learn about the history of their nation, their local community, and their family. I agree that it is not always done as well as it should be. Nevertheless, they should not be expected to live as if they were their grandparents anymore than people in the USA are expected to act like Billy the Kid or Benjamin Franklin.
I hope that I do treasure the art, history and traditions of Japan, and pass those things on to my daughter. However, I also hope that she will take her inheritance and make with it something that fits her life and times.

A living culture is one that grows, changes, adopts from outside, gives to others, and creates lively discussion :)
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