Wednesday, January 05, 2005

solid gold nuggets

I recently stumbled upon this absolutely wonderful blog written in excellent English by a woman in Kochi, Japan. She lovingly and extensively details her daily cooking, which is an incredible sampling of contemporary Japanese cooking.

Have been enjoying the essays on Some of the worlds biggest names in science and philosphy write short essays on a slew of topics, and in the process provide an amazing overview of the current frontiers of contemporary knowledge.

My friend Tarika sent me this link to this guy who draws cartoon skeletons. Yeah. Cartoon skeletons.

Below is a short piece on a massive underground comics convention I went to last week. My case for my not being a nerd is looking bleaker and bleaker.


Anonymous said...

Do you see the convention costumage as being in any way similar to the creative garb that many Obies worked up for Drag Ball? [Especially Jose Melendez. I think this costume is after he had taken off a large skirt he'd constructed using wire and other found materials:
For that matter, what can you share about Japanese drag and drag balls?
Also, I've read a bit about the Japanese getting Afro perms and extremenly dark "tans." I'm sure from my own Japanese friends (a sampling math nerds would say is not statistically significant) that most Japanese are not familiar with our culture's blackface history, but I would like to know if there are critical discussions of culture co-opting [any culture] and dressing up "Black," or if there's a free-for-all along these lines. Is it the case that if a Japanese youth with the financial access (or the Yomango skills) sees a look and wants to approximate it, then they would go for it without thought to the cultural things Oberlin grads spend so much time thinking about?

Jamie said...

I'd say Japan is pretty much a cultural free for all, and the idea of co-opting or Although there is a lot of discussion over what is "authentically Japanese" and what is "foreign", the idea that taking ideas and images from abroad is only seen as negative as long as it detracts from things that are "authentically Japanese". While you do see the occasional blackface, it's not about depicting the silliness or ignorance of dark skinned people as much as just looking like them.

The recent "ganguro" or "yomamba" movement of young girls (and guys) who sun tan themselves to ridiculous extremes and wear white makeup around their eyes and lips appears to be blackface, but I think it's something different. Ganguro kids tend to be singlemindedly concerned with fashion, you don't see them at hip-hop shows (where yes, everyone dresses very hip-hop and bling bling), and some ganguro staples, like shock white hair, glittery makeup and stickers on faces and hair is more glam rock than blackface.

White people, and white americans are a much more visible presence in both media and society. While Koreans and Chinese make up the biggest immigration populations in Japan and Americans and colonials a small fraction of it, we tend to work in highly visible positions: English teachers, businessmen, entertainers, etc. The white standard of beauty is overwhelmingly prevalent here; I'd say 40-50% of the models in ads are white. We are simultaneously much more of a target for stereotyping and humor, (last year I saw this one show where a bunch of comedians we wearing blond wigs, long prosthetic noses and speaking in nonsense Japanglish), but I think it is fairly benign. It's not connected to violence like blackface was, it's more of a reaction against the overwhelming mass media presence of white people. There's a white guy who became a naturalized Japanese city four years ago named Arudou Debito who writes on issues foreigners face in Japan. His website has a lot of interesting essays on Japanese perception and treatment of foreigners.

Jamie said...

After rereading my comment above, I think the hip hop thing deserves more elaboration. Hip hop has become huge in Japan, and I don't know enough about it to comment on it, but some really bizarre racial role playing falls out because of it. Although statistically not very large, West African immigrants are now some of the most visible foreign groups in Japan. Almost any town of a reasonable size (over 50,000 people) seems to have a hip hop clothing store, and a Senegalese guy decked out in hip hop gear to promote it. They are also a visible presence promoting bars and clubs, employed as a kind of living image of hip hop's blackness. I don't know enough about the specifics of these guys employmen or what kind of visas they're here on, or even their relationship to hip hop, but the irony is still unavoidable. These guys are only employable by how well they can embody the b-boy image. Japanese fascinated by American hip hop employing West Africans to play out the image of American rap stars.

Anonymous said...

Checked out some of your nuggets, and was especially delighted with the daily cooking blog. So fresh, warm, and homey. Thanks.