Posts tagged ‘cosplay’

JUST IN: Tokyo Breathing Room

This week I’m taking off for Tokyo. It’s my annual trip to visit friends, eat like a sumo wrestler, and shop, shop, shop. I’m there for only a few days so I plan to wake up early, jump on a commuter JR train to Shibuya, jog three miles to Omotesando’s Kiddy Land, cross 40 minutes through town to Akihabara, then circle back 20 miles to Shinjuku — and that’s before lunch.

Tokyo is a lot like New York. You’re oftentimes relegated to public transportation and your bed is never around for a nap. So what you do is trudge through the city morning-to-night, shopping bags digging into your arms, until you finally collapse from exhaustion. Believe me, it’s great for losing weight — I lost five pounds in last year’s two-day shopping spree — but if you want to enjoy the city it’s a miserable way to go.

So I was excited to hear about ‘rental dressing rooms’ springing up across town. The brainchild of a company called COS-Pa, you pay between $5 to $7 for 30 minutes to sit down, wash your face and powder your nose. It’s originally designed for cosplay girls to spruce up before a night on the town, but I figure they wouldn’t mind me sneaking 40 winks, so as long as I pay them. Each room comes with all the necessary amenities: a mirror, tissues, electrical outlet, hair brushes, and an all-you-can-drink bar. Non-alcoholic, of course. Bobby pins, hair spray and nail polish are an added cost.

Japan’s heat gets pretty nasty during the summer. By mid-afternoon your shirt is drenched, your hair is frizzled beyond repair and your makeup has all but melted away. It’s hard to believe no one thought of rental rooms earlier. Well, that’s aside from love hotels, of course. And that’s a whole ‘nother kind of rental space. (^o<)

Himawari

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Thinking of doing business in Japan? We can make it easy for you!
JPBizDirect, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more
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September 12, 2008 at 8:41 am Leave a comment

For Your Bookshelf: Japanamerica by Roland Kelts

Journalist and novelist Roland Kelts’ book, Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S., is a well-presented and easy-to-read guide, perfect for anyone who’s ever wondered: “What is Pikachu, anyway?” It helps if you’re familiar with popular Japanese artists like Haruki Murakami and Takashi Murakami (both of whom are interviewed) and anime, but it’s by no means a requirement to enjoy the book.


Born to a Japanese mother and an American father, Kelts was raised in the U.S. but spent several of his adult years living in Tokyo and Osaka and still has close friends and relatives there. He’s in the perfect position to interpret the cultural cross-pollination taking place between the two countries.

His book focuses on Japan’s influence on America in the modern era (from World War II onward), as seen in virtually every aspect of life, including films, books, food, TV, toys, games, cars, and of course animation. It’s not that Japan has changed its style; rather, Americans have come to appreciate what was there all along. Kelts believes that after 9/11, Americans became hungry for the sincerity and lack of irony presented in Japanese cartoons.

Surprisingly, Kelts reports, the global popularity of Japanese animation hasn’t made very many people in Japan wealthy. This is because the concepts of copyright and intellectual property were not widely understood there until recently. When animated films or TV shows come to America, the Japanese creators don’t always realize they need to hold onto the rights in order to see a profit from all the off-shoot products. As a result, the distributors wind up with the lion’s share of revenue.

Another interesting tidbit: according to Japanamerica, Americans are more than partly to blame for Japan’s otaku culture. Several interviewees immersed in otaku lifestyle said the concept for cosplay (costumed interaction) originated with American Star Trek fans. Ahh, Trekkies: the ultimate nerds.

One complaint about the book: the section on “mature comics” doesn’t dig deep enough. I wanted Kelts to provide more analysis on the topic of contradictions, because western people have a hard time reconciling what can appear to be a dichotomy within Japanese culture: the existence of violent and explicit manga in a society with an extremely low crime rate. The context is important, and I wanted to learn more about how and why Japan has integrated seemingly opposite attributes and allowed them both to thrive.

If Kelts writes an update to Japanamerica in the next decade, that would be a great topic to explore further.

Sarah S.

—————————————————————————
Thinking of doing business in Japan? We can make it easy for you!
JPBizDirect, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more
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July 18, 2008 at 12:20 pm Leave a comment


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