Oh, those crazy Japanese.
They’ve brought us things like ramen noodles, Blu-ray, Hello Kitty and Mario. I don’t think many Americans realize the impact the Japanese have had on our culture in the last 40 years or so and will likely continue to have over the next 40. I’ve been a big fan of Japan of Japanese culture for a long time, though and now I’m going to share with you 5 of my favorite things which have been introduced to us by our brothers and sisters across the Pacific.
First I’ll start off by saying that these are in no particular order. I can’t really say that I definitely like any one more than the other, except that I do…and you’ll probably be able to guess which ones.
So let’s kick this thing off!!
I’m a big fan of Japanese art…Always have been. Now, I’m not talking about contemporary art that looks like someone wiped a bull’s ass on a piece of burlap and stapled it to a wall, I’m talking about the classic stuff. The wood carvings, ceramics and bronze sculptures we’ve seen in the museums. The people who created them were incredibly talented and I have quite a lot of Japanese art around my house because of that.
Also, Bonsai trees. Those things are amazing. If you’ve never seen one up close, you need to.
The Way (or Spirit) of the Warrior. In Japanese culture, this applies to more than just “war” or “combat”. They apply the philosophies of Budō to many aspects of their lives including business, art and lifestyle. The modern interpretations of Budō are very similar to those in the time of the Samurai and define honor, character development and a concept of building oneself to the very greatest thing one can become.
Budō crosses with art in this aspect of my enjoyment of Japanese culture, primarily for the Japanese swords and other weapons. Master crafted katana are some of the most beautiful and elegant blades ever created and many of them which were made centuries ago still exist today. The attention to detail and craftsmanship is legendary and that facet of Budō has always left me filled with awe
I don’t think anyone can ever talk about Japanese contributions to modern culture and entertainment without talking about video games. We know that the Japanese did not create the idea of video games or even become involved until a full quarter of a century after the idea first became a reality but when they dropped the Famicom in Japan in 1983, tested it in select markets in the U.S. as the NES in 1985 and then started shipping all over the U.S. in 1986, they helped start a revolution that has completely changed the way people all over the world get their entertainment. With the addition of the Sega brand and, later, NEC and Sony stepping in to the mix, Japan became the world leader in home gaming consoles in no time.
As the years have flown by, the Japanese continue to innovate and push the video gaming world forward. If you look at all of the changes which have hit the industry in the last 26 years, then compare them to other technological advances in the same time period, you’ll immediately recognize that the Japanese people push things further, faster than anyone else.
Here’s an example – Let’s look at a game from 1986, when the NES hit the American market and another from late last year. Then we’ll look at some other items from 1986 and 2011-12, which the Japanese haven’t had much to do with and see how they’ve changed.
You can see there’s a huge difference there. MASSIVE.
Next up, cars!
How about steak?!
I’m sure if the Japanese had been involved in the evolution of the beef industry, not only would that steak look and taste like heaven itself but it would probably also cook itself and then crawl up your arm and into your mouth for you.
Thank god they’ve been all up in our video games!
Oh, those crazy Japanese.
I am not, by any stretch, a fan of Japanese Animation (anime). I hate the artistic style and the idea of watching a cartoon where they scream about the power level being over 9000 makes me want to put on brass knuckles and beat up babies. I am a fan, though of their comedy and their challenge shows. I’ve seen several Japanese shows including “Ninja Warrior”, Takeshi’s Castle and other physical challenge shows which both inspire me and make me laugh to no end. If you’ve never had a look at them you should check them out. Here in the states we’ve tired to copy some of those shows (MXC on spike is actually Takeshi’s Castle, overdubbed and Wipe Out is a cross between Takeshi’s Castle and Ninja Warrior) but we’ve never hit the mark.
By far, though, my favorite Japanese television show is “Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!” (roughly “Downtown is not for little kids”). It is a variety show that’s a mix of Saturday Night Live, Jackass and a stand up comedy show. 5 men get up to all kinds of antics and are responsible for the Silent Library gags as well as the Absolutely Tasty series (they make food items based on a theme and usually make each other sick) and the Kiki Series (They taste-test products to find a match and get beat if they fail) as well as the regular “batsu games” which involve them not being allowed to laugh for 24 hours and getting beat if they do, while the producers do everything they can to cause laughs.
Oh it’s hilarious…Here’s a short clip from one of the batsu games in which the guys are being given a televised English lesson by Japanese comedian “Jimmy Onishi”.
And “outo” means “you’re gonna get whacked”
What can one say. Sushi is amazing. Potstickers are amazing. Rice is amazing. Yeah, bacon cheeseburgers are amazing too but…ok well we pretty much kick their ass with the bacon cheeseburgers but sushi is still amazing. Don’t believe me? Have a look at this.