Sunday, August 18, 2019

Japanese Identity Essay -- Japan Culture History Essays

Japanese Identity Throughout its history, Japan has striven to define its national identity not by its own means, but by those predefined by foreign, and most recently, Western powers. Despite legends of the island archipelago being created by the sun goddess Amaterasu, Japan seems to have consistently maintained a indecisive self-image with respect to its neighbors. In the past, China had represented the pinnacle of culture and technology and had tremendously influenced other surrounding countries in Asia and in the world. Indeed, Japan owes its written language to imported and adapted Chinese characters. Without question, China remained for a long time the most influential force upon Japan. However, island nation maintained a rather precarious self-identity: How could a country like Japan, which was supposedly created by the gods and therefore a divine nation, consider itself the apex of the world, given China’s tremendous influence and power? Could Japan truly consider itself the greatest l and in the world if China, or Chugoku in Japanese, literally meant â€Å"the central country?† For this reason, Japan never truly accepted a position of â€Å"belonging† to Asia. That is, despite a considerable amount of imported culture, Japan was still somehow inherently different from other Asian countries. So, if Japan does not â€Å"belong† to Asia, does it belong to some other amorphous collection of nations, namely Europe or the West? Certainly in the modern post-WWII era Japan has seen phenomenal economic growth, even to the point of threatening the US as the primary global economic power during the height of the â€Å"bubble economy.† Some credit this success to the changes implemented during the US occupation. Undoubtedly without US assistan... can be seen walking around in some of the most bizarre looking clothing. I once saw a young girl wearing a swan dress not unlike the one worn by Bjork. I have seen some of the worst â€Å"fashion faux-pas,† with severely conflicting colors, completely mismatching styles of the top, bottom, and shoes, makeup seemingly done by a five-year-old. As one might like to hope that these styles were mistakenly created by the individual, it is clear that they are intended, whether for shock value or for personal satisfaction. It seems as though in places such as Harajuku, the more â€Å"unique,† the better. While Miyake seemed to have far reaching consequences for Japanese identity on the international level, Kawakubo’s constant questioning of societal norms helped foster individual deviations, thereby creating a new identity which, ironically enough, is not limited to or by itself.

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