Saturday, August 26

Bob Leddy: Japanese culture for Americans

01:00 AM EDT on Saturday, August 19, 2006

Economic power is self-explanatory. So-called soft power applies to a nation's cultural influence beyond its borders. Japan has the world's second-largest economy, behind the United States; its products are part of Americans' daily lives. But its soft power is another matter. Except in some academic circles, Japanese literature, music, and theater (kabuki) are little known in this country.

Apart from karaoke, Japanese cinema has the strongest foothold here. Indeed, Japanese animation (anime) enjoys a near-exalted status in American pop culture. It's been thus since the 1970s, when Astro Boy appeared on our Saturday-morning televisions. The anime director Hayao Miyazaki (sometimes called the Japanese Walt Disney) is a U.S. household name; his 2001 film, Spirited Away, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Full article is here.

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