Contemporary forms of popular culture of Japan, much like the traditional forms are not only forms of entertainment but aspects to distinguish contemporary Japan from rest of the modern world. It was as early as 1920's the discussion around the use of culture and media communication was used to enhance Japan's aspirations for Imperial and colonial control, similar to that of their Euro American counterparts.
The idea to spin the use of media communication for growth of the country, however, got defeated when Japan lost in World War II. However, after World war II, with the immense economic struggles that Japan faced, the question of using culture and media communication was once again brought up.
Thus in order to reinvent themselves and make others understand their position, Japanese used TV shows and media for the promulgation of their alternate realities. Below is a list of entry points into Japanese popular culture-
Film and entertainment industry: Japanese TV show Oshin, became famous and it was after its release that the Japanese entertainment industry got a visible voice in the international market. Before it's release, the Japanese were considered to be 'culturally odorless'. Entertainment industry have played a vital role in Japanese post-war reconstruction. Prior to World War II, Japanese cinema was filled with patriotic zeal, showcasing stories of people who sacrificed for greater good. First block buster of Post War period was Gojira. This film showcased destruction of Tokyo and atomic bombing, and consequently provided a weighty opposition towards the war. Films made during post-war period were used to foster new idols and icons for people to begin re imagining their identities .
Most famous Japanese films are giant monster films Kayu, Eiga of Godzilla, Gamera. Japanese cinema gained International recognition in 1950 with the release of Rahomon. Some of the very recent moviesgaining International acclaim are- Caterpillar by Koji Wakamatsu, Outrage by Takeshi Kitano, Himizu by Sion Sono. The term Geinokai is used with regard to the world of entertainment, it encompasses everything, from movies to television. This term is used interchangeably with talent.
Kawaii: This is a term used for denoting cuteness or beauty. Cuteness seems to be a highly valued aesthetic quality in Japanese popular culture. The word is pronounced as (Ka-wa-ee) and should not be confused with 'Kowai', which means scary.
Japanese idols: Popular culture is filled with idealized celebreties who appear on different forms of mass media. These idols are mostly girls known for their cuteness or innocence. These figures are highlighjted in the media to set as an exemplary for role models for girls.
Manga: When translated directly, Manga means “ whimsical drawings”. They are typically comic books, which represent Japanese culture and history. It has an extensive history , beginning from the 10th century. It depicts animals as characters, forming the part of the “upper class”. These animals behaved as typical humans would placed in such situations. Such scrolls are also known as “choju giga” or “The animal scrolls”
Anime: It is a movie or episode of sorts, which uses cartoon to convey a story. However, like western cartoon, Animes have more detailed character design. It is a common misconception that animes are for children. It's stories have a detailed, intense story line, often reflecting the mirror to the society.
Games: Video gaming is the major industry in Japan. Japanese game development is often associated with the golden age of video games, including Nintendo. Nintendo is world's largest video game company, headquartered in Kyoto. It created some of the best known video games like Mario, Pokemon, The legend of Zelda.
Japanese street fashion: It is a mix of local and foreign labels. There is a mixture of styles, containing extreme avant garde, which is similar to Hute couture, seen in European catwalks. Lolitahe most influential styles in Japan. It has many parts as it's subdivisions-
Gothic Lolita- It has the heavy influence from eastern and Victorian Goth style. It has a classic blend of dark colours, crosses. Under this style skirts are cusually worn knee lengthand blouses and shirts are lace trimmed.
Sweet Lolita – It is a fashion encompassing childlike innocence. Represented by images of animals, fairy tales and is inspired by victorian child imagery like Alice in wonderland, Hello Kitty.
Punk Lolita- It marks an experimental style, mixing the elements of punk in Lolita's imagery. This style often tends to border on to something crazy
Classic Lolita- It is very traditional and concerns with light colors.
Hence Japanese popular culture provides an exciting domain for one to take a plunge in.