As much as economists like to forecast doom and gloom in the world economies and the media worries about our aging society, Japanese society continues to dominate and grow in the soft culture sector. What is “soft culture” you ask? Soft culture are exported concepts, rather than exported goods. Soft culture is fashion, design, music, art and all the other cultural concepts that we share with the world. Japan is one of the top ranked “soft powers” in the world. Japanese soft culture includes video games (think Nintendo, Sega), traditional fashion (think kimono, samurai & ninja attire), sports (think judo, aikido, karate) and more. One aspect of Japanese soft culture which is truly exploding around the world is Japanese cuisine.
Thought by many to be one the keys to Japanese longevity, and also seen as incredibly sustainable (thanks to seafare, bean-based foods and local sourcing), Japanese cuisine has become a mainstay of food courts and town squares the world over. In my hometown of Nanaimo, BC and in nearby Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle, there are more sushi shops than there are hamburger shops! The amount of selection is truly astounding and many people are impressed upon visiting these cities to find such an abundance of sushi shops (as well as other Japanese restaurants). There are so many in fact, that many cities have annual “sushi contests” to select the best in the city. Check out this Top 3 Sushi Spots article by a local Vancouver radio show host, and you will see a sampling of the variety and unique types of sushi available in Vancouver.
What’s your favorite Japanese food? What’s your favorite part of Japanese soft culture? Let’s discuss this in class next time!
Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu