If there is one country in the world that is the embodiment of pop culture, that would be Japan. The reason for it lies in the fact that it is visible in all layers of society. It may be that we usually imagine Japanese teenagers as devoted pop culture fans while their parents are pictured as hardworking people singing karaoke in their free time, but these would be just common misconceptions. Pop culture is in the very core of Japanese society, and you cannot visit the capital without becoming a part of the craze, too.
There are a lot of ways in which pop culture is woven into the everyday life of Tokyo citizens, so here are some of its highlights.
Fast and Fun
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift isn’t just a product of Hollywood scriptwriters’ imagination. Street racing makes for a huge part of Tokyo’s underground culture and whatever you saw in the film, it’s quite probable it has already happened at some point. Needless to say, such street racing is illegal.
However, there is a way to drive down the streets in a completely legal, yet much more fun way (though neither as fast or as furious). If you like having fun (and you definitely do, otherwise you wouldn’t have chosen Tokyo for your holiday destination), you simply must try go-karting through the city! Not only is this a unique way to see the city, but you also have the possibility to dress up as a pop culture character! Choose one of your favourite superheroes or cartoon characters, and go for a ride as Pikachu, Super Mario, Batman or maybe even Hello Kitty!
However, if you are serious about dressing up as a character from your favourite film or anime series, then Tokyo is absolutely your dream city, a real Mecca for all cosplayers.
It is every cosplayer’s dream to get to wear their precious costumes in the city which appreciates the endeavour more than any other in the world, for that is how much pop culture is strong (with this one). There are plenty of occasions throughout the year in which you can present yourself in the best light. Costume players are truly respected and admired.
Everywhere you look around, you will see someone reading manga comics. In the street, waiting in line, on the subway, people of both sexes and all ages are immersed in reading their favourite comic.
The history of Japanese comic books is long and unusual. Their early origins were graphic novels by the name of Gesaku, and they were described as dark and sensual, but at the same time ridiculing. Such was their effect that for some time they were banned during the Japanese emperor’s rule, and their creators jailed. Nowadays, however, it is a completely different story and the Japanese manga market is extremely competitive.
Therefore, you cannot visit Japan without buying at least one comic book. The genres are various, from romance and sci-fi to fashion and business, so you are bound to find something suitable.
Hello Kitty Craze
The simplest things are the best, right? It couldn’t be truer when it comes to Hello Kitty. A simple, unpretentious drawing that stole the hearts of millions of people all over the world, young and old. You are bound to buy a Hello Kitty souvenir, at least for someone close to you, and in the meantime, you could see some Hello Kitty houses or have a coffee and cake in one of the many Hello Kitty-themed cafes.
Chindogu – remember this word, because you’ll be using it a lot. It refers to a silly invention or the game of making up ridiculous things as a joke. Japan has certainly given us amazing breakthroughs in robotics, but until we all purchase one for our household, the least we can do is admire some inventions that can only be found here. Have a slice of a cubed watermelon, or buy a lap pillow.
Jokes aside, this is also the country which invented the first digital camera, DVDs, CDs and instant ramen, so you may as well get yourself one of these. Fun fact: CDs are still big in Japan, so you needn’t have a problem finding your favourite performer.
There are lots of things you can do for your amusement here, like having a coffee at a cat café and pat the real kitties, but you should also try visiting some of the biggest Japanese arcades. If you’re a fan of video games, then you have already included this into your itinerary.
Most probably, your mood in Tokyo will be far from furious, and one thing is for sure. If you’re planning on experiencing Japanese pop culture, it will seem that the time is running very fast, and you’ll have no other choice but to return to the pop-culture capital.