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17 4 / 2014

One thing I like to write about is how the collective image we have of Japan is usually not accurate, distorted due to being viewed through popular culture and the “lens of the Internet.” For example, the image of a Japanese game show in which contestants are dropped into acid if they answer incorrectly doesn’t actually exists here. Instead there are “variety shows” which might come up with funny visual gags to amuse viewers, like wrapping rubber bands around the heads of popular idols to make them look ugly, or giving famous actors and comedians ten seconds to answer a trivia question before the floor drops away, causing them to fall into a (CG enhanced) abyss. These shows often do things like dress AKB48 idols in kigurumi (full-body costumes that include a mask or head covering) and make them walk around Tokyo doing random things, but you never actually see people wearing this in the “real” Japan, right? That’s what I thought, until the other day when I was surprised to see three men near my house, wearing Pikachu costumes holding signs and balloons. They were hired by a home builder who had erected some new houses in the area, and they were trying to get families to stop by and see the homes.

One thing I like to write about is how the collective image we have of Japan is usually not accurate, distorted due to being viewed through popular culture and the “lens of the Internet.” For example, the image of a Japanese game show in which contestants are dropped into acid if they answer incorrectly doesn’t actually exists here. Instead there are “variety shows” which might come up with funny visual gags to amuse viewers, like wrapping rubber bands around the heads of popular idols to make them look ugly, or giving famous actors and comedians ten seconds to answer a trivia question before the floor drops away, causing them to fall into a (CG enhanced) abyss. These shows often do things like dress AKB48 idols in kigurumi (full-body costumes that include a mask or head covering) and make them walk around Tokyo doing random things, but you never actually see people wearing this in the “real” Japan, right? That’s what I thought, until the other day when I was surprised to see three men near my house, wearing Pikachu costumes holding signs and balloons. They were hired by a home builder who had erected some new houses in the area, and they were trying to get families to stop by and see the homes.


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