The following blogpost will be documenting my experience in exploring the Lolita Japanese fashion trend.
In order to start my journey with the Lolita style, I decided to watch a few YouTube videos about it and to follow a bunch of Lolita clothing stores and Lolita fashion models on Instagram. (I put the links to the videos I watched at the end of this blogpost).
What I quickly learnt about Lolita fashion is that it actually has nothing to do with the word Lolita.
For me and for most people, the word Lolita conjures up connotations with the novel ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov and the film adaptation of the book. When you google the definition of Lolita, you get ‘a sexually precocious young girl’. Thus a common misconception about Lolita fashion is that the style is sexual or that it fetishizes young girls.
As far as identifying myself to a specific segment of “culture”, demographically majority of the general public would classify me as “the whitest of white”. Even though I do like to emphasise that I am 1/16th Japanese (according to my mother), the blonde hair, pale skin and brightly colour eyes don’t seem to be helping my case. However, I have always had a large fascination with Asian culture that was mostly sparked through introduction to different foods, travel vlogs on Youtube, and travelling to Singapore and Thailand to witness differing asian cultures first hand.
Growing up in Australia, I’d say during the years of my childhood, my only exposure to asian culture would be the local Chinese restaurant, Indonesian day at school and Karate Kid. Other than that I can’t really recall being exposed to much of an asian influence. Personally I think this could be a result of Australia being viewed as a particularly “racist” country, especially in the years of the early 2000s. Around one in 5 Australians say that they have witnessed race-hate talk such as verbal abuse, racial slurs or name calling (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014). I believe it was an important factor to consider when analysing my personal lack of exposure to asian culture, and how it will still be a contributing factor until the concept of “Postracism” (racism no longer exists; we can ignore race altogether) is achieved (Dubrofsky, et at. 2014).
I’d like to think that my introduction to technology brought on my curiosity to travel. In Year 7, I received my first personal Macbook, thus opening the digital door to endless google searches and possibilities. While planning my trip to Singapore I did all of the basic things like make a Pinterest board, learn basic Malay, figure out what foods I had to try and which places I had to visit. Looking back at it now it’s pretty embarrassing to think about. After that came I was exposed to mukbangs (eating shows), then I travelled to Thailand where I witnessed a lot of fun nightlife, great food but a lot of poverty and pollution. Then Netflix drew me into the world of K-Dramas, which resulted in K-Pop and now we have a white girl trying to learn Korean, with a slight infatuation with BTS and plans to visit Japan and Korea next year.
Dubrofsky, R. and Wood, M. (2014). Posting Racism and Sexism: Authenticity, Agency and Self-Reflexivity in Social Media. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 11(3), pp.282-287.
The first anime I’ve ever seen was Naruto, way back when they aired it on toasted T.V. Anime at the time was mostly Shonen, which is a genre that is dedicated primarily to a young demographic particularly boys, this anime genre mostly has elements of action-filled plots. This was my whole view of anime at […]
Growing up my family was obsessed with cars, whether it’s working on cars with Dad after school and on the weekends or going to car meetups, conventions and races. This exposure of car culture made me want to own a car and be able to drive alone, so I did what almost every other teenager would do – annoy their parents to take them driving after school and all weekend. I wanted to drive all the time, but little did I know, petrol is expensive and I a High schooler, working a low paying part time job on the weekend wasn’t going to cut it.
It wasn’t until I got my learners license when it all started to feel real. I started to look at car prices, insurance costs, rego, and it wasn’t until I stumbled onto an image of a Nissan Skyline R32 GTR that was heavily modified for drift and was titled “JDM GTR R32”. Young me was clueless and wanted to know what was JDM and more about the R32 and how to acquire one (fun note – I searched for an R34 on the same day and it showed the “other kind” of R****34. Big mistake). JDM means Japanese Domestic Market.
One day, my brother took me to a local car meetup at Liverpool, and boy, how my view of Car Culture changed forever. I saw all kinds of import cars, all the different sounds, lights, colors and not only was I introduced to a whole new scene of cars but introduced to the culture surrounding the love of cars. People would stand around talking to one another, about cars, their day, how they are going, future builds and if they wanted to work on a project car together. A car culture that brings people together who share the same passion.
Autoethnography is the practice of giving your own personal cultural experience and to reflect on yourself as a researcher to engage with other individuals who may experience similar epiphanies (Ellis et al., 2011).
Japan. The birthplace of affordable, reliable manufactures of cars such as Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Suzuki. These manufactures create affordable family cars, supercars, racing cars and iconic enthusiast cars such as the Nissan Skyline series, Toyota Supra, Honda Civic, Mazda RX-7 and so on. These enthusiast cars can range from tens of thousands of dollars here in Australia, yet much cheaper in Japan.
The Japanese car culture was revolved around other scenes such as the D1 Grand Prix (Drifting event), otaku culture (Itasha cars) as well as a social event.
The Japanese car culture scene in Japan was not always about illegal street racing (even though its well documented on YouTube), it’s about style. Taking a simple everyday car and customize the car to create an image that expresses who you are and what you love.
It wasn’t until then, I learnt that that having your own
car, being able to customize it how you want is a way to express who you are
and what you love. You are an artist, just… it costs a lot.
There are different styles of cars that would show in these
Japanese car scenes which include
Kyusha – old classic cars
Kaido racers – heavily modified bodies that stands-out from the crowd.
Supercars – Don’t think this needs an introduction
Lowriders – An American culture and style vehicles
VIP style/Bippu – born in Osaka in the 80s and was thought that the Yakuza Gang would ride and not be targeted by police, hence VIP. Riders would modify a vehicle that would have a similar structure and style to be “sleepers” and not be targeted by the police. Sleepers refer to modified engines but normal bodies.
And lastly, Kei cars – small little cars that are affordable and compact.
But what makes them so popular?And why do you like it
There is multiple reason why the Japanese car culture is so popular. Fast and Furious was one of the many movies that brought over the Japanese car culture to countries such as America and Australia. It made every car enthusiasts want a car just like the movies (including myself).
Drift. DK. No, not Donkey Kong. Drift King. The D1 Grand Prix is a Drifting event that is watched all around the world that contains heavily modified (mostly) Japanese cars such as the Nissan 240sx. Drifting is the concept of controlled and sustained oversteer first credited by Kunimitsu Takahashi in the 70s, who would drift late at night on touge mountain passes (Kelly, 2019) Which would be later made popular by Keiichi Tsuchiya (drift king) in 1987 with his Toyota AE86 (Kelly, 2019).
Otaku culture. This can be translated as “nerd” or “geek”, but it really means someone who is extremely enthusiastic about a hobby they enjoy. If you ever seen images of Vehicles bombed with Anime, video game characters and idol groups this vehicle can be referred to an Itasha. To keep it short, Itasha means looking at a vehicle that makes you cringe in pain because its horrible to look at from a person who is not involved in these scenes. As mentioned previously, the Japanese car culture is a way to express yourself and show what you love, and what better way for a rich otaku to express who they are with vehicles. Itasha Vehicles are making their way over to Australia so be sure to keep an eye out!
And for you guys that loves bikes, there is also a way to get involved! Itachari is the same process but bombing your bike with what you love.
Unfortunately, in the recent years there has been a large police crackdown on modified vehicle in Japan which has lead to less turn-ups to car meets and an overall decline in interest (Top Gear, 2019).
I hope this give you insight of a culture that you may not have been familiar with or had the same epiphany as i did and fell in love with a culture. Thanks for reading.
I would like to leave you with this video that also provides more insight to the Japanese car culture made by fellow Australian Noriyaro.
I grew up in a very musical family, and have played music since I was 5. I started actively listening to music for leisure when I was about 16, and when I was about 20 I started listening to hip-hop. And I mean a lot of hip-hop. J.Cole, Drake, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Kendrick, Vince Staples; I was amazed by their lyricism, the message(s) they tell or don’t, the vivid imagery they can sculpt through words. And just how damn cool they sound whilst doing it. Around this time I discovered S.Korean artist Zion.T.
His smooth vocals and his sexy and funky RnB sensibilities really appealed to me, and it stood out amongst (at the time) a predominantly “plastic pop” sound of the famously more popular S.Korean Kpop artists at the time (talking Girl’s Generation, Big Bang and Wonder Girls). His sound was more in line with the Justin Timberlake’s of my preferred era of pop, which I link to my upbringing in Australia listening to the So Fresh Hits compilation albums of popular music from the early 2000’s (shout out to So Fresh tho).
I fell in love with KHipHop through discovering the South Korean talent show, Show Me The Money. It’s like X-Factor or American Idol, but for S.Korean rappers. I grew up watching talent/variety shows with my family (they’re super popular in China) and Show Me The Money resonated with me because of that. If anything, Show Me The Money is a culmination of my investments and interests in Asian media today as an Australian Born Chinese person; Asian representation within media, hip-hop, talent shows, and just really excellent music.
However, this is drawing an interesting conversation of culture and the ownership of culture. Keith Ape was accused of cultural appropriation in his viral hit song “It G Ma”, claiming it was appropriating black culture in the US.
And to be honest, those claims aren’t unfounded either. Cornrows/dreds, grills and ice (chains/bling) proliferate not only the music video of It G Ma, but of the hip-hop culture in S.Korea. Check out G2’s dreds that he’s quite infamous for:
One can push the argument further to say that the fact hip-hop exists and is being created in Korea is already a form of cultural appropriation too. The line between “cultural appropriation” and “cultural appreciation” is a murky one, and I’ll be honest, is not one I’m comfortably well-versed enough to answer. I doubt many are.
I don’t want to end on a note of “well we should all accept that transaction of culture is a great and beneficial thing for all of us” because I don’t believe that to be true, at least within the confines of how capitalism works. There are people and key stakeholders who gain from the transaction of culture, and not everyone is invited to have a slice of that pie’s profit. With hip-hop succeeding pop as the most consumed genre of music in the American charts for the first time ever in 2017, it’s not a surprise that it’s made waves in Asia. But out of that success, who are the ones to benefit from it? Has hip-hop transcended itself to be a cultural product beyond a single culture? I want to say yes. But I also acknowledge that I don’t have the right to.
Naomi Osaka is currently ranked the No. 1 tennis player in the world, and is the first Japanese to do so (Rich, 2019). Despite her major success, there still is an impending issue she will have to deal with very soon. This issue concerns whether Osaka will choose to remain a Japanese citizen or American.
Naomi Osaka was born on October 16, 1997 in Osaka, Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father. Her and her sister, Mari, retained their mother’s family name for “practical reasons” when the family lived in Japan (Burke, 2018). The family moved to the US when she was three years old.
Japan’s Nationality Law requires Japanese people who hold any additional citizenships to choose one by the time turn 22. Naomi Osaka is turning 22 years old in October this year, and she currently still holds both U.S. and Japanese passports.
I’ve never left Australia, so my experiences with Asian culture have only been from the internet and my social circles. I’m in the cosplay community, a term which originated from Japanese journalist Nobuyuki Takahashi while in Los Angeles for a science fiction Convention, but my friends and I attend almost every convention in cosplay. The conventions are almost always filled with comic books, pop culture merch, anime, manga. Many of my friends in social circles are inspired by Japanese fashion and Japanese culture, I also have a few friends who have learnt the language.
Thanks to online streaming services such as Netflix and Stan, before even starting BCM320 I had already watched some Asian tv-series and films, not counting anime which I almost grew up with. Most recently, however, my most autoethnographic approach to the digital Asian topic was going to watch my friend’s idol dance in Sydney at a convention. A couple of weeks ago I attended a small convention in Sydney called Chibi Beatz, run by Yokai Beatz. At this convention, there were a few small stalls with trinkets, art, jewellery and clothing, Including KamiFox who I tweeted about.
I am slowly building up a wardrobe with these guys but if you like Japanese Inspired fashion, Kamifox are the ones to visit 💛💛 pic.twitter.com/tDFHSeGBjV
Chibi Beatz also included some performances by some of my friends, Project:VRI and Will-O. They were cosplaying and dancing to Vocaloid songs. Not for the first time, but at Chibi Beatz, I joined the fan culture for watching Idol or (Vocaloid in this case) dances.
In my experience, the fan culture for idol dancing is insane. They are incredibly enthusiastic and loud, screaming to every beat of the song. I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as them but I was screaming for my friends constantly, I didn’t have a light stick with me this time but I have previously used one during one of my friend’s idol performances. It is common in Idol dancing culture it’s common to change the lightstick culture to the colour of your favourite idol and wave it to the beat of the song.
A couple of my friends are also in a dance idol group called MewsAu, who mostly perform at every anime-themed convention. They are original a Love Live/Jpop cover group based in Sydney. This was my first experience into the fan culture for Idol dancing since the fan groups are usually bigger at larger conventions and Chibi Beatz was not a large convention. I can’t imagine the thrill of getting up and dancing in front of a live audience, which is why I love going to support my friends cheering them on.
This is just a video from Neko Nation where Mews Au performed last year, I’m waiting until my friends post their own footage so I can put it here. In this video, there is a clear evidence of screaming and lightsticks though!
Since the explosion of the famous Facebook group ‘Subtle Private school traits’, which was clearly created and focused on Australians, there have been plenty of other ‘Subtle Traits’ Facebook groups popping up, reminiscent of the abundance of relatable memes being shared. Three of which, I am now very fond of: ‘Subtle Asian Trains’, ‘Subtle Filipino Traits‘ and ‘Subtle Halfie Traits’. Ranking up 1,492,647 | 20,478 | 18,324 members respectively.
These Facebook groups are self-explanatory, but to elaborate: they’re dedicated to a specific audience where they will relate to each other. Through an abundant of memes, shared content of all sorts of Asian related culture from food, family culture, products, general knowledge and mannerisms. It seems like a simple concept, but for many, it’s fascinating that we all can recognise so many aspects of our lives from growing up and the traits we inherited from our asian parents. Rediscovering…
I will be utalising Youtube for Documentaries revolving around guests and ‘westerners’ visiting North Korea and there experience or non experience with the Locals and the Culture. From previous viewings I believe the edited and ‘see what we want you to see’ aspect of many documentaries means this will be used as secondary support to raw and real footage within North Korea that is yet to be sourced (field experience). Many of the existing documentaries offer very personal opinions as this is what for of documentation is presented on Youtube, it is interesting to see others interpretation of the cultural experience. I am looking forward to investigating this further and viewing raw footage to provide better engagement for myself as an auto-ethnographer.
Viewed North Korean documented experiences of others bellow.
I will also be looking at podcasts to give a different perspective on North Korea and how the world views them. Specifically Citations Needed Podcast Episode 02: The North Korea Memory Hole (see bellow)
From what i can see so far by looking at newspaper articles and online features about North Korea everything seems to have negative or ‘dangerous’ connotations towards the country, I am not saying this is wrong however it does seem very one sided and USA driven. For example the top 3 articles about North Korea as featured on the New York Times online website are all about Missiles, testing weapons and losing hope. This is all in the space of less than a month.
The Guardian also shows explosions and talk of rocket launchers.
A true field experience will be done following with some more research into each of these sources and a range of new media sources to be used as secondary support.
For the final DA I am leaning towards creating a podcast accompanied by the contextual essay, this will allow more of a discussion format to be witheld throughout the project and I believe it will give the opportunity for my personal experience to be represented as best possible.
Scrolling through Netflix, I came across Violet Evergarden. From its thumbnail it appeared to be a cutesy slice-of-life anime full of romance and gut-wrenching story. And, to some extent, it was. Violet Evergarden opens up with a beautiful, loving scene between the protagonist Violet and a man whom seems questionably both a father figure and a lover. Now, I can’t relate to this scene whatsoever, but it seemed pretty in line with what I expected from this anime. And I was pleasantly surprised to be quickly proved wrong.
The opening scene, as pictured in the gif above, introduces us to Violet in a very whimsical way. The focus on her eyes and the swirling of the pendant brought my attention to just how different her character design is to what I had come to expect from anime. She is decidedly European in appearance. And she isn’t the only one…