Author: lostbustudent

A lost Psyc/BUS student doing blogs

Reflecting on: Japanese Car Culture

In my previous blog (found here), I discussed the Japanese car scene and its influences throughout the world. I attempted to link my narrative and research perspective by giving my own background of the topic as well engage on cultural experience with readers who may have a similar epiphany (Ellis et al., 2011). This blog will analyses and explain my epiphany and how it drew on further research.

Ellis et al. (2011) suggested that Autoethnography is the practice of giving your own personal cultural experience and to reflect on yourself as a researcher to engage with other individuals, as well as using other methods of research such as drawing on epiphanies (personal experience) to illustrate facets of cultural experience and make characteristics of a culture familiar for insiders and outsiders.

As Bochner (1984, p.565) suggested, epiphanies in ethnography are important as they draw on recollections on feelings that are present long after the event occurred. In my previous blog, using Adams (2005) and Wood (2009), I attempted to expand and open a wider lens for readers to understand who I am and how my epiphanies influenced my interpretation of Japanese car culture. I discussed how being exposed to a western car culture at a young age has led me to Japanese car scene/culture, and by using emotion, such as the feeling of being at a car meet, influenced my research and drew from epiphanies, rather than assuming they don’t exist (Ellis et al., 2011). Thus, attempting to engage with others who may feel the same, and provide insights to insiders and outsiders, into a culture that may not be familiar with as Maso (2001) suggested.

While doing ethnography we become participant observers of the culture by taking field notes of cultural happenings (Geertz, 1973) which led me to taking further field notes and researching Japanese car culture. But, as suggested by Boylorn (2008); Ellis et al (2011); Denzin (2006); Jorgenson (2006); and Ronai (1995, 1996), I didn’t want to just purely talk at a narrative standpoint, but rather I used collected research, relevant cultural artifacts and topics about car culture, such as different types of cars and it’s relation to other media, and then compared it to my own personal experience to illustrate characteristics of Japanese car culture as well as contribute to understanding of a culture. Thus, using a personal narrative of my background and relation to car culture, to invite and connect readers into my “world”, to reflect on past experience (Ellis, 2004, p.46).

That’s a whole lot of text.

The main area of the blog was drawing on my emotions and epiphanies, and how it influenced me as a young person, and now as I am older. I wanted to create a blog post that was engaging, aesthetic and evocative to give insight to the reader to my personal experience through images, text and videos.

This is aesthetic and engaging… right?

This post is a bit research heavy, but I hope I provided some insight to how an epiphany came to me when thinking of a topic to write about, and how I went about further contributing research into the car culture (Not just Japanese care culture).

I would like to leave you with another video clip from fellow Australian Noriyaro that shows a bit more insight into Japanese car culture and how other car cultures influenced the Japanese scene.

https://www.twitch.tv/noriyarojapan/clip/RelentlessProtectiveDragonfruitResidentSleeper

Also, since its “Raid Area 51 Day” today, i’ll leave this here for you guys.

I forgot to mention this in my last post, but Eurobeat is a big part of Car Culture

Reference

Adams, Tony E. (2005). Speaking for others: Finding the “whos” of discourse. Soundings, 88(3-4), 331-345.

Bochner, Arthur P. (1984). The functions of human communication in interpersonal bonding. In Carroll C. Arnold & John W. Bowers (Eds.), Handbook of rhetorical and communication theory (pp.544-621). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Boylorn, Robin M. (2008). As seen on TV: An autoethnographic reflection on race and reality television. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 25(4), 413-433.

Denzin, Norman K. (2006). Mother and Mickey. The South Atlantic Quarterly, 105(2), 391-395.

Ellis, Carolyn (2004). The ethnographic I: A methodological novel about autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1.

Geertz, Clifford (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic Books.

Jorgenson, Jane (2002). Engineering selves: Negotiating gender and identity in technical work. Management Communication Quarterly, 15(3), 350-380.

Maso, Ilja (2001). Phenomenology and ethnography. In Paul Atkinson, Amanda Coffey, Sara Delamont, John Lofland & Lyn Lofland (Eds.), Handbook of ethnography (pp.136-144). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Wood, Julie T. (2009). Gendered lives: Communication, gender, and culture. Boston: Wadsworth.

Ronai, Carol R. (1995). Multiple reflections of child sex abuse. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 23(4), 395-426.

Ronai, Carol R. (1996). My mother is mentally retarded. In Carolyn Ellis & Arthur P. Bochner (Eds.), Composing ethnography: Alternative forms of qualitative writing (pp.109-131). Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira.




Japanese Car Culture

The underground Japanese Car culture

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.

I cant wait for season 3.

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.

A beautiful R34 at the one of Liverpool meetups

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.

A great introduction video to illegal racing in Tokyo

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).

Fast and Furious (2001)

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).

Keiichi Tsuchiya drifting in an AE86

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!

I think this is love live? Never seen. 🙂

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.

Reference:

Kelly, P. (2019). An Introduction To Japanese Car Culture — Japan Car Culture. [online] Japan Car Culture. Available at: https://www.japancarculture.net/an-introduction-to-japanese-car-culture.

Top Gear. (2019). What’s happened to Japan’s car culture?. [online] Available at: https://www.topgear.com/car-news/big-reads/heres-whats-happened-to-japanese-car-modifying-culture.

Akira and Asthma

After signing up for BCM320 I saw we would be watching Akira as part of our assessment which of course made me happy! As a fan of Anime and the dark gritty future of Cyberpunk, it had me excited to share this experience with my peers (even though I was too busy watching the film).


In this week report the focus is on Autoethnography. According to Ellis et al., (2011) Autoethnography is the approach to research and writing in a way that describes and analyze personal experience to understand cultural experience. It challenges standard ways of research and takes bias, political, social and culture into consideration. The process of Autoethnography draws on past experiences to help write as well as epiphanies to remember moments that had significant impact on a person.

When I was younger, I was never a big fan of anime, but had seen 1995 Ghost in the shell (Anime > Live action), Neon Genesis Evangelion, and of course Dragon Ball. I never really did reconnect with anime until a few years before when my friend forced me to watch Koe No Katachi with them and it made me seek for more anime with great feels.

1988 Akira is a Cyberpunk anime directed by Katsuhiro Otomo which sets plays in Neo-Tokyo of the year 2019 (This year!). It’s a dark gritty film with superpowers, corrupt “governments” (we all know corporations run everything in the Cyberpunk world) and the desire of power.

I must admit, I did not pay too much attention to the live tweeting during the film, but I did go through what the class was tweeting at the time. There was a lot of comparison with films such as stranger things and blade runner. Having not seen films such as Stranger things it has left me with my imagination of people with superpowers in a real-life setting. Blade runner would be closer comparison due to the Cyberpunk setting, but I do believe Akira is a much darker Cyberpunk setting that is still trying to rebuild after the events of WW2.

In the film there is an exploration of religion and the need for power/independence. Throughout the film Tetsuo claims that he does not need saving and that now he has powers others could beg for his help. My interpretation of these multiple scenes is that it explores the desire to have power in a world where you are surrounding things that will continue to push you down. Crime, corruption, hate continues to pull you down in an already broken-down world. (Hey that’s how i feel).

Another interesting point I would like to bring up is that during one many of the intense scenes during Akira a song would be played which has a similar sound to dark chanting. The Akira’s soundtrack is called “Battle against clown”. Coming from a religious background and having to been a monk for a week, these chanting from the film rings a few bells. My interpretation is that the citizens of Neo-Tokyo has a burning desire to see their lord Akira return. Or you know… it could just be that it reminds me of my Asthma after a run.

Before writing this report, I did some research on how some viewers felt about the film and it was a mix response. Some say they loved it and others say Akira was too violent with sexual violence. Akira explores themes from a dark fictional Cyberpunk world which contains violence of all sorts such as terrorist bombings, killings, and sexual violence. In a Cyberpunk setting, there is little to no laws and crime is infested within the streets as we see in Akira.

Cyberpunk and Anime has been rooted within me and is now a big part of who i am. Because of Anime I’ve taken up studies of the Japanese language and made new friends through anime. The Cyberpunk setting has always interested me and if i was given the option to swap into a cyberpunk like world i would. (Maybe not the Akira’s Neo-tokyo but rather Ghost in the Shell universe)

Akira has made history and will always be regarded as one of the best films ever made.

Reference

Ellis, C, Adams, T.E & Bochner, A.P, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095&gt;

The Host 2006: Imbalance of Power

2019 is my final year at UOW and I only had to pick a bunch of electives to complete my degree. Going through the list I found a neat little subject that watches movies as an assignment! How neat is that! Coming from a field which writes research reports and calculates numbers, writing blogs is a whole new playing field.

I’m an Asian Australian that was exposed to a lot of different cultures through family, media and of course food. I’ve went through the “Koreaboo” phases in high school and currently the “Weeb” phase… unfortunately. I’m no stranger to international films but critiquing films and drawing on my experiences is new to me.

We were asked to live-tweet about the film and the experience we felt throughout the screening. This is completely new to me and my view is limited, but I’ve spoken during movies, so I guess its kind of the same thing. (Sorry). The film had many interesting moments that ranged from comedy, politics and bad CGI horror.

From the get-go there was a showing of imbalance of power between two nations. America and South Korea. The imbalance of power is through both Legitimate Power and Expert Power. According to Raven 2008 legitimate power comes from a position or role, someone that is in a position of authority or higher ranked that can give orders to others. Expert power is having the knowledge or expertise in a field that others can rely on you to give valid expertise on (Raven, 2008).

During the opening scene we see two surgeons, an American and a Korean. The American surgeon uses his legitimate power of higher ranked surgeon to order the Korean surgeon (Mr. Kim) to pour toxic chemicals down a drain. Of course, Mr. Kim knows this isn’t the right thing to do but the American surgeon uses his expert power by telling Mr. Kim that the Han river is a big river, and everything will be alright.

Later into the film, Park Gang-doo was captured and contained in a facility and was met by an American and Korean translating doctor. The American doctor uses his expert power and first says the virus is now in Park Gang-doo brain but then explains to the Korean doctor (as well as Park) that there actually is no virus. The American doctor uses his Legitimate and expert Power of higher ranked doctor to continue with the operation to remove the “virus”. No-one would question him since he is in a role of authority and in a field where great expertise is needed.

I look forward to the upcoming films that I will be watching, and I hope I can broaden my horizon and critique better.

Me writing my first blog ever.
(American Doctor from the Host 2006)

Reference:

Raven, B. (2008). The Bases of Power and the Power/Interaction Model of Interpersonal Influence. Analyses Of Social Issues And Public Policy8(1), 1-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-2415.2008.00159.x