Author: reneeschwarze

The culture of Japanese cooking and culinary through the ‘Cooking with Dog’ Series

Group Assignment by Natalie Austin, Chris Boyd & Renee Schwarze




Cooking with dog was born in 2010 after its producer returned from LA where he spent years working in the film and TV industry. He wanted to continue working in this field and found that he loved using English to promote Japanese culture.

Japanese cooking shoes or washoku are traditionally presented by men. The univocal types of men showcased in traditional Japanese cooking shows embody three elements – authority, power and possession.

Traditionally, If women want to compete, they need to embody these too.

However, cooking with dog’s host, simply known as Chef, is a timid, sometimes awkward, non-vocal host. This is where Dog comes into the show. He is a poodle named Francis who provides confidence to Chef as well as narrating the show in English.

His voice is actually a Japanese man, speaking English doing a French accent; which, as you can imagine is quite hard to understand…

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Revisiting Japanese Game Shows


Using autoethnographic methods to reflect on my initial experience with Honmadekka will allow me to understand Japanese cultural experience. By drawing from, and expanding on my personal experience I will uncover common cultural assumptions and how they affect our understanding.

“the world of Japanese game shows is best known as a technicolored whirlwind of half-naked bodies, sadomasochistic physical challenges, and the occasional whimsical bunny rabbit head. In short, any reasonable person would assume they couldn’t be real.” (Huffington Post)

Game shows first begun when television broadcasting in Japan started in 1950.To begin with, these game shows were ‘tame’, but became more complex as time went on.

Takeshi’s Castle (launched 1986) was the first Japanese game show to receive global syndication. This show’s contestants were regular people (unlike the celebrities that compete in most other Japanese game shows), and the show was produced to look like contestants were forced into…

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Japanese Game Shows

For my individual research project I wanted to look at

*・゜゚・*:.。..。.:*・Japanese game shows・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・*

My experience with Japanese game shows is limited to western interpretations like this. I want to know if they really are as crazy as everyone’s making them out to be. I want to take a look at the audiences, practices and industries around Japanese game shows and ~ as a female Australian ~ my interpretation.

Autoethnography seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. It’s a way of writing about another culture from the perspective of your own.

In writing autoethnography, we look at other cultures and how we make sense of them, using this to unpack our own cultural understanding and assumptions. Writing from personal experience and reflection enables us to look back and discover deep-seated cultural assumptions.

As a female Australian, my global consumption of East Asian local trends is going to be vastly different; which enables me to connect my personal understandings to wider cultural debates and patterns of experience.

Autoethnography will help me connect an East Asian cultural experience to my own personal experience of watching Australian game shows throughout my childhood, including Deal or No Deal and Family Feud. I can later compare my responses to East Asian game shows to my lasting impressions of those Australian shows watched throughout my childhood. I will then research Western interpretations of Japanese game shows, and look into the history and culture behind the Japanese game show industry itself.

To understand the Japanese television industry and game show culture I’ll obviously need to do some research. But from what I already know, Japanese game shows are very popular and are consumed all over the world.

So… I wanted to find out what it was all about, starting by watching a Japanese game show and recording my experiences. I’ve heard people mention some of the crazy things they do on these types of shows and I was intrigued. To begin my investigation, I googled ‘Japanese game show’ and watched the first result – a youtube video called ‘14 weirdest Japanese game shows that actually exist’. The video showed short clips from each of the 14 game shows and they all looked so weird that I struggled to pick which I should go and watch. I originally picked ‘Japanese human bowling’ but the only videos I could find were blurry, pixelated youtube videos and I had no idea what was going on. I then decided to have a look around the ‘Japanese game show’ subreddit community and I found a link to ‘HONMADEKKA!?TV Mote Shigusa in Summer’. It’s loosely translated and without doing research, I don’t know if that’s the correct name, and whether the video is a segment on the show or if that’s the whole show itself. Regardless- this is the show I decided to observe…

Initial observations:

  • The men all laugh at the woman’s age- so patronizing!
  • If this kind of comedy was used in Australian television shows the ‘victim’ would also laugh at themselves, I don’t think they would ever be ganged up on (for want of a better phrase)
  • Is it acceptable for older men to lust for younger girls?? There’s definitely an older man in the panel of men who wants the woman to flirt with him
  • So the whole premise of the show is to comedically demonstrate how a woman can use her behaviour to show her interest in a man
  • No focus on conversation? Just behaviour?
  • I’m still not entirely sure if there’s any winner in the game, but the aim is to act out the scenario with one of the men on the panel, and make him fall for them
  • The men get the scenario and pick the woman from a lottery
    • If this was an Australian show it would be heavily criticised
    • Women as objects ??
  • They’re teaching women how to make the men look at your chest in a way that he won’t notice he’s doing it
  • The women are taught to look out for the man’s interest- ‘how to hand him a sweat towel attractively’
  • The woman is demonstrating how to flirt with a man whilst on a train by showing her armpit. This is so weird!!
  • Apparently even the way your legs are placed and the slight tilt of your body makes it very obvious that you’re showing your affection
    • I swear in Australia we just get on the train and start a conversation. None of this carefully planned posture business
    • They focus on using behaviour to “seduce” rather than actually talking
  • All the men are obsessed with Kato; slim, pale skinned and innocent looking

“Make him fall for you”

Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 9.42.10 pm.png


  • Japanese subtitles are so colourful, vibrant and in a variety of fonts!!
    • English subtitles are always black and white
    • I think that the crazy effects and colours do get a bit distracting
  • The hosts are so enthusiastc
    • But then I guess Western game show hosts are too
  • Their reactions are very over the top
  • Feel like I need some context to completely understand why the audience is laughing all the time. I get that it’s comedic but it’s not appealing to my sense of humour
  • As the title said, it is ‘loosely translated’ but still a good quality video
  • Is this culture unique to Japan?

Every time I prepare to view an East Asian text I am excited and ready to laugh, be entertained and learn more about the culture. Yet as I finish viewing each text (as with both Honmadekka and State of Play) I realise that I’ve been overtly critical despite my original intentions. As I develop my Autoethnographic response, I would like to read into my tendency to criticise these texts, and understand what the deeper significance of this may be.



images; Google search: Deal or No Deal Australia

screenshots from Honmadekka



Revisiting ‘State of Play’

In my previous post I used Ellis, Adams and Bochners’ concept of autoethnography to record my own experiences with an East Asian text, the film State of Play (2013). As Ellis, Adams and Bochner explain, in order to write an autoethnographical account we’re required to recognise “patterns” of cultural experience and describe these patterns. In writing autoethnography we need to write about our own personal experience with another culture, and use this in order to “understand our own cultural experience”. My previous post details my initial response to a Korean cultural experience, and I will now re-examine it to critically evaluate my assumptions…

State of Play is a documentary following professional gamers as they compete in the Korean eSport industry. My initial response to the film can be read here.

In my previous blog post I stated that I was immediately hesitant to watch the film, as I knew from the outset that I wouldn’t enjoy it. Immediately I’ve distanced myself from the film and this can explain why I felt so emotionally disconnected from the characters. Watching the film in a tertiary educational setting caused me to be disinterested before it had even begun. I’ve immediately positioned myself away from the story, the characters and the industry. Because of this, I began to question the legitimacy of the gaming ‘profession’ and the respect they’ve earned.

“I had no idea that they could actually make real money or have a career playing video games.” (me)

“Not only is being a gamer a career, but there is an entire industry built around them?” (me)

“I’m pretty amazed that people actually sit cheering in a room whilst they compete in video games in real time.” (me)

Looking back I can re-examine aspects of the film that may have re-enforced my position as a cultural outsider. The fact that I had to rely on subtitles to understand the entirety of the film should be taken into account. I also found the cityscape to be something I’d never experienced before; the smog and grey city seemed almost unrealistic.

14017559_10153986335294302_687768153_n.jpg 14045376_10154006096589302_1934554188_o.jpg

In hindsight I am now rethinking why I had a negative attitude towards the film. Whilst viewing the film I felt my traditional understanding of what a successful, professional career ought to look like challenged. Before watching the film I never thought that gaming could be a real profession, or that gaming was a professional industry. However I found the idea of social media influencers to be perfectly conceivable (Adi 2015).

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.12.34 am.png

Why is this? And why am I only making this comparison now?

My daily use of social media, and my understanding of contemporary marketing practices mean that I understand and approve of social media marketing and those that make a living from posting pictures. I now see that my personal experience and interest shapes the way that I have rationalised this.

Originally I found that this film challenged my perceptions, but why should it have???

During the film I drew comparisons between professional gaming and professional football. I found that I could appreciate the work and commitment that young footballers make to get where they are, but not that of young gamers.

“I’m now beginning to draw comparisons between eSports and the world of football. These kids start young, practicing 10-12 hours a day to get drafted into teams.” (me)

I can now see that my personal experience with social media and football, and the normality of both of these within my own community have shaped my responses. I personally had no experience or interest in gaming, and have never participated in conversations about the industry before – and this ultimately caused my initial dismissal of professional gaming, ‘eSports’. I can now see that I drew parallels between gaming and football in order to comprehend the industry, but even then I thought that footballers had a more legitimate profession.

With research, I can see that my original response feeds into contemporary debates. There are hundreds of thousands of articles, webpages and forum debates on whether competitive gaming should be respected, and whether competitive gaming should even be a profession. Whilst watching the film I stereotyped these professional gamers as nerds with little social skills wanting to just play games for a living. I was originally amazed that gaming was a professional industry, but after reading an old forum post from years ago I can see how they earn their respect. I hadn’t been exposed to these opinions or debates before watching the film, and this explains why I held my original views.

Everyone has different assumptions about the world we live in, and it is by analysing our responses that we’re able to clearly see this. It is through the process of autoethnography that I am able to see my response to an Asian film as a reflection of my cultural identity.



Screenshots from the film; State of Play, 2013.

Google search ‘social media influencers, the profession’ results.


State of Play- an autoethnographical response

Initially I found the concept of autoethnography incredibly confusing. I’ve now come to understand that autoethnography is a way of writing about another culture from the perspective of your own, whilst acknowledging the personal biases that inevitably come from this.

In writing an autoethnographical account we’re required to recognise “patterns” of cultural experience and describe these patterns. In writing autoethnography we need to write about our own personal experience with another culture, and use this in order to “understand our own cultural experience”(Ellis, Adams & Bochner).

My own consumption of Asian media has been very minimal. I do have quite a few Asian friends, but that’s where my exposure to Asian culture really begins and ends. Coming from zero gaming experience/interest I was skeptical of the film ‘State of Play’ from the outset. To be frank, I wasn’t very interested in watching a Korean film about gaming ~ But I was interested in noting which parts were unfamiliar or strange to me, and determining how this highlights my own cultural (in)experience. Before even beginning to watch the film I knew that I wouldn’t appreciate it, based on my own interests and cultural identity, and I wanted to see how this influences my response to Korean culture. Below are my observations of the film:

  • Competing in eSports is immediately framed as an elite, daring profession. The men are shown getting massages and having their hair professionally styled before matches. They have cheering crowds of fans.
    • Was I naive in thinking that being a gamer wasn’t a real profession? I had no idea that they could actually make real money or have a career playing video games.
  • I definitely feel that within Korea gamers are much more respected than within ‘Western’ culture. I just cannot see gamers being celebrated and idolized within my own communities. I’m pretty amazed that people actually sit cheering in a room whilst they compete in video games in real time.
  • Not only is being a gamer a career, but there is an entire industry built around them? I’m now beginning to draw comparisons between eSports and the world of football. These kids start young, practicing 10-12 hours a day to get drafted into teams.
  • I’m noticing a divide between spiritual, traditional Korea and the fast-paced technologically advanced Korea. It seems that the kids have to make a choice; pursue their education or compete in eSports. I feel like their parents values and ‘traditionalism’ has an effect on their decision.
  • Traditional gender roles seem to be reinforced by the film. The starting quotation “[man] is only completely a man when he plays” shows that the man needs to prove his worth by working hard. This is once again reinforced when Lee Jae Dong later says that he no longer has passion for playing and that “mostly just plays for work”
  • Near the end of the film Lee Jae Dong and the audience were both crying and soft instrumental music played in the background- however I still feel emotionally disconnected to the story. This is probably because this world is so far from my own, and still seems to unreal to me.

Having zero knowledge of the profession, watching this film definitely shone light on a whole aspect of Korean gaming culture. As a female Australian I feel like the entire concept of this industry is so different from anything I’ve ever experienced, and thus find it difficult to empathise or relate to the struggles of the individuals depicted in the film. Whilst watching the film I was able to draw comparisons between Korean eSports and Western football teams by the way in which the players were commoditized, and idolized within the community.



Screenshots from the film; State of Play, 2013.