bcm320

BCM320 DA – South Korean Food Fads

By Jennifer Ong, Corey Moore, Ibby Tubaro

Our group has chosen to examine ‘South Korean food fads’. Specifically ones that are uploaded online by independent internet creators or companies using celebrities for the purpose of gaining widespread attention. We all have varying knowledge and experience on these Korean food trends and challenges. The aim was to project our own unique experiences and opinions on these general food fads, and also encourage any onlookers to try for themselves or check out the South Korean food fads mentioned. This makes for an autoethnography with an interesting scope in which to investigate this topic.

Ellis et al. (2011) states a “thick description” of a culture is necessary in an autoethnography in order to produce an understanding of a culture for insiders and outsiders. The South Korean Wave (AKA Hallyu Wave) has brought exposure to the country, as a sort of soft power (Nye and Kim, 2013). South Korea is home to many successful trends and pop culture influence. These include fashion, music (K-Pop) and most significantly regarding this particular autoethnography, food. Among the food culture, the emergence of Meokbang shines. Meokbang (먹방) combines the words eat (다) and broadcast (송) that forms its meaning. Like the name suggests, people (most notably South Koreans) film themselves eating and interacting with viewers. Live stream eating paved the way for another Korean trend.

Although our group is looking at the overall South Korean food fad culture, we focused on recreating one particular challenge, called the “After Mum Is Asleep (AMIA)”. This involved us recording ourselves cooking and eating quietly. There is typically a dosimetre with a sound decimal system. When you go above a certain sound decimal, you get punished.

Jennifer’s Reflection:

Before I go into the filming experience and answering the overall objective, I would like to explain to you my upbringing on this Korean Fad. I first encountered Meokbang in 2016 when I was watching this Youtube Channel called FBE which people react to YouTube videos. This video on Meokbang really intrigued me and I started viewing all of these channels that were centralized on eating such as Keemi and Banzz.

For a while this consumed my whole life and also was the time period where I stopped eating in general since watching other people eat was enough for me. I watched less and less it over the years due to my busy schedule, but I still continue to follow the trend ‘connecting the personal to the cultural’ (Alsop, Christiane K.,2002). It should be notated though that I find ASMR Meokbang uncomfortable and cringy.

As an autoethnographer, we use our personal experience with recreating an ASMR Meokbang to produce a blog and video to represent our understanding on this popular Korean Fad (Ellis et al., 2011). Filming for this was actually very fun. It may have had to do with my role in choosing the punishment and the food, but it was great to see my groupmates eating all this unique Korean food for the first time. It also made me realize the work it takes before filming. We had to figure out the placement of me to be not in the recording view but still be able to see the Dosimetre. We had to prep this food before hand to make it easier for the other team mates and also background noises were also an issue while filming. It made me realize how praised the camera crew needs during productions even though they are rarely ever praised (Ellis et al., 2011).

One thing that I noticed during this study on Meokbang broadcasting is that the foods that Offical Korean variety shows do and Youtube channels do is use Korean foods. While this may not seem much, to cater to a worldwide audience, they aren’t changing to suit other cultures but sticking to their own. This can be seen as a marketing technique from the Government to promote Korean culture. An example of this is during the food selection for the Digital Artefact, I discovered so many Korean food that I haven’t heard of before including, Jokbal (pig’s trotters) and Hotteok (sweet syrupy pancakes).

Jokbal at Jang Choong Dong Wong Jokbal in Koreatown
Jokbal, from Eater Los Angeles
hotteok (호떡)
Hotteok, from Maangchi

Corey’s Reflection:

My experiences of Korean food culture before doing the subject Digital Asia was almost non-existant other than Korean BBQ which I first experienced in a restaurant in Japan and thought it was Japanese. I’d never heard of Mukbangs, sneaky eating challenges or After Mum is Asleep before. After experiencing these things via youtube and other streaming services that a classmate showed me, I became extremely interested. At first, I was confused and bewildered by these Korean food broadcasts not understanding their rules and if the people playing were trying to win or just losing on purpose to be entertaining to the viewer.

Looking back at my viewings of Korean food challenges reflexively (Alsop, 2002) before attempting to recreate a Korean food challenge to experience and understand why they exist. I had an epiphany (Ellis et al., 2011) that these food challenges and broadcasts while very unique and quite entertaining they are innovations on things that have existed for quite a while. people have been filming themselves eating things or trying to eat things in different ways and creating new trends, for example, Cinnamon challengeGallon challenge, and Consumption of Tide Pods the most dangerous of them all.

When it came time to attempt recreating the sneaky eating challenge, I wanted to also express not only the scene of the food challenge and being filmed but also with no prior knowledge of the foods we were eating so that my reaction captured on camera would be a genuine reaction to a first-time eater of Korean food culture to further gain an understanding of “Who am I in relation to the research?” (Pitard, 2017).

This blog also comes as a form of writing therapeutic for my author’s sense of self and experiences (Ellis et al., 2011). As the experience of the Korean BBQ plate at the centre of the table and everyone working together to cook and share a meal isn’t very similar to how I’ve experienced my meals.

When it came to being filmed the cameras became the furthest thing from my mind, as the art of eating silently and actual winning the challenge was my sole focus while eating. It was so much fun to experience and myself consciousness wasn’t an issue. The punishments while humiliating as they are intended to be, which I was also unaware of what they would be prior, but they didn’t affect my mood much which I personally think is why the contestants doing these challenges are also so willing to accept them also, they really just had to the experience.

While I expect I’ll never ever attempt filming one of these food challenges again. I can see myself thinking back on it and the Korean broadcasts I’ve watched whenever I attempt to eat something quietly or open something noisy and remember that the simple art of eating quietly can entertain a lot of people.

Ibby’s Reflection:

My personal context regarding South Korean culture is average. I became a fan of K-Pop in 2010, from there my interest in South Korea in general began to develop. I have familiarised myself with aspects of the culture through online browsing. I had no prior knowledge of this challenge, but I’m accustomed to ‘mukbangs’ and things like ‘the sneaky eating challenge” (the video involves a K-Pop group I’m a fan of, Red Velvet.) I always felt awkward watching mukbangs. I thought they were exaggerated to create a ‘fake’ relationship with the viewer.

Reflexivity is important within autoethnographic research (Pitard 2017), so I acknowledged that my own values can affect reliability. To understand and soften any prejudice or bias, I researched further on the Mukbang culture. Kim (2015) states the success of Mukbangs comes from the fact that people’s desire for food can be satisfied by viewing. Mukbang hosts interact with the people who are watching the broadcast (usually live, but sometimes through comments when video is posted).

I now understand better why Mukbang’s are successful. Mukbang’s require a relationship between the viewer and host, the “AMIA” challenge however doesn’t necessarily require that. Berger and Milkman (2012, pp.194) state in terms of online trends, “people share interesting or surprising content because it’s entertaining and reflects positively on them.” In these food fad videos, the people are professionals in terms of entertainment. When they successfully engage and invoke positive emotions, regardless of cultural or personal context, a successful form of entertainment is produced and has the potential to garner widespread attention. In my case, I’m not Korean, but I was still entertained by watching different “AMIA” videos. Watching them hopelessly try to keep quiet and fail, hence being hit with a toy hammer- or simply giving up and making loud noises because they just want to eat the food? Quality content.

Ethnographers become ‘participant observers’ (Ellis et al., 2011), so our methodology involved viewing examples of these Korean food fad videos and also attempting to recreate the “AMIA” challenge. The awkward silence and then a sudden crunch from a chip or sizzle from the hotplate created an almost cathartic experience where I was compelled to laugh. I personally found doing the challenge and watching others do it entertaining, but in different ways.

My first epiphany (Ellis et al., 2011) was realising through actually attempting the challenge, it’s difficult to keep the sound decimal low enough to not be punished for it. When I first watched “AMIA” videos, I thought the reactions were exaggerated by the contestants, and that it couldn’t be that difficult to eat those foods quietly. Although I now believe such reactions aren’t completely exaggerated, I still see these videos as a sort of ‘performance’.

Another epiphany was even though I enjoyed doing this with my group mates because we’re friends and they understand the struggles of this challenge, I realised that wouldn’t be enough to completely engage any random viewer. I knew I was filmed, but I was more focused on doing everything quietly, rather than entertaining the audience. I’m arguably not an entertainer, just an awkward University student. So not everyone would necessarily find it as funny as we did together.

Overall, even though it was somewhat frustrating to do the challenge in terms of not being punished, it was still very fun to do. I also now have a new outlook on South Korean food fads. For mukbangs, the experience of viewing someone else eat can be satisfying. For other food fads, the exhilarating situations where when presented with a challenge involving food, the performer can deliver an entertaining experience for the viewer that transcends cultural and personal context.

Conclusion:

Evidently as shown in each of our reflections, we were impacted differently from this overall experience. But we all definitely agree that we gained a better understanding of South Korean food culture than before we did our autoethnographic research, and in extension have new perspectives regarding these South Korean food fads.

References:

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.




Cultural Reflection

My last blog post explored memories of my youth and my encounters with Asian food. The recount of my past experiences is subject to my personal, cultural framework which have ultimately shaped my engagements and emotions towards them.

Cultural framework is embedded within and often subconsciously used throughout day to day life. It shapes values and beliefs while explaining tradition within society. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions can explain these differences among groups.

Given my initial neutral experience with the local Chinese restaurant, I was unaware of how much more there was culturally behind the food. Once I experienced the more flamboyant environment of Melbourne China town it became more of a luxury to me as it was at a far distance to where I resided. The quick and inconsistent exposure left me curious and intrigued, feelings that have never left.

With steak and veggies being the staple throughout my life, consuming something so different from the ‘norm’ of not only me but my acquaintances leads to so many questions. Growing up with a farming family I understood how I got my food and why we ate it – because we grew it, that was our farming culture, but I always wondered what their process of creation and consumption was. This was me comparing and contrasting my personal experience against existing research which Ellis (2011) argues is a key to understanding between insiders and outsiders.

Can culture dictate the way we see? Definitely.

Clusters of knowledge from both personal experience and academic research form to facilitate pathways in autoethnography (Hannah & Simeone 2018). This brings me to my current situation of combining my initial encounters and curiosity of Asian and its surroundings. Both will contribute to creating my project and enhancing my views while educating others.

In regards to my YouTube investigation, the platform itself has become a regular part of my life. Growing up with technology it adds to the way I engage in the digital side of my study, something that I am familiar and comfortable with.

Conveying understanding goes through stages and those stages depend on an individual’s cultural framework.
1. Encounter
2. Curiosity
3. Personal relation
4. Research

References:

  • Ellis, Carolyn; Adams, Tony E. & Bochner, Arthur P. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview [40 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research12(1), Art. 10, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1101108.
  • Hannah, M.A & Simeone. M 2018, ‘Exploring an Ethnography-based Knowledge Network Model for Professional Communication Analysis of Knowledge Integration’, Transactions on Professional Communication, vol. 61, no. 4, pp. 372-388

SOUL SEARCHING: ETERNAL EPIPHANIES

Since initially embarking upon my study of Hinduism and the religion’s highly spiritualised death and burial practices, I have begun to experience many moments of epiphany. Coming into the research, I clearly had very little understanding of Hinduism or religious death and burial ceremonies, yet here I am 3 weeks later completely intrigued by diverse religious practices throughout the Asian continent.

Autoethnography has confused me, excited me and challenged me throughout the semester. However, it was not until I began to immerse myself in Hinduism that I began to realise how powerful autoethnographic communication can be. As Ellis et al. (2011) highlights, autoethnography ‘expands and opens up a wider lens on the world, eschewing rigid definitions of what constitutes meaningful and useful research’. It is this widening of one’s lens that ultimately defines the course of study, in turn representing the diverse nature of cultural interpretation. Thus, it is within the framework of personal description that I must analyse my own experiences, in the form of epiphanies and reflect upon how influential my cultural framework is in defining my research. It has become increasingly apparent that my experience will greatly differ from others. Therefore, it is important to use personal experience to illustrate facets of cultural experience, and, in so doing, make characteristics of a culture familiar for insiders and outsiders’ (Ellis et al. 2011).

As previously touched on in my third blog post, my Western, atheist cultural background has somewhat blinded me in regard to global religious cultural practices in the past. However, through further research and engagement with Hindu death practices, I have begun to really develop an interest in the religions profound understanding of life and death. Upon first engaging with the video in my third blog, I was taken aback by the public spectacle of the burning of the dead, however, as I further delved into the cultural meaning of such practices I began to deeply reflect upon how diverse human nature and understandings of life can be.

Hindus hold the belief that supreme beings watch over a cycle of reincarnation, whereby, their soul becomes eternal and enters a spiritual realm, only to return to the physical realm in a new physical form. Thus, it is the idea of Karma that has continually caught my attention. My mum has extensively travelled India, thus I think it has been her description of the Indian caste system that has ignited this interest. Within Indian Hindu culture they socially stratify society into four categories (plus ‘outcastes’).

indian caste pic

Whilst this system acts to hierarchically stratify society and has been outlawed, the conceptualisation of reincarnation within Hindu culture in many ways supports its continued functioning. Throughout the Western world this system is highly criticised, yet within India, society still believes that one’s good or bad fortune (Karma) no matter their caste, will ultimately determine their social status in their next life. This leads me back to the burning of the dead. In Hindu culture, it therefore becomes apparent that the body could in fact be described as ‘the prison and the soul in being held prisoner for the sins of the physical self’, thus when the soul leaves, the physical body merely returns to the elements of earth. This epiphany has proven highly significant, my initial Westernised reaction toward the ‘intense (cultural) situation’ (Ellis et al. 2011), experienced upon first watching the public burning ceremony, has transformed into one of cultural understanding.

As Kalyanamalini Sahoo (2014) describes in his extensive description of Hindu religious practices, the funeral rites are of great significance. However, as I have personally discovered, it is not the physical body, instead the soul that is accorded significance (pg. 32)

Hindu funeral rites are performed at various stages linked to death:

(a) As death approaches; (b) For the disposal of the body; (c) For 12 days following death to transform the departed soul into a preta (i.e., ‘spirit’) body; (d) One-year memorial to assist the departing soul to reach pitru-loka; and (e) Annual Memorial Day in honour of the ancestors.

Also, I have always thought that this system of reincarnation continued forever, however, whilst watching the video below, I realised that this process continues until one’s soul ‘attains perfection and becomes one with the Divine’. This concept is not readily talked about online, thus with further research I aim to delve into it and assess its reliability.

My personal experience thus far has been extensive. Already, I have clearly begun to experience cultural epiphanies and I have thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in one of the most diverse Asian religions. I am yet to personally experience the Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple in Helensburgh, however, I am still planning on doing so and capturing my experience whilst I’m there. I’m looking forward to communicating my experience with you further and can’t wait to experience many more epiphanies along the way.

Until next time…

Reference List:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P, 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 12, No. 1

Sahoo, K 2014, ‘Rituals of death in Odisha: Hindu religious beliefs and socio-cultural practices’, International Journal of Language Studies, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 29-48

 

More About Mukbangs

Although mukbangs originate in South Korean digital communities, they have recently expanded into the global mediascape, as discussed in my previous post (my last post will be frequently referenced throughout this post, so it might be a good idea to check that out first). Despite having a limited knowledge about ‘Digital Asia’ prior to this subject, I had come across the phenomenon of mukbangs on YouTube. Albeit, not the South Korean version, but the Westernised version. (more…)

YouTube Eats

In terms of Asian travel, the closest I have gotten to it is driving to pick up some honey chicken from my local Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately, I am yet to fully experience travelling abroad to an Asian country and soak up all it has to offer within its culture.

Growing up in a small town, my exposure to Asian culture was minimal. I remember occasionally seeing some anime on TV, but I never actually watched it, I was more of a Saddle Club kind of girl. My family holiday in Melbourne as a child introduced me to Chinatown. The buildings were beautiful and the food we ate for lunch was even better. When I was 11 years old, two Chinese sisters started at my school. Being a town without much diversity, all the students were so intrigued by them and asked all sorts of questions about their previous home, we even wanted to organise an excursion to their village. Soon enough they pretty much became professional Mandarin teachers with everyone wanting to be their best friends. For most of us, it was our first real exposure to a culture outside our own, it was so innocent.

As I grew older and moved out into the world, I realised there was one main aspect of Asian culture I really enjoyed and couldn’t escape – the food. From sushi to tom yum we are spoilt for choice and it’s all delicious.

As much as I love what is on offer here in Australia, I am still intrigued by what else is out there. Video platform YouTube is where I do most of my research on these unknown foods. Japan is probably the most commonly featured country in my viewings I mean who wouldn’t want to try all those flavours of KitKat?!

Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 5.06.15 pm.png

Or try canned bread from a vending machine? Maybe that isn’t for everyone…

Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 5.05.35 pm.png

It is so interesting to see all the different foods and flavours I am yet to try. You can see the culture embedded within the products, they reflect the needs and wants of the nation in the form of flavour.

Over the past two years, a trend that started in South Korea has really taken over YouTube with ‘mukbang’s’ becoming common content on many popular vlogger’s channels.

The word ‘mukbang‘ is a combination of ‘meokneun’ which means eating and ‘bangsong‘ which means broadcast.

The individual’s film themselves eating while answering questions from their viewers or subscribers.

I think the exploration of food and its consumption via YouTube could be a good topic to study for my autoethnography project. Food is something everyone enjoys and can relate to, I mean we literally need it to stay alive.

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.

SOUL SEARCHING

I’m not going to lie… digital artefacts freak me out. A self-professed analytical sociology student who loves to write essays hears those two words and internally screams. Add ‘autoethnography’ into the mix and it turns into a full-blown external scream. Yet here I am, having overcome my initial panic I can confidently say that maybe a new experience will be good for me…

Digital Asia has proven to be an eye opening, culturally immersive subject so far. Personally, I came into this subject with minimal knowledge about Asian platforms or films… or anything really. So why not take this opportunity to immerse myself in the holy waters of autoethnographical research and truly engage with the idea of experiencing a new culture.

One of the oldest and largest religions on the Asian continent, Hinduism not only blends thousands of years of practices and traditions, but accounts for 25% of Asia’s religious affiliation. A whopping 80%+ of the Indian, Balinese and Nepalese populations cite Hinduism as their main religion. Hinduism as a diverse, ancient religion is far too extensive for me to cover, instead I aim to delve into the religion’s death and burial rituals still readily practiced throughout the Asian world and on our doorstep here in Wollongong. As will become clear, my current knowledge regarding Hindu practices is minimal to say the least…

I have always been fascinated by the photographs my Mum took when she visited Nepal in the 1990’s. Captured on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River, they depict the Hindu tradition of the burning of the dead. These images are representative of my first ever personal experience with Asian religious death and burial customs, thus I hope that through personal engagement with these cultural practices, my experience can be further enhanced.

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So where to start? I did what every other curious person has ever done and whipped out that trusty google search bar. Low and behold, Helensburgh is home to one of the most famous Hindu temples in the Southern Hemisphere. The immersion of oneself into an authentic cultural experience is a crucial aspect of autoethnographical research (Ellis et al. 2011), hence the discovery of and plans to visit the Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple in Helensburgh will prove to be a fundamental aspect of my cultural experience.

Note: This video depicts the burning of the dead.

My initial experience of Hindu death and burial practices through digital sources has been quite eye opening. The Pashupatinath Temple, depicted above, is Nepal’s most famous Hindu Temple, situated on the Bagmati River in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. Culturally, these customs are so far removed from the typical death and burial practices I have experienced in Australia. The burning of the dead in public places was initially quite a confronting experience. However, through further research I discovered that within Hinduism death is in fact not viewed as the ‘end’, instead the person’s spirit is freed, and rebirth occurs (soul searching… (just like me!!)). It is amazing how diverse religious practices are around the world, I have often turned a blind eye to them (being the atheist I am), however, as of late I have started to really become intrigued by cultural practices, that thanks to globalisation and the flow of people, have spread on a global scale. Thus, I ultimately hope to really delve into and understand how life and death are viewed within the Hindu religion, compared and contrasted to my own (atheist) experience.

The ultimate goal of this digital artefact is to analyse my personal experiences and hopefully many epiphanies through visiting the temple and immersing myself in online YouTube video sources and academic/news sources. In an attempt to truly understand and communicate this diverse cultural experience with you, I am considering incorporating photographs and self-reflexivity into either an auto-ethnographic vlog or blog series.

Maybe this digital artefact business won’t be so bad after all…

Until next time… 

– Abby 

 

Akira

The film screened this week in BCM320 digital Asia was Akira, a Japanese anime film released in 1988 and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. Set in 2019, a motorcycle gang in a post-apocalyptic world struggle to protect themselves from the infectious evil of both civilians and political authority in Tokyo.

This was my first real exposure to anime. It was very different from the usual western cartoons I am familiar with. I associate these colourful moving pictures with my childhood and innocence, but Akira definitely challenged my views. It was a much more mature film regarding its underlying messages in comparison to the Western culture cartoons I have consumed.

Live-tweeting this tutorial sparked more interesting conversations than the previous week. The film’s plot I feel brought scary realities into play. The depictions of a furious, corrupt, power-driven world can definitely be seen amongst certain hierarchies in society.

For me, a futuristic film focused on the elements of such mature themes such as political power and violence rather than new technological inventions was very refreshing. The friendship between Kaneda and Tetsuo is something I think should be viewed by everyone. Akira is definitely a film ahead of its time with its continuing relevance throughout decades past with a strong focus on personal and authoritarian relationships. Scenes felt so raw and real at times. Even though the blood was animated, and the sound effects created by production the violence still made me sick. I found this very weird as I have watched many films in my life so far that has included extreme violence and it did not make this big of an impact.

Through background research of the film and information shared on the Twitter hashtag, I was surprised to see how often Akira has been used as inspiration for many people in their creative works, in particular, Kanye West. Relating to the setting of the film, it was quite intriguing to also find out this now 30-year-old film almost predicted the future with its mention of Tokyo hosting the 2019 Olympics when they are in fact hosting the 2020 Olympics.

“Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis, 2004, Holman Jones, 2005)

My understanding of autoethnographic methodology is that an individual is giving a recount of a past experience assisted by secondary research regarding the subject of discussion. Ellis et al (2011) communicate the practice of ethnography as culturally conducted studies that have a purpose to educate those unaware or in need of assistance to understand particular a culture and its elements.

Some of the methods of research commonly used when conducting a study are journal articles, interviews and photographs. To be considered as valuable in an autoethnographic study, sources go through a process of analysation. Ellis et al emphasise the need to comparing and contrasting personal experience against existing research. They also state the importance to produce a product that demonstrates reliability through fieldwork, aims to reduce generalisability and heighten validity of their study.

I believe autoethnography is crucial to progression within the world due to its deep cultural exploration. The ability to make something familiar to one’s unaware or even ignorant self has the ability to create a chain of education and the passing of information.

AKIRA: My First Anime Experience

So far, BCM320 has proved to be a subject full of ‘first times’ for me. In week 1, our screening of The Host was my first experience with Korean film, and this week was my first time watching Japanese anime. Our week 3 screening was Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s Akira (1988). While neither of the screenings thus far would be my typical genre of choice, I am enjoying the gentle exposure to the diversity of Asian media cultures. (more…)