Cool Japan is the coolest of my favorite television shows that currently air. In truth, I am likely to enjoy any NHK World program. Especially their hourly news segments, since I am far more likely to hear about the rest of the world than whatever alligator broke into a Floridian's house this week, or a story about citizens of Portland and their outrage over the price hike on milkshakes.
To put my love for Cool Japan in context, I also like Long Island Medium, the Minneapolis City Meetings channel (the music on their neighborhood bulletin slides rivals that of classic Weather Channel), QVC, and Community.
Don't hate on QVC. I don't purchase anything; I value it purely for entertainment and inspiration. When I need to brain dump all the words, QVC is invaluable. Those people never stop talking. Surely, if they can do it, so can I. Thus, words flow like watered-down wine.
Pro writing tips, aside: Cool Japan!
|The coolest motherfunkers on the planet.|
Each episode focuses on a general topic (e.g., craftsmen, hospitality, beef, paper) and guests venture into Japan to investigate culturally-specific elements of this topic. After each segment, the hosts, panel, and a Guest Expert will engage in a sociological discussion on whether the matter would be considered "cool" in their native countries.
It is basically the highest form of entertainment I've ever seen. Don't let anyone (i.e., almost everyone I've forced to watch with me) tell you otherwise. I am giddy and gleeful every time Shoji asks, "...or not cool?" "I see, I see." There is such a high level of regard for Cool Japan in my household that it has become the epitome of language modifiers. Allow me to demonstrate.
|Filmed before a live studio audience.|
Something about the entire concept seemed adorable and strange to me, as though Japan was a high-school student concerned with its image while passing through the hallways.
But! After an embarrassingly basic Wikipedia search, I learned that "cool Japan" is not just a whimsical program designed specifically for my odd tastes. Rather, it is a concept embraced and adopted by the government, "to exploit the commercial capital of the country's culture industry. It has been described as a form of soft power, "the ability to indirectly influence behaviour or interests through cultural or ideological means."
All this time! Here I thought I was enjoying a harmless program and learning a few things about a culture I appreciate almost as much as that of the Swedes, but really I was being coerced, influenced, and propagandized at. The shame! the existential pain! the abject terror!
This is probably why I live in the heart of midwest America and own a stuffed Domo and Mameshiba, love the works of Satoshi Kon and Hayao Miyazaki, desire a charm for my cell phone headphone jack, and am soon to marry someone who temporarily lived in Japan. Clearly I have been infected for years with Japanese cool.
Where is Sweden on this cultural expansion through psychic injection? Are they not cool? Are they not threatened by Japan's cool quotient? I see..
It's just the beginning...
...but despite my imagined culture-war between Sweden and Japan... Cool Japan is... very cool!