Yesterday Avril Lavigne released the music video to her new single “Hello Kitty” on YouTube, but in a blink of an eye it was removed. Billboard called the video an “embarrassment in any language” and Entertainment Weekly claimed that there “are serious questions about whether it’s offensive.”
Well it may have a thing or two to do with all the cultural appropriation. Lavigne’s video includes all things stereotypically Japanese — sushi, Japanese schoolgirls, bright pink colors and even expressionless Asian back up dancers. Throughout the video, Lavigne throws out Japanese words like “arigato” and “kawaii.” That’s right. Her lyrics are actually “Thank you! Cute! Cute!” Apparently, there’s no need to have lyrics that make sense as long as you blurt out the most stereotypical Asian words you know.
As you can expect, audiences are torn. Loyal Avril fans have stood by her side and see nothing wrong with the video. Fans on her official website are claiming that “Hello Kitty” is far from offensive. In fact, they believe that the video should be praised for “doing something different.”
Of course, even more people are arguing that Lavigne’s cultural appropriation is far from new and different. We saw this with Gwen Stafani’s ”Harajuku Girls,” with Katy Perry’s Geisha performance and especially in Alison Gold’s infamous “Chinese Food” video.
For loyal fans who are confused, the reason people hate Avril’s “Hello Kitty” is because it uses Asian culture as a prop. Even the expressionless back up dancers are simply a backdrop. There is a very big difference between embracing a culture and using it as an accessory. It is not appreciation to trivialize an entire way of life.
As Huffington Post explains, “Borrowing from another culture is most problematic when it plucks from a minority group (especially one that has been exploited or otherwise oppressed). Using aspects of another culture from a position of privilege is a means of additional exploitation in that it disregards the shared experiences that led to the development of the culture in question and uses ideas and traditions for their benefit.”
The video was removed from YouTube, but check it out here and tell us what you think.
When you think of Sanrio, you probably think of Hello Kitty and all the cuteness that comes along with her, but apparently Sanrio is trying something different.
The company is not only comprised of cute kitties, bunnies and puppies. As it turns out, Sanrio has no objection to using food items as characters and in quite an unexpected way. Some of these other, less-known characters can be more accurately described as strange instead of cute. This includes their new egg character Gudetama.
Gudetama is described as “an egg that is dead to the world and completely lacks motivation. No matter what cooking method you use, Gudetama remains unmoved.”
Sound a little boring? Well apparently Sanrio thought this character is interesting enough to dedicate an anime to. The 1-minute animated short aired in Japan a few days ago. According to Anime News Network, “The anime and game segment will run for about one minute, and the character will also appear in five-second news updates at 7:00 a.m. Asa Chan viewers can also participate in the “Gudetama Chance!” game. Viewers can use their remote controls to select the correct Gudetama card on the television screen and earn points.” The results?
Japan loves Gudetama. Since the character’s creation in 2013, the little egg has become one of Sanrio’s most popular food-based characters.
Check out strange, new short below as well as pictures from the Gudetama twitter account.
There is simply no denying that our advances in technology will continue to progress. In fact, we have made so much progress in recent years that we like to hypothesize what the future may look like.
We did this with the movie Her starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson. The film has received widespread critical acclaim and praise. The appeal to the movie? A man falls in love with an operating system. This may seem impossible, but as it turns out, this may not be so unheard of after all. Japan, who is often known to be ahead of the game when it comes to technology, is already close to achieving this.
Japanese netizens are not in love with an operating system just yet. Instead, some are convinced that they are in love with a virtual girlfriend found in a video game. As you can see, Her isn’t that extreme after all.
Aside from virtual machines that we may grow to love, Japan has looked into various ways that our future may look like on an average day. In this video, a Tokyo-based tech company gives us a glimpse of what a restaurant may look like in the future.
Surprisingly, the woman in the video doesn’t have to actually interact with another human being. She can view the menu from her phone, touch the options in front of her and pay from her phone as well.
Although the idea of such advanced technology seems daunting, the things shown in this video aren’t too unrealistic. In fact, this seems like a perfectly plausible future restaurant. Of course, this may make it even more scary.
Some of Japan’s cutest characters come from the popular and beloved company, Sanrio, which was founded in 1960. In fact, Sanrio’s most popular face, Hello Kitty, has become one of the most successful marketing brands in the world. Walk into any Sanrio store and you can purchase nearly anything Hello Kitty-inspired. You can get Hello Kitty pencils, bags, toasters, bathroom appliances and even laundry baskets.
So it’s no secret that Sanrio has done incredible work to globally market their main character Hello Kitty, but in Japan itself, you can see even stronger efforts to market some of the other 400 characters in the Sanrio family.
One method is through pop-up cafes. In Japan, a number of restaurants and cafes utilize a theme for their food and products. These items are limited edition and fans rush into the pop-up cafes to purchase the items before time runs out.
Last year in October, a My Melody pop-up cafe appeared in Tokyo. The adorable and pink products were an instant success. Sanrio is taking over a pop-up cafe once again. This time, the cafe is based on Kiki and Lala who are more commonly referred to as the Little Twin Stars. Kiki and Lala were introduced in 1975 and the angel-like characters have had quite a large fan base.
Now their fans can enjoy pink and blue hamburgers, star-shaped pancakes and even the Little Twin Stars’ faces on top of a cup of coffee. Clearly, it’s all too cute to miss. If you happen to be in Tokyo, be sure to check it out! The Cafe will be themed Little Twin Stars until the end of May. Find out more information below:
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When Paris-born Mademoiselle Maurice spent time in Japan, she experienced earthquakes, a tsunami and the nuclear power plant explosion of Fukushima. The devastating experiences inspired the 29-year-old artist to remind others of the beauty life still has to offer. Maurice decided to do this by using an art she learned in Japan: origami.
During her stay in Japan, Maurice learned of the thousand paper crane legend. The ancient Japanese legend says that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish. This legend is most known through the story of Sadako Sasaki who developed leukemia at the age of 12 because of exposure to radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. In the popular book Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes, Sadako folded a little over 600 paper cranes before succumbing to her illness. Moved by her efforts, her friends and classmates decided to fold the rest in her honor.
Maurice realized that she too could create beauty and emotions through origami. Rather than put her work up in museums, Maurice has decided to practice her craft in the streets so that the public could enjoy it.
According to her website, the goal of her work is to “break the monotony of urban living to bring a carousel of emotion to those who see her work.”
It takes her many days to complete each art piece. Mademoiselle Maurice has decided to involve local schools, organizations and volunteers to help her fold the beautiful paper creations and create art as a community.
Japan has produced a number of girl bands over the years. You have Perfume, the vocal trio who formed in 2000 out of the talent academy Actors School Hiroshima. Then there’s AKB48, the 88-member group that has sold more than 21 mil- lion CDs worldwide. But no J-pop band has ever been compared to other international vocal groups, like Britain’s Little Mix or America’s Fifth Harmony. FAKY has been likened to both, and they have only been in existence for about a year.
It was last April at Avex Academy, a Japanese school for performing artists, that the five-member girl group formed. Tina, Lil’ Fang and Anna (at 21, the oldest and so-called leader of the group) had known each other through dance classes; Mikako was a part of the same program in a different region in Japan; and Diane was the winner of Avex Audition MAX 2013. Their name is “a combination of ‘fantastic’ and ‘Tokyo,’” says Tina, the youngest at 16. “Even though it sounds like ‘fake,’ we like to think we’re the most real group here in Japan.” Since FAKY’s formation, they have already released two music videos for their iTunes chart-topping singles “Better Without You” and “Girl Digger” (they sing in English and Japanese), and are currently putting the final touches on their debut album, due out in April.
Tina says she represents the reason why they consider themselves to be so “real” — the teenager is biracial Japanese American, born in Atlanta, Ga., where she lived for four years be- fore moving to Japan. There are two other bilingual members of the group: Diane, who is also biracial Japanese American, and Anna, who is Japanese but born in New Zealand. Though Lil’ Fang and Mikako were born and raised in Japan, they’re both learning English to help establish FAKY as a global sensation.
“What sets us apart from other J-pop groups is our independence,” says Tina, acknowledging the comparisons to various international groups. “We don’t wear the same clothes like others do. Each of us has a different personality and we’re multiethnic. We’re not identical robots!” Indeed, each member boasts varying vocal inspirations: Anna is a Britney Spears fan, Tina and Lil’ Fang prefer the strong vocals of Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé, Diane leans more Lady Gaga, and Mikako is heavily influenced by J-pop bands.
Their fans are surprisingly diverse as well. FAKY takes special pride in the fact that their fanbase is largest in Turkey, and they hope to be able to visit the country one day on a world tour.
Right now, the girls are concentrating on voice and dance lessons, flying out to Los Angeles last October for training and to establish themselves overseas in the U.S. FAKY’s biggest goal as a girl group is to become role models for young girls, the demographic they most appeal to. “We want to encourage girls to be independent and not feel pressured by society,” says Tina. “As multiethnic girls, sometimes it’s hard for Diane and me to live in Japan. There are moments we feel like outsiders there, and even when we come to America, where I was born, we still feel like we don’t belong. We’ve grown to have strong cores, and we want to help others do the same.”
A 21-year-old Japanese art student has been attracting quite a bit of attention for her art. In particular, the work of Hikaru Chu seems to be gaining popularity because of her talented ability to trick our eyes.
Using acrylic paints, Chu has taken a number of items and has disguised them to look like something entirely different. She has titled the series “It’s not what it seems” and has given audiences a kick out of trying to guess what the object is without the disguise.
Chu’s attention to detail, color and texture proves that her talent is beyond her years. Check out the photo series below.
And trust us when we say her other art pieces are just as impressive and convincing. She has been able to make it look like a woman’s head completely detaches and a man’s back is made entirely of books. Don’t believe us? Take a look at her artwork for yourself.
What appears to be a cucumber…
… is actually a banana.
What appears to be a tangerine…
… is actually a tomato.
What appears to be an eggplant…
… is actually an egg.
What appears to be a daifuku rice cake…
...is actually an orange.
For some, high-end fashion is far too intricate to understand. To those who are not accustomed to runway fashion, the models often appear to walk the runway in none other than clown costumes. However, to the trained eye, the outfits of these runway models are magnificent.
Similarly, to New York-based photographer Thomas C. Card, the bold fashion of Tokyo is nothing but spectacular. Japan is quite known for their bizarre fashion styles and attention-grabbing trends.
We’ve seen what happens when a Japanese school has no dresscode for graduation and so students decide to make the event a giant cosplay party. We’ve even seen some of the most bizarre of photo trends become accepted without question. So we can expect no less from Japan when it comes to fashion trends.
While many people find popular Japanese fashion styles such as Harajuku and Lolita confusing, Card was intrigued by the street fashion that he spent months in Japan to document the various styles.
The 75- subject project is called “Tokyo Adorned” and focuses on the exploration of the culture behind this fashion.
“The thing I found absolutely amazing once I was on the ground in Tokyo was that the fashions were very much centered around the individual and less around the tribe,” Card explained. “In the early part of our production process, we were thinking of this as different tribes and groups that were very close and defined. I was thrilled when I got there to find that nearly all the girls really view this as an expression of themselves.”
If there’s one thing that joins people together, that would be food. In fact, people often travel the world with the goal to try new types of food. This happens so often that the World Food Travel association has coined the term Food Tourism which is “the pursuit and enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences, both far and near.”
And why shouldn’t travelers be interested in new foods? Afterall, food can tell you much about culture, traditions and taste.
Now the old saying is that breakfast in the most important meal of the day. In honor of that, Buzzfeed recently decided to create the video “What Does The World Eat For Breakfast.”
In the video, we get a glimpse of a typical breakfast in various parts of the world. The video doesn’t seem to contain entire breakfast meals, but it certainly shows the most common breakfast foods of each country including the following Asian countries:
L.A.’s own Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo opened its newest exhibition last week titled Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World, which explores the history of traditional Japanese tattoo art and its relevance in mainstream culture today.
Curated by Takahiro Kitamura and photographed and designed by Kip Fulbeck, Perseverance dives into the rich history of Japanese artistry by focusing on its roots in ukiyo-e prints. The exhibit also features the work of seven internationally acclaimed tattoo artists Horitaka, Horitomo, Chris Horishiki Brand, Miyazo, Shige, Junii and Yokohama Horiken, along with tattoo works by selected others.
Perseverance opened on March 8 and will run until September 14.
Audrey Magazine is an award-winning national publication that covers the Asian experience from the perspective of Asian American women. Audrey covers the latest talent and trends in entertainment, fashion, beauty and lifestyle.