Japan Stereotypes like it’s 1923

A few weeks ago I was in the city of Marugame with the gf, checking out some cafes and restaurants, a fairly common weekend hobby among the Japanese, foodies as they are, when I pulled her off to visit the Marugame Glass Shop.

The place is filled with thousands (millions?) of carefully crafted and shaped glass pieces. It’s a pretty impressive sight.

And while I’m not sure how well the place will be doing post earthquake, it’s a great place to take in some wacky, tacky, and somewhat offensive glass artwork…

…Such as Creepy Monkeys:

Wherever I go, they just keep looking at me...

Wherever I go, they just keep looking at me...

Or the very Japan-centric, Bondage the Bear:

An army of bears, bound to poles...

An army of bears, bound to poles...

And everyones’ personal favorite, “Shark Riding Negroes:”

Yeah, this won't offend anyone...

Yeah, this won't offend anyone...

Japan, you silly little country that just decides to ignore racial issues  (whether ignoring/destroying the Ainu or refusing citizenship to Koreans in Japan). Your gospel singers paint themselves in black face and your glass makers create nappy-headed, big lipped, tribal negro people riding sharks.

How innocent you are!

Let’s pretend this  planning meeting occured in America for a moment:

Manager: So anyway, I called this meeting today to see what kind of projects you’re all working on for the glass shop. Let’s just go around the table, shall we?

Tim: Yeah, I’m working on some Pandas and Giraffes. Kids really love them and they’re selling really well.

Manager: Great Tim, what about you Jerry?

Jerry: Oh, I dunno, I was gonna do some dragons.

Manager: Ooo…Sounds interesting. Eastern or Western Style?

Jerry: Oh, maybe Eastern this time, I like those whisker things they have, maybe have it holding an orb cause the Western ones always have orbs, but I never see it on the Eastern Ones

Manager: Yeah Jerry, I like your (hand quotes) “outside the box” approach. What about you Bob?

Bob: I was thinking of doing like a Negroid guy with big ‘ol red lips, nappy roots hair, mostly naked and riding on top of a shark

Manager: ::Shivers:: Did you just use the word ‘Negro?’

Bob: Actually, Negroid…like a subhuman Negro…

Manager:  …

Tim: …

Jerry: …

Meanwhile, in Japan, the Japanese Bob just toils along, crafting out armies of horrible shark riding stereotypes…

In the end, I bought one. I’d like to say I did it to rid the shelves of xenophobic ignorance…but I also just wanted to be one of the few people on earth to own the dude from the Bamboozled poster riding on a shark…

9 responses to “Japan Stereotypes like it’s 1923

  1. Well, at least they still have a sense of artisanship in Japan, which is largely lost in the States. It’s funny that “Bondage the Bear” is considered normal, as are the Negroids. It’s hilarious, actually, though I might not think so if I actually witnessed outright racist behavior. Must. Visit. Japan.

  2. It’s a very innocent racism….comes from not ever really having encountered much of it in their homogeneous culture and being alone on their little island….

    Of course, innocent racism really sneaks hatred in there secretly sometimes, so it can be more dangerous

    I don’t encounter so much racism as I just encounter a gigantic fear of outsiders….but yeah, I fit in a nice little stereotype in their minds too as a white American man.

  3. Is racism ever anything other than fear of outsiders?

    I have a theory that fear is behind most of human ignorance and wrongdoing… and that doesn’t make any of it less problematic or harmful.

  4. Some folks are telling me that the figure above is a Western symbol and we should take the blame for creating it….

    …I’m sorry, but the point is, we STOPPED using those kinds of symbols and look down upon it…

    Japan doesn’t even know the kinds of feelings it inspires…

  5. Japanese are isolated and relatively uninformed. The government creates this climate with restrictive practices to western exposure, excepting the Paris, London, one-week holiday season.

  6. I think they’re cute :3

  7. Where can we order them?!

  8. What an excellent blog, I’ve added your feed to my RSS reader. :-)

  9. Pingback: Like Some Crazy, Slimey, Dark-Haired, Ghost Bitch, Climbing All Up on Your Ceiling, I’m Back… « Smashed and Sinking!!!

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