One aspect of Japan I’ve written about many times is the way Japanese are tickled to death when any of their number receives recognition in the international stage, and many Japanese from novelist Yukio Mishima to Akira director Katsuhiro Otomo to Etsuro Sotoo, who was chosen as the lead sculptor at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, have been raised to near legendary status inside Japan because of their fame abroad. There’s even a TV show built around this concept, called “Japan All Stars: 100 Japanese Who Are Changing the World!,” which introduces Japanese who are doing or who have done amazing things, like Toraichi Kono, who was Charlie Chaplin’s business manager for 18 years. In last week’s episode, they did a special on nihon-tsuu, or foreigners who are aficionados of Japan. First there was a group of Japanese sword enthusiasts in Poland who collect beautiful swords and armor. They interviewed Luciano Parisi, who runs a dojo for karate and Japanese taiko drums in the mountains around Genoa, then reported on some other Italians trying to start a local sumo wrestling league. They also covered the huge boom in bento culture in France, a phenomenon J-List is no stranger to since we have so many customers from there. As usual, it’s interesting to see how the Japanese react to, say, people in Sweden seriously studying to become ninja. Often, they don’t quite know what to make of it, but are always happy to see their culture being embraced around the world.
Japan All Stars is a TV show that introduces Japanese who do amazing things around the world.