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Shōjo Fantasies of Inhabiting Cool Japan: Reimagining Fukuoka Through Shōjo and Otome Ideals with Cosplay Tourism


Norris, C, Shōjo Fantasies of Inhabiting Cool Japan: Reimagining Fukuoka Through Shōjo and Otome Ideals with Cosplay Tourism, Shōjo Across Media Exploring Girl Practices in Contemporary Japan, Palgrave Macmillan, J Berndt, K Nagaike and F Ogi (ed), Basingstoke, United Kingdom, pp. 331-353. ISBN 978-3-030-01484-1 (2019) [Research Book Chapter]

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Copyright 2019 The Author

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DOI: doi:10.1007/978-3-030-01485-8_14


Over the past two decades the global popularity of Japanese entertainment such as anime, manga, pop music and cosplay has formed a significant part of defining the country's cultural and national identity, as typified by Douglas McGray's Japan's Gross National Cool and Anthony Faiola's Japan's Empire of Cool in the Western popular press. The relationship between popular culture and national identity was for­malized within Japan through the government-sponsored, nation branding initiative Cool Japan. The Cool Japan campaign continues to serve various agendas, one being to leverage the global popularity of Japanese entertainment for commercial interests, such as increasing tour­ism to Japan. However, various concerns have been raised around the lack of understanding and depth coming out of these top-down initiatives, many of which lack genuine grassroots or entertainer support,s with Koichi Iwabuchi criticizing many of the efforts so far as being "superficial and nationalistic observations that people outside Japan are rejoicing in Japanese media culture." Additional concerns focus on the perpetuation of simplistic stereotypes for an international audience and the silencing of more diverse voices and experiences which do not fit into this branding narrative.

This chapter discusses the website asianbeat as an example of a government-sponsored, youth-oriented website promoting a Cool Japan-type narrative which integrates ideas of a unique Japanese-ness with popular culture and fandom. Using the example of asianbeafs travel articles that feature well-known Asian cosplayers, I argue that the asianbeat website is an example of integrating tourism and popular cul­ture through appropriating the voice of the grassroots, celebrity-fan as an authenticator and advocator. This case study examines the ways in which the notion of youthful femininity (shojo, or otome) is configured through the cosplayer's performance of "fan identity" in the context of a carefully constructed travel feature on a news and entertainment web­site. Asianbeat's travel features, then, provide an example of the intersec­tion of ideas of Japanese-ness, marketing strategies and popular culture through the representation of youthful girlhood often associated with shojo and otome ideals. The relationship between these is significant as it reveals the ways in which popular narratives and ideals can be used to create an invitational strategy promoting a location, such as Fukuoka, as ideologically and emotionally attuned to a particular Japanese popular culture, such as shojo manga or cosplay.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:Japan, cosplay, tourism, gender, fan culture, popular culture
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Cultural studies
Research Field:Screen and media culture
Objective Division:Commercial Services and Tourism
Objective Group:Other commercial services and tourism
Objective Field:Other commercial services and tourism not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Norris, C (Dr Craig Norris)
ID Code:131858
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Media
Deposited On:2019-04-09
Last Modified:2020-05-06

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