JOURNEY TO JAPAN
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to go to Japan. As an 80s baby, I grew up in era where America was simultaneously infatuated and afraid of what Japan’s ascendance as a global economic superpower meant for our own prospects. This tension became locked in the public consciousness and gradually the frenzy about Japan crept into our media, our style, and even our culture. They introduced Hayao Miyazaki and gave us the impossibly stylish Akira –the bellwether for anime’s explosion in America–the beloved Sonic the Hedgehog, Power Rangers, and home video game consoles like the Super NES, Sega Genesis, and Sony PlayStation. It’s in this period Americans would be most influenced by Japanese “soft power” and were inspired to develop franchises like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Karate Kid, and Mortal Kombat, began gorging ourselves silly on themed sushi, and developed the time honored tradition of getting smashed and singing “Living on a Prayer” at karaoke. For a kid, Japan’s shadow loomed large and many of us found the thought of it irresistible. At least I did, and in some ways, still do.