Expats Fuel Creativity In Japan

Jean Snow points to an article in the Japan Times that looks at the current crop of foreign creatives in Japan and their impact on developing ‘Japanese’ cultural products like Pecha Kucha Night, PingMag, Neojaponisme and salon events such as Pause Talk. The Times says that groups of creatives are nothing new and that the […]

Jean Snow points to an article in the Japan Times that looks at the current crop of foreign creatives in Japan and their impact on developing ‘Japanese’ cultural products like Pecha Kucha Night, PingMag, Neojaponisme and salon events such as Pause Talk. The Times says that groups of creatives are nothing new and that the Olympics led to a wave of avant-garde internationalism in the 60s and 70s, but that connectivity of the web allows this crop to connect, share and evolve their thinking between each other and likeminds around the world.

Clearly, the Internet has also been critical for the spread of such creations — 10 or 15 years ago there were only print publications with small circulations, or word of mouth. British architect Mark Dytham, from Klein Dytham Architecture, says the rise of Web tools is key to this cultivation.

He has lived in Tokyo for 20 years and is one of the drivers behind the monthly Pecha Kucha creative event, which recently celebrated its 50th installment in Tokyo, where it first began in 2003.

“We’re part of a new generation of people who have been here for a long time, and we’ve got tools now — blogs and Web sites where we can spread the message — which we didn’t have before,” he says. Such tools also offer new ways for people to document their experiences of Japanese culture.

“This could represent the maturing of a certain cohort of expat artists who have become culturally competent enough to produce things as peers rather than as cultural tourists,” [Kyle Cleveland, a sociologist at Temple University's Japan campus,] says. “I suspect that if you look at the demographics, you’re dealing with people who have been here years, and not only do they have language proficiency, but also they’re tapped into networks where they can develop projects that previously would not have generated broader support.”

Also – just to let you know – there’s a Tokyo Likemind this Friday: www.likemind.us

Japan Times

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