Japanese interest in 'exotic' cultures in the late 70's
January 24, 2015 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Where can I learn more about Japan's heightened interest, starting in the late 70's, towards cultures they deemed to be exotic, especially in (but not limited to) music?

Recently I've come across Mayo Shono's 1978 hit Tonde Istanbul which sounded quite different from other popular Japanese music I've been trying to get into (mostly Enka through singers like Hibari Misora), with its Greek-Turkish (let's say Aegean) melody and instrumentation featuring a buzuki, and its subject matter. Intrigued, I did some googling, which revealed to me that apparently, starting in the late 70's, there was a surging interest in Japan towards other cultures which they deemed to be 'exotic'—like Middle East in this case, and Central Asia in others—with kayōkyoku songs such as Shono's Tonde Istanbul, Saki Kubota's Ihoujin (1979) and Judy Ongg's Miserarete (1979) hitting the top of the charts one after another.

If my understanding from the Google Translate-ion of the Japanese wiki entry of Tonde Istanbul is not too off-base, this trend was, at least partly, due to overseas travel finally becoming affordable for the general population, though 'interest' did not mean 'accurate knowledge' as Shono says she, upon finally visiting Istanbul for the first time, two years after the release of her single, was shocked to find snow there—she probably had an image of an Arabian desert in mind.

So. I'd like to know more; like how expansive this trend was (in music or other arts and things), if it even could be called a trend, and how long it lasted, what were the reasons etc... Are there books or articles written specifically on this topic? What should I look into?

posted by procrastinator to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
This is only very tangentially related, but Paris Syndrome was first diagnosed in 1986.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 2:43 PM on January 24, 2015

I know this also wasn't exactly what you were looking for, but the Japanese had interesting ("pale, ugly, red-haired barbarians with large noses") portrayals of the Dutch in their art as they engaged in trade in the 19th century.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 6:15 PM on January 24, 2015

> I know this also wasn't exactly what you were looking for

I didn't have much hope for an exact answer (or any answer) really, but I always welcome any and all tidbits about Japanese art and history :) Thanks.
posted by procrastinator at 1:05 AM on January 25, 2015

Ian Condry (a professor at MIT) has a book on hip-hop culture in Japan, as well as other things. http://web.mit.edu/condry/www/

Unfrotunately I don't know of anything else specific off the top of my head, but maybe his introduction or preface can give you some more places to look.
posted by the_wintry_mizzenmast at 7:16 AM on January 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

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