As of October 2020 There are 188 Japanese citizens living in Jamaica and 961 Jamaican citizens living in Japan as of December 2020 (Source: Mofa). Over 70,000 Jamaicans of Chinese ancestry reside in Jamaica. Although accounting for a small percentage of the islands total population of 2.961million people. The Influence on our Snacks and Society can be seen by simply taking a walk through Hope Road, Half Way Tree and other prominent thorofares viewing the businesses and monuments along the bustling streets.
Although we see a clear presence in Jamaica, what about Japan? Well it turns out I reconnected with an old friend, let’s call her Laura, serving in the United States Military and stationed at the Yokota Air Force Base in Fussa, Japan. Now to think that just the other day we were both in high school and now Laura is residing in Japan working for the military is very unpredictable to say the least. Not to digress but I am proud to see where Jamaicans of any ethnicity end up in life given that the circumstances are beneficial. We began talking and after our conversation I realized that my friend had a whole different persona than that of school days. Calm in manner, collected in composure and cooler because of it. So what parts of Asian culture blew my mind and what did I learn from it?
Anime is an Ambassador
Talking to friends is always fun because you can be talking about absolutely nothing and still relate. The topic of anime came up. We did deep dives on Demon Slayer, Cowboy Bebop, Attack On Titan, Yu Yu Hakusho, Dragon ball Z and how it became trash (I said what I said). Something stood out to me we had two very different experiences. Laura would go to local movie theatres for that Carib 5 feel when the newest Amine premiered. Me on the other hand would fire up my laptop, equip a vpn and get a glimpse of these initial Japan Only releases. Circumventing years of waiting for a western release. I cannot tell you the countless times my a vpn has saved me when trying to watch even my go to Rick & Morty. I use FastestVPN because I get free cloud storage and it’s cost effective. If your like me try it out to get you up an binging in no time.
two different worlds exsist
It was then that it struck me, two different worlds exist. One where this is just a fascination for me from I was younger watching Sailor Moon and things like Toonami which were really at the forefront of Anime’s westernization. Meanwhile in Japan this was big business, 25.36billion big to be exact. Asians see anime not just as a cartoon like the rest of the world but it is their ambassador and one of the largest exports for the region. A form of entertainment that can come in any form just like a Hollywood movie. You have drama, action, mystery, crime and kid friendly offerings too. From the foundations that began in 1907. Then modernized in 1956 but it wasn’t until 1961 that this medium was finally taken seriously. It’s now so serious that I doubt you can find a Jamaican that doesn’t know what a Pokémon is. Snack Food is branded with the latest flicks as are toys, like these Sukiya Yakibosa Noodles released just for a anime movie premiere. Now that’s culture.
Music Trancends From Food to Fashion
This brings us to k-pop. Never could I imagine a slew of fan made pages paying homage to the inner workings of their favorite K-pop stars. From fashion to food, they document it all. This South Korean export that began a new wave in the 2010’s is responsible for influencing much of what we snack on. For instance popular south Korean boy group BTS once released that their favorite snack was Ramen Noodles and jus like that their became a instant flock for this now precious commodity. Yet again another export that spills over into our society. But how did it get this way. I realize that K-pop is more than the music. It’s an entire ecosystem/lifestyle. South Koreans have been listening to K-pop for years. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Gangnam Style by Psy was the first introduction many western audiences got to this genre.
One main thing to note is that South Korea is half the size of Florida. They have become a export oriented society. When talking export it’s either physical or cultural. One physical export is Banana Milk and guess what, your favorite K-pop star in particular singing and acting sensation IU has been charged with endorsing such product. This has been one of the factors in the popularity of banana milk, but why endorse banana milk? remember we said South Korea is export based, well in 1974 the government introduced banana milk to the population for nutritional purposes. At the time South Koreans despised regular milk as it didn’t suit their pallet so in came the light and sweet banana milk to nourish bones nationwide. Now as of 2022 banana milk is popular in many countries and it is now making an emergence in Jamaica too.
When it relates to cultural exports we go back to K-pop as being one of the most prominent and even pushing fashion trends with more bold statements almost border lining cosplay. The influence goes back to even anime where complex outfits are animated for both male and female characters only limited by the imagination. Let me give you an example of my opinion of S. Korea & Anime’s influence
Now we all know who this is and for those living under a rock for reference that’s Nicki Minaj, but pay more close attention and look at her hairstyles. Nobody is saying Nicki, South Koreans or Anime started these wild hairstyles but you can see the influence all over and it carries over to the Caribbean also. I remember seeing Nicki in a Leopard print wig for this song she had with Rihanna and I was like:
Wait What!? How is that even…
She really went all out and to see so many Jamaicans and other Caribbean territories follow suit is a testament to the influence that Asia has on us. Bright, Vybrant, Quirky their fashion sense is diverse.
If your a fashion forward and your interested in bold fashion I have a recommendation. For outfits go with RoleCosplay because they give promo codes for further discounts. RC also has wigs to go with your new wears. Have a look and get inspired. I am not saying everyone will love these styles but for those that relate this might jus make a lovely costume or keepsake.
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