by Cameron Smith
Americans live in a multicultural society. Japan, the once distant and mysterious remote island off the coast of Asia, is now one of the most influential countries to me. Japan’s technology, clothing, entertainment, and food have heavily influenced me in ways that no country ever has.
Japanese cuisine has been heavily incorporated with my daily diet. I tend to use the spices and sauces from the country when cooking. Ramen and sushi are items that I eat at least once a week. It transcends taste buds and allows me to feel in touch and rooted into Japan’s culture. I tend to normally eat tsukemen ramen the most, because it is treated the most delicately and uniquely. Tsukeru means to “dip/soak” in Japanese. Therefore, tsukemen is a ramen that you dip your noodles into. The noodles tend to be thicker, and the soup is stronger than original ramen. I tend to also eat sushi almost any chance I can. Although it’s the westernized sushi that is packed full of ingredients, I would love to try a traditional sushi roll in my lifetime.
Clothing and design from Japan has always been a glamorous and extravagant to me. The way the models always looked like porcelain dolls and unreal beings is what got my attention at first. Their skin was virtually flawless, and they were all slender, tall and fit. It’s as if they were coming from a world of fantasy and purity. The clothes were perfectly molded to their bodies, with different layers and textures. Women and men would wear extravagant clothing with a simplistic style of makeup and hair. If you pay close attention, you can see traces of Japanese influence in American style and clothing. To this day, Japan’s street fashion culture is one of the biggest influences throughout the world.
The technology that comes from the Land of the Rising Sun is used worldwide. The invention of the blue LED light in the early 1990’s has changed all light-based inventions ever since. The lights are energy efficient and are used in many electronic devices.
Japan also exported important electronic devices such as Sony PlayStation and Nintendo gaming systems. Sony has such a heavy impact on the gaming community, as there are currently 94 million active PlayStation members, while Nintendo’s net worth is roughly $85 billion. Nintendo heavily influenced my childhood. I played the Nintendo 64, and then progressed into the GameCube. Nintendo games will always hold a place dear in my heart.
Entertainment in Japan is a completely different lifestyle in itself. The first karaoke machine was invented in 1971, and it is used at almost every social event you attend.
When I was 12, I used to watch Cartoon Network. I had virtually no real father figure in my life, and my mother worked nights. One night, I stayed up and caught a glimpse of what I thought was a cartoon. Little did I know, that night would forever change who I am, because it was the first time I saw anime. Cartoon Network would broadcast anime on their TV block Toonami. It wasn’t like any other thing I had seen before. The characters were well more defined artistically, and the storylines behind each show were completely different from the standard cartoons you would watch.
This is when I first saw the anime, Naruto. It was about a kid who was orphaned as a child and wanted the respect of his village. The only way he could achieve this is by being the #1 ninja. He trained hard and was mentored by other adults so that he could progress and shine. I felt a strong connection with Naruto. I had no parents, or so it seemed, and had to persevere as a kid. From Naruto, I learned a lot of valuable life lessons and discovered the meaning of life. From there, I branched off and watched numerous animes that taught me everything I know. “Dragonball Z” taught me to defy all odds. “My Hero Academia” taught me hard work beats talent 100 percent of the time. “Konosuba” taught me that it’s noble to sacrifice anything of mine to help someone else. The list of life lessons that anime taught me are endless. I mean, I have been watching it for almost 10 years, and I have Japan and its creators to thank for that.
Japanese culture is something I love dearly. I stumbled onto it at an early age and have been fixated on it ever since. I try my best to incorporate it in my daily lifestyle as much as I can. One day, I will be able to walk the streets of Tokyo and realize that I am truly at home and at peace with life.