Translating Contemporary Japanese Culture: Novels and Animation
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This project aims to investigate the cultural relationship between Japan and the US through exploring how two specific genres of Japanese narrative art, novels and animation, are exported, translated, and received in the US. Since American readers were introduced to Japanese literature, they have made different kinds of canons for Japanese literature. For some time after WWII, American readers had entertained certain exotic or aesthetic images of Japanese literature associated with some specific terms such as "subtle" and "delicate." American readers started changing the stereotypical images of Japanese literature as the relationship between Japan and the US changed, especially in 1980s, so that readers no longer try to find "exotic Japaneseness" in modern works of Japanese literature but, instead, read using new stereotypes. Two contemporary Japanese writers, Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto will be examined to explain how American readers read Japanese literature today. They are both very popular in Japan, especially among the younger generation, and their works have been translated into many languages and are well accepted in many foreign countries in both East and West. Another example of narrative art which is exported and well received in the US is Japanese animation. Japanese animation, in fact, has huge popularity and a high reputation worldwide. We cannot ignore the way Japanese animation influences people and creates alternative images of Japanese culture today. Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii, two famous directors of Japanese animation, provide an American audience with good examples of Japanese animation which are not only well accepted in the US, but also make Japanese people themselves think about their own identity as Japanese. Through their work, images of Japanese culture that an American audience could experience by watching their films and the role the works of animation have played in the process of cultural exchange between Japan and the US can be appreciated. This project attempts to describe the process of the formation of images of contemporary Japanese culture which has been established in the US and has in turn had an influence on Japanese people's self-identification based on translated works of Japanese popular culture in the US.