The Other Side of Lost in Translation


Blacks in Japan part 2

In U.S., Three Degrees are known
as an one hit wonder of "When will I see you again."
But in Japan, they had hit after hit after hit in mid '70s.
They were extreamly popular
and this is the clip from their TV special.
They are the very first Black artist who broke in Japanese market.
Even before them, Black musicians
like Sammie Davis jr, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye
had been well respected but only among serious music lovers.
Top selling artists were all White
as Japanese fascination to White culture,
or racial complex toward White, was the one big reason
for them to listen to American & European pop music.
However Jazz has been popular in Japan for a long time,
it has been always for educated class
therefore the market has been small.

Then came Three Degrees.
The one big reason they could become so popular in Japan
was their looks, no doubt.
Including me, many Japanese were shocked by their glomourous beaty,
which really destroyed the stereotype image
Japanese had against Blacks,
which was very negative, pretty much "Sambo."

Then came Stylistics.
Interesting enough, their popularity in Japan started to rise
with this song "Can't give you anything?"
when their popularity started to decline in U.S.

Obviously their popularity in Japan was not caused by their looks,
Ooops, sorry guys!,
but their sweet, soft, tender & sophisticated music and singing,
which really captured ladies' hearts.

In late '70s, Disco became very popular in Japan as well
and more and more Black artists were invited to perform.

Then '80 brought Michael Jackson
and during '80 Hip Hop gained popularity in Japan,
and those phenomenons had completely changed
young people's view on American Black music and Black culture.
Also in early '90s, Bobby Brown, now known as Mr. Whiteney Houston,
was extreamy successful in Japan as well.
Now young kids enjoy Black music as much as music by White musican,
which was totally unthinkable till mid '70s.

Well, the fact we can learn from this is that
the popular culture can really help to change negative stereo types.
Still some Japanese have not possitive images againt Blacks,
but it has improved immensely since mid '70s.
Now most of young kids recognize
American Black culture as something cool,
even though it is still a sort of stereo type
because not all Black people are musicians or dancers.
However, unfortunately African Blacks are still "Sambo"
for most of Japanese,
means they think all Africans have a very primitive life style.
But many Americans, even Black Americans,
got the same idea as well, don't they?

A while ago, I found the videos on YouTube
by a Black guy living in Japan
who were doing nothing but complaining
about racism againt Blacks in Japan, with his face covered.
I felt sorry for him to have bad expereinces in Japan.
However, I can say I have been racially humiliated by
low class Blacks and Hispanics much more than White here in U.S.
I had some Black friends when I was living in Tokyo around 1980
and they seemed to really enjoy living in Japan.
If you are a Black person who is interested in going to
or/and living in Japan.
I can say to you
your experiences in Japan can not be worse
than my experiences as an Asian who speaks crappy English in U.S.
as long as you are a decent and proper person
who know how to behave in public.

Three Degrees performed their most famous hit
on Japanese TV show in '90s.

Stylistics performed their first big hit in Japan
on Japanese TV show in '90s.

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Time to face the music!

It's been a while.
I have not posted since October.
Well, I have been feeling a bit low
because I lost my work,
the magazine I had written for since 2007 folded.
In Japan, magazines disappearing one after another
as the internet has been replacing them,
and young generations of Japanese do not read anything much.
Most of remaining magazines are fashion
or some other trend realted magazines,
and the demand for writers like me is not existing much.
You might think American media is crappy,
but Japanese media is much crappier now, or even crappiest.
Their journalism is basically dying.

What will I do?
Well, I have to figure it out later.

But first, I have to get my creative energy back.
I really have not done anything since November.
It's time to face the music and dance.
I hope writing this blog will help me to do so.

I also turned on the comment function
though not sure how long it will last.
If you like to leave a comment, please do so while it lasts.

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