Zero to hero: Global love in provincial Japan
University of Queensland
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of Communications and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
Western images of Japan tell a seemingly incongruous story of love, sex and marriage – one full of contradictions and conflicting moral codes. We sometimes hear intriguing stories about the unique sexual culture of Japan – from vending machines that dispense soiled schoolgirl panties (Gerster 143), erotic manga (Ito 70; Newitz 2) to automated love hotels (Kersten 387) available for the discreet quickie. These Western portrayals seem to focus primarily on the unusual and quirky side of Japan’s culture constructing this modern Asian culture as simultaneously traditional and seemingly liberated. But what happens, when Japanese love goes global – when exotic others (Westerners) enter the picture? This article is shaped by an understanding of a new world space where cultural products and national images are becoming increasingly globalised, while at the same time more localised and “fragmented into contestatory enclaves of difference, coalition and resistance” (Wilson, 1). It examines ‘the local’, briefly exploring the racial and gender ideologies that pattern relationships between Western and Japanese adults living in Japan focussing on the unique perspective of Western women living and working in provincial Japan. Our research is based on four month’s ethnographic field work carried out within a small provincial Japanese city (which was home to 130 native English speakers, most of whom are employed as English language teachers) and interviews with 12 key participants.