The Image Factory: Fads and Fashions in Japan, Pages 137-149
Just as a person contrives a style, the purpose of which is integration and the effect of which is presentation, so a nation collectively projects an appearance, a "national" style. Such styles are made of many layers. The deepest layer is composed of the immutable and the traditional. Nearer the surface floats fashion, changeable but sometimes more abiding. And frothing on the surface is fad.
By definition a fad is novel and appears from outside. Fads must have instant appeal and do not have a long shelf life. In Japan, an assortment of islands, the outside is often the quality that defines the inside.
Japan has a history of chasing fads and fashion. Since the 19th century, foreign products have been welcomed in, from the cult for "squeaky shoes" in the mid-19th century to the current fad for virtual reality girlfriends. Japan’s mandate was that, having been opened late, it had to hurry to catch up. Fads provide both a social distraction and a sense of cohesion, indicating not only foreign importation but also native adaptation.
The Image Factory is both an investigation into fads, fashions and style – such as US Army surplus uniforms, "pachinko", mutating hair colors – and an appreciation of their inherent meanings. The Japanese have seized upon fads and fashion as an arm of enterprise to a much greater extent than elsewhere in the world. Ephemerality has been put to work, the transient has become industrialized, and the results are highly conspicuous.
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Review: Image Factory: Fads and Fashions in JapanUser Review - Goodreads
A fascinating set of essays on fads and fashions in lat 20th and early 21st century Japan, wonderfully enhanced by Richie's engagingly pompous and arch authorial voice. Reminded me quite a bit of Alexander Theroux. Do his other writings have the same tone, anybody know?
Review: Image Factory: Fads and Fashions in JapanUser Review - Tosh - Goodreads
Donald Richie is around 80 years old, yet he's hipper than any kid on the block writing about pop Japanese culture. How is that possible? Richie's writings are like a huge attena sticking out, yet he's only getting cool information. Don Richie I salute your greatness! Read full review
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