May the Fourth be With You (Japan Style)
It’s Just Different Over Here
As with almost every spot of Western culture that Japan Hoovers up, in accordance with the nuance of local tastes, i.e., straight-up Borg-like assimilative capabilities, the institution of Star Wars has been exhaustively Japanified. The same popular characters are popular, but often they’re just doing other stuff...
Like...well, in Japan, evil, genocidal dark lords sell Goodyears.
Japan Recognizes May the Fourth (Be With You)
Like a banana republic finally coming around to an important international standard, this year Japan has officially recognized May the Fourth as Star Wars Day. We don’t know if that means anything more than Disney Japan just making the proclamation, but we also don’t really care; it’s like, you know, decided now.
Importantly, that’s not to imply a previous lack of Star Wars stuff...
How Japan Rolls With The Force
Down below are some pretty low-quality cell phone photos, but honestly, it works better this way. See, we didn’t even have to try to find these - these are just walking around photos (and one www ad banner). Star Wars pop-cultural penetration in Japan is actually comparable to that of the U.S. - in some ways, it’s actually more mainstream here. Advertisements and promotions featuring Star Wars characters or themes aren’t seasonal, nor do they always have to correspond with some special holiday - sometimes, they just are.
Some Star Wars from Everyday J-Life
Both contemporary grandpas and junior high kids, the latter born a full 23 years after Star Wars first hit theaters, know the rhythm and tune of the Imperial March, AKA, Darth Vader’s Theme Music. In fact, Japan seems particularly taken with Darth Vader. Why is anybody's guess, but there's probably a Master's thesis in wait for some young social psychologist willing to take up the subject.
As such, we recommend pushing play on this right here, and with apologies for the low-res mobile phone photos, scroll down:
Adult Sized, of Course
Location-Based Web Banner:
How Goodyear Moves Tires in Japan:
The Droids We're Looking for, AND Mt. Fuji, Naturally:
Vader, Vader, Everywhere:
Notice how Vader keeps the AT-AT on a leash?
Obligatory Lightsaber Chopsticks:
And, from Fukuoka, one last nod to Darth Vader: