May the Fourth be With You Again (Japan Style)
This piece has been published here before, but since May 4th comes around like...gee, almost every year, here it goes again. Yay!
It’s Just Different Over Here
Like any spot of Western culture that Japan Hoovers up and transmogrifies into something matching locals tastes, the institution of Star Wars has been exhaustively Japanified with straight-up Borg-like assimilative capabilities. The same popular characters are pop-culturally popular over here (although the original trilogy and the bad guys in general are much more appreciated), but often they’re just doing other stuff. Like, well...for example: in Japan, the visage of an evil, genocidal dark lord is used to sell Goodyear Tires. Maybe because...both are black?
Japan Recognizes May the Fourth (Be With You)
Like a banana republic finally coming around to an important international standard, just last year Japan 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. But lest you think otherwise, know that Star Wars Day only being recognized for the past year in no way implies a theretofore lack of Star Wars stuff in Japan - oh no, Japan rolls thick.
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., and in some ways it's 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. Because Star Wars is badass.
Some Star Wars from Everyday J-Life
Both contemporary Japanese grandpas and J-junior high kids, the latter born a full 24 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 (aside from the samurai helmet, that is), 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 1. Pushing play on this right here, and 2. 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:
More Star Wars News and Stuff
Click on this stuff, too. ⬇