Suga, M. 1995. “Exotic West to Exotic Japan: Revival of Japanese Tradition in Modern Japan.”

Suga, Masami. 1995. “Exotic West to Exotic Japan: Revival of Japanese Tradition in Modern Japan.” Pp. 95-116 in Dress and Ethnicity: Change Across Space and Time, edited by Joanne B. Eicher. Washington D.C.: Berg.

“The Japanese approach the revival of Japanese tradition from a consumer’s orientation. They buy goods and services that represent nostalgia and provide modern convenience at the same time.  Through these purchases, they give new meanings to the past, modify the past for modern life, and identify with the newly re-discovered Japanese ethnicity” (95).

kx^ But, do festival kids who purchase “vintage” items look to re-orient themselves with their own ethnic whiteness, or to imagine themselves as ethnicities beyond this “cultural void”?

For the Japanese, buying “antiques” are a means to connect intra-nation szethnicity, identity, tradition, claims to socioeconomic and cultural signifiers of class (old codes of monarchy and feudalism), and resistance to Western influences (maintaining “separateness,” “exoticness”) – in this, “[…] perceptions of the past are constantly reshaped by the present status quote and […] a replication of current ideals is commonly projected onto past time” (Nagata 1993: 98, here 101).

“We often find foreign cultures that appear ‘exotic’ to our native eyes fascinating. A myth often perpetuates a stereotyped image of an ethnic group, maintaining the traditional culture and continuing the lifestyle of ancestors.  The timeless image of this lifestyle indeed seems romantic. In reality, culture is a dynamic process, although the rate of change may differ from one group to another” (110).


Nagata, J. 1993. “From Indigene to International: The Many Faces of Malay Identity.” In Ethnicity and Aboriginality: Case Studies in Ethnonationalism, edited by M. Leven. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.


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