What American children appreciate about 1000 years of Japanese culture

At the cherry blossom festival in D.C., children could write on the Japanese American Friendship Mural. It turned out that The Tale of Genji was not their favorite thing: “Thank you for all of the cool Japanese stuff like video games.”



  1. Jonathan Tappan

    April 28, 2013 @ 7:38 pm


    Even if little kids were interested in reading The Tale of Genji most American parents would consider the content highly unsuitable for them

  2. Paul Houle

    April 29, 2013 @ 11:32 am


    There’s a very clear line from Heian era “Tale of Genji” and “Pillow Book” to today’s anime, manga and video games.

    Two female authors wrote foundational works of Japanese literature in the year 1000. It’s as if Shakespeare was a woman.

    Female authors have made great strides in the west, but there has yet to be a superstar female comic book writer or artist.

    Rumiko Takahashi, around 1980, produced the manga “Urusei Yatsura”, which was the basis of a hit animated television show that ran for five year. UY draws heavily on the Heian era as a source of inspiration and it’s hard for me to see that their female Jack Kirby who wrote a television show as big as the Flintstones.

    Taskahashi’s characters such as Lum and Ranma, together with those created by female authors such as Naoko Takeuchi and the CLAMP collective led to the “beautiful fighting girl” character type that now dominates Japanese pop culture — and this distinct perspective on relations between men and women, like the perspective of Heian female authors, is an aspect of anime that is both attractive and disturbing to Western viewers.

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