Symposium | 4-5 Sept 2017 | RCMC

Cool Japan

On 4 and 5 September 2017, the Research Center for Material Culture in Leiden, The Netherlands, will host the two-day symposium Cool Japan: Creation, Production, and Fabrication of the Cool.

Coinciding with the exhibition Cool Japan: Worldwide Fascination in Focus, currently on show at Museum Volkenkunde, this symposium brings together scholars and makers from across the world to explore comparative perspectives on the globalization of Japanese popular culture.

How are the diverse aspects of Cool Japan understood by different producers, consumers, and scholars of pop culture in Japan and in other parts of the world? How has the phenomenon of Cool Japan influenced the image of Japan held by people both in Japan and worldwide?

The term Cool Japan was coined in the early 2000s to describe the phenomenon of Japanese popular culture going global and the ‘soft power’ Japan gained from this cultural influence. Later, the term Cool Japan was adopted by the Japanese government as part of an attempt to actively promote Japanese (pop) culture abroad and benefit from the enhanced image of Japan worldwide - a form of ‘nation branding’.

This symposium will address the development and widely differing interpretations of Cool Japan, from the ‘(imagined) origins of the production of a unique type of popular culture’ to the reciprocal influence between Japanese and worldwide pop cultures. We will explore the extent to which the global reception of Japanese pop culture reveals how consumers see Japan, and the importance that fans worldwide give to experiencing an “authentic original Japan”.

Credit image: Photographer: Kevin MICHEL | Model: Sylyne Cosplay

Symposium Program

Monday 4 September
Moderator: Takako Kondo (Leiden University)

13.30 - 14:00     Registration with coffee and tea

14:00 - 14:15      Opening and welcome address by Henrietta LIDCHI, Head of the Curatorial Department, National Museum of World Cultures, on behalf of the Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC)

14:15 - 14:30      Introduction of the symposium by Daan KOK (National Museum of World Cultures)

14:30 - 15:00      Dr. Noriko HIRAISHI (University of Tsukuba, Japan)

Japanese Pop-Texts in Global Contexts

15:00 - 15:15     Q & A

15:15 - 15:30      Coffee and tea break

15:30 - 16:00      Tamar SHAFRIR (Het Nieuw Instituut, The Netherlands)

Through the Looking Glass and onto Instagram: Mediating Technologies in the Japanese Imaginary

16:00 - 16:30      Dr. Rossella MENEGAZZO (University of Milan, Italy)

Japan vs Cool Japan

16:30 - 17:00      Q & A and closing remarks first day

Tuesday 5 September
Moderator: Takako Kondo (Leiden University)

10:00 - 10:30      Reception with coffee and tea

10:30 - 11:00      Dr. Kyōko KŌMA (Meiji University, Japan)

“Archaeology of Kawaii(s)”: Representations of kawaii(s) in Japan and France during the Transnational Communication Age

11:00 - 11:30      Dr. Naoya ITŌ (Hokkaido University, Japan)

Worldwide Popularity of Holographic Idol Hatsune Miku

11:30 - 12:00      Q & A

12:00 - 13:00      Lunch (provided for presenters only)

13:00 - 13.30      Rik SPANJERS (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

The Neglect of Japanese Comics in Western Comics Studies

13:30 - 14:15      Sebastian MASUDA (Japan Cultural Envoy FY2017, Japan)

From Harajuku to the World: Spread of Kawaii Culture

14:15 - 14:45      Coffee and tea break at the Volkenkunde Museum café (ground floor)

14:45 - 15:30      Johan NEEFJES (Roughmen, The Netherlands)

Demonstration: Japanese Subculture in Dutch Manga

15:30 - 16:15      Artist collective THREE (Japan)

Demonstration: Smelting Japanese Pop Culture

16:15 - 16:45      Participatory discussion

16:45 - 17:00      Closing remarks by Daan Kok (National Museum of World Cultures)

17:00 - 18:00      Drinks at the Volkenkunde Museum café (ground floor)

The symposium Cool Japan: Creation, Production, and Fabrication of the Cool is organized by the Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC) at the National Museum of World Cultures, The Netherlands, in collaboration with Takako Kondo (Leiden University).

About the event

Monday, September 4, 2017 - 13:30 to Tuesday, September 5, 2017 - 18:00
Steenstraat 1, Leiden, the Netherlands
September 5: Museum Volkenkunde admission fee (€ 14)


Daan Kok
Curator Japan and Korea