Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cool Japan

There's a very entertaining TV show on Japan's NHK called "Cool Japan". Each week the show invites a group of foreign students who give their views on what they find cool in Japan. It's wonderful, because you get to see things from the eyes of foreigners. It's what anthropologists call a look of "strangeness". But don't expect to see any blond Japanese girl from Harajuku. They're interested in more mundane things, from the cute songs played in the train stations, to the zen atmosphere of a Japanese garden, to the samurai-like trousers used by construction workers. Most of these things are taken for granted by the Japanese but since the culture is so distinct, there is an endless list of things that strikes a foreign observer. It's really cool (or "kuru" as they say in Japan).
But what I find most interesting, apart from the "kuru" things themselves, is the "methodology". By bringing foreign students to comment on these aspects of the Japanese culture, the show highlights what we, as marketers and "experts" in consumer behavior, should practice more often: the "strangeness" look. What strikes you as odd that everybody else takes for granted?
Take a look at the show. Most of it is spoken in Japanese, though I think you really don't need to speak the language to understand the situations.

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