Postcard from Bill in Japan
Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.
Disney in Japan—Disney holds a unique place in Japanese culture. In the 1990s, my mentor at the University of Oregon, Janet Wasko, coordinated the Global Disney Audience Project, which examined Disney products in close to 20 different countries. One of the questions asked as part of a survey was whether Disney was “uniquely American.” Over 80 percent of the students surveyed in South Korea said yes, Disney is uniquely American, but less than 20 percent of the Japanese students gave the same answer.
I was intrigued by this difference, and we’ve been discussing the presence of Disney in Japan for the last couple of weeks in two of my classes. Part of the connection stems from Tokyo Disneyland, which most of my students have visited, many of them as part of school trips to the Tokyo area.
Almost all of the students in these classes argued that Disney was not uniquely American, but today I played my trump card. My wife purchased some t-shirts for our kids at a department store here in Nishihara-cho last week and one of them featured Mickey Mouse . . . on a background of an American flag.