Japan Is Obsessed with These 15 American Pastimes

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With the growing popularity of anime and Japanese films in America, we were curious. What American-isms have been adopted into Japanese culture?

We’ve sourced the culture masters in forums to find out. We’ve collected 15 American stereotypes and pastimes that Japanese people apparently can’t get enough of. From baseball to King of the Hill, these bits of Americana have struck a chord. Enjoy this ambitious crossover between Japan and America.

1. Convenience Stores

Japan took 7-Eleven stores from the US and made them 100% better. They’ve upgraded convenience stores to a whole new level with fresh, high-quality food, attentive customer service, and an incredible selection. Japanese 7-Elevens almost feel more like small grocery stores rather than just places to get snacks, with hot meals, coffee shops, and much more.

2. Baseball

Japanese baseball fans put American ones to shame with their passion and dedication to the sport. Games feature constant cheering, chanting, drumming, and displays of team pride from start to finish. Fans will even continue cheering at full volume when their home team is losing by a huge margin.

3. Lowrider Culture

Mexican-American lowrider culture, complete with clothing, hairstyles, tattoos and more, has been widely adopted. You can spot young Japanese guys decked out in the full cholo outfit, with shaved heads, tank tops, khaki pants, and lots of Virgin Mary tattoos. Lowrider car culture has emerged too, along with J-pop lowrider anthems.

4. Random English Text

American companies put random Japanese text on clothes; Japan actually puts random English words, leading to some amusing translations. From shirts with gibberish English sentences to one novelty trucker hat, mistranslated text is ubiquitous in Japanese fashion. But this quirkiness just adds to the appeal.

5. Denim

The Japanese bought America’s old denim looms and now make most of the world’s high-end denim, with American heritage brands hugely popular. Top-quality raw and selvage denim is now seen as intrinsic to Japanese style and craftsmanship. Brands like Iron Heart and Buzz Rickson painstakingly reproduce vintage American denim down to the last detail.

6. Disney Movies

Disney animation and movies have an enormous following. Every film gets a splashy Japanese release full of unique merchandising and promotions. Japanese artists even recreate Disney comic covers in their own manga style as artistic homages. People frequently visit Tokyo Disneyland as well, one of the biggest Disney theme parks.

7. Cowboys

There are “reverse weebs”—Japanese people obsessed with American cowboys and cowboy culture. Some aspiring Japanese cowhands embrace everything cowboy while not quite getting the details right, like wearing spurs with sneakers. But their enthusiasm is real, as cowboy culture rides high thanks to movies, country music, barbecue, whisky and more.

8. Rock and Metal Bands

Lots of great Japanese rock and metal bands are clearly inspired by American ones. Pioneering metal band Bow Wow took major cues from KISS, while legendary rock band B’z channels classic Aerosmith and extreme metal icons aboard have been influenced by Metallica. Even visual kei bands borrow their style from glam and shock rock.

9. Jazz

Jazz enjoys an enthusiastic following, with many Japanese artists putting their own spin on the classic American art form. Cities like Tokyo have busy live jazz clubs where you’ll hear world-class Japanese musicians making bold, innovative jazz alongside standards. Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts did an entire jazz soundtrack for the anime Cowboy Bebop too.

10. KFC

KFC is a very successful chain there, even being eaten as a Christmas tradition! Japan has embraced fried chicken for the holidays instead of the Western turkey dinner, thanks to a wildly popular “Kentucky Christmas” deal. So popular are the annual packages that orders sell out months in advance.

11. King of the Hill

The show has a die-hard fanbase who argue over subtitled vs. dubbed versions. Fans gush over the humor, characters, American suburban aesthetics and more, bringing an ardour unknown even Stateside. Message boards rage with debates over translation choices and theoretical future storylines.

12. Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is considered a delicacy and popular gift to bring when visiting. The salty, savory snack is rare in Japan, so arriving travelers are advised to come bearing beef jerky as thank-you presents and exotic treats. Beef jerky also commands higher prices, being a special “American flavor” item at import food shops.

13. Snoopy

Snoopy and Peanuts enjoy huge popularity spanning merchandise, theme parks, museums, and even a Snoopy airline. The cute comic strip gang has been Japan’s favorite American cartoon import for decades. Snoopy’s positive attitude and playful persona seem to resonate. Back in the 60’s, Snoopy helped teach English using catchy song and dance.

14. Tower Records

Physical media remains big in Japan, with many exclusive special editions. Tower Records stores continue thriving there well past the chain’s decline in the West. Fans love special bonus content and collectible packaging for their favorite artists. Japan takes its physical media fandom seriously across music, film and more.

15. Peanut Butter

For whatever reason peanut butter has its Japanese aficionados, with visitors bringing it home in bulk. Despite the overall rarity of peanut butter in Japan, those who discover a taste for it become downright evangelical. It’s to the point where souvenir peanut butter is suggested gift shop fare alongside green tea and rice crackers.

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