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The Asian ApertureSo You Want To Become A Japanologist?
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, October 5, 2014    Share

NHK, the Japanese equivalent of PBS, offers an engaging show called BEGIN Japanology that takes a look at Japan and what makes it unique. When you combine BEGIN Japanology with Japanology Plus, you go deeper in your understanding of Japanese culture. With Anime and manga popular in the US and many other countries, it is necessary and so much fun to learn about the real Japan.

Just a quick Youtube search shows many of the programs and you can also head on over to NHK’s site for a complete list of episodes from both series. A couple of years ago I returned to Japan after a long hiatus to meet up with a friend of mine from college. I took a trip from where my buddy lives in Utsunomiya to Tokyo on the Shinkansen. Growing up with a love of Battle of the Planets and Starblazers made me want to see Akihabara the famous electronics shopping district and the Otaku mecca. I had lived in Osaka for 3-years and shopped for video games with another college friend, Colin Williamson, at Den Den Town aka Nipponbashi, so I had something in mind of what to expect.

However, Akihabara was massive with hundreds of stores, many with multiple floors and even shops in the basement that it was so much to take in all at once. With all the maid cafes, themed restaurants, cutesy idol merchandise, anime, and manga on display, I wanted to see behind the shallow glitter and probe deeper.

Luckily I found the Japanology Plus Akihabara episode one lazy Saturday morning in October. I watched the half hour show hosted by Peter Barakan who teams up with a college professor who has an office within walking distance of Akihabara and is an expert on the area’s stores and growth.

The show tells the history of Akihabara from small parts stores and how it expanded into electronics and appliances. When the Otaku subculture entered the mix, Akihabara became a world class tourist’s destination. The show also had awesome shots of Peter Barakan and the professor exploring the area and going into a shop to give the viewer at home a small taste. This an excellent starting point for the budding Japanologist.

I was hooked and searched again on Youtube to see other episodes and that is how I found the show on Yokai expert and author, Matt Alt.

Not since Jonathan Ross’ Japanorama and Otaku Verse Zero with hosts Asakawa Yuu and Patrick Macias, has a series centered on Japan been so entertaining.

Both those shows are great but are starting to show their age, particularly Japanorama, and that is why both BEGIN Japanology and Japanology Plus are so desperately needed. Both shows are current and have large budgets that bring the magical world of Japan to life for interested viewers who crave insight.

You could watch all the shows in order or do as I did and find a subject that interests you with many topics from apartments to origami to used books, to soba, you are sure to find something good to scratch you itch.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2014 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2014 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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