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Japanese trend [ 2006.06.27 ]

Nowadays, it is hard, if not impossible, to walk on a busy street in Bangkok and find any person not using Japanese or Japanese-influenced products.

Japanese culture is not anymore a growing trend in Thailand, but has in fact become a part of people’s daily lives. The cinemas show many of the Japanese movies; Teenagers take Japanese as the model for their clothing and hair style; Japanese cars take up most of the space on the street. Gradually, Japan has made a huge impact on Thailand’s fashion-focused industry. It has changed the life style of Thai people, blending the scent of Japan into almost everything. Whatever that is claimed to be Japanese-originated seems to be valued as “cool” and more desirable.

As a Thai college student, I can see many factors contributing to the boom of Japanese pop culture in Thailand. Above all, of course, is the fact that Japanese goods themselves are undeniably innovative and high in quality. Comparing to the lower-cost products like those from China, Japan has made its export more competitive by design and fashion. But that alone cannot be the only reason that makes Thai people, especially teenagers, willing to pay more of their (or maybe more precisely, their parents’) money, just to get a product that is labeled “Made in Japan”.

If we look closely, Japanese trend and value has little by little been absorbed into Thai people’s mind through the easily approachable media. For example, a considerable proportion of Thailand’s new generation has grown up reading manga, or Japanese-style comic books. Most stories in those books reflect the common lifestyle of Japanese people: their tastes, value, characteristics, and culture. This automatically imprints the preference for Japanese on Thai people’s mind since they were kids. Many of the Japanese business established in Thailand also help boosting this by using the mass media like commercial advertisement on TV. Coinciding with the fact that the western style is getting saturated in Thailand and Thai people want to turn to something more similar to their true self, something more Asian-like, the Japanese trend started penetrating the Thai market.

It is true that pop culture and fashion are something momentary and can be changed in a matter of days. For now, however, if you are in Thailand and want to be in the mainstream, getting your hands on something Japanese might be a good idea.

by Thita Chiasakul


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