“Black Lifestyle” in Japan


I typed, deleted… typed some more… then deleted that… Tried to be PC, but then thought to myself, “Wait a minute! Is THIS video even PC?” What have our lifestyles been translated into again? I’m sorry…what? Come again?

Upon first viewing this video, I was confused. I mean, you’d have to be confused to think you could live a “Black Lifestyle” when we are such a broad range of people. Not even two of us are totally alike. We all have different experiences, different hues, and most importantly, different LIFESTYLES!

I’m not sure if this news story was lost in translation or people really view us to be one thing. Did they mean hip hop lifestyle? Are Black people hip hoppers? Are Black people living this same lifestyle in the UK, in Austrailia, or even in Japan? Heck, are we all living this same lifestyle from California to New York?

One thing is for sure, people HAVE to know that what you see is NOT all there is. I’ve never traveled outside the United States and I’m very frustrated because I am a traveler at heart. Luckily, I was raised in New Jersey, so I was always aware of other ethnicities and cultures. I knew that the stereotypes portrayed on shows and even in childhood songs were not necessarily IT. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m naturally investigative or because my favorite word is “why?” Whatever the case, I wouldn’t readily accept something to be true, even if I was flooded with it.

In this particular case, I genuinely believe these Japanese women don’t mean to be offensive. They want to be part of something they deem great. They want to be, as Brandy frequently said in her songs in the 90s, down. They just want to be down. They don’t fit the Japanese standard of beauty, so they’ve adopted what they believe to be an ENTIRE culture in which they could be accepted. I DO believe that it is narrow-minded to believe that ALL Black people fit into this “Black Lifestyle” concept and don’t believe that it is a correct interpretation of Black people as a whole.

I think the language is a tell-all of their misinterpretation of “Black Lifestyle.” B-Girls and B-Boys are hip hop references. I know they mean “Black,” but what I SEE is hip hop. I totally get the sense of admiration. They constantly smile and compliment the Black people they look at on their iPad in this video.

“Black people look so great and stylish.”

We are then introduced to the main subject, Hina. Hina works at a clothing department store in the “Black Lifestyle” section. Then from her job, they take us to meet her mother, who believes her daughter’s “Black Lifestyle” fascination is a phase.

“Hina had pale skin as a child… but then something mysterious happened.”

You would think something REALLY mysterious happened, but she just got darker. In the next scene, she explains how she transitioned into the “Black Lifestyle.”

“In the second year of primary school, I got frizzy hair.”

Ohhhhhh I get it! That frizzy hair FORCED her to be Black! As the video continues, we continuously hear 50 Cent, see hip hop magazines, Hina and her friend going to the club, and her mother explain her detest for Hina’s tattoos and piercings. Then, we say farewell to Hina and her friend, as they go to a club.

“Hina and her friend are going out for an adventurous Black night.”

Then the clip ends with the reporter cheering “Black lifestyle!”

Welp, there you have it! Apparently I haven’t been living this “Black Lifestyle” all my Black years of living. I took notes on what I’ll need, though: colorful braids, piecing and tattoos, colorful and skanky clothes, let’s not forget frizzy hair, colored contacts, and I’ll have to be out at the club to have a “Black night!” I think I’m prepared! I’ll report on my “Black Lifestyle” experience later!

-Najla T!

What do you think of this “Black Lifestyle” in Japan? Do they have it right? 

Check out the video for yourself below and tell us what you think!

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20 Comments on ““Black Lifestyle” in Japan”

  1. G2girlie
    Jan 5 at 9:24 pm #

    This has been going on for a while now. A few years ago, my friend was stationed in japan and she saw a lot of women processing their hair so it could look like an afro or afro puffs. For some reason the younger generation are trying to consume themselves in what they believe is black culture. It’s actually sad to me.

  2. Dee
    Jan 5 at 9:25 pm #

    I’m laughing because I want to know what the hella black lifestyle is. I clearly haven’t been in the loop my last 20 something years on earth. I’m not surprised because when I go into the city I see it all the time, I didn’t know they had a name for it though. Now I know why they always trying to touch your hair and take pics of you.

  3. mike
    Jan 5 at 9:29 pm #

    Of course they got it all wrong but being the minority in japan I understand them wanting to having a thing of their own and living it. The ‘black lifestyle’ is probably a way/outlet for them to stick together and have some commonalities in each other.

    With that being said, can’t wait to see you in colorful braids and skanky clothes..lol.

  4. Jan 5 at 9:53 pm #

    we’ve been imitated for far too long, finally someone comes out and say they like what they think is black culture instead of denying it and insulting us.

  5. Briana (@TheQueenBri)
    Jan 5 at 10:22 pm #

    I’ve seen this video before in my Media & Psychology class. I wasn’t then and I’m still not sure what to make of it. I definitely don’t take offense of it and I hope no one else does either. If you’ve never been exposed to something outside of what media you’ve seen to represent it, you have nothing but a stereotype to go off. We all do it whether we choose to admit and accept or not. Admittedly, I went through an “attempt to be ‘black’” phase because evidently my proper English and honors classes was white. Ignorant, but it is what it is. That said, I can’t be too too mad at her. In this country, in some places she would be deemed a hoodrat. But to her, this is the representation of “Black” that she’s seen. Now whose fault might that be? Media? Our own? Either way, she’s doin’ her. I can’t knock it.

  6. SheShe_Baby
    Jan 5 at 10:34 pm #

    I can honestly say that I don’t see anything wrong with this.. I’m actually quite fascinated by it!

  7. @sheively
    Jan 5 at 10:42 pm #

    I’m registered to learn Chinese this semester, think I’m gonna switch to Japanese lol,
    but seriously though, it’s great to have some people appreciate dark complexion. Still processing what I just watched because it threw me off, but I don’t find it negative.

  8. LeoKikiLady89
    Jan 5 at 10:43 pm #

    Ok… I have seen this before on another website while surfing the net. Now when I first seen this, as a Black woman in America, i didn’t know whether to feel endeared or offended…Now to explain these vast feelings. Endeared because being a Black woman in America, I like many have been subjected to the theory that we are not beautiful, attractive, appealing, sexy, and many other adjectives that could describe a beautiful woman… Many of us have been seen as attitude having, neck rolling, ugly, can’t keep a man, nappy headed, weave wearing, oversexed, used, not worth loving group of people. So to suddenly see a group of women across the water that generally receive the positive comments from the rest of the world, were so enthralled with Black style, kinda made me feel a slight sense of appreciation for how they feel about us as a Black culture!! Its no secret that emulation is the most sincerest form of flattery!! But as a flip side to this I also felt offended… Offended by the fact that we have all been lumped into a small sub-group of people that are only seen as being one kind of way! The only part of Black Culture that they know of are all hip hop, video vixen, modern BET/MTV culture… Which sadly to say it is a part of Us, but not all of us! There is so much more to being Black in America than just rappers, bling, dark skin, multi-colored hair, and hoes… We are business people, professional dancers, artist, sculptors, fashion designers (wink*), movie directors, and even Presidents! The list could really go on forever!! We are more than athletes, rappers, actors, singers, and video models! But now I ask the question… Who’s really to blame? I can tell you its the media etc, etc. But really its ours!! We are the ones that glorify theses images of us here in the States! We don’t glorify the OTHERS of Us nearly as much… So with that being said we have no one to blame but us! Maybe if we appreciate and glorify the vastness of ALL of us no matter how different we may be… The rest of the world will fall in line!! Im just saying!

  9. Jan 5 at 10:53 pm #

    They looking at us is exactly the same how we look at them. I suppose I should be offended, but it seems that it’s more of an “outsider looking in” kinda thing. They think it’s “black culture” like how I think anime represents their culture (I know it doesn’t.). Thing is, they are OVER there. They come over here with it, they will get culture shock.

  10. Jan 5 at 11:02 pm #

    I’m black, I’ve lived i Tokyo….I was 21 at the time. I directed a documentary of Japanese female rappers in Tokyo. If you don’t go there and dive into the scenes, you won’t really get it. Japan itself is a super isolated country, so it’s ingrained within their culture to explore other cultures that intrigue the Japanese people. Cosplay, the act of dressing up, is way for them to engage with foreign cultures they believe are amazing.They don’t just do this with Black culture, they do it with French culture a la Marie Antionette,

    While I lived there, I was immersed in the true Tokyo hip-hop scene. Trust me when I say, the Japanese DJs, artists, and other individuals in the scene hold black culture and legacy in high regard. They pay a LOT of respect and tribute to the dope art that black culture has brought to the world. They are some of the biggest archivalists and collectors of black music and media, from old 45s and rare records and more.

    In the 1980s, bands like New Edition and Run DMC were some of the biggest black artists to play in Japan and they caused HYSTERIA there. Their shows sparked careers of Japanese hip-hop DJs, bboys and more….that stuff was never in Japan before then because hip-hop culture was born in the United States. So did groups like Wu Tang. There is a lot of footage around of Wu Tang touring Japan taking the shikansen (bullet train) and you can see mobs of Japanese people going nuts at their shows.

    From a U.S. perspective, it may seem like the people in the video are operating with the intent to embarass black culture; but once you’re in Japan, you realize how amazing it is that they simply want to engage in black culture deeply. Japanese status quo culture teaches that citiizens should be obedient and follow the rules, so these people above are the few that really go out on a limb to connect with something that inspires them.

    You can check out some of my videos on living in Tokyo here, it’s called the Madd Baby Blogs: http://youtube.com/suzianalogue

  11. Rajesh Dixon
    Jan 5 at 11:32 pm #

    I think we all get the “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” vibe from this. At the same time though, it reeks of Blackface and the burning question that remains is, is this all that we are to the world? Do you not see the god in us? Hence, the need for a true Black World history course beginning in high school that takes the young mind on the journey outside the African diaspora & Hip Hop music.

  12. Jan 5 at 11:50 pm #

    Some people just don’t know better. And this is a testament to that

  13. md20737
    Jan 5 at 11:55 pm #

    They don’t know any better it seems. They don’t know we have had to make lemonade out lemons for our entire existence here in this place where we look so stylish and great. They don’t know what they see on tv isn’t accurate. And right how we are represented on tv is fictional and one dimensional.

  14. Jan 6 at 1:04 am #

    Co-sign Suzi Analog’s experience of Japan. They got crazy respect for ‘Black Culture’. I saw a documentary about Celia Cruz and it had shots of a Japanese Salsa club with all these Japanese Salsa couples lighting up the dance floor with mad moves like they born in Puerto Rico or Cuba.

  15. Enzo
    Jan 6 at 2:24 am #

    not really offended by the video just seems like a sect of misinformed young girls enfatuated with hip hop culture not ”black” culture. and an appreciation for dark skin. nothin different than what european women in america are doing… secretly admiring the black woman! at least these japanese girls are saying exactly where they draw their inspiration from.

  16. WOW! I had no idea about this. It’s stereotypical things that they’ve gravitated towards. They are only “honoring” a small percentage of “Black Culture.” Sad and offensive. We are so much more than that.

  17. Jan 6 at 9:42 pm #

    Wow. I really don’t know what else to say…as a non African-american…am I living the “black culture” because I happen to be a Hip Hop Head? If so, am I a “black culture” sell out because I have a beautiful black wife and not a white woman, like the rappers and athletes of America typically rush to attain? Is my wife a sell out because she married a Latin man? So many questions…my mind cant process this! LOL!

    In all seriousness, nothing new. African American’s have been exploited since the inception of this country. Like the previous comments stated, its exploitation of the naivety of youth. It happens every generation, in every culture. It’s propaganda inserted by corporate owned media entities that use “lifestyle” marketing to move the merchandise and keep people unaware and disinterested in the fact that we are ALL one people.

    The funniest part’s to me were 2,100 yen for a 10 minute tan…that’s damn near $28!!! I’m going to invest in some tanning both’s and move to Tokyo!! My marketing pitch will be;

    “With a tan, you look slimmer!!”

    As always, Nice article Naj, way to get us conversing!

  18. Jan 6 at 9:44 pm #

    *I meant BOOTH’s not “BOTH’s
    (had to correct myself before Rah starts talking ish!)

  19. Areeayl
    Jan 8 at 11:10 am #

    Wow… They say TV is here to “teach the masses” WHat they see is what thy believe. If Goapele, India Arie and Erykah were more popular than 50 cent, they’d walk around in headwraps and lapas. It’s shocking, but Im not surprised.

  20. J. B.
    Mar 5 at 2:49 am #

    As a black man (haitian), new yorker, and hip hop head now studying abroad in japan i find this truly fascinating. Yes they are “imitating” what they believe to be black culture but this is far from black face in that black face was meant to degrade, dumb down, and put black people in their place while japanese do this out of love and respect for “black culture.” Of course they think mainstream hip hop images is black culture bc thats all US mainstream media and tv shows portray us to be, there are plenty of people in America who think the same thing except their ignorance is usually negative and not in our best interest. Even Americans think that we are just one group, MAINLY US and other people who live in diverse areas realize we come from so many places. I blame the media for this but i definitely dont put all the blame on us, we dont and never did control what images people see of is in the media, those CEO’s and big corporations in charge really control what is put out, in hip hop all those negative images you see now ONLY became present after big corporations took advantage of the emerging hip hop underground culture and made it so that those who talk about cars, clothes, sex, and violence are the only ones who are able to get these million dollar deals. This continues for years to the point where we all believe that “it is what the people want,”; no it is what we were programed to like due to the constant showing of these images in the media. That being said the japanese don’t know the racial complexities of America so they just go off this, and unlike ignorant Americans they actually respect what “we” do.

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