Introducing J-culture

From AKB48 to Pokemon, Japanese pop culture is an unstoppable force.

Think of Japan today and you're probably as likely to think of robots and Hello Kitty as you are geisha and samurai. Ever since the boom years of the 1980s, Japanese pop culture has been an unstoppable powerhouse, and its ever-growing popularity abroad shows no sign of abating.

Manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese animation) are inarguably Japan's most ubiquitous pop culture export. In Japan it is perfectly normal to see grown adults poring over their favourite comic books in the subway on their way to work, and you'd have to look quite hard to find someone anywhere in the world who hadn't heard of Pikachu or Studio Ghibli.

Meanwhile, Japanese street fashion (typified by the famed "Harajuku girls" of Tokyo) has firmly established styles such as "gothic Lolita" as stock images of modern Japan. Japanese pop music, or J-Pop, offers its own brand of sparkling, upbeat tunes - and we have kawaii (or "cute") culture to thank for Hello Kitty and yuru-kyara - the armies of cuddly cartoon mascots currently flooding Japan.

Whatever your perspective on Japanese pop culture, it's impossible to avoid - and Japan wouldn't be the exciting and vibrant place it is today without it.

  • Manga drawing class

    Become a student of an official manga and animation school and create your own work under the watchful eye of a published manga artist.

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  • Kawaii Monster Café

    Jump down the rabbit hole and marvel at the “sweets-go-round” as you are served rainbow-coloured food and drink by the fabulous MONSTER GIRLS.

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  • Sundays in Harajuku

    Visit the youth fashion Mecca of Harajuku and perhaps pick up a touch of the 'Harajuku Style'

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  • Maid cafés

    A unique phenomenon capitalising on the fantasies of otaku (fans of anime, manga and video games) and J-Pop fans.

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  • Ghibli Museum

    The magical worlds of Miyazaki's animations collide to create a museum where the visitors are every bit as important as the exhibits on show.

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