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Japan and Americas Influence on Each Others Culture

Kent Katsuda

South Lyon High School

February 2017


The main purpose of this paper is to show the similarities between the Japanese and

American cultures, and to show how each country has influenced each others culture. Over the

past 50 years, Japan and America have had major influence on each others culture. We dont

often think about where the things that we do come from, but a lot of them come from Japan.

The same can be said about the activities that people do in Japan. Because of the fact that our

culture is influenced so much by Japan, the analysis of the similarities and differences in

American and Japanese is an important thing to do. While researching this topic, I chose to

focus on how each country has influenced the others food, economy, and entertainment. These

are the three things that I felt could be the easily influenced in culture. They are also three very

different parts of culture. I thought that it was important to look at a variety of different aspects

of culture. I also thought that by researching a variety of different parts of culture, it would give

me more to talk about and compare than just looking into one specific aspect of culture.

Through my research, I found that each country had at least some influence on the others

through each of the three major categories that I looked at, but one one of the countries always

had more influence through one category, and less in another. For example, Japan had more

influence on Americas economy, while America has had more influence on Japans food. With

this, my research has shown that though each country has many similarities and differences with

their cultures, they have both had major influences on each others as well.

Word Count: 291

Japan and Americas Influence on Each Others Culture


People do many different activities every day. These can be categorized as entertainment,

working, education, eating, and so on. Though we do these activities on a regular basis, it is not

often that we think about where these things come from. As it turns out, a large portion of the

activities that we do in America dont actually originate from here. America has also given many

things that we do in our everyday lives to other countries. One country that has had a large

influence on the things that we do in America is Japan. Japan and America both have a major

influence on each others culture.

Japan has had a major influence on the American culture. One way that Japan has had a

major influence on the American culture is by having an impact on film and performing arts.

The amount of Japanese films and theatre performances have increased by a large amount over

the years. According to The New York Times, When the John F. Kennedy Center for the

Performing Arts in Washington presented a program of Kabuki theater in 1979, the houses were

almost half empty. When the Grand Kabuki played there this summer, however, performances

were sold out(Bennetts. 1982, para. 1). This shows that over a span of about three years, the

attendance for the same event nearly doubled. This newspaper article from The New York Times

also talked about how the education of Japanese film has become much more popular in America

over the years. According to Dr. Joan Mellen, who was interviewed for the article by The New

York Times, the amount of students in class for a Japanese Film course has gone from about ten,

to around thirty-five to forty in a span of about a year and a half (Bennetts, 1982). This shows

that the amount of Japanese film and theatre interest in America has been growing very quickly

over the years.

Another way that Japan has had influence on Americas culture is by introducing their

pop-culture. According to The Spectator, (Japanese pop culture)s territory is now the

television in your lounge, and the headphones in your ears (Hoskin, 2017, para. 1). Two things

that go with Japanese pop culture are anime and video games. Anime, which is short for

animation, is a hand-drawn animated digital picture. This has become extremely popular to

many teenagers and young-adults in America. The American culture has also been influenced a

lot by Japanese movies and television shows. The Spectators article notes that some of the

major movies and shows of childrens childhoods over the years have come from Japan,

including Transformers, Power Rangers, Tamagatchi, and Pokemon (Hoskin, 2017, para. 6).

Pokemon is a game and show that a huge amount of children have played or seen all over the

country. It has really become a major part of the American culture for children.

Japan has also had a major influence on the U.S. economy. A large portion of the imports

to America come from Japan. Japan has been buying products and selling products to America

for many years. One of the main things that the U.S. gets from Japan can be categorized as

transportation parts. According to, Japan accounted for more than 10 percent of

the transmission and power train parts used in America in 2009 (Klayman, 2011, para. 8).

These kinds of imports can go a long way to stimulating the economy. Japan has also sold a lot

of energy sources to America. One of the major energy sources that America has received from

Japan is wind turbines. Reuters noted that about 15% of the wind turbines that are sold in the

United States have come from Japan (Klayman, 2011, para. 11). The amount of U.S. imports

that have come from Japan have gone up over the years.

A graph of the increase in U.S. imports from Japan over the past 30 years (East-West Center, 2012).

This graph shows that the amount of U.S. imports from Japan has steadily increased over the past

20-30 years. These amounts of imports can do a lot to assist the American economy.

The U.S. also has a major influence on the Japanese culture. There is one specific area in

Japan that seems to be impacted the most by the American culture. Okinawa, which is Japans

island that is the furthest South, has a culture and lifestyle that is different from the rest of Japan.

Because of the major tourism of American people in Okinawa, the island now has a more

Western-styled lifestyle. The Berkley Center of Georgetown University noted that:

Attitudes in Okinawa are different. Perhaps its because of the tourism, or maybe its just

a more laid back area, but there is a warm, welcoming feel in many places. Restaurants

often have musicians come to play every night and share the traditional Okinawan songs

and instruments with customers, and most have staff trained to speak some English.

Despite only being a four hour plane right away, it feels like Okinawa isnt a part of

Japan. The American influence on the island is undeniable, (Ronzi, 2015, para, 1)

This is an example of how America has influenced the culture in Okinawa, Japan. Since

Americans are not the only ones that tour Okinawa, it is odd that the island has such a similar

culture to America. The Berkley Center noted that nearly all workers at Okinawan restaurants

can speak English (Ronzi, 2015, para. 1). This just shows the amount of influence that America

has on the culture of this part of Japan.

America has also had a large influence on food in Japan. Over the past 30 years, the

amount of places in Japan that have served American food has increased by a large amount.

According to, while Downey, the author, was talking about his experience at a

bar in Japan, he said, Nearly every bottle is bourbon, though there is a smattering of rye and

sour mash. I can see bottles from the 1800s next to obscure export bottlings of Jim Beam next to

standard-issue Jack Daniels (Downey, 2014, para. 6). This shows that the influence of

American beverages are being felt in Japan. also has noted that a lot of other

alcohol that is now being sold in Japan has come from America (Downey, 2014, para. 6).

American-styled alcohol has become very popular in Japan. Japan is very well-known for

getting ideas from other countries cultures and making additions to them to make them better. It

has taken a lot of things from the American culture, and changed them to make them better for

life in Japan.

It can be concluded that though Japan and America have very different cultures, both of

their cultures also have a lot of similarities. Each of the countries have had a major influence on

the others culture. This has caused both cultures to have many similarities that go along with

their differences.


Bennetts, Leslie. (1982) Culture of Japan Blossoming in America, New York Times.


Downey, T. (2014). How Japan Copied American Culture and Made it Better.


East-West Center. (2012). US Imports of Goods and Services to Japan. East-West Center.

Hoskin, P. (2017) How Japan Became a Pop Culture Superpower. The Spectator.

Klayman, Ben. (2011) Japan Impact on U.S. Economy More Than Realized: Trade Group,


Ronzi, K. (2015). The Okinawan Culture: American and Japanese Influences. Berkley

Center Georgetown University.