Examples of Cultural Shock: Japan as a case

Art and People

The article Art as Part of Daily life- A Cross-Cultural Dialogue between Art and People is about the encounter of artists from different countries of the world with the local people of Japan. It is a cultural encounter that takes place in The Culture Exchange House in Yamaguchi in Japan. It is a project that aims at gathering artists that include painters, potters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, poets and writers. They are meeting with residential community volunteers who would in return provide some needs.
Although the event is for less-known artists with potential who would welcome the initiative with its limited conditions as it is going to broaden their experiences, the aim is the cultural exchange that is generated from activities like visiting schools and community centers, and organizing artistic workshops for the people. This fulfils the expectations of the people.
The article explains in details the activities held by the artists and how did they affect them. It also gives details about the cultural house and its accommodation’s capacities. However, the article focuses on the effect the event organized has had on both the volunteering artists and the local people. It is an effect of cultural understanding and admiration. It says that “volunteers felt that they gradually gained understanding and support from local people, and especially from their family members”.
The article also gives numbers about the number of artists, people who attended and also about the expenses. This also aims at comparing the community before and after the event, maintaining that although Japan is a successful country in terms of economy and technology worldwide, it still has a rich cultural background that makes it both modern and traditional. This makes of it a homogenous society with cultural codes and values that “remained unchanged”. This homogeneity is “more apparent in smaller cities and rural areas” of Japan.
The essay mentioned in details examples of cultural understanding between the artists and the local people, but it also mentioned examples of “cultural shocks” that took place during the event. Of course, many instances of successful cultural understanding are mentioned and perhaps one of the most important is that of an American who fell in love with the place and decided to settle there for a quite long time and ultimately got married with a local Japanese girl celebrating one of the most classical instances of cultural exchange—intercultural marriage. As for cultural shocks, they are a few frustrations that a few artists have had during the event like the feeling of anger for not being independent to work and live in a new culture. It also mentioned also the dual reality that guests had; their being a guest that makes them different and their endeavor for finding common grounds with the local culture. This of course makes the guests needed to adjust themselves to local everyday life.
The article discussed the question of the art’s quality as it is produced by young and unknown artists. The organizers thought that the project intended to offer artistic experiences to the locals in order to enhance their artistic taste and creation. People did not mind the quality of the artist as they gradually understood that every single artist has a distinctive expression of art. This was according to the article a fresh insight to the Japanese locals who sought to do the same as others.
The article gave examples of how each artist focused on an issue of his/her own with his/her distinctive way. However, due to the local people’s limited knowledge of interpreting art objects, the project organizers invited art educators who came to help people comment on the art. The volunteers who came from different Japanese art universities gradually gave preliminary information to the locals to be able to interpret the message in their own words. This helped them to share their own understandings with each other. This cultivated the aesthetic experience among the general public.
The article concludes with the idea that local people concentrated on Western art too much that they did not notice the non-Western artists especially those from Asia. For the writer, this is a good sign that all those arts make a fusion that none can distinguish one from the other. He says that the House has itself become a symbol of art.

Abderrazzak Baddou

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