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Japan: Vernacular and Transnational

Perry Jackman


            One of the first things we learned in Global Cities was the differences between vernacular and transnational.  Our first port during this voyage around the world is Japan. When I visited Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara, I found many transnational and vernacular examples.

            When I got off the ship and got a chance to walk around Kobe, the first thing I noticed was tall buildings and the crazy advertisements. Even though Kobe was a small city, it had definitely caught the globalization bug. I also noticed that when I visited Kyoto. Kyoto I had the chance to experience globalization. I grabbed a coffee at Starbucks and had a late midnight snack at McDonalds. If I didn’t know better, I would think I would be back at home in Denver. I even noticed the effects of globalization while I was eating sushi. In one of our readings for Global Cities was an article about the effects of globalization. The article “Supply-Side Sushi: Commodity, Market and the Global City” talks about how even Japanese sushi in Japan is part of globalization. The fish that many Japanese restaurants serve are not even fish from Japan. They come from tuna farms from America. I found it to be very ironic that I had come all this way to have genuine Japanese sushi, when in all reality the fish is from back home.      

            Even though I found many examples of globalization in Japan, I also found many sites that were vernacular. I loved the fact that I would be walking in the city and right next to a building would be a Buddhist temple. Japan has such a long history that I find it hard not to incorporate in their daily life. I went to Nara to see the big Buddha. I left Kyoto and went to Nara. They couldn’t be more different. Nara didn’t have the big buildings, but acient temples. When I went to see the Big Buddha, I was amazed by the architecture. The temple in which the Buddha was in was the largest wood building in the world. The buildings was built without the modern technology we have today, it also had no influence from the outside. I was amazed by its beauty. I would never be able to see anything like that at home.

            Overall, Japan was a great experience. I loved how I could experience both sides of Japan; the transnational side and the vernacular side.

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