Olympic Doubt and Pokémon turns 25

Hello! This is Chris Hayes from the Sainsbury Institute here, delivering you my first weekly post, where I share with you interesting tidbits from Japan/the world of Japanese Studies.

Back in September, the vice-president of the International Olympic Committee stated that the Tokyo Olympics would go ahead “with or without Covid”. Now, things are looking far less certain, with ministers admitting that things could go either way. This comes after the government and Games organisers tried to play down a poll that showed that 80% of the population support either further postponement or even cancellation. The Tokyo Olympics have not been without controversy, even before the pandemic. The journal Japan Focus dedicated a two-part special issue to looking at the Tokyo Olympics, tackling diverse issues such as the representation of Ainu, homogeneity in Japan, economic factors, and radiation in Fukushima. Check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here. They’re well worth a read and show how the same subject can be approached from interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary perspectives.

In lighter news, the globally-popular Pokémon franchise, turns 25 this year. Despite a 2004 academic volume claiming that by 2002 Pokémon was on its way out, the franchise, which spans video games, manga, anime, live action films, card games, merchandising, and more, has instead gone from strength to strength. A series of celebrations have been planned, with the first announcement being the involvement of pop star, Katy Perry. The franchise is not only popular with children, and recently a 43 year-old man was arrested in Saitama for forging fake ice lolly sticks in an attempt to cheat in a competition to win special trading cards!

What are your thoughts on the Olympics? Should they go ahead? And did you ever play Pokémon? Did it have any impact on your interest in Japan? Let us know in the comments!

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