Why the Japanese love for WW2 Americana?

Discussion in 'General Flight Jacket Discussion' started by PADDY_M, Jan 13, 2017.

  1. PADDY_M

    PADDY_M Active Member

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    I've just re-read the VLJ topic on the Japanese book "Full Gear" (an expensive low print run coffee table book on American flight jackets - text in Japanese ).
    It just brought to mind the irony of how there is such a huge Jap following of vintage WW2 Americana flight wear (& also later stuff into the 50s regarding the rockabilly leather , boots & jeans look). And this extends to books being written about the stuff in Japanese.
    Anyone else wonder why a country that waged such an aggressive and nasty war against the US now loves to dress up as a WWII flyer?

    Or is this somehow the backlash of a new generation Japanese youth against the old warmonger order of 20th C imperialism and expansion? The leather jacket becomes a symbol greater than itself somehow. ..? (Abit like a cloth flag does ).

    There's an irony to the Japanese embracing this vintage American image... but there's some reason to it I guess as the vintage A-2 wearing culture seems so strong there.
     
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  2. ButteMT61

    ButteMT61 Well-Known Member

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    Seems simple to me - it's been ~75 years and no kids or young adults have much of a connection to that era. Even guys our age aren't really so much bothered by it.
    They like stuff that we like because, well, it's cool. The look of that era and the romance it represents is worthy of people enjoying it.
    I see guys older than me, younger, and my kid's ages all wearing such things. Classic designs will always have followers.
     
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  3. PADDY_M

    PADDY_M Active Member

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    Oh I can identify with that idea of looking cool. I for one fell in love with Irvins (the iconic RAF WWII flying jacket ) as a schoolboy. Most of my school masters served in WWII & one of them would often be seen on the sidelines of the rugby pitch sporting his old sheepskin flight jacket. Boy!!! He looked so COOL. Also my Uncle Joe had one from his time flying Halifaxes (bombers). Then of course I was brought up watching old British and American war movies and again loved those flight jackets. These were heroes jackets to me and I suppose a certain amount of boyhood patriotism was wrapped up in it too. I wanted to be just like them!!
    (Commando and Victor comic books just reinforced that!!).

    ... so did Japanese kids not look to wearing the jackets that their fathers and grandfathers wore during their war? (Rather than turning to the clothing of their conquerors & victors).
     
  4. Garylafortuna

    Garylafortuna Active Member

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    The post war occupation of Japan by American troops is where it all started I think. Looking cool and doing cool stuff like playing baseball. Was the word 'cool' used way back then, or was it 'hep'? Gotta blame Mr MacArthur.
     
  5. johnwayne

    johnwayne Active Member

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    In similar vein, when you go to air shows such as Flying Legends at Duxford a lot of re-enactors are from Germany dressed as USAAF! At War & Peace show which sees attendees from across Europe most are dressed as GI's or Wermacht - both forces did have much nicer looking and debatably better made uniforms than poor old Tommy!! Quite interesting to think that such a nasty period in history has influenced fashion and clothing in general since - right now most high street chains have a take on an MA1, from little kids jackets (my granddaughter has one - nothing to do with me!) to ladies and gents versions.
    Cheers
    Wayne
     
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  6. Marv

    Marv Active Member

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    Hugo Boss is one the springs to mind
     
  7. PADDY_M

    PADDY_M Active Member

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    Interesting how military utility jackets that put function before fashion have somehow transcended cultural barriers and become classic fashion that have outlasted "come & go" fashion trends.
    I'm thinking...G1; A2; Irvin; MA1.
    It seems that at any given point in time the High Street has at least one of these inspired-by jackets.

    (*What differentiates the Japanese and fellas like ourselves is we tend to veer towards the more authentic recreations or even originals ).
     
  8. asiamiles

    asiamiles Active Member

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    Only if they are rabid right-wing nationalists - just like you don't tend to see many people around wearing WWII German uniforms - though I guess if there had been any really cool gear (like the leather jackets worn by Luftwaffe pilots) then they may have attracted interest.

    If you look back at Japanese films of the 50s and 60s you'll often see the protagonists wearing US military surplus - Ken Takakura looks especially cool wearing various field jackets, parkas, leather jackets etc in the ABASHIRI PRISON films and others - so I guess that maybe where it all started? Plus, of course, the popularity of American films in Japan and particularly stars like Steve McQueen.
     
  9. dmar836

    dmar836 Well-Known Member

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    There are quite a few Americans who are wanna be Samurais as well. Just get involved in martial arts for a while, there are some real strange closet ninjas for sure.
    Researching for the USN shawl collar jumper I'm making, I noticed it appears you can't swing a dead cat in Japan without hitting someone wearing one. Maybe it's the smaller sizes but maybe its some right of passage for Japanese youth to obtain and wear old US stuff.
    Dave
     
  10. Cobblers161

    Cobblers161 Well-Known Member

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    I think it's just a fashion thing. Japanese kids are obsessive about most 1950'-1980's youth cults taking in mod, rockabilly, psychobilly, goth, skinhead, scooterboys, northern soul etc.... except they do it to extreme detail. It's all about the details.
    This appears just an extension of that.
    They either have no interest in their forefathers actions or are highly embarassed by it, in some way adopting western culture and styles may be a rejection of the past.
     
  11. ADC

    ADC Member

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    IMG_0244.JPG IMG_0245.JPG IMG_0246.JPG IMG_0247.JPG
    Japanese youth always liked Americana even pre war. These are screen shots from the Japanese silent film Dragnet Girl 1932 showing rebellious youth fashion of the time. Some of the clothes they wear would not look out of place today. Of course the militarist suppressed all this later and brainwashed, intimidated and bullied their people into war.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2017
  12. dmar836

    dmar836 Well-Known Member

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    It's true. I saw a doc recently that mentioned Japan's obsession with baseball. We are led to believe this was an American influence post-war but the footage I saw in the doc was pre-war.
    Dave
     
  13. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

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    Good question Paddy and there most definitely is a certain irony to it.

    Although other members have shown a pre-war interest in Americana, as Garylafortuna stated above, I think its real growth came with the US occupation forces after the war and its accompanying injection of US popular culture. This was strengthened and reinforced during the Korean War where Honshu especially was teeming with US military personnel. From there it just grew. There's also probably for the Japanese - as with us - that attraction to the idea of the middle of the 20th century, for right or wrong, there's a romanticisation of that time, its music, its clothes, its culture.
     
  14. colekwok

    colekwok Active Member

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    From what I understand is that, there is a strange Japanese psychology behind all that. Japanese have always been admiring the more advanced western cultures, even from the pre-war old days. They admired the British for their warships at that time, they admire the engineering prowess of the Germans etc. etc. The major reason why they admire the Americans is that, they defeated them in the war (And they never admit that they were defeated by China). Their mentality is that, if they can defeat us, they must be better than us, and we have to learn from them. That is a very simple logic behind it. I think in those days, admire was probably not the correct word, it was more like 'worshipping'.

    Oh, and by the way, if you have been to the War and Peace show, you will probably notice that most of the German reenactors are British and very few Allied reenactors are native English speakers......
     
  15. asiamiles

    asiamiles Active Member

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    Though DRAGNET GIRL was probably a concious attempt by Ozu to make a film that looked like it could have been made in Hollywood - it's very different from the work he's generally known for today - and so the characters look like they might have stepped out of a Warners gangster flick or perhaps more specifically the likes of Sternberg's UNDERWORLD. And what we generally consider 'rebellious youth fashion' today didn't really appear in America until the 50s.
     
  16. thekiyote

    thekiyote New Member

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    Up through 1940s, Japan had been in an extended war for quite some time. Pretty much right after the Meiji restoration, Japan thought, "Let's give that imperialist thing that the west did so well a shot," and started trying to snatch up every piece of landmass in their general area, from all islands around them, to Korea and huge swatches of China, in an attempt to protect themselves from Russia, who they saw as their top rival.

    This was generally considered to be a really crappy time for Japan. The military was running amok, with the army and navy competing to see who could grab the most territory, and ignoring the civilian government on the mainland. They ended up consuming so much resources after stretching themselves so thin that the mainland was effectively starving to death (Grave of the Fireflies is a good Studio Ghibli film about this era).

    So, needless to say, the US winning the Pacific War is a complicated subject in Japan. On one hand, the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were seen as horrible tragedies. However, America effectively put down the Japanese military, and the following restoration/building up of Japan's industrial complex for the Korean War started one of Japan's most economically prosperous periods and took them to 1st world status.

    Japan's obsession with Americana really takes root during this period. There was also a huge number of US military in the country, both as a part of the restoration, and as a stopping point for the Korean war, and these soldiers imported a lot of their culture, and it just kind of stuck. Also, there was a large number of American military surplus, and once that ran out, Japan started making their own.

    And mom said I'd never use my Japanese Studies degree. ;-)
     
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  17. falcon_ib

    falcon_ib Member

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    Really interesting insight!
    Although it is a bit off topic, I know many people who love Japanese culture (or what they perceive as Japanese culture, like Japanese car culture, the food scene, style, music, and more), even if they have no ties to Japan. I suppose the cultural exchange goes both ways:)

    Evan
     
  18. thekiyote

    thekiyote New Member

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    All of that is Japanese culture.

    I've been lucky enough to have been able to travel the world. Other cultures will import the bits and pieces of of Americana they like. Japan is pretty much unique in how they will obsessively copy it down to the most minute detail, to the point where it reaches an almost uncanny valley that is somehow uniquely Japanese, and cannot be found anywhere else.

    Here is a video of a bartender in Japan. Not one of the best (though I highly recommend youtubing them), just a random bartender at a bar at a Hyatt:

     
    Last edited: May 8, 2017
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  19. dmar836

    dmar836 Well-Known Member

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    I can appreciate his thoroughness and attention to detail for sure. Nonetheless, I would die of thirst in the meantime!
     
  20. interbak

    interbak Member

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    And another important fact, 1940's- 50's clothes still fit 21st century Japanese guys!
     

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