Japanese curry is a gift from the heavens. For anyone who likes Japanese curry as much as I do, you better be nodding your head in agreement. And fireworks are fun. You don’t find many people saying “nah, I really really hate fireworks with a passion.”
A few weeks ago while watching my favorite documentary show ドキュメント72時間, I came across a scene that put a giant smile on my face.
Hey they also have curry-flavored fireworks.
It wasn’t just me who thought these words were the most amazing thing they’ve ever heard. The person listening in the show responded appropriately.
わーお (wow) indeed. My imagination ran wild with a firework, that when set off, sent curry into the air that you could taste. For a moment, imagine the fireworks below, but with curry:
Like any normal person, I had to find out where I could experience this. However, Google searches were only bringing up recipes for making your curry look like fireworks. While this was pretty creative, it wasn’t quite the same thing.
Where were all the curry-flavored fireworks? A topic like this should be ranked near number one. My heart was broken when I finally came across someone who happened to write a blog post about this very topic, as they were watching the same episode of the same show.
This Japanese is incorrect and I’m pretty sure they are wrong about the product.
Dreams crushed. The only option I had was to make Japanese curry for dinner. However, having Japanese curry on the mind can get you thinking. This type of feeling happens a lot.
That Crazy Japan!
“That crazy Japan” is the feeling of a foreigner when they see something Japanese that is very different from their own culture and want to share their excitement and bewilderment. Shock and surprise produce a fun feeling. When I first got to know about Japan and Japanese culture, this feeling would happen all the time.
That is food?!
That is in a vending machine?
That is a custom?
It also carries over to the language as well.
There’s a word for that?!
Those two kanji make up this word?!
That expression really means this completely unexpected thing?!
This type of stuff only compounded my love of Japan and Japanese.
The Dangers of “That Crazy Japan”
The problem is when everything becomes over-sensationalized and the image of Japan in the West becomes some insane magical fairyland. This happens when false information, mistaken information, sub-sub-cultures, or extremely anecdotal stories spread, and then Japan becomes some place that everyone is perceived to be doing something crazy.
Think if this concept of curry-flavored fireworks was suddenly picked up by some place influential and became popular overseas. Maybe now the message would be that Japanese people eat their food through fireworks. That crazy Japan!
This may sound extreme, but it happens all the time. On the internet when people talk about Japan, they love to take a random episode of a random strange TV show and proclaim “this is what daily Japanese life is like.” One example that comes to mind is when several years ago it was reported that this was a popular haircut in Japan.
The Real Global Problem of “That Crazy Country”
To be fair, Japan does the exact same thing in reverse with their biggest one being “That Crazy America.”
There was a TV show that ran from 2011-2016 that was infamous for this, called ネプ＆イモトの世界番付 (Nep’s and Imoto’s World Ranking). Then later a new show (which is currently running) came in and took the same themes and setup, called 世界くらべてみたら (If You Compare Around the World).
The concept for these (and other similar ones in the past) is simple: Get a panel of foreigners from all different countries and have them introduce wild, exciting, surprising, and shocking things about their home countries to a Japanese audience. Then compare those things with the “normal” way something exists in Japan.
At first I thought this type of show was enjoyable, because I loved learning about other countries. This was until I realized that it was all the same over-sensationalism, with false, mistaken and anecdotal stories.
At the time, I was living in New York City, and it was always a big topic on the show 世界番付. Look at this crazy thing everyone in New York City (and by extension, all of the United States) is doing?!! 99% of the time I would think to myself “really? I’ve never seen/heard of that before.”
While I may not keep up with the newest trends, if everyone in New York is supposed to be doing it, I should have at least heard about it. Even if something was true about NYC, it’s strange to take a very unique place like NYC and use that as a basis for the rest of the country.
Settling for an internal “wow that’s interesting!”
All of these past experiences, both how other countries talk about Japan, and how Japan talks about other countries, made me realize it’s not about over-generalizing or saying “that crazy country!”
For me, it’s about seeing something that is new and interesting, which sparks the imagination, and letting the resulting curiosity bring a smile to my face. It’s completely unrelated to countries (it happens all the time in my own country, state, city, town, block, street, house) or people, whether it’s done by one person or many, or is true or mistaken.
So while I may never be able to taste curry-flavored fireworks, it made me incredibly happy for a fleeting moment. Unless someone out there is plotting and planning for a new curry-infused future, which I would welcome with open arms.