Okashi

I have to start by saying that any assessment where I get to integrate food is always going to be a good one, especially ‘okashi’, which is the Japanese word for treats and snacks. For my individual autoethnographic research, I decided to purchase a basket full of treats from Wan Long Supermarket Wollongong. This is the closest location to where I live to gain access to Asian groceries without physically having to go to an Asian country. With the guidance of my partner Jon, who has previously lived in Japan, we filled a basket full of primarily Japanese based treats. All of the items chosen were a new taste, not ever having tried them before. I filmed the whole experience of the first taste test which made it very easy to watch over and reflect.

img_5689

(Source: Cubit, A 2016)

Firstly, it is worth noting the initial selection process of the Japanese based candy at the supermarket. I struggled to identify the difference of Chinese based packaging to Japanese. Most products did have English translated words, such as “strawberry flavour”. However, without the guidance of Jon, I would have got a largely mixed bag of candy and drinks from all over the Asian region. This brings to light the major barrier that language has on interpreting what it is you are buying. Without English translations that are available on imported goods, or the further guidance of Jon who has tried those foods, speaks Japanese and lived in Japan for over a year, I would have not been able to have had the experience that I did, of trying Japanese candy in Australia.

Similarly, it was evident throughout the whole 20 minutes of taste testing, I was critically referencing what I was trying, back to an Australian based taste. For example, “this biscuit reminds me of tiny teddies”. This could mean one of two things. The first is that it could be me trying to understand Japanese culture through my Australian context. For me to grasp and take in what It was I was trying, I was searching for the Australian equivalent. Similarly, it could also have meant that I understood that the video was going to be watched by an Australian audience, thus I could have been referring to the Australian context, to ensure my audience could connect with the foods I was trying.

Moreover, the packaging was something that really stood out to me. The colours were all very bright and most included images of the flavour for example. The candy also largely had a cartoon character of some sort, which I believe was to connect the target market of children, with the product. A cross-cultural study on the affects of advertising in US, Japanese and English families outlined how “Japanese children have a significantly lower level of television viewing that the US and British children” (Robertson et al., 1989). Perhaps this is why the packaging is so bold and colourful, as marketers are focusing on the need to gain attention of children in-store as television advertising targeted towards children is absent or minimal in Japan? Such packaging also could fit with the Kawaii or “cute” culture in Japan.

Screen Shot 2016-09-25 at 6.35.59 PM.png

 

(Source: Dreamstime.com)

The reoccurring theme in my above deconstruction of my initial post is how my Australian context not only forms my opinion of product selection, tastes, and packaging, it also informed my method of recording as well as the factors I chose to analyse. Living in metropolitan Australia, I am lucky enough to have access to a range of groceries from Asia, with the closest Asian grocer only 5 minutes away. This is a central factor to my research as I was able to gain access to the treats quite easily. It wasn’t a huge event in tracking down such foods. Thus making my experience of accessing Japanese culture and foods straight forward, even though I am almost 8000km away from Japan.

Sources:

Dreamstime, 2016, Kawaii Foods, retrieved from <https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/cute-kawaii-dessert-cake-macaroon-ice-cream-icons-vector-set-food-isolated-white-54668595.jpg.&gt;

Free Map Tools, 2016, Tokyo to Sydney, retrieved from < https://www.freemaptools.com/how-far-is-it-between-sydney_-australia-and-tokyo_-japan.htm>

Robertson, T, Ward, S, Gatignon, H, & Klees, D 1989, ‘Advertising and Children: A Cross-Cultural Study’,Communication Research, 16, 4, p. 459, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 25 September 2016.

Advertisements

5 comments

  1. Hey Abbey! I love Japanese food (mainly sushi of course) and I think it’s such a topic to do your autoethnography on! I remember when I was in year 10 my friend came home from Japan and bought a bunch of lollies to school for us all to try. We had the same struggle as you with figuring out what we were actually eating. Some of the more interesting flavours were thing’s like coffee and liquorice flavoured gum. I do love the Hello Panda cookies though and I’ve had Pocky Sticks before. The packaging is really interesting and I believe you’re right in assuming it is to fit into the Kawaii culture in Japan. Looks like a really interesting topic will be good to see what you come up with. Keep up the good work!

    Like

  2. Hey Abbey! I love Japanese food (mainly sushi of course) and I think it’s such a fantastic topic to do your autoethnography on! I remember when I was in year 10 my friend came home from Japan and bought a bunch of lollies to school for us all to try. We had the same struggle as you with figuring out what we were actually eating. Some of the more interesting flavours were thing’s like coffee and liquorice flavoured gum. I do love the Hello Panda cookies though and I’ve had Pocky Sticks before. The packaging is really interesting and I believe you’re right in assuming it is to fit into the Kawaii culture in Japan. Looks like a really interesting topic will be good to see what you come up with. Keep up the good work!

    Like

  3. Hola! I love what you wrote here. Everything was wonderfully descriptive and full of detail! This is a wonderful autoethnographic piece to read. Having lived in Japan myself for three years I really connected with everything you said. Keep it up. Always remember, as the great Bud Goodall said, “Write, Edit, Rewrite.”

    Like

  4. Yees, Japanese food and the difference between Western and Japanese food is such a great topic for this. Me and my roommates frequent Asian grocers quite often, and will usually just choose things at random we haven’t yet experienced and see if we like them or not. Some of my friends that have been over to Japan always bring back different types of Kit Kats, specifically Green Tea Kit Kats, because those are absolutely excellent.

    Something that’s interesting is why exactly we have the certain items we do, that we can find at an asian supermarket in Australia, as it’s obviously not anywhere close to the full extent of items that can be bought in Japan and Asia. Is it because these items seem to be more popular with Westerners? Would be something neat to look into possibly as an extra. Good luck with your tasting! :3

    Like

  5. I think most people would agree that snack reviews are always enjoyable so I think this will be an interesting autoethnographic topic. I also love going to Wan Long and this post has inspired me to return, especially for the Hello Panda snacks. I’m also interested to see the difference between Japanese and western snacks, particularly in regards to the packaging, as the Japanese snacks seem to look far more appealing. The link between Kawaii culture and the packaging will also be compelling.
    I think it would be interesting if you could also get your hands on more Japanese snacks (like if you could get it posted from Japan so you have a wider range). But yeah I think this was an interesting topic and I would like to read more about the Japanese context.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s