New Trends in Japanese Popular Culture

‘Popular culture’ has two Japanese translations: taishu bunka and minshu bunka. Bunka embraces the entire concept of ‘culture,’ but ‘popular’ isn't so easily translated. Taishu means a large number (tai) of population or groups (shu), while minshu means groups (shu) of ordinary people (min). Thus, minshu bunka is a more faithful translation of 'popular culture’ than taishu bunka. Yet, the expression minshu bunka does not occur as frequently as taishu bunka. This means that, in thejapanese context, ‘popular culture’ is generally regarded as ‘mass culture.’ Only when the difference is intentionally stressed does the term of minshu bunka reappear. This is not a mere language problem but derives from the very process by which minshu bunka becomes taishu bunka
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DOI 10.3817/0685064147
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