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Japan and the Jedi: How Japan influenced ‘Star Wars’

10 Comments
By Liam Carrigan

Since last year, the festive season in Japan just got a whole lot more interesting, due in large part to the greatest movie franchise ever made. No, I’m not talking about the "Police Academy" movies (a close second place… ). Now, December doesn’t just mean holiday festivities — it also means a new "Star Wars" movie.

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" opened in Japan on Dec 16.

The film is something of a departure from the norm for the franchise -- no light saber battles and no Jedi knights, instead focusing on a new team of heroic Rebel Alliance characters in a story set between the times of 2005’s "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" and 1977’s original "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope."

Following on from last year’s record-breaking "Episode VII: The Force Awakens," Japan has once again caught the "Star Wars" bug, with everything from hand towels to fridge magnets showcasing the characters of that “galaxy far, far away.”

Now that Disney has acquired the license and set about monetizing it in just about every way imaginable, its iconography can be seen everywhere. I sit here at my desk with my phone plugged into a Darth Vader charger, its case emblazoned with the insignia of the Galactic Empire as I sip my morning coffee from my cup adorned with the Dark Lord’s menacing visage in front of the equally iconic Death Star.

Just last week when a friend of mine announced he would be moving to Kyoto from Osaka, one of my other friends, an Osaka native, quipped that he was “turning to the dark side!”

But the links between "Star Wars" and Japan go far deeper than that.

It’s a well-known fact that the movie’s creator and director, George Lucas, was influenced heavily in his early career by the legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

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10 Comments
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no, No, NO!

Why is that woman holding a "Gael Garcia Bernal" photo on a stick?!

Guy-Next-To-Her, quickly tell her wrong picture! Or wrong movie if she's doing "Y Tu Mama Tambien"

Or maybe she's just showing pictures of their previous co-stars to the arriving actors from Rogue One, either way, Not Cool.

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Did Japan influence Star Wars or did the lives of the creators of Star Wars influence Star Wars? Several lived in Japan - Including the special effects director, or, like Lucas, loved Kurosawa (when Japan didn't).

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The term Jedi came from 時代劇 (じだいげき jidaigeki) - period drama.

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influence came from professor Joseph Campbell .. whom taught mythology and theology at Sarah Lawrence College. of course parts of Japanese culture has been borrowed as well myths of other culture but it came via professor Campbell

George Lucas was the first Hollywood filmmaker to credit Campbell's influence. Lucas stated, following the release of the first Star Wars film in 1977, that its story was shaped, in part, by ideas described in The Hero with a Thousand Faces and other works of Campbell's. look it up... there is also a video of a interview with Lucas on this fact.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

At last years's Comicon Japan, the actress Mika Mifune, Toshiro's daughter, along with the actors who played 'Darth Maul' and the 'Emperor Palpitine', spoke at length with Steve Wosniak about the Japanese influences in Star Wars. Even the light sabres were based on the venerable katana or Japanese sword.

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Star Wars and Japan - a tenuous link indeed....

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For your viewing please... George talking about hidden fortress....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEJ6CzG9zVc&feature=youtu.be

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Star Wars and Japan - a tenuous link indeed....

Except that George Lucas is the one who stated it exists. So it's not so tenuous.

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At a recent Bonenkai the topic of Star Wars came up. Everybody at the table said that they had never seen any of the films, that they weren't interested in seeing any of the films, and one guy went as far as to say, "I'm not interested in those trendy movies, Star Wars, Harry Potter, that kind of thing..."

Star Wars and Harry Potter lumped together - just recalling the conversation fills me with equal amounts of anger and sadness. Also, I have a new enemy at the office.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I see a link: Death Star was based in Japan in that far, far away galaxy. And you know what happened.

Now, seriously, lots of gorgeous Japanese and Chinese costumes and hairdos worn by Queen Amidala.

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