Facts of Japan: Vol. 3.1

While Japan has always had a reputation for taking ideas from the West and improving on them (sometimes beyond recognition), the reverse is often true, too, and Japan has long served as a well of inspiration for various creators from the West. I read a lot of science fiction books, and it often seems I can’t pick one up that doesn’t have Japanese themes in it somewhere, with the best example being William Gibson, who built his career by weaving ideas he got from Japan into his books. Star Wars is filled with Japanese cultural and visual elements culled from Japan’s films and history, from Jedi Knights to the Force to the design of Darth Vader, whose helmet and “first name” come from famous warlord Date Masamune. (I always wondered why Obi Wan Kenobi was wearing a kimono and bowing like a Japanese person.) When the new iPad was announced, people in Japan observed that the fancy magnetic “Smart Cover” looked exactly like the covers used to keep the bath water warm in between use.