written by Mizobuchi Kanae
translated by Shimizu Chatori 

  What does it take for one culture to stand with another, and to mutually influence one another? Various Japanese cultures, ranging from sushi to Kabuki to anime, have been widely recognized and adored in overseas countries for quite some time. However, what should we learn to take this phenomenon a step further? Moreover, how can we define what “Japanese culture” is today? We intend to revisit such a theme in Con-Cul – a media with its title originating from the Latin-derived English prefix “con-”. 

  American philosopher John Dewey once stated, “Communication is a process of sharing experience till it becomes a common possession. It modifies the disposition of both the parties who partake in it”. Over the years of living abroad, I have frequently perceived misapprehension and misconception in conversations. The reasons, I believe, was that I did not manage to comprehend the subjectivity of one’s past experiences that stems from cultural differences, even before getting into the “process of sharing”, as put by Dewey. I have learned firsthand how distinctly we perceive each situation, and the exclusively effective method of reducing discrepancies in communication is to constantly keep an eye on the differences.

  Upon experiencing the above mentioned, as a member of the global society of the 21st Century, as well as an artist, I have come to vaguely contemplate about Japanese culture and its peripheries. Upon discussing the issues with my artist colleagues, the conclusion we have reached is to widely circulate not only the stereotypically known cultures of Japan, but of a diverse Japanese culture; its heritage and the current state, as well as perspectives from inside and outside, which we ourselves are also able to learn from. In our world today, conceptions on Japan and Japanese culture have been prevalent to an extent, however, there are instances where we are embroiled in the conversational context that encompass skewed images of Japanese cultures. From a broader perspective,  the term “Japanese culture”, easily coined by many, may rather hinder the understanding of that “culture.” But first and foremost, it is crucial for us to recognize the problems arising in communications regarding Japanese cultures and to update our information on these relevant topics. Is it really possible to establish a medium that can serve as a guidepost? What sort of information should we distribute? Con-Cul was founded as an experimental ground for anyone who affiliates with, appreciates, and possesses a curious mind in Japanese cultures. 

  With an emphasis on music, our first edition deals with various Japanese cultural topics, including criticism, sound art, as well as reviews of works by contemporary Japanese composers. The articles, in my opinion, show both the breadth of Japanese cultures as well as the challenges and limitations it faces, as well as the experiences of each of the authors. I believe we have already achieved our purpose of the medium, if even one person finds new insights through the articles. Although some articles might include complex contents, it is my wish that readers will explore through the various articles on this medium, sharpen their interests in the topics, and deepen their understanding of the contents covered in each of the articles.

Photo:Takeshi Sumi