Kansai-style communication helps further mutual understanding
Question: I understand that people perceive public spaces differently depending on their national character, right?
Sacko: In Kyoto, you often see couples seated at equal intervals along the Kamogawa river. This is a phenomenon unique to Japanese, who typically try to keep a certain amount of distance from others. Personal distance differs between peoples belonging to different nationalities, regions or cultures.
Japanese strongly feel that public spaces are not their own and they must clean up after using them. However, people perceive public spaces differently, again depending on the nationality, region or culture they belong to. So some people think they have the right to litter in a public space because everybody has the right to use it.
It may be an interesting idea to create an opportunity at the expo for visitors to experience a public space from the perspectives of different cultures.
Question: So, do you think it is a good idea to use the expo, which is a place where people share time and space, to help people understand each other better, especially in today’s world where there is the tendency for people to put up walls around them and look inward?
Sacko: I do think so. In that sense, physical spaces can have a significant impact.
Manga as common language
Question: Kyoto Seika University, which has the Faculty of Manga and Faculty of Popular Culture, has come to symbolize Japonism. Does the university have specific plans in response to the upcoming expo?
Sacko: We are planning an initiative to use manga as a form of expression to highlight issues faced by the global community.
For many foreign nationals, manga has served as a trigger that led to their interest in Japan. Today, many people in the world sympathize with and share the views and mentalities depicted in manga. It has become a sort of a common language in a way not many Japanese are aware of, and has made people want to learn more about Japan.
In other words, manga has become globalized beyond the scope of Japanese culture.
In France, for example, manga that use onomatopoeia and mimetic words in Japanese are more popular than those that have been translated completely into the local language.
So I think it would be nice if this form of expression widely accepted around the world could help promote mutual understanding between people in different countries and regions, help them close the distance between them and understand each other better to become global citizens. That will in turn help them work together better in a variety of settings.