Japan on American TV

Session Recording:

Session Transcript

Additional Resources:

Allison, Anne. Millennial Monsters : Japanese toys and the global imagination. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

Bardsley, Jan. Maiko Masquerade: Crafting Geisha Girlhood in Japan. United States: University of California Press, 2021.

Freedman, Alisa. Japan on American TV: Screaming Samurai Join Anime Clubs in the Land of the Lost. United States: Columbia University Press, 2021. 



Klein, Christina. Cold War orientalism : Asia in the middlebrow imagination, 1945-1961. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

Laura Miller


Schuessler, Jennifer. “A Blackface ‘Othello’ Shocks, and a Professor Steps Back From Class”. The New York Times.

Sonenshein, Scott., Kondo, Marie. Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life. United States: Little, Brown, 2020.

Toshiro Mifune

Tsutsui, William M.. Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters. United States: St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2017.

Yamato nadeshiko

Wednesday, October 27th

7:00 pm ET

Japan on American TV explores political, economic, and cultural issues underlying depictions of Japan on US television comedies and the programs they inspired. Since the 1950s, US television programs have taken the role of “curators” of Japan, displaying and explaining selected aspects for viewers. Beliefs in US hegemony over Japan underpin this curation process. Japan on American TV takes a historical perspective to understand the diversity of Japan parodies. These programs show changing patterns of cultural globalization and perpetuate national stereotypes while verifying Japan’s international influence. Television presents an alternative history of American fascinations with and fears of Japan.

Written in an accessible style that will appeal to scholars, teachers, students, and anyone with an interest in Japan and popular culture, as well as an ideal text for classroom use, Japan on American TV offers a gentle means to approach racism, cultural essentialism, cultural appropriation, and issues otherwise difficult to discuss and models new ways to apply knowledge of Asian Studies.

This session will feature panelists Alisa Freedman (Author, Japan on American TV), Anne Allison, Jan Bardsley, and Bill Tsutsui with Moderator Maura Cunningham.

Session Speakers

Alisa Freedman

Professor of Japanese Literature, Cultural Studies, and Gender at the University of Oregon and the Editor-in-Chief of the U.S.–Japan Women’s Journal

Alisa Freedman is a Professor of Japanese Literature, Cultural Studies, and Gender at the University of Oregon and the Editor-in-Chief of the U.S.–Japan Women’s Journal. Her books include Tokyo in Transit: Japanese Culture on the Rails and Road, an annotated translation of Kawabata Yasunari’s The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa, and coedited volumes on Modern Girls on the Go: Gender, Mobility, and Labor in Japan, and Introducing Japanese Popular Culture. She has published widely on Japanese modernism, Tokyo studies, youth culture, gender, television, humor as social critique, teaching pedagogies, and digital media, along with publishing translations of Japanese literature. Alisa has been nationally recognized for excellence in mentoring and enjoys presenting at cultural events like anime cons and Japan festivals.

Anne Allison

Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University

An anthropologist of contemporary life in Japan, Anne Allison teaches at Duke University. Her research has covered pop culture, corporate capitalism, domestic labor, the nightlife, Pokémon, digital companionship, precarity, and death. Her books include

Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club (1994), Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination (2006), and Precarious Japan (2013). She is currently finishing a book on new trends in Japan involving death, solo sociality, and self-management of mortuary and post-mortem arrangements.

Jan Bardsley

Professor Emerita, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Jan Bardsley is Professor Emerita, Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her latest book is Maiko Masquerade: Crafting Geisha Girlhood in Japan (UC Press, 2021), which explores Japanese representations of Kyoto’s maiko, or apprentice geisha, in films, manga, and other popular media as an icon of exemplary girlhood.

Bill Tsutsui

President and Professor of History, Ottawa University

William M. Tsutsui is President and Professor of History at Ottawa University, a private comprehensive institution with campuses in Kansas and Arizona.  A specialist in the economic, environmental, and cultural history of modern Japan, he is the author or editor of eight books, including Manufacturing Ideology: Scientific Management in Twentieth-Century Japan and Japanese Popular Culture and Globalization.  His 2004 book Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters has been called a “cult classic” by the New York Times and a “lighthearted love letter to Godzilla” by the Japan Times.  He has received Fulbright and Marshall Fellowships, and was awarded the John Whitney Hall Prize of the Association for Asian Studies in 2000.  Tsutsui previously served as President of Hendrix College, Dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences at Southern Methodist University, and Reischauer Distinguished Visiting Professor at Harvard University. 

The AAS Secretariat will be closed on Monday, May 27 in observance of Memorial Day