Airport's New Look

Mar 18,2015

The past few weeks have seen renovations to the airport interior, and they're nearing completion. The portion of the lounge adjacent to our office has officially become cute. There are cutouts of the characters from the Conan manga, and a big elongated cartoon camel scene painted on the main floor.

I'm not sure what this is supposed to achieve. There has been a great deal of chatter about increasing tourism over the past several years, and some have seemed to imply that this effort was partially toward that end. I'm not sure it's going to be very effective, as I can't imagine domestic tourists traveling all the way to Tottori just to see cartoons, and overseas tourists--at least most of those from western countries--would be embarrassed to do so.

There seems to be some cognitive dissonance with regard to what might be a tourist draw. The west has never really embraced the love of cute, which is why adults in the English bloc don't normally read manga or give a hoot for Disney. Therefore having a cartoon theme for an airport merely serves to further Japan's image abroad as indescribably odd. Not in my eyes, of course, because I've been here for more than a quarter of my life and it's all old hat, but to most westerners in general.

What strikes me personally as odd about the renovations has nothing to do with cute and it's certainly not unique to Tottori or Japan. It's the increasingly inescapable encroachment of electronic screens. Their invasive presence is Orwellian enough in itself, but is even more so when the workers buffing the floor nearby wear jumpsuits painfully similar to those worn by the Outer Party members in the 1984 film adaptation of Orwell's dystopian classic.

It would be nice to take a walk indoors without seeing a television screen, but lately it seems my home is the only building without one. That might become a dangerous admission in a few years.

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