Lost in TransNation: Tokyo and the urban imaginary in the era of globalization

Koichi Iwabuchi

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33 Citations (Scopus)


The 2003 film Lost in Translation has attracted both acclaim and critique concerning its representation of the urban imaginary of Tokyo. Examining both the film representation and the critical responses to the imaginary, this paper discusses how they illuminate some of the emerging issues that Tokyo and Japan face in the era of globalization, such as the loss of the idiosyncratic status of non-Western modernity that Japan has long enjoyed; post-(self) Orientalist cultural othering; and the transnational alliance of media and cultural industries in a global cultural economy of branding the nation through media and consumer cultures, all at the expense of the issue of intensifying migration and multicultural situations in the urban space. It will be suggested that both the film and Japanese critiques of the film are lost in the actuality of Tokyo (indeed, of Japan) and its populace, which is being radically transformed by intensifying transnational flows of people, capital, and media imagery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543 - 556
Number of pages14
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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