Japanese-born artist Masami Teraoka immigrated to the United States in the 1960s, in the midst of a burgeoning post-war mass consumer society. During a visit to Vancouver, the artist was struck by the Golden Arches of McDonald's looming over the city and was prompted to create his series, McDonald's Hamburgers Invading Japan (1974-5), which shows the impact of the American multinational corporation on a post-World War II Japan. Completed in watercolor to resemble ukiyo-e woodblock prints, Teraoka shows the permeability of the boundaries between East and West. In my analysis of the series, I build on concepts of pollution and the body outlined by Mary Douglas in her seminal work, Purity and Danger (1966), to address how Teraoka uses scenes of food and eating to depict the intersection of a modern American culture with a traditional Japanese one. Firstly, I consider the potential for pollution in terms of changes in etiquette, brought about by the introduction of fast food in Japan, as well as the physical presence of McDonald's outlets on Japanese soil. I then look at the artist's articulation of a space that transforms American concepts and, infusing them with Japanese elements, creates a site that is firmly rooted in both traditions. His works contain a cautionary tone, warning against the possibility of losing traditional Japanese culture in the face of a consumer-driven American one—indicated by his inclusion of such imagery as crumpled hamburger wrappers encroaching on scenes of Japanese flora and kimono. At the same time, he injects his work with humor and, drawing on conventions of the ukiyo-e medium, creates a site of agency and resistance for the Japanese subject. As a result, Teraoka shows that cross-culturalism is not a one-way street—Japanese culture does not have to passively adopt American conventions, but can create a hybrid space that includes aspects of both worlds.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/hinefuku/16/