Skip to main content
Pollution in Inner and Outer Spaces: Masami Teraoka's McDonald's Hamburgers Invading Japan, 1974–5
National Conference on Undergraduate Research (2007)
  • Harrison W. Inefuku, University of the Pacific

Japanese-born artist Masami Teraoka arrived in 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 as a portent of a global takeover by the company. This awareness prompted his series, McDonald's Hamburgers Invading Japan (1974-5), which depicts an old, traditional Japanese culture coming into contact with a new, modern American one with results that are at times humorous, and at others, chaotic. Completed in watercolor to resemble ukiyo-e woodblock prints, Teraoka masterfully fuses Eastern and Western artistic techniques. He shows the impact of the American multinational corporation on a post-World War II Japan through such imagery as crumbled hamburger wrappers in otherwise pristine Japanese scenes. In my analysis of the series, I build on concepts of food and pollution established by Mary Douglas's seminal work, Purity and Danger (1966). In light of the refuse present in the series, I consider McDonald's presence in Japan as a pollutant—both in terms of changes in etiquette and eating habits brought about by the introduction of fast food in Japan, and also in terms of the physical presence of McDonald's outlets on Japanese soil.

  • Masami Teraoka,
  • McDonald's Hamburgers Invading Japan,
  • Art History,
  • Pollution
Publication Date
April, 2007
Citation Information
Harrison W. Inefuku. "Pollution in Inner and Outer Spaces: Masami Teraoka's McDonald's Hamburgers Invading Japan, 1974–5" National Conference on Undergraduate Research (2007)
Available at: