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BEGIN Japanology

Mar. 22, Thu.

"Japanophiles - Matt Alt"
*This program was first broadcast on Nov. 17

This month, we present a special talk-show series called Japanophiles, featuring lively interviews with foreigners living in Japan.

A hallmark of modern Japanese culture - in anime, video games, even all kinds of signs you see in everyday life - is its iconic characters. One American analyzing these characters from a unique perspective is translator Matt Alt.

He believes Japan's "character culture" is rooted in legendary Japanese creatures called yokai. Alt became so fascinated by yokai that he published a book about them in English.

Born in Washington, D.C., Alt studied Japanese language from a young age and visited Japan as a teenager. He met his wife, Hiroko, when she was studying in the U.S., and they started a translation company together.

The two take great inspiration from Lafcadio Hearn, a Westerner who introduced Japanese folk tales to the world with his English translations, and Hearn's wife Setsuko, who taught him about Japanese culture.

We'll explore the appeal and origins of Japanese pop culture with Matt Alt.