Why is the salaryman carrying a surfboard?

Price:
USD $30.00 postpaid (international shipping included)
Designers:
Ray Masaki
Publisher:
BathBoys
Categories:
Publications

Why is the salaryman carrying a surfboard? is a Japanese and English bilingual book by Ray Masaki about the history and context of institutional white supremacy and Westernization in the Japanese design industry.

『サラリーマンはなぜサーフボードを抱えるのか?』は、日本のデザイン業界における構造的な白人至上主義と西洋化の歴史と文脈について書かれた日英バイリンガルの本です。

Printed in Japan
176 pages
bilingual Japanese and English
Size: 150 mm × 220 mm (5.9 in × 8.7 in)

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Within the book, Ray Masaki assesses some of the difficult aspects of race relations in Japan, including:

  • Why are there so many white and Western-featured models in Japanese advertisements? 
  • How come there are so many strange or incorrect usages of English in product packaging and clothing? 
  • How have extremely offensive things like blackface and racial stereotyping become normalized and not necessarily uncommon to see in the media?

Quoted from the author:

“What pushed me from simply questioning these things to actually looking into the answers was the Black Lives Matter protests that had a resurgence in May of 2020 in response to the murder of George Floyd, and frankly, my frustration towards the lack of conversation about anti-Blackness in Japan. Since I didn’t feel qualified to explain issues of Black American oppression to Japanese people, I felt the best I can do to support this movement was by discussing some of the biases of Japanese culture through my own lived experiences—mainly what I’ve seen in my time working in the Japanese creative industry. And in this book, I combine personal anecdotes and opinions, as well as examples from mass culture and advertising, and expand upon them using various books, articles, and research documents.”

“My belief is that Japan has benefitted from the appropriation of other cultures without engaging in the systems and context that created them, which has in part led to complicity in systemic white supremacy. And my goal with this book is for Japanese creatives to start questioning their decisions and ingrained biases and begin holding themselves and their peers more accountable to contribute to a collective effort to raise questions.”

“Although my intended audience is primarily Japanese and Japan-based readers, I’m hoping others may find value in it as well. This book uses several case studies to explore the history of racism and the cultural impact of post-war Westernization in Japan, but I think a lot of the thinking is not specific to the country. As the world is becoming more globalized and interconnected, it’s more necessary than ever to be able to confront these issues of race and inclusion with an open mind regardless of background.”

Why is the salaryman carrying a surfboard? is an important document that captures a snapshot of the contemporary moment and asks a lot of hard questions. Highly recommended.

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