S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Institute for Japanese Studies(일본연구소) Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies vol.6 no.1(2020)
Locale Idols and the Creation of New Local Culture: Ehime Prefecture’s Hime Kyun Fruit Can
- Lee, Seok
- Issue Date
- Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol.6 No.1, pp. 119-140
- This article is a revised and translated version of the author’s Korean article “Hyŏnji aidol i ch’angch’uranŭn saeroun chiyŏk munhwa: Ehime-hyŏn ŭi Himek’yun Hurŭch’ŭ K’an ŭl chungshim ŭro,” published in Ilbonhak yŏn’gu [Journal of Japanese studies] 56 (2019), with the permission of Tan’guk Taehakkyo Ilbon Yŏn’guso [Institute of Japanese Studies, Dankook University].
- Currently, the number of “locale idols” (gotōchi aidoru) active across Japan regionally is dramatically increasing. To examine this newly created cultural phenomena, it is necessary to distinguish between “locale” and “local” or “regional” idols. If local and regional idols have been unable to escape from the tropes of “center/capital” and nationalism, locale idols reflect a concept of place that has newly emerged in Japanese society, in which local colors disappear and the different regions have become increasingly culturally uniform. Ehime Prefecture locale idol group Hime Kyun Fruit Can (Hime Kyun Furūtsu Kan) provides a typical example of this. Formed under the influence of AKB48, Hime Kyun Fruit Can has offered an alternative to regional rock music that features a strong local sound and has established a musical space in Japan’s provincial territories not so different from that of Tokyo. One cannot discern any local tradition or character in the music of Hime Kyun Fruit Can, which instead is sensitive to new Tokyo trends and attempts to convey them to local areas. The group thus demonstrates how “locale idols” create “locales” (gotōchi), places evoking a “local experience” not through unique local traditions or products but through the staging of local events that showcase the self-conscious reproduction of trends in the capital.