Embodying Japan: Cultures of Sport, Beauty, and Medicine 2017

The Cycle of Power

The nation’s message within all four aspects of the hygiene culture were delivered to empower its biopower over the body and life. This may seems that power is moving from the nation to bodies like from up to the bottom in only one direction. However, it is vital to argue that the nation is not only disciplining bodies but also the individual bodies are disciplining and serving nation as well. Based on Foucauldian theory, each individual performs as a nation and it selects its own interpretation and application of the world around them. Then, it produces labor as new form of power to serve the nation in one’s own unique way. This cycle of power and labor is also shown in Japanese hygiene culture. There was the only art festival in the world called the “Oita Toliennale”, which casts a new light on toile culture by combining toilets and art. “Toilennale” is a coined term where “toilet” and “triennale” have been combined. These art pieces were open to the public and 180,000 tourists came to visit during the events. (Kanto, Kyushu and Okinawa,2016) This festival shows how Japanese sublimates the national attempts to their own labor and power to serve the nation by exhibiting the most private space to the public and suggest the art pieces as a role model of toilet and hygiene culture. Ultimately, it reinforces and empowers the nation.

This cycle of power can also found in many other cultural aspects. Especially, Jordan V. Glish argued the concept of gattai has been reinforced in a continuous cycle, causing the creation of the Go Renjā show. "Gattai" is a term literally refers to the act of merging two separate entities. It is often interchangeable with similar terms such as fusion, combination, joining, etc. He said "the promotion of sports and the idea of bio-power, the goverment or those with power can reinforce the concept of gattai...This representation of culture through are is a recurring theme in history, as all minds are influenced by what surrounds them, even if they are not aware of it. In Japan, the concept of gattai has been reestablished and reinforced throughout history, eventually leading to the creation of the Power Rangers."

In conclusion, the nation has attempted to deploy biopower over the bodies and disciplined them to serve the nation by suggesting the nation’s desirable human bodies and mindset. Japanese hygiene culture, including uchi(inside) vs soto(outside), bathing culture, toilet culture, health and the circulation of power. Overall, biopower had a huge impact on the bodies and transformed into another form of power to serve the nation such as suggesting desirable toilet culture to the public. Thus, this endless cycle of power continues and it creates another subculture of the existing hygiene culture and Japanese bodies.


Feel the cleanliness of Japan's toilets. (2016, March). Retrieved March 31, 2017, from http://japan-magazine.jnto.go.jp/en/special_toto2.html

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