Immaturity as a cultural value: socio-cultural study of Japanese idol fans

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Tutor, faculty of Asian and African Studies
Affiliation: HSE University Saint-Petersburg
Address: Russian Federation, Saint-Petersburg
Journal nameAsia and Africa Today
EditionIssue 2

This paper examines “admiring of immaturity”, a unique phenomenon that can be observed in Japan that sees immaturity not as a drawback but as a cultural value, using contemporary Japanese idols fan culture as a case study.

Japanese word that means immaturity mijuku has a negative connotation and can hardly be used as a praise, however we argue that in certain socio-cultural contexts in Japan immaturity is seen as something positive, something that actually adds value to the person who possess it. For example, Japanese idols are generally not marketed as perfect singers, dancers or performers and many of them might be called immature in their skills, yet they are hugely popular and commercially successful. One of the reasons that explains it is that their fans find enjoyment in observing the process of learning, growing, and maturing by idols, with the training system of Jonny’s Jr. as one of the examples. Thus, a certain amount of immaturity is required from idols if they want to attract this type of long-term loyal fans.

The paper uses the Japanese idol fan culture as a case study to understand what role admiring of immaturity plays in Japanese society and open a new perspective in studying of Japanese culture. With this purpose, semi-structured interview survey was conducted among informants recruited among female Japanese fans of young male idols under talent agency Johnny & Associates.

Keywordsadmiring of immaturity, fan culture, fans, Japanese idols, contemporary Japanese culture
Publication date14.03.2023
Number of characters30353
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