It is obvious that Japanese culture have been parts of our everyday life, in particular popular culture. Hello Kitty, Mangga, Samurai, Bento, Sushi, Honda and Kawasaki are among products and brand that most of us are familiar with and perhaps adore to owned. I like to engage in the discussion about Japanese culture and its influences in Malaysians’ everyday life since the time Japanese occupied Malaya between 1941-45. At that time the name Selipar Jepun (a Japanese made slippers, or also know in Australia as tongs) and Terompah (a wooden made sandals used outside of the house) became popular.
Popular cultures in Malaysia are very closely linked with the Japanese culture or it is not to exaggerate to state here that have shaped partly most Malaysians’ everyday life. A soap opera known as Oshin (I’m sure most of Malaysia remembered the spirit of strong Japanese girl who have fought for her life to survive and gained respect for her generation) for example have an influential recollection of teenagers’ life for many Malaysia in 1980’s.
The close connection between Japanese and Malaysia are inevitable, since their occupation in Malaya early 1940’s to the establishment of Malaysia in 1963 and till present days. Large numbers of Japanese products are used in most Malaysian household, from the bigger scale appliances such as rice cooker, washer machine to the little tiny stuff such as hand brush and eggs slicer.
My visit to one of the most popular Japanese café in Melbourne known as CIBI reminded me of my childhood in Malaysia. CIBI is a café that served coffee, Japanese breakfast and lunch. It is situated along 45 Kelle St, Collingwood, Melbourne. An interesting set up and approach, CIBI not only provide delicious home made Japanese breakfast and lunch, but also been actively participating in promoting and exhibiting Japanese design kitchen products.
Recently CIBI conducted an exhibition called ‘Japanese Kitchen tools’ or Nippon No Daidokoro Daigo (contact CIBI for further info at info[at]cibi.com.au). It exhibits mix of old and new kitchen appliances used in Japanese kitchen. What I found fascinating while browsing around the exhibition space is that some of the products are very familiar to my childhood. And all this while I thought it is locally made because it is heavily used in last decades of Malaysian generation. My grandmother used to have it all the time in her house. Can also be known as all-purpose brush, the hand brush known as Japanese Turtle Brush or Kaminoko Tawashi is a traditional Japanese brush made from hemp palm fibre. It is a hard brush mostly designed for the hard and rough surface to scratch mud on rough surface vegetable, shells fish, bathtubs, floors or muddy shoes.
Another product is the egg slicer. Most of the hawker or roadside store that sells Nasi Lemak one of the all time Malaysian favourite dish (coconut rice served with anchovies, sambal –cooked chili paste, slice cucumber and eggs), will have this egg slicer handy to slice the eggs. Discovering more and more product that are used in Malaysia comes from Japan, makes me wonder how much Japanese culture have influence Malaysian everyday life practices.
Nurul Rahman is currently working on a research project under School of Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia on tracing the Japanese cultural route in Malaysian culture (Jan-August 2011). Permission and copyright (photograph and text) in this blog please contact through email : nurulrahman[at]gmail.com
Turtle Brush and Eggs Slicer by Zainurul Aniza Abd Rahman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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