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Riding the Black Ship

Riding the Black Ship

Japan and Tokyo Disneyland

Aviad E. Raz

ISBN 9780674768949

Publication date: 05/01/1999

In 1997, over 17 million people visited Tokyo Disneyland, making it the most popular of the many theme parks in Japan. Since it opened in 1983, Tokyo Disneyland has been analyzed mainly as an example of the globalization of the American leisure industry and its organizational culture, particularly the “company manual.” By looking at how Tokyo Disneyland is experienced by employees, management, and visitors, Aviad Raz produces not only a cultural reading of the onstage show but also an ethnographic analysis of its production by those who work there and its reception by its customers. Previous studies have seen Disneyland as a “black ship”—an exported, hegemonic model of American leisure and pop culture—that “conquered” Japan. By concentrating on the Japanese point of view, Raz shows that it is much more an example of successful domestication and that it has succeeded precisely because it has become Japanese even while marketing itself as foreign. Rather than being an agent of Americanization, Tokyo Disneyland is a simulated “America” showcased by and for the Japanese.


  • Raz’s study of Tokyo Disneyland (TDL) is a well-grounded case of domestication. The central question of the study is to examine how Walt Disney World, as a globalizing and imperialistic operation, has been reworked into the localized cultural networks of Japan… This book is a strong case of glocalization, collapsing the global and local.

    —Eric K. W. Ma, Journal of Communication


  • Aviad E. Raz is Associate Professor of Sociology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Book Details

  • 264 pages
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • Harvard University Asia Center

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