Mention the Isle of Man to somebody from Britain and they might be able to tell you it’s the venue for a famous motorbike race. Utter the name of the place to some Japanese people and there’s a reasonable chance they’ll know it as the home of 14-year-old schoolgirl cum entertainer Beckii Cruel.
Musicians ranging from dour European indie bands to obscure free jazz artists have long been able to boast of dedicated fans in Japan, but most can only dream of the popularity that this teenager from the UK has – rather bizarrely – started to generate for herself here in the last year.
Struggling musicians have long made dubious claims about being “big in Japan” in a bid to compensate for weak record sales at home.
But Susan Boyle, the 48-year-old who swept to fame in Britain and the U.S. after an appearance on reality TV, looks to be genuinely on the cusp of becoming a household name in the suburbs of Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo.
In the minds of many people, religious rivalry could occasionally be expected to spill over into violence in places as diverse as the occupied West Bank or Glasgow’s ‘Old Firm’ football derby.
Japan’s Kansai region, home to the world’s most renowned Zen gardens and some of the country’s finest cuisine, on the other hand, is not generally seen as a tinderbox of religious tension.