Japanese have been legally eating kangaroo for longer than most Australians. Kangaroo meat was imported to Japan and being served in Tokyo restaurants from 1988, five years before meat from the national symbol was legalized for consumption by Australians in all states other than South Australia, where kangaroo could be eaten legally from 1980. (Indigenous Australians had continued eating kangaroo, a traditional food, regardless of the ban.)
Despite the head start, kangaroo meat never really kicked on in Japan, despite its reputation for being a healthy, high-protein, low-fat alternative to beef or pork. RooMeat was promoted in Japan as being a preferred choice of athletes and models, but the “stars” called upon to plug the meat were not household names. Moreover, the meat was promoted with the somewhat mysterious catch copy of “it’s tasty if you cook it.”
Kangaroo meat can still be purchased in Japan, probably most easily from The Meat Guy, purveyor of fine meats.
Kangaroo meat is also promoted as an environmentally friendly choice as kangaroos produce less methane than cattle.
Some people have also adopted kangatarianism, which is essentially a vegetarian diet that allows for the consumption of kangaroo meat. Japan’s kangaroo business was also involved in the kangaroo industry, which focuses around the marsupial’s leather, which is regarded as the strongest source of leather for shoes and gloves. K-Roo kangaroo meat promotions Premium kangaroo meat promotions
(Sung to the tune of Me & Bobby McGee) Buggered at the Jolimont Road end, playing the Blues again
Back when having tats meant you were mean
Robbie pulled a durry out, though it was still during the game
Sucked a tinny filled with Tiger dreams Balmely hooned and swiped a dirty big coathanger
Got ‘em playin’ soft while the Tiges smashed the Blues, yeah
Cheer squad at the Punt Road end was showing form was fine
Grog Squad singing every chant it knew Freedom’s just another word for beatin’ up the Blues
Beatin’ don’t mean nothin’ without a flag like ’73, no no
And winnin’ under Tommy was easy Lord, ‘specially ‘gainst the Blues
You know, Tigers winning flags was good enough for me
Good enough for me and Robbie McGhie
From Tommy Hafey’s gold mines to always getting done
The past 37 years have destroyed my soul
Through all kinds of weather, through everything we done
Belief in the Tigers kept us from the cold Now we’re at the ‘G again, the Crows have to play away
We’re at home, a gold jumper is gonna be just fine
And I’m sure all of our tomorrows are gonna be like yesterday
Holdin’ that Premiership cup is gonna be sublime
Freedom’s just another word for beatin’ the Adelaide crew
2017 premiers, that’s what we’re gonna be, yeah
Yeah, feelin’ good is easy when you’re beatin’ up the Crows
A premiership is gonna be good enough for me, mm-hmm
Good enough for me and Robbie McGhie La da da
La da da da
La da da da da da da da
La da da da da da da da
Robbie McGhie, yeah
La da da da da da da
La da da da da da da
La da da da da da da
Robbie McGhie, yeah
La da La la da da la da da la da da
La da da da da da da da da
Oh, oh Robbie McGhie, yeah
La la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la Hey, Robbie
Oh, oh Robbie McGhie, yeah
Well, I call him an idol, a premiership back man
I said, not too high on talent, but did the best he can, c’mon
Hey now, Robbie now
Hey now, Robbie McGhie, yeah
La da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la la
Hey, hey, hey Robbie McGhie, yeah
La da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la da, la
Hey, hey, hey, Robbie McGhie, yeah
* Apologies to Janis Joplin and Kris Kristofferson
Robert “Bones” McGhie was a dual premiership player (1973-1974) for the Richmond Football Club. The heavily tattooed McGhie started his career with Footscray, returned there following his time at Richmond and ended his career at South Melbourne, the team that became the Sydney Swans. He was a fine defender who perhaps didn’t get the accolades he deserved because of his looks, but he has forever been immortalized for having a smoke and a beer on the football field following the 1973 Grand Final, symbolizing a different age from the current milquetoast world of the AFL and extremely healthy lifestyles.
McGhie’s tale of durries and tinnies has been picked up by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in the lead-up to Saturday’s Grand Final, when the Tigers take on the Adelaide Crows. Should the Tiges win, it’s likely to be slabs all round in Melbourne at least. Robert ‘Bones’ McGhie: Famous smoking Richmond Tigers footballer revisits MCG
1973 VFL Grand Final (featuring Robbie McGhie)
1974 VFL Grand Final (featuring Robbie McGhie)
1980 VFL Grand Final (Richmond’s most recent premiership, but not featuring Robbie McGhie)
Australia beef is the most visibly successful Australian export to Japan, leaving considerable distance to its closest rivals, which these days are probably Tim Tams, Miranda Kerr and hordes of drunken ocker snow bunnies in country towns like Niseko and Hakuba.
To be honest, Oz doesn’t really enter the consciousness of most Japanese, except for Aussie Beef, which is probably the first thing that comes to mind for many Nihonjin when asked about Oz.
And this year, Meat & Livestock Australia Ltd (MLA) is going all-out to try and convert Japanese consumers to worshiping the barbie in much the same manner that many Aussies do.
MLA is conducting a huge Let’s Barbie campaign to encourage people to use the summer months to enjoy munching away on some good old tucker.
The Let’s Barbie pop-up store in Tokyo’s trendy Aoyama district
And they’re using Strine to do it, too, with part of the campaign involving a pop-up shop placed smack-bang in the middle of Aoyama, one of Tokyo’s trendiest districts, and a huge sign urging passers-by to “barbie!”
The pop-up shop is offering demonstrations of cooking, Strayan-style, and serves up three different kinds of steak and salad “meat parfaits.” There’s Beauty, with lime and ginger, Genki, flavored by chili pepper and garlic, and Let’s Barbie, with lime and mint. All are delicious and served in a cup with salad and mashed spuds.
Part of the campaign is teaching the Japanese about how Aussies barbie. Here’s what the official Let’s Barbie campaign website says about the Barbie…
About the Barbie
What’s a Barbie? Barbecue Superpower Australia calls barbecues “barbies” and 3-4 times a week, (Aussies) enjoying tucking into thick-cut, Aussie Beef steaks and fresh salads anytime, anywhere. You can relax and enjoy them, and everybody’s all smiles out in the wilds of nature, which brings everybody closer. And the communication tool that brings that about is the Aussie-style barbecue: The Barbie.
Aussie lifestyle is about not putting on airs, and the real thrill of the barbie is being about enjoying communication with your mates and your family.
It’s hard to see what sort of impact the campaign will have. Japanese tend to be great barbecuers, anyway. And while many would gladly abide by the campaigns exhortations to get out and enjoy a good steak with your mates, most are stuck inside the office waiting for the boss to go home before they have any hope of being able to leave.
Japan’s Aussie Prince Campaign website seeking women’s photos of sexy blokes
In this day and age, it would be unthinkable to use taxpayers’ hard-earned money to promote a campaign promising a 1 million yen order-made trip to Australia for a young bloke sending in photos of a sexy member of the opposite sex.
But, when the shoe’s on the other foot, it seems to be all right.
At least, it was until just a few years ago.
For a while in the late Noughties to early 2010s, Tourism Australia worked desperately hard to arrest a drastic and dramatic decline in Japanese tourist numbers.
Japanese Visitors to Australia 2002-2012
Part of those efforts involved a campaign that Tourism Australia conducted in Japan back in 2009-2010. The campaign played on the Japanese homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings) for Aussie (oojii in Japanese) and prince (ouji in Japanese).
The Oojii Ouji Campaign promised a 1 million yen prize to the entrant that provided Tourism Australia with the best story of a visit to Australia. Participants were also asked to send in a photo of an Aussie they’d enjoyed spending time with. The implied wording of the campaign (using “prince” in Japanese immediately implies a Disney-style, good-looking and virile hetero male who can sweep a woman of her feet) and actual use of only good-looking young Aussie blokes to promote the cause in Japan made it fairly obvious the promotion was all about physical attraction.
Aussie “princes” promoting the tourism campaign
The “princes” Australia sent to Tokyo to promote the campaign were Aborigine Prince Warren Clements, Great Emotion Prince Nick Atkins, Wine Prince Brett Stanley, Beach Prince Shannon Eckstein and Sports Prince Ben Tomkins.
Tourism Australia made no secret of targeting women in their 20s and 30s, a gender-oriented promotion they would not be able to engage in back in Australia.
Actually, it makes sense for tourist organizations to target younger Japanese women. They are less likely to be caught in overtime trap, have more of a chance of building up disposable income (especially if they’re living at home) and can be a bit more adventurous.
Ultimately, destiny made the campaign’s timing disastrous. Before the effects of the campaign could be felt, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck and there were far more serious issues to deal with.
The website featuring “Aboriginal Prince” Warren Clements
Tourism Australia has reverted to a more standard approach to promoting the country in Japan, which no longer has the importance for the Australian tourist market that it held when it was sending 700,000-800,000 people a year Down Under from the mid-1990s to the early Noughties. Hordes of Chinese tourists swooping into Australia have made the need to encourage more Japanese to visit a far less critical issue than it was a decade ago.
Turning the clock back 40 years, Japan played a crucial role in giving Australia a leg-up toward becoming a player in the global movie industry.
In late 1977, a couple of fledgling Australian filmmakers pooled their meager funds and shot a movie starring mostly unknown young actors and actual motorcycle gang members serving as extras.
Almost two years later, Mad Max opened Australian theaters and became a steady, but controversial hit. The car action movie was immediately banned in New Zealand as some of its motorcycle gang violence resembled actual events in the market most closely resembling Australia’s.
Australia’s movie industry was in the middle of a growing renaissance, backed by a generous government funding program and the emergence of a large number of talented directors and actors. Mad Max was made for a mere pittance in movie terms, costing just $350,000. Backed by the steady performance at the Australian box office, the movie’s first overseas sale was made to Japan, then a country where bosozoku motorcycle gangs were having their heyday. Mad Max became a massive hit in the world’s second-largest movie market. This Big in Japan success made overseas sales a much easier task and the movie was sold widely across the globe. It would be a slow burner that flared following the phenomenal success of its first sequel, Mad Max 2, released in 1981. The box office for Mad Max would eventually surpass $100 million and for more than two decades it would hold the world record for the greatest ratio between production cost and box office.
“Fist of the North Star”
These sales led to a sequel and opened the door for the actor in the title role,Mel Gibson, to become a global superstar (until he destroyed his career a quarter of a century later in a drunken rant about Jews followed by enraged verbal and allegedly physical attacks on the mother of his youngest child). Further sequels, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, which came out in 1985, and 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road with Briton Tom Hardy playing the titular character. Mad Max created an enormous legacy that went much further than the sequels and Gibson turning into a Hollywood superstar. The effects were particularly strong in terms of Australia-Japan collaborations. The movie itself benefited greatly from Kawasaki, which donated all the motorcycles used in the film. But there was much more.
Drawing heavily from the Mad Max saga, the enduring Fist of the North Star would become one of Japan’s most successful manga in the 1980s and made stars of its writer, Buronsanand illustrator, Tetsuo Hara. Akira Kushida would get one of his early hits with Rollin’ into the Night, which played over the end credits of the Japanese version of the movie. As noted in the accompanying newspaper article from the May 10, 1982, edition of the Melbourne Age, the success of the early editions in the series would spark joint movie production efforts between Japan and Australia.
The article mentions a movie under production and entitled “The Southern Cross.” The first-ever joint Australia-Japan feature film collaboration would eventually come out later in 1982 with the new English title of The Highest Honor (it would remain under its original title in Japanese). That movie was quickly forgotten, but it is notable for being the debut movie of Hitomi Kuroki, still one of Japan’s most successful actresses to this day.