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Thing, Japan or Place, Japan refers to a Wojak Comics meme format in which in which two identical things, one ordinary and one of specific origin, usually Japanese, are compared against each other, with the latter version finding a much better response. The format has been used to comment on the fetishization of Japanese culture and usually features Soyjak.
On February 29th, 2020, an anonymous 4chan user posted an image comparing photographs of Breezewood, Pennsylvania taken by Edward Burtynsky in 2008 and a photograph of a city street in Japan a /pol/ thread, both filled with many business signs and outdoor advertisements. The images are accompanied by Soyjak, with the character getting excited about the Japanese street despite the similarity.
Starting in July 2020, the image gained further spread on 4chan. For example, on July 1st, 2020, an anonymous user posted the image in a thread on the /int/ board, with the thread gaining 32 replies. Another /int/ thread, created on July 22nd, 2020, gained over 50 replies.
Prior to August 24th, 2020, an unknown user made an MS Paint version of the meme, with drawings captioned "place" and "place, Japan" (shown below). The image went viral in the following weeks. For example, on August 24th, Instagram user protard.mp3 reposted the image, gaining over 6,900 likes in six months. On August 25th, Redditor iskhok posted the meme in the /r/dankmemes subreddit, gaining over 12,800 upvotes in six months.
Following the viral spread of the image, more versions of the meme were created by users, with images comparing ordinary versions of various products and cultural phenomena against Japanese analogues. The format also gained popularity among Polish- and Russian-speaking users, with versions comparing Russian and Polish products and phenomena against analogues from other countries, such as US and Germany, gaining spread.
 4chan – /pol/ Post #245896937
 4chan – /int/ Thread #135925963
 4chan – /int/ Thread #127274807
 Instagram – protard.mp3
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Feb 12, 2021 at 10:48AM EST
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