Skip To Content

    17 Things Japan Thinks About Mexico After Watching "Coco"

    As part of a cool cross-cultural convo, we learned that Mexican and Japanese cultures share some pretty cool similarities.

    Last year, the world was blessed with Coco, the animated Pixar movie celebrating The Day of the Dead and Mexican culture in general.


    You might remember it for the amazing music, and/or because it turned you into a sobbing mess.

    Although a large part of the world has been enjoying the movie for months now, it opened in Japan just last month.


    So, BuzzFeed's Mexico office got in touch with our BuzzFeed Japan office, and asked everyone who saw Coco what they thought about it.

    1. What do you think about the "alebrijes" — the folk art sculptures?

    Omar Torres / AFP / Getty Images

    "I though the 'alebrijes' were beautiful and amazing, but I didn't know they were a part of Mexican culture. I thought they had been created specifically for the movie."

    "I'd like having one as a pet."

    2. If you could make an "alebrije" from typical Japanese animals, what would it be like?

    Alfredo Estrella / AFP / Getty Images

    "I'd use a 'tanuki', which is a sort of raccoon-dog."

    "I'd say a fish, a monkey and a deer. Although it would be a bit creepy."

    3. Does Japan have any traditions related to the passing of spirits from our world to the afterlife?

    Paylessimages / Getty Images

    "In Japan, we have a celebration called 'O-bon' in which we pay tribute to our ancestors' spirits. We use a pickle to represent a horse that's traveling quickly to the afterlife, and an eggplant which represents a cow that takes offerings to the afterlife."

    4. What impressed you the most about Mexican culture when watching Coco?


    "The music! Specially the way in which it's passionate, sentimental, romantic, soothing and colorful at the same."

    "The bright atmosphere surrounding everything related to the tradition of the ancestors' spirits."

    "I thought the 'flags' made with perforated paper were beautiful."

    5. What do you think about the way Xolo dogs look in real life?

    Atosan / Getty Images

    "I think it's cute, but I'd be worried about it getting hurt or being cold all the time."

    "This is the canine version of the sphinx."

    6. Do you have any traditional dogs?

    Aksakalko / Getty Images

    "Shiba-inu and Akita-inu! They're very famous worldwide."

    7. Did anything about Coco's story make you sad?


    "The idea that, when everyone forgets you in the world of the living, you vanish from the afterlife."

    "Not sad, but I was left thinking why is Mamá Coco the only family member who looks old in the afterlife."

    8. What do you think about the fact that many Mexicans do believe that the dead come back to visit us?


    "I find it lovely that, even though your loved ones are gone, they can still remain close to you. It's not a goodbye."

    "We have very similar beliefs and cultures in Japan, so I find it very natural and familiar."

    9. What do you do with your deceased ones in Japan? Do you bury them? Is there a ceremony?

    Akiyoko / Getty Images

    "Most people are Buddhists, so we cremate them, and then we bury the urn in the family graveyard."

    "We have a funeral. The style depends on the religion but, if the deceased doesn't have one, we have a Buddhist funeral."

    10. How do you honor your deceased?

    Dreamnikon / Getty Images

    "In addition to the 'O-bon', we usually have an altar with pictures and the ashes at our home."

    11. How did your perception of Mexican culture change after watching Coco?


    "I didn't know family was such an important part of it."

    "I realized that Mexican and Japanese culture have a lot in common despite the fact that we're far away, which I think is super cool."

    "I used to think that 'Día de Muertos' was something scarier and more amusing, almost like some sort of Halloween. I didn't know there was so much meaning behind the tradition."

    12. In addition to what we've already discussed, which other similarities do you see between Mexico and Japan?


    "We eat octopus."

    "I think both of us value family and blood ties more than independence."

    13. Had Miguel been Japanese, which instrument would he have played?

    Tsuyoshi_kinjyo / Getty Images

    "Maybe a 'shamisen' (a typical Japanese string instrument)?

    "Umm, a piano? I feel like lots of people in Japan, specially children, play the piano."

    14. Is music as important in Japanese culture?


    "I feel like it's not as important as it seems to be in Mexico. We only listen to our traditional music in specific occasions."

    "I'm not sure, but I know that at least we have 10,000 karaoke clubs in Japan."

    15. Do you feel like us Mexicans are always partying?


    "More than us Japanese, yes."

    "Wait, you are not?"

    "I feel like Mexicans have so much joy and music."

    16. Would you go to a cemetery at night in order to bring food and drinks to your loved ones?

    Dianavarela / Getty Images

    "At night? No, thanks. I still love you though, grandma."

    "I always go to the cemetery to talk to my grandfather, but during the day. It's scary at night."


    17. Lastly, what do you think about the tamales that grandma gave Miguel?


    "I thought they were kinda like bread (I've already Googled them). I'm dying to try them because they look delicious."

    "They look delicious! They're like our 'onigiri', right?"

    This post was translated from Spanish.

    BuzzFeed Daily

    Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form