"Big in Japan" is a 1999 song by Tom Waits from the album Mule Variations. "Big in Japan" is also an expression that can be used to describe Western musical groups who achieve success in Japan but not necessarily in other parts of the world. However, the expression is commonly used ironically to mean successful in a limited or possibly unverifiable way.
To me, the song "big in Japan" has a "Lost in Translation" feeling to it. It's as if a Westerner finds himself somewhere in Japan and can't really understand what is going on around him, nor can he understand himself at that point.To illustrate this somewhat lost feeling, I present a set of Noh mask portraits from an exhibition in the Leiden Siebold Museum close to a decade ago.
Noh is a traditional form of Japanese dance-theater, dating back to the 14th century. It isbased on tales from traditional literature with a supernatural being transformed into a human form as a hero narrating a story.As it tells the stories of Japanese commoners from the 12th to the 14th century, it's pretty hard for most Westerners to fully understand what they are seeing.