I often wonder what it is about some cultures that makes them 'cooler' in the eye of gamer nerd-dom than others. These days Japanese culture is all the rage overseas (which is odd, given the fact that the country is on its knees in almost every sense, utterly lacking in self-confidence, and faced with a hopeless and near-apocalyptic future of population crash and economic catastrophe). Other cultural 'cool spots' include I suppose France, ancient Greece, perhaps the UK depending on who you talk to, and maybe Thailand and Cambodia. Though none can currently challenge the overarching might of Japaneseness in the nation of Geekia.
For example, one of the biggest and most popular Swords & Wizardry projects is Project Samurai - Mike D's laudable attempt at creating a sort of pulp/fantasy Japan version of the game. It's good stuff. But it makes me wonder - why has nobody started up similar projects about, say, a pulp/fantasy Korea? Or Tonga? Or Madagascar? Or Turkey?
One reason I suppose would be familiarity. Japanese comics are readily available in the West, and popular, and this means people know about the tropes. But that is really begging the question. Japanese comics are readily available in the West because there is a market for them, and there is a market for them because people think Japanese culture is cool (as opposed to Polish culture, or whatever). It doesn't explain the root cause of it.
I've lived in Japan now for five years off and on, and have to admit that I just don't get it. I like it here, otherwise I wouldn't have stayed, but it seems very ordinary to me now and certainly no more or less appealing as a setting for role playing games than ancient Akkadia, Timbuktu, Fiji or Arabia. I'm obviously in the minority.