A recent article at Japan-Times introduces some of the writers of Japan and ends by announcing a series of feature stories, beginning in June.
For many of us, this will be a chance to expand our own cultural literacy & social proficiency.
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Pictures Reveal the Isolated Lives of Japan's Social Recluses
Here is a collection of early color photos taken in postwar by GHQ staffers,
The National Diet Library in Tokyo caught attention this autumn when it published color photos taken immediately after the end of World War II by a staffer at the General Headquarters (GHQ).
For even older visual history, browse these photos copied from Library of Congress in Washington, DC at the Prints and Photograph room, http://old-japanphotos.wikispaces.com/ (and the companion project for comparison, http://old-koreaphotos.wikispaces.com/ )
Japan Times (7 Sept 2017) gives a good overview of "Whale of a Tale," the newly released story with builds in local villagers point of view for the annual killing in the Taiji cove that was forcefully presented by the lenses of "The Cove." Excerpt of online news article follows, with URL to full article and movie URL.
"The issues of Fukushima are very complicated and delicate, and there is no easy way to explain what the problem actually is. The mass media especially tends to create TV programs which are unnecessarily sensational, and they consciously edit those programs to make viewers emotional. So, now, I refuse the offer to do interviews for those programs. Also, Fukushima has changed much since the disastrous events occurred. Locals hesitate to speak about it. It's because of resignation to the unchanging conditions, or fear of exacerbating the situation within the community by speaking to outsiders. It seems better not to talk about anything.
In such conditions, I think 'Threshold: Whispers of Fukushima' became a very unique work. Toko omitted explanations, as much as possible, and connected people's calm honest talk (like they're speaking to themselves) and live music performances by the interviewees, to allow them to tell their life stories. Perhaps this is not even really a movie about "Fukushima". Even if she shot it in Fukushima, the theme of the film is not "the accident" nor "lost home", rather, it is a fundamental human theme: "what is 'living one's own life?'". Each individual has their own purpose in life, joy, and goal. Everyone is different from each other. Therefore, no one can truly say "my way of living is right or yours is wrong." After experiencing the confusion created by the accidents in Fukushima, I deeply feel this. How interesting that everyone in this movie, including me, said this same thing, although by coincidence.
And lastly, here is the message clip from the leader of the clip about the movie: https://www.facebook.
--cross-posting from H-Japan of July 12, 2017,
Synopsis: Creative digital curation of an original physical collection of travel and educational ephemera about Japan
Content type: High resolution images, moving images, audio materials, interactive timeline
---[Pr. David Plath writes, 6/2017]
So Long Asleep (60 minutes) follows an international team of East Asian volunteers as they excavate, preserve and repatriate the remains of Korean men who died doing slave labor in Hokkaido during the Asia-Pacific War. On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war we travel with them as they carry 115 sets of remains on a pilgrimage across Japan and over to Korea for reinterment in the Seoul Municipal Cemetery. Using a dark past to shape a brighter shared future the project offers an upbeat model for remembrance and reconciliation that could be adapted widely.
The film and the repatriation project are featured in a 4-page special segment of the Spring 2017 issue of Education About Asia.
See the DER website to view a trailer. Dialogue is in English, Korean and Japanese; in the DER edition the dialogue carries English subtitles. Separately, project participants have prepared editions with subtitles in Korean and in Japanese. For the Korean version, contact Professor Byung-Ho Chung (bhc0606at gmail) and for Japanese contact Professor Song Ki-Chan (kichans at hotmail).
An extended essay by Pr. Chung about the project appears in Asia-Pacific Journal; Japan Focus online magazine, as well, http://apjjf.org/2017/12/Chung.html
LINK to Facebook album, https://www.facebook.com/pg/umcjs/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1278945605481806
|screenshot 5/2017 from U-Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, Facebook|
平成. 29. 年5月 次官・若手プロジェクト. 不安な個人、立ちすくむ国家 〜モデル無き時代をどう前向きに生き抜くか〜
There are limitations on language learning online, but here is one way to gain more Japanese exposure and experience, newly launched and likely to have updates as users chime in, http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/duolingo-helps-you-learn-japanese/
Story from March 12, 2017 at Japan Times
The artist, Ueda Miyuki (site requires Flash support, so IE browser), uses traditional materials (ink, brush, washi Japanese paper) for today's themes with her dancing sumi-e brush performance event - meaning very large pieces of Japanese paper and live music to motivate the artist - note that she paints with left hand but later was writing address information with right! Among the collected video clips, below, the last one with Tibetan singing bowls is particularly riveting.
For more than a decade Miyuki Ueda has combined live music and innovative visual art made from traditional materials (Japanese washi paper, ink and brush; surfaces…
Sound recordings bring listeners up close to the immediacy of the context and events at hand. The Sonic Japan project has collected a variety of settings to let you explore the many cultural places around the society and language of the Japanese islands. Thanks to the initiative of colleagues in Australia, Japan, and the USA, this project has taken full form. Details of method, funding, contributors and links to follow via Twitter, Facebook, or the collection itself at Soundcloud can be found at http://sonicjapan.clab.org.au/
The current scholar-in-residence this year at U-Michigan is Kazuhiro Soda. His Feb. 9, 2017 lecture will probably be video recorded (in English mostly).
The Power of Observation: How and Why I Make "Observational" Documentaries
Kazuhiro Soda, Toyota Professor in Residence
2 No meetings with subjects.
3 No scripts.
4 Roll the camera yourself.
5 Shoot as long as possible.
6 Cover small areas deeply.
7 Do not set up a theme or goal before editing.
8 No narration, title, or music.
9 Use long takes.
10 Pay for the production yourself.
His filmography includes "Campaign" (2007), "Mental" (2008), "Peace" (2010), "Theatre 1" (2012), "Theatre 2" (2012), "Campaign 2" (2013), and "Oyster Factory" (2015).
==excerpt from Sunday episode, 21 August 2016MARTIN: So what's it like to just spend some time in that country? I mean, do you see evidence of that aging population?
JAFFE: Oh, you do. In the cities, for example, (laughter) one of the places you see it is convenience stores. And one of the things they're doing to compete is finding ways to cater to their aging clientele. You'll find products there you'd never see in your local mini mart like prepackaged meals for people who have trouble chewing. But really the place that you see aging of Japan most clearly is in the rural areas. There's a term you hear in Japan, it's village on the edge, as in village on the edge of extinction. I went to one a few hundred miles south of Tokyo where the population has gone from around 300 people to just 30.
For students of Japanese language and life, reading the text with a critical eye is a good exercise: ask "what context is missing" or "what limitation or bias does this writer seem to have." https://www.lonelyplanet.com/japan/tokyo/travel-tips-and-articles/1437 is a good starting place, but as you scroll down to the end, then the next article will load; or a link to "next up: ______" will display in the browser window at lower right corner.
<><> Related is the photo blog by a man long residing in Tokyo, but originally from the Boston area of USA, http://shoottokyo.com/
Same thinking exercise for students of Japanese language and life, apply a critical eye and ask "what context is missing" or "what limitation or bias does this writer seem to have."
Compare the interactive media essays at Magnum Photos,
<> Walking Kesennuma after the 2011 tsunami, part 1, http://inmotion.magnumphotos.com/essay/tsunami-streetwalk-1-kesennuma
<> Kesennuma streetwalk, part 2, http://inmotion.magnumphotos.com/essay/tsunami-streetwalk-2-kamaishi
[excerpt from DPReview, http://www.dpreview.com/news/6195625964/photographer-captures-the-ruin-of-fukushima-s-exclusion-zone]
Keow Wee Loong, a Malaysian photographer currently based in Thailand, snuck into the zone with his fianceé to document the current state of Fukushima's abandoned towns – and what was left behind. From a supermarket picked over by wild animals, forgotten laundry at a laundromat and a wall calendar forever frozen on March 2011, his photos show the eerie remains of daily life brought to an abrupt halt.
You can see more of his Fukushima photos and his photography on his Facebook page.
Asian Ethnology. Guest edited by Philip Fountain, Levi McLaughlin, Patrick Daly, and Michael Feener.
The authors suggest new theoretical perspectives on guiding frameworks such as "religion," "disaster," "development," and "Asia" as they provide case studies of religious responses to recent disaster events in Asia. Many of the special issue's articles focus on Japan. In particular, the pieces by McLaughlin, Miichi, and Graf discuss ways Japanese religion has transformed in the wake of the 1995 and 2011 disasters.
The articles in the issue are as follows:
theme, "typology" (sets of related images)
[kanban, stall signs at festival time]
Many festivals are held in summer in Japan. There are lots of street stalls, and each shop has colorful shop curtain. --Kotoko Nomoto
[kamon, family crests]
Japanese family emblems. --Hikaru Kokami
[kinpu, money envelops]
This envelope is used celebrating event. For example wedding ceremony. If you use them, you have to follow the manners. --Minami Takagi
[excerpt from the text]
...People whose suffering-at no fault of their own-is becoming invisible. Soon when we talk about Fukushima we will reduce the human impact to a quibbling over numbers: how many cases of thyroid cancer, how many confirmed illnesses. Lost-hidden-forgotten will be the hundreds of thousands of people forced to flee their homes, in many cases permanently, and try to rebuild their shattered lives. Public relations professionals and industry scientists will say that these people did this to themselves (see here, and here). And the curtain will draw ever downward as we forget them.
This is the tradition of nuclear forgetting.
Recommended citation: Robert Jacobs, "On Forgetting Fukushima", The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 14, Issue 5, No. 1, March 1, 2016.
Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, a quarterly, open-access online journal, is accepting proposals for photo essays for the September 2016 and March 2017 issues (and beyond).
Photo essays include: 1) 20-40 high-quality images with descriptive captions and complete source information, 2) a curator's statement, and 3) a longer non-peer reviewed essay (8-15 pages) contextualizing the photographs and highlighting their significance for current trends of inquiry in Asian studies. This essay can be written by the curator or by an invited scholar. To view archived Cross-Currents photo essays, please click here.
The photographs should be taken in China, Korea, Japan, or Vietnam. They may be contemporary images taken as part of the curator's research or archival materials. Please consult the Cross-Currents mission statement to determine whether the proposed essay fits within the journal's historical and disciplinary scope. Obtaining copyright permissions for all images is the responsibility of the curator.
Proposals should include: 5-10 sample images (as a single PDF); a one-page description of the theme of the essay and the timeliness/importance of the images to scholars of Asia; a brief bio paragraph about the curator; and complete contact information.