Internment in concentration camps - the USA in WWII-era, but also Pres. Trump's Mexican border

Lest we forget:

One of the annual photo contest winners was this aerial view of the WWII-era Topaz concentration camp near Delta, Utah. Image description by photographer by Chang Kyun Kim follows. For anthropology colleagues teaching complex societies, this instance is one of the many instances of harm to remember. Today there are the USA camps near the Mexican border, both in USA and with the coercion of the Mexican government also based on Mexican land. And there are also the industrial scale and logic of the Chinese concentration camps in Xinjiang, filled with China's own citizens who follow the way of Islam, chiefly among the Uyghur-Chinese.

see also an earlier project by another social observer, the award-winning documentary, "Resistance at Tule Lake," http://www.resistanceattulelake.com

Image Description: The lower part of the image shows the massive grids where the prison barracks of Topaz War Relocation Center that incarcerated 10,000 Japanese people living in U.S. were constructed. I tried to show the long lasting artifact and the harsh landscape that surrounds the camp site. It was taken with my drone in Nov 2019 in Delta, Utah.

This is part of a series (description by photographer follows).

Series Description: This series is about Japanese internment camps that were built in remote and harsh areas of the United States during the Second World War. These camps imprisoned 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry - more than 60% of them were U.S. citizens.

Working on the project reminded me of the racial antagonism we have witnessed in recent history, and led me to consider how radically our view can alter when war and terror affect our lives. History can always be repeated if not properly recalled or told. The pictures here were taken between 2018 and '19 in California, Arizona and Utah. For the aerial shots, I used a drone to capture the camp sites - these locations are so harsh and remote that no one would try building anything here.


roving camera - Shinjuku on a bike

 ...Nippon Wandering TV (NWT), where a guy straps on a GoPro and walks and bikes around Japan. [47 minutes on Youtube]

Surprisingly, an important part of learning Japanese language and society is the visual landscape and all the cultural cues and clues found there.
Without exposure to ordinary city and countryside settings, a new arrival spends a lot of brain energy collecting and organizing visual information!
So there is value in browsing photos and video of places, people, and events.
Of course, if the instructor first prepares a few prompts (for writing or discussion or just paying attention), then the viewing experience gains more value by engaging the student.

cf. the youtube channel with scores of "walking around Japan" in city and countryside, at events and in daily life,


video, Wedding of the Showa days (re-enactment)

Mr. Wakaizumi has been recording some of the pageantry in Echizen-city when the kimono shops and local history groups organize a look back at Showa-era wedding customs. For old-timers there is nostalgia of personal experiences, but for young people of the Heisei generations there is another kind of nostalgia; feelings for the "simpler" days before Internet and social media when their parents or grandparents were celebrating wedding ceremonies.

The filmmaker has given permission to share his latest edition of the Showa Wedding (28 minutes, October 2019), https://youtu.be/cmOsvQuPouE
Please share with others.


upcoming exhibition - National Ainu museum

article in Japan Times for those with Ainu or Japan interests


in Japan when you want to 'disappear' from your customary life

September 2019 was the 48 minute broadcast of a subject in the Undercover Asia series (season 6).
"Johatsu" is a term for 'evaporating' or suddenly falling out of social visibility, free from the obligations or abuses or pressures of the life you live.
Services and laws make the incidence of this voluntary disappearance expand year by year.

A related discussion of the matter is online at https://theculturetrip.com/asia/japan/articles/living-in-the-shadows-chasing-the-evaporated-people-of-japan/

[from the documentary description] https://youtu.be/xVc_AdJoAVs
Every year, nearly 100,000 Japanese vanish without a trace. They are known as johatsu, or evaporated people. What drives them to engineer their own disappearance?

ABOUT THE SHOW: CNA's flagship investigative series Undercover Asia shines a light on some of the darkest corners of our society, and digs deep into the most pressing social-economic and political issues of our time.
CNA: https://cna.asia


Leprosy in Japan's history, book review

via Humanities Network, H-Japan
Susan L. Burns. Kingdom of the Sick: A History of Leprosy and Japan. Honolulu:University of Hawai'i Press, 2019.
344 pp. $68.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8248-7901-3.


photo exhibition - Showa period Japan

Commentary about an exhibition in Canada of Japanese photographers with scenes from Showa days.


At the end of the article is a link to the curator's own remarks of the collected pictures,



making Matcha in Kagoshima

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSz6y5kEdxo –documenting how to make the fine tea



specialized vocabulary... Flooding: what to do next

The frequency and degree of disasters in Japan and the rest of the world will be increasing. Seen today at JapanTimes online, the summary (4 pages) in Japanese or English editions could be helpful to become familiar with talking about disaster and recovery.

The 32-page guide titled "Recovering From a Flood Disaster" was created by the Disaster Connection Japan Network, an organization comprising some 40 nonprofit and volunteer groups engaged in disaster-relief activities, based on the groups' experiences in flood-hit areas.
The manual is free but in Japanese. Matsuyama said that there is no plan yet to make an English version.

An application for the manual can be filled out on the organization's blog (blog.canpan.info/shintsuna/)

The website also offers a downloadable four-page leaflet summarizing the advice. It is available in Japanese and English.
EN, http://blog.canpan.info/shintsuna/img/RECOVERING_FROM_A_FLOOD_DISASTER.pdf


Nagoya’s censored art exhibition and the “comfort women” controversy

Freedom Fighting: Nagoya's censored art exhibition and the "comfort women" controversy

Asia-Pacific Journal Japan Forum
October 15, 2019
Volume 17 | Issue 20 | Number 3
Article ID 5320

An exhibition of censored artwork in Nagoya city triggers a furious debate on artistic expression.

The artistic director of the Aichi Triennale 2019 had few illusions when he planned an exhibition called "After Freedom of Expression". By choosing items that poked painfully at some of Japan's most tender spots - war crimes, subservience to America and the status of the imperial family - Tsuda Daisuke wanted to "provoke discussion" on the health of freedom of expression in the country. But what followed, he says, was "beyond our expectations".


FULL TEXT of this article online, https://apjjf.org/2019/20/McNeill.html


video, Foundation for Ainu Culture

See the channel on Youtube for videos from the Foundation for Ainu Culture.
Browsing these short movies can contribute to more vivid descriptions of the past and present of Ainu people around Japan today.
See also the newsletter of the research center hosted at Hokkaido University in Sapporo to see the topics presented each semester by guest researchers and Ainu experts,

Center for Ainu and Indigenous Studies, [CAIS] Hokkaido University
aynu teetawanoankur kanpinuye cise

browse the video channel at Youtube> https://tinyurl.com/ainufoundation


virtually in Japan - video channel of streetscape walks

https://www.youtube.com/user/Rambalac/videos has dozens of HD video to share: suitable for close-up view of behind the scenes/unrehearsed life in Japan in as much as a dSLR and microphone on a stabilizing gimbal can convey the texture, light, sound, and feeling of public spaces.


ekiben - nice summary, well-illustrated

The art of food and display, along with the context of rail travel, come together to form another brief article from the guest writers at Atlas Obscura.

Using the searchbox for 'Japan' will bring a dozen or two other topics from the Web project, too.


Telephone for grief after the Japanese tsunami

Video story at bbc.com from June 9, 2019
Camera: Taiki Fujitani, Producer: Sarah Cuddon and Sophia Smith Galer
In the small town of Otsuchi in northern Japan, 2,000 residents were lost in the tsunami in 2011.
   One resident, who had already been grieving his cousin before the tsunami hit, had the idea of placing an old phone booth at the bottom of his garden with a disconnected rotary phone.
   He would ring his cousin's number and his words would "be carried on the wind" as he spoke to him.
   After the tsunami hit, and word about the wind phone spread, many more people have come to Otsuchi in Iwate prefecture, to call those they have lost.
   You can find out more about the wind phone by listening to the World Service's Heart and Soul programme, https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csz4jr

see also 2016 radio (online playback or download mp3) segment,  

or the radio show's transcript, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/597/transcript


illustration, pretty big ReiWa

Here is a good illustration of the love for really big things on this kite that shows the new Reiwa.


early Japan ethnography 1950s-60s (taidan), Plath - Vogel

With permission of the Midwest Japan Seminar, Japan Foundation and host at Ohio Wesleyan University, here is the Youtube link to the hour-long conversation recently between long-time friends and colleagues, Prs David Plath and Ezra Vogel. Hearing first-hand of their early years in the field and in Japanese Studies circles is eye-opening for one and all, no matter your scholarly generation or genealogy. Feel free to share widely with others.


poems from Japan (in English translation)

Back in 2015 an artist was commissioned to hand-carve the translated Japanese poems of several centuries onto some of the large stones in the Japanese-style garden at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in west Michigan. You can find out more about the choice of poets and see the dozen or so poems here, https://mishigan.blogspot.com/2019/04/poems-from-japan-in-english-at-meijer.html


eclectic articles - Japan examples, "Atlas Obscura"

Typing a country or city into the searchbox at atlasobscura.com brings up a far-ranging collection of articles contributed by local writers.
In early April 2019 there were a few Japan examples. This sample of stories is worth a look, or might prompt readers to look for the sorts of places, events, people being documented online.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= via Atlas Obscura in Brooklyn, NY

The Beloved Japanese Novelist Who Became a Queer Manga Icon
Nobuko Yoshiya's stories of frustrated, forbidden love helped establish a genre read by millions.
by Sabrina Imbler April 04, 2019
...Yoshiya never married; instead she lived with a female partner, Chiyo Monma, for 50 years. Despite a life lived against the grain, Yoshiya became one of Japan's most beloved artists. She published feminist stories that focused on the strong emotional and romantic bonds between women—one with the notable title Danasama muyo (Husbands Are Useless). The impact of her novels is still being felt, far beyond the feminist and queer communities where she has become a particularly celebrated icon. Her writing laid the groundwork for shōjo manga, a genre of comics and graphic novels aimed toward teen girls that includes iconic titles such as Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena—widely devoured by millions upon millions all over the world. "There is not a single woman alive who doesn't know who Yoshiya Nobuko is," declared a 1935 profile published in the magazine Hanashi.

The Haunting Beauty of the Reconsecration of Shinto Shrines
Photographer Yukihito Masuura spent more than a decade documenting rituals that connect past and present.
by Jessica Leigh Hester April 05, 2019
...Through Masuura's lens, the images feel monumental. To hear him tell it, they hold everything a viewer needs to know about the subject of his recent series: the process of reconstructing and reconsecrating Japan's Shinto shrines.
For Masuura, this old wood represents the tug of the past in the present.

Yūbari King Melon
The most expensive melon in the world is a status symbol in Japan.
... Fewer than 10,000 people remain in the sleepy former mining town of Yūbari on Japan's Hokkaido Island. A crippling financial crisis in the early 2000s drove nearly 90 percent of the town's population to seek residence elsewhere in the country. And that fiscal tragedy is crueler yet for the sad irony of the town's famous export: the Yūbari King melon, one of the most expensive fruits in the world.


about the forthcoming "ReiWa" nengo announced April 1

Wikipedia already has posted the update:

"The new era Reiwa (令和)[1] is expected to start on 1 May 2019, the day when Emperor Akihito's elder son, Naruhito, is expected to ascend to the throne as the 126th Emperor of Japan"

Not everyone knows that the name of each era does not have to match the years of the emperor or empress' reign, as in recent periods.
The era-name was changed when natural disasters spoiled a given period, for example. By switching to a more favorable name, the idea was to change the fortunes of people's lives. Looking again at Wikipedia there is fuller discussion of the concept.

Historical nengō

Prior to the Meiji period, era names were decided by court officials and were subjected to frequent change. A new era name was usually proclaimed within a year or two after the ascension of a new emperor. A new era name was also often designated on the first, fifth and 58th years of the sexagenary cycle, because they were inauspicious years in Onmyōdō. These three years are respectively known as kakurei, kakuun, and kakumei, and collectively known as sankaku. Era names were also changed due to other felicitous events or natural disasters.

In historical practice, the first day of a nengō (元年 gannen) starts whenever the emperor chooses; and the first year continues until the next lunar new year, which is understood to be the start of the nengō's second year


Japan Artisan (series) - short documentary about wasabi farmer (Shizuoka)

"The freshest wasabi starts sweet and is followed by the spiciness."
(subtitled in English) - documentary series on the subject of artisans in Japan.


sample 7 words of 43 selected Japanese words (new book by Mari Fujimoto)

Sampling of 7 of the words featured in Mari Fujimoto's January 24, 2019 book.

Book link at amazon (Canada), Ikigai & Other Japanese Words to Live By Hardcover

Mari Fujimoto (Author, Queens College, New York), Simon Winchester (Foreword), Michael Kenna (Photographer)


about Zainichi Koreans living in Japan for generations (new book announced)

cross-posted from H-Japan with permission of the author, Jackie Kim-Wachutka.



Featuring in-depth interviews from 1994 to the present, three generations
of Zainichi Korean women-- those who migrated from colonial Korea before or
during WWII and the Asia-Pacific War-- and their Japan-born descendants share
their version of history, revealing their lives as members of an ethnic
minority. Discovering voices within constricting patriarchal traditions,
the women in this book are now able to tell their history. Ethnography,
interviews, and the women's personal and creative writings offer an
in-depth look into their intergenerational dynamics and provide a new way
of exploring the hidden inner world of migrant women and the different ways
displacement affects subsequent generations.


wedding documentary in Fukui-ken (34 minutes)

Customs and planning for weddings in Japan have changed since the Showa period. But in Echizen-city the kimono merchants and downtown business association have come up with a fall event to attract visitors and local interest. The clothing and customs of parents and grandparents are put on display by preparing for a demonstration of the earlier styles and rituals.

A colleague based in the area who used to work in TV news and entertainment keeps his skills sharp by producing short documentaries like this one. With his permission, here is the link for "Showa no Hanayome Gyoretsu" to enjoy the Japanese-only language track, https://youtu.be/7PiEP2IgjjQ


social changes - story about "monk ticketed for driving in Buddhist robes"

As society changes and things get more complicated in Japan, this story illustrates what happens when high-tech police in Fukui-ken see a monk wearing his Buddhist robes and driving a car.
=-=-=-=-=-= EXCERPT:

... ...Fukui Prefecture's regulations for enforcing the Road Traffic Law state that driving a vehicle in clothing that might affect safe driving is prohibited. The police officer is believed to have decided that the monk's robe violated this regulation and so cited him with a traffic ticket.

According to local reports, the monk was driving to a memorial service when he was stopped in Fukui on Sept. 16 around 10 a.m. The monk was told he could not wear kimono to drive and received a ticket with a ¥6,000 fine. The violation, according to the ticket, was "driving in attire that hinders vehicle operation."

The monk is refusing to pay the fine and said he would like to "clearly state at a trial that I can drive safely in a monk's robe."


video visit to Shikoku, "rural living in Japan"

Here is one filmmaker's take on life outside the metro centers of Japan.
=-=-=-=-=-= quoting boingboing.net this morning:

Until the early 2000s more people lived in villages and small towns than in cities. Population in large cities continues to rise, while the opposite is true in rural areas. This is especially true in Japan, where people are fleeing from their rural homes to live in Tokyo and Osaka. Today 92% of Japanese live in large cities. In this video, Greg Lam, the host of Life Where I'm From, went to Japan's smallest island, Shikoku, to learn what living outside a megalopolis is like.


glimpes of life and language, video Clips: Fukui-ken, Kii Peninsula and Kansai area in 2018 and 1998

About 20 years ago I borrowed a camcorder and recorded interviews in English with Fukui-ken friends about several facets of social life. After Youtube became easy to use by so many people, I digitized the recordings to share online (see below). Then during my 2017 year in Japan I made a few more clips, mostly 2-3 minutes observations of events, rather than conversations. But a few weeks ago I made a short visit to see some of the same 1998 people whom I talked with. After 20 years we see things from a different perspective. Most clips are in English, but still have value to learners of Japanese, since social proficiency and cultural literacy are just as important as linguistic fluency and accuracy.

One recording is with a former workmate in Fukui who has actively protested nuclear power each week at the kencho. That conversation is in Japanese.
And as a curious experiment, one conversation illustrates Code Switching: we jump back and forth between Japanese and English. In my early days of learning Japanese it felt confusing to switch so freely, but now there feels like almost no boundary between the languages anymore. Maybe other non-native speakers have a similar experience, too.

I will send this link to my social studies colleagues, too, but first I want to share the clips with students of Japanese life and language.
 -- W

Video Clips: Fukui-ken, Kii Peninsula and Kansai area, http://bit.ly/clips2018jp


kami shibai & ningyo gekijo, traditional performance in photos & viideo clips

Back in 2017 as part of an anniversary event for a Jodo-shu temple in Fukui-ken they hosted a Buddhist priest who has a combination road show - kamishibai and also puppet theater. Here are a few scenes to share with others.

kamishibai frame and audience, https://www.flickr.com/photos/gpwitteveen/33460093082
video clip (2.5 minutes), opening scene, https://www.flickr.com/photos/anthroview/33487732021

puppet story:
-young protagonist talks with wise priest, https://www.flickr.com/photos/anthroview/32774310484
-transformer demon (at first a meek human but now!), https://www.flickr.com/photos/anthroview/33576066156
-wise priest, https://www.flickr.com/photos/gpwitteveen/32774079664
-video clip, demon in disguise meets acolyte, https://www.flickr.com/photos/gpwitteveen/33604153865
-video clip, dramatic climax, https://www.flickr.com/photos/anthroview/33487725241


more films Re: Japanese culture, society and values through film

[cross-posting from SenseiOnline yahoo group for teachers of Japanese language/culture]

Thanks to T.P. for the initial question to senseionline about film titles with subtitles suitable for high school viewers. And thanks, too, for D.C. (below) for putting together a list to begin with. I would like to see the final choices for the students! But here is another way to answer the question:

Before assigning movie titles to a given theme/category, how about first making a list of some features of Japanese society, culture, values to show and discuss. Then the possible scenes or full-length movies can be selected. Joy Hendry's book, Understanding Japanese Society, has been an important overview to life and language on the islands. She is revising the 2012 edition now for reprinting.

The ToC would give a list of themes to examine through film. Some contexts would include, for example,

Home culture
School culture
Workplace culture
Counter-culture like citizen movements, protests, non-salaryman lives
Combinations of traditional and modern/Western practices
The land - before massive consumer economics, livelihoods were tied to coast, paddy, urban/merchant, and mountain conditions
Life events, life cycle, religion and ceremony

One big consideration is the teen audience, since some movie scenes or situations might not be suitable.
Rich sources of social observation or commentary are the 1980s, 90s films directed by Itami; more recently the ones by Kore-eda.

imdb.com and wikipedia sometimes give enough detail to make a decision about a film title, too.

A great documentary from 1995 that shows how foreign ideas come to Japan and acquire local uses, meanings, and expression is "The Japanese Version" from www.cnam.com They make a full version (includes a chapter on love hotels) and a high school version (no love hotels).

There is also this project with a dozen short conversations in English with Japanese residents in rural Fukui-ken from 1998:
"Social Sketches of Japan" segments are online at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfc4C_JsrO37Rl2NBi6fJci09ls_478u3

Thu Oct 11, 2018 12:36 pm (PDT) . Posted by"Derek Chin"
Here are some movies I came up with. The titles marked with a (?), I wasn't able to confirm myself:
On confronting death/the deceased:
Departures / おくりびと

After Life /ワンダフルライフ

On dealing with suicide: [see also the documentary, "Saving 10,000" at tinyurl.com/saving10000 ]
The Cross / 十字架 (?)

On career/career change:
Railways / 49歳で電車の運転士になった男の物語

On parenthood/family:
Like Father, Like Son /そして父になる (?)

On school bullying / disability:
A Silent Voice /聲の形

On depression:
My SO Has Got Depression / ツレがうつになりまして。

On international cooperation:
We Can't Change the World. But, We Wanna Build a School in Cambodia /僕たちは世界を変えることができない


article about Shojin Ryori - temple foods

The people in Brooklyn, NY at ATLAS OBSCURA has lots of Japan articles, but among their new food-centric project, GASTRO OBSCURA, there is this article about (non-meat) temple foods, https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/shojin-ryori-japanese-temple-cuisine


series from video bloggers based in Nagoya

Article at bbc.com showcases 6 years of the vlog from a husband-wife team on their Youtube Channel, "Rachel and Jun."
===Story excerpt:
They're all created by Nagoya-based husband-and-wife vlogging duo Rachel and Jun Yoshizuki, who run the YouTube channel Rachel and Jun. Their on-the-ground accounts of daily life in Japan have been viewed more than 200 million times.

They belong to a community of "J-vloggers": YouTubers who attract millions of views by sharing their insights into Japanese culture. Often (but not always) expats, these users upload anything from a tour of a Japanese high school, to what it's like to stay in a tiny room in a capsule hotel and what it's like to be multiracial in Japan.


family names - 26 readings for "Niu"

This JapanTimes article describes the logic, variations, and patterns among surnames in Japan these days.
The extreme example is the 2-character family name with kanji for 'ship' and 'alive' with 26 ways to read it, from Nioi to Mibu, according to the article.


photo-essay from Kobe: one-room family life

Most documentaries these days seem to be mainly video. But the older medium of still photos, with its unnatural frozen moment, allows careful study and reflection. This story of a big family in a small space shows readers something of Japanese society that seldom attracts attention. With the forces squeezing the middle-class ever smaller and expanding the proportion of people with few resources, this story is a timely one; probably similar stories can be pictured in many of the G-20 societies, too.



the 13 Buddhist deities

cross-posting today from H-Japan email list: Monday, July 30, 2018

...a Condensed Visual Classroom Guide titled:
Thirteen Buddhist Deities of Japan - Exploring Their Origins & Roles in Japanese Death Rites & Funerary Art

Summary: The Thirteen Buddhist Deities (Jūsanbutsu 十三仏) are a purely Japanese convention. The standardized group of thirteen emerged in the mid-14th century, but in its formative years (12th & 13th centuries), the group's composition varied significantly and included only ten, eleven, or twelve members. The group is important to all schools of Japanese Buddhism. Even today, the thirteen are invoked at thirteen postmortem rites held by the living for the dead, and at thirteen premortem rites held by the living for the living. As shown herein, the thirteen are associated with the Seven Seventh-Day Rites 七七斎, the Six Realms of Karmic Rebirth 六道, the Buddhas of the Ten Days of Fasting 十斎日仏, the Ten Kings of Hell 十王, the Secret Buddhas of the Thirty Days of the Month 三十日秘仏, and other groupings. The Thirteen provide early examples of Japan's medieval honji-suijaku 本地垂迹 paradigm, wherein local deities (suijaku) are recognized as avatars of the Buddhist deities (honji). This classroom guide is unique in three ways: (1) it presents over 70 annotated images, arranged chronologically and thematically, from the 12th to 20th century, including extant art outside Japan; (2) it offers four methods to easily identify the individual deities; and (3) it provides visual evidence that the thirteen are configured to mimic the layout of the central court of the Womb World Mandala 中台八葉院. █ KEYWORDS. 十三仏 or 十三佛・十王・七七斎・七七日・中有・中陰・六齋日・六道 ・十斎日仏・三十日秘仏・本地垂迹 ・兵範記・中有記・ 預修十王生七経 ・地蔵十王経 ・佛説地藏菩薩發心因縁十王經・弘法大師逆修日記事 ・下学集. █The Adobe PDF version is printable and searchable. The web version is not.

Contents of the Slideshow:

Slide 1

Table of Contents

Slide 2

Thirteen Buddhist Deities in a Nutshell

Slide 3

Conclusions Upfront

Slides 4-13

Seven Seventh-Day Rites & Ten Judges of Hell

Slides 14-28

Non-Standard Groupings (12th, 13th, 14th centuries)

Slide 29-31

Standard Grouping (mid-14th century onward)

Slides 32-35

 Three-Buddha Pattern

Slides 36-44

 Zigzag Pattern

Slides 45-48

 Linear Pattern

Slides 49-60 

Denominational Pattern

Slides 61-64

Other Related Deity Groupings

Slides 65-78

Extant Art Outside Japan

Slides 79-81

Pilgrimages to the Thirteen Inside Japan

Slide 82-84


Mark Schumacher, Independent Researcher, Kamakura, Japan

Discussion published by Mark Schumacher on Saturday, July 28, 2018


curious and mostly useful to know - 50 things about Japan

This 11 minute Youtube has some surprises even for long-time Japan residents, it seems!

English narration - https://youtu.be/URDXZSJZ2ME


article about role-play (Rental Family Members; letter from Tokyo)

There is some good food for thought in the examples here: families who have temporary need of a person to fill in a role for their family circumstances.

Letter from Tokyo - April 30, 2018 Issue. Japan's Rent-a-Family Industry
People who are short on relatives can hire a husband, a mother, a grandson.
The resulting relationships can be more real than you'd expect.

By Elif Batuman, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/30/japans-rent-a-family-industry
Japan's Rent-a-Family Industry People who are short on relatives can hire a husband, a mother, a grandson. The resulting relationships can be more real than you'd expect.


real estate worldview in Japan - land holds value, but structure as consumable

Recent story that contrasts the Japanese experience of building or buying ready-made residential property, rather than to seek previously owned houses to remodel or rennovate, https://www.rethinktokyo.com/2018/06/06/depreciate-limited-life-span-japanese-home/1527843245


How many women writers of Japan do you know?

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.  

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

A series exploring female writers of Japan will be published on the third Sunday of the month, starting in June.

Where would we be without the words of Japanese women?


photo story, National Geographic Magazine & "hiki komori" shut-ins

The February 2018 edition of NGM includes a story of interest to Japan observers & students:

Pictures Reveal the Isolated Lives of Japan's Social Recluses

A photographer explores the hidden world of the hikikomori, and the human bonds that draw them out.



time traveler - old photos around Japan

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/ )


info-mercial about Smartphone distraction in public (walking)

subtitles in English, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Fm0Zirt8wI


annual whale hunt - contrasting documentary viewpoints

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 anthropological foundational ideas of point of view and context are well illustrated by both documentaries.

..."Quite simply, I was fascinated by the controversy," Sasaki tells The Japan Times, "but I was also pained by what I felt was a very one-sided way of viewing things.
     "'The Cove' showed us what the Taiji fishermen were doing to dolphins in a way that made any counter-arguments difficult if not impossible. As a filmmaker based in the United States, I knew that using hidden cameras and bypassing authority is a very effective way to make a documentary, but I wouldn't call that journalism. And there were a lot of misleading passages and untruthful depictions in that film.
     "And as a Japanese I could understand how the people of Taiji felt betrayed and outraged. Their response was to try and cover things up, or put up a wall of silence and hope the foreigners would go away. Well, the foreigners were never going away. Unless the Taiji locals spoke up about their side of the story, things were going to get worse."
     Sasaki dedicated six years to meticulous research and interview and says she now feels like something of an expert on cetaceans, the scientific classification for sea mammals.
     Taiji has gotten a little wiser, too. It has gradually opened itself up to overseas media and protesters that routinely visit the town. In fact, all the attention has given the local economy a bit of a boost — what could be more appropriate for the digital age than "outrage tourism"? Also, last month Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen visited the town of Klaksvik in the Faroe Islands with hopes of forging a sister city relationship. Fishermen there share the same practices and methods of hunting.

google map link
flickr, photos search
movie page, www.okujirasama.com 


福島 stories, Screening of Threshold: Whispers of Fukushima

Michigan based documentary film and photographer [excerpt from July  26, 2017 screening announcement in Ypsilanti, Michigan]

Trailer for the filmhttps://vimeo.com/103453868

"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.

Please watch this film once, just putting aside all preconceptions or background knowledge of Fukushima. And, if you can reconsider your own way of living life and your own sense of value by experiencing our stories, if you can perhaps reconsider the meaning of living on this planet Earth, and how we may to continue to live…… if this movie allows you to feel this… I can say this project succeeded." – Yoshimitsu Takuki

--------- And recently one of the groups who got featured in the movie Yamakiya Taiko ensemble played at Blissfest in MI! If you are interested, check out these clips! They are amazing! 

(Actually they played at Power Center last year, and so, you may have seen them in person! The fantastic residency was actually supported by CJS, CFWPS, and U of M SMTD!)
And lastly, here is the message clip from the leader of the clip about the movie: https://www.facebook.com/octoberbabiestoko/videos/10212324297756439/

Toko Shiiki: http://tokoshiiki.com

Current documentary project: "Threshold: Whispers of Fukushima"

October Babies: http://octoberbabies.net


recent blogs - visual and language materials for Japan; Japanese language

--cross-posting from H-Japan of July 12, 2017,

<>1<> Member Blog: New Online Digital Resource (Everyday Japanese Culture and Society)
A blog about life in everyday Japan written by a British professor
Responsible person(s):      Chris Burgess 
Synopsis:  Regular snapshots of everyday life in Japan with a nature and language focus plus musings on Japanese culture and society for Japan language learners and Japan lovers in general.          
Content type:  Short posts on life in everyday Japan with images and reading recommendations. Also a "Resources" section with links and information on Japanese Studies tools and sites

<>2<> Re-Envisioning Japan: Japan as Destination in 20th Century Visual and Material Culture
Re-Envisioning Japan is an open-ended recuperative project based on an original collection of tourism, travel and educational ephemera in a wide range of media.
Responsible person(s):      Joanne Bernardi  
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     
Intended audience:   Academic community and general public    
Host institution:         University of Rochester


film - So Long Asleep: bringing some of the 1940s forced laborers' mortal remains back to Korea

---[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