visual "look" in Japanese Webpages

Essay from Medium.com 

Why Japanese Websites Look So Different by Mirijam Missbichler
8 min read from May 1, 2023
Over the years, I have had many encounters with Japanese websites — be it researching visa requirements, planning trips, or simply ordering something online. And it took me a loooong while to get used to the walls of text, lavish use of bright colors & 10+ different fonts...


collection of old Japan photos at MOPA - San Diego, Calif.

Browsing and thinking of long-ago camera work and people in the frame compared to today, see these albums at the Museum of Photographic Arts:

KUSAKABE Kimbei (d.1934) album (39 pictures), https://www.flickr.com/photos/mopa1/albums/72157629862241333/ 

Felice Beato (d1907) & Antonio Beato (d1906) album (12 pictures), https://www.flickr.com/photos/mopa1/albums/72157631883934006/


disaster photo-archive 1923 Kanto Earthquake (September 1)

Of interest to those learning Japanese language and life: Announcement on the humanities H-Japan listserv today about a photo-archive. What if each disaster also could have a photo archive like this? Studying the photos can give you new ideas from the scenes and people you re-view (in this case 100 years ago). So much change in Emergency Management can be seen from 1923 to 2023. But maybe some things have not changed very much.


I'm pleased to announce the launch of the Earthquake Children Image Archive. This archive, containing over 500 images, serves as a companion to my book Earthquake Children: Building Resilience from the Ruins of Tokyo (Harvard University Asia Center, 2020).

Please visit www.earthquakechildren.com

The images contained in this website visually document children's experiences of the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake and daily life in 1920s Tokyo. Sources range from postcards, children's drawings and photographs, to maps, architectural drawings and memorabilia. In addition to images of and by children, the collection depicts teachers, imperial family members, government officials, policemen, doctors, nurses, foreign tourists, and other adults involved in providing relief, education and care of children in the aftermath of the Great Kantō Earthquake. 

Today, as Japan marks the 100th anniversary of the Great Kantō Earthquake on 1 September 2023, I hope your visit to this website also encourages you to review your own knowledge of what to do in the event of a future earthquake, wherever you are in the world.

Janet Borland

International Christian University



Pictures and Words from Ise Jingu & the study program based on it

The 13 international Japan researchers of diverse fields just wrapped up the 2023 cycle of the "Ise and Japan Study Program." The range of subjects included linguistics, humanities and social science: language, culture, society past & present. Much of this connects to Shinto now and at earlier points in history, too. That is a lot of history and a lot of new things to know in three weeks. The capstone to the seminar was the Kumano SanZan: 正式参拝 (seishiki sampai) to the 3 Taisha - first to Hayatama in Shingu, then Nachi (and waterfall), and finally to Hongu.

Some parts of the experience were lucky: like the chance arrival just as the annual gathering of Izumo association members was beginning (Osaka branch) at the Hana-no-Iwaya mountain face at the city of Kumano. Another time was happening to meet the Shinto priest in charge of turning the seawater into salt for use at the Ise Jingu ceremonies. This lucky meeting resonates with the "ichigo ichie" insight.

Kogakkan University hosts and administers the lectures and field trips, while Ise city sponsors its cost. It has been going more than 10 years, but owing to Covid there were breaks until resuming in person this time.

Participants were asked to create comments and pictures online to attract wider awareness, interest, and knowledge of Ise Jingu, the city, and the connection to Japan overall. Some of those pictures and words (Creative Commons, freely usable to one and all) are collected at https://tinyurl.com/ise2023gw

Watch for next year's cycle this fall or browse the 1-page summaries from previous participants at http://ise-japan.kogakkan-u.ac.jp/report/


Powerful views - the edges of economy in Japan these days

The long-form essays of photo + video from Brian Storm's workshop, MediaStorm.com, will cause you to think.
Subtitles for the 日本語 audio.

Here are 3 episodes that play together as chapters (in total 25 minutes all together).

Japan's Disposable Workers by Shiho Fukada
 - Death by overwork
 - Depression (not to be discussed)
 - Internet cafe refugees
 - Homeless living


Early letters from U.S. Ambassador to Japan, 1862>

Cross posted from H-Japan, Oct 28, 2022.

The transcribed and annotated personal letters of Robert H. Pruyn, second U.S. minister to Japan (1862-1865), are now available as an open-source .pdf document on the University at Albany's Scholars Archive at https://scholarsarchive.library.albany.edu/eas_fac_scholar/19/.

Pruyn was a prolific correspondent to his wife, Jane Ann Lansing Pruyn. The letters--600 pages in all--cover the three years that Pruyn spent in Japan while his wife and youngest son remained in Albany. The content covers Pruyn's activites in Japan, the expatriate community in Yokohama and Kanagawa, diplomatic issues, life in Albany, New York state politics, and Pruyn family history. I hope that they will be of interest to a broad community of scholars, both of Japanese and American history.

Questions about the resource may be sent to sfessler@albany.edu.

Susanna Fessler, Professor, State University of New York at Albany


recent articles from Asian Anthropology (regarding Japan)

(click the OPEN ACCESS tab)

Asian Anthropology /21(1)
Special Issue: Rural Japan as heterotopia, guest edited by Paul Hansen and Susanne Klien
--Introduction: Introduction: Exploring rural Japan as heterotopia, by Paul Hansen & Susanne Klien

--'The young, the stupid, and the outsiders': urban migrants as heterotopic selves in post-growth Japan, by Susanne Klien

--Agriculture corporations in rural Japan: fractured mirrors of past, present and future, by Nancy Rosenberger & Ayumi Sugimoto

--Success and succession: agritourism, heterotopia and two generations of rural Japanese female entrepreneurs, by Ayumi Sugimoto

--Japanese rural resettlers: communities with newcomers as heterotopic spaces, by Ksenia Kurochkina

--Rural emplacements: linking heterotopia, one health and /ikigai /in central Hokkaido, by Paul Hansen

Asian Anthropology/ 20(4)
--From tragedy to triumph: tsunami mitigation and Bōsai (disaster prevention) tourism in Tarō, Japan, by Christopher Thompson

--Book review of Skateboarding and urban landscapes in Asia: endless spots, Cosmopolitan rurality, depopulation, and entrepreneurial ecosystems in 21st-Century


short videos, "Japan Video Topics" channel

In the newsletter from the Consulate General for Michigan & Ohio this link to the "Japan Video Topics" was given, https://www.youtube.com/c/JVTen/videos

The Youtube channel has a few dozen short videos (less than 5 minutes).


radio segment, Gold leaf makers of Japan are thinning out

Nice radio segment this morning, July 26, on National Public Radio (link to audio and transcript, below) from Kanazawa, home of feudal giant and lord of the Kaga clan.

One of the aging craftsmen says only about 20 of the former 300 small makers continue to produce the thin sheets of gold. The report goes on to say 97% of the nation's economic activity is from small and medium-sized companies. With a country-wide loss of children who take over the family business, the whole economy is heading for trouble.

=-=-=-=-= Excerpt
In Japan, decades of declining birthrates have put tens of thousands of family-owned businesses in crisis. Many have to shut down because there's no one to take over from the aging owners. Now the government there is trying to reverse the trend. NPR's international affairs correspondent Jackie Northam reports from Kanazawa, Japan.


Japanese modern language and society - the example of Metal & Hard-core Rock music

This video on Youtube documents modern life in Japan - and interesting discussion about Metal and Hard-core Rock music there & the emotional meaning for performers and audiences, https://youtu.be/q49kG0pV0Bg (about 11 minutes).


recorded lecture 4/2022 , "Robo-Sexism: Gendering AI and Robots in Japan and ..."

"Robo-Sexism:  Gendering AI and Robots in Japan and the United States (and Elsewhere)" HYBRID event from April 22, 2022. recorded at https://vimeo.com/703001303 

In humans, gender constitutes an array of learned behaviors that are cosmetically enabled and enhanced. Gender(ed) behaviors are both socially and historically shaped and are also contingent upon many situational influences, including individual choices. How is gender assigned in actual (as opposed to fictional) robots? Robertson will explore the sex/gender stereotypes and operational functions informing the design and embodiment of artificial intelligence (AI) and robots, especially humanoids and androids.

Robots have been imagined, designed, and deployed in rhetorical and tangible forms alike to reinforce conservative models of sex/gender roles, ethnic nationalism, and "traditional" family structures. Robertson considers the ramifications of "retro-tech" and also nascent efforts to redress robo-sexism.

Robo sapiens japanicus: Robots, Gender, Family, and the Japanese Nation [2017 U. California Press]

Jennifer Robertson, Professor Emerita, Anthropology and History of Art, University of Michigan


article, Fictitious Images of the Ainu

Fictitious Images of the Ainu : Ishū Retsuzō and Its Back Story
in Japan Review : Journal of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies 36: 89-109 (2/2022)


podcast, Japanese language, "book lounge academia"

Crossposting from H-Japan listserv that may interest those with humanities or social science interests; a good opportunity to tickle your ears with scholarly discussion in Japanese.

   excerpt from announcement:

BLA is a podcast channel where authors of scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences talk about their books through interviews in Japanese. BLA is operated by an independent, non-profit group that is not affiliated with any organization or institution.
It is available 2-4 Wednesdays a month via Youtubespotify, google podcast, apple podcast, and stand fm.

This is the best audio media for those who want to know what's going on in Japanese humanities and social sciences. It may also be used for training in academic spoken Japanese. 

You are very welcome to talk about your own book written in English, but interview must be conducted in Japanese.


Short docu by 2 teens in Tokyo fitting into 2 cultures

"Ark & Maya: All Mixed Up" is almost 15 minutes and describes the growing up experiences of these two young women, dividing their time and their lives between USA and Japan, sometimes speaking more comfortably in English; other times in Japanese. The documentary appeared at the December screening for the Tokyo Documentary Film Festival, https://youtu.be/NWeg34noE0Y


"Salaryman" retrospective on workspace in Japan

Video (2 minutes) to show changes in middle-class work across ten decades.
The clips (from anime) portray some of the features that appeared and then disappeared.

It's been almost 100 years since the "salaryman" type of office worker first appeared in Japan back in the 1920s. As our society faces a major turning point, SmartHR decided to create a brand film to reflect upon how work styles have changed with time over the past century. We hope that by looking back on history, we inspire people to think about how they want to work going forward.

To learn more about each scene, visit our special brand film website Hataraku no hyakunenshi [A Century of Work] (Japanese language webpage) https://100years-movie.smarthr.jp


short videos - temple introduction, part by part

These 1 to 2 minute videos from a Pure Land (Jodo-shu) Buddhist temple in Echizen-city, Fukui-ken give a good overview of the buildings, gardens, and special features of the place. All content is recorded in Japanese.

親縁山大寳寺 (Daihou-ji is the ordinary name; its Sanmon name is Shinen-zan) was begun in 1603 when the local daimyo, Honda Tomimasa, was installed by the regional Matsudaira clan. In the 1700s and again in the 1800s the main hall burned down. The current hondo is from the 1850s.


Lessons from Okinawa's Shuri Castle tunnels of WWII

Article about a local citizen's movement to reopen the sealed tunnels as world (negative) heritage site.

More than 75 years have passed since the Battle of Okinawa, but that has made this reckoning more urgent, not less. As Hojun Kakinohana put it, "The human lessons we can learn from this headquarters are vastly more important than what Shuri Castle has to teach us. It's about the value of life and the uselessness of war. I'm in a hurry to see it reopened and hope it will be designated a world negative heritage site. There are not many of us who experienced that war left to tell our stories. We'll be gone soon. So I'm in a hurry."


virtual exhibition, Traveling in Tokugawa Japan

launch of the online exhibition "Travels in Tokugawa Japan (1603-1868): a Virtual Journey": https://t.co/2bGgqJKAjn?amp=1

I curated the exhibition in collaboration with the John Rylands Research Institute and Library of the University of Manchester. The exhibition is based on items from the Japanese Maps collection (you can browse the now complete collection on Manchester Digital Collections: https://www.digitalcollections.manchester.ac.uk/collections/japanesemaps/1).

Best regards, Sonia Favi


Still worth listening to, "Tohoku kara no Koe"

Students at Jochi Dai were instrumental is doing interviews with 3.11 survivors across many months. The conversations are valuable documents for future researchers, therapeutic for those who put their experiences into words, but also there is merit for learners of Japanese. After all, the highest levels of fluency in language, proficiency in society, and literacy in culture come from 5 main domains of human life. These are hardest to express, but also they are hardest to understand and appreciate fully.

<>emotion [Voices from Tohoku, above]
<>persuasiveness (politics)
<>literary arts (poetry, sermons, lectures)

Consider visiting "東北からの声," https://tohokukaranokoe.org/


new films of Japan, 2021 "Japan Cuts" online

crossposting from H-Japan (humanities network)

The programming team behind JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film is proud to share the full lineup for the hybrid 15th edition of the festival, slated for August 20 - September 2, 2021: https://www.japansociety.org/arts-and-culture/films/japan-cuts-festival-of-new-japanese-film 

Films will again be available to rent via video streaming (across the U.S., with some titles accessible worldwide), in addition to select in-person screenings at Japan Society in NYC following health and safety policies. Expanding the festival's reach beyond New York, the lineup includes 27 features and 12 short films. The exclusive selection will be supplemented with recorded introductions from filmmakers and live video discussions via social media channels to maintain the festival's sense of community and dedication to intercultural communication.

The Centerpiece Presentation is WIFE OF A SPY (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa), awarding the 2021 CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film to Yu Aoi. Along with the Feature Slate, Classics, Documentary Focus, Experimental Spotlight, and Shorts Showcase, the second edition of the Next Generation section highlighting independently produced narrative feature films by emerging directors will be juried by film scholar Kyoko Hirano; Brian Hu, Artistic Director of Pacific Arts Movement; and Japanese film subtitler and translator Don Brown, awarding the Obayashi Prize.


Please browse the entire dynamic lineup on the website, listed below by program section:

- Aristocrats (dir. Yukiko Sode)

- Come and Go (dir. Lim Kah Wai)

- Company Retreat (dir. Atsushi Funahashi)

- The Goldfish: Dreaming of the Sea (dir. Sara Ogawa)

- The Great Yokai War: Guardians (dir. Takashi Miike)

- It's a Summer Film! (dir. Soushi Matsumoto)

- Ito (dir. Satoko Yokohama)

- Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction (dir. Daihachi Yoshida)

- Labyrinth of Cinema (dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi)

- The Pass: Last Days of the Samurai (dir. Takashi Koizumi)

- Talking the Pictures (dir. Masayuki Suo)

- Wife of a Spy (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

- Wonderful Paradise (dir. Masashi Yamamoto)

- B/B (dir. Kosuke Nakahama)

- Mari and Mari (dir. Tatsuya Yamanishi)
- My Sorry Life (dir. Kozue Nomoto)

- Sasaki in My Mind (dir. Takuya Uchiyama)

- Spaghetti Code Love (dir. Takeshi Maruyama)
- Town Without Sea (dir. Elaiza Ikeda)



- Hiruko the Goblin (dir. Shinya Tsukamoto, New 2K Restoration)

- Robinson's Garden (dir. Masashi Yamamoto, Newly Remastered)

- To Sleep So as to Dream (dir. Kaizo Hayashi, New 2K Restoration)



- No Smoking (dir. Taketoshi Sado)

- Ushiku (dir. Thomas Ash)
- Why You Can't Be Prime Minister (dir. Arata Oshima)


- The Blue Danube (dir. Akira Ikeda)

- Double Layered Town / Making a Song to Replace Our Positions (dir. Haruka Komori & Natsumi Seo)



- HONEYMOON (dir. Yu Araki)

- In a Mere Metamorphosis (dir. Onohana)
- June 4, 2020 (dir. Yoko Yuki)

- Night Snorkeling (dir. Nao Yoshigai & Hirofumi Nakamoto)

- RED TABLE (dir. Hakhyun Kim)
- Reflective Notes (Reconfiguration) (dir. Koki Tanaka)

- School Radio to Major Tom (dir. Takuya Chisaka)

- ZONA (dir. Masami Kawai)



- Among Four of Us (dir. Mayu Nakamura)

- Born Pisces (dir. Yoko Yamanaka)
- Go Seppuku Yourselves (dir. Toshiaki Toyoda)

- Leo's Return (dir. Anshul Chauhan)

We hope many H-Japan subscribers are able to enjoy—please do share with your networks. 
-Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/japansocietyfilm
-Twitter: http://twitter.com/JS_FILM_NYC/ (#JAPANCUTS)

K. F. Watanabe, Alexander Fee, Joel Neville Anderson


legal culture in East Asia

[cross-posting from East Asia Anthropology listserv]

...publication of a special issue of positions (29:3): "Productive Encounters: Kinship, Gender, and Family Laws in East Asia," edited by Seung-kyung Kim and Sara L. Friedman. You will find the table of contents, the freely available introduction, and Amy Brainer's article, made free through October 2021, at read.dukeupress.edu/positions/issue/29/3.


Contributors to this special issue examine the intersections and tensions between the everyday lives of diverse families and the family laws and institutional mechanisms that create the scaffolding for recognized kinship relationships. Using the rubric of "productive encounters" to understand the ongoing engagements of law and family, the authors trace the unfolding of these engagements over a period of colonial and postcolonial reforms and the transitions from authoritarian to a democratic governance in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.


Table of Contents:

Seung-kyung Kim and Sara L. Friedman, Guest Editors' Introduction

Kathryn E. Goldfarb, Parental Rights and the Temporality of Attachment: Law, Kinship, and Child Welfare in Japan

Sungyun Lim, Adopting in the Shadows: False Registration as a Method of Adoption in Postcolonial South Korea

Allison Alexy, Children and Law in the Shadows: Legal Ideologies and Personal Strategies in Response to Parental Abductions in Japan

Sara L. Friedman and Yi-Chien Chen, Will Marriage Rights Bring Family Equality? Law, Lesbian Co-Mothers, and Strategies of Recognition in Taiwan

Linda White, Not Entirely Married: Resisting the Hegemonic Patrilineal Family in Japan's Household Registry

Timothy Gitzen, The Limits of Family: Military Law and Sex Panics in Contemporary South Korea

Amy Brainer, Lesbian and Gay Parents, Heterosexual Kinship, and Queer Dreams: Making Families in Twenty-First Century Taiwan


Before you land in Japan - sources to know language and life there


Links useful to those getting ready to spend weeks or months living in Japan

https://tinyurl.com/landinjapan gives practical advice to a recent USA college graduate headed to Hokkaido, but relevant to most parts of the country equally well.

https://fromsenseionline.blogspot.com is aimed at teachers and learners of Japanese language and life. It takes selected listserv items from the "Sensei Online" (yahoogroup, later googlegroup) 

https://japanoutreach.blogspot.com is less about language learning, and more about social life and the cultural landscape in Japan. 

AtlasObscura.com has a great collection of brief articles of offbeat facets of life on the islands.

Movies and visual experiences

Feature films and documentaries allow pausing, study, replay, and presented social situations that otherwise might never present themselves to you as an outsider. So it is worth exploring this medium. Photographs, also, provide a powerful way to familiarize yourself with the look and feel of the city and the countryside, the fashions and the ocean of visual information to learn, or at least recognize. Without a visual inoculation to the unknown universe of people, places, and things, your first exposure can feel overwhelming. So the more you browse ahead of time, the better.

Movies by ITAMI Juzo & by KOREEDA Hirokazu provide social scrutiny; criticism. For some historical texture and flavor, consider any of the 40+ Tora-san (protagonist) movies by YAMADA Yoji under the series title "Otoko wa Tsurai, Yo!" ('It is hard being a guy'). And classics from OZU Yasujiro re highly cherished inside and outside of Japan (Tokyo Story, or Ikiru, for instance)

Documentaries to consider include The Japanese Version (1995; 7-8 vignettes of topics imported but now rooted into Japanese life-some public libraries have this title in their steaming service providers), Understanding Japanese Culture (2020, life-long British anthropologist revisits original fieldwork town,40 years after the first months of residence). Trailers from Toko Shiiki's work relating to Fukushima 2011 aftermath: about 300+ years as Sake brewers, about evacuated Jr. high school music teacher who gets her band to the finals competition, and about the voices of survivors.

Photo sharing at Flickr has at least three ways to plunge into visual exposure. One is the searchbox. Another is the world map (drag and zoom to place of interest, then refresh by pressing the map's own green circular arrows at bottom center to repopulate images tagged to each spot). Then there are user groups like Japan Street Photography, or Osanpo Kamera, or Japan Deluxe, or perhaps the albums and photostream of an individual camera person like "TokyoShooter." 

My own 2016 and 2017 pictures and commentaries are listed under the albums section, or converting them into ebook form, there is Life and Times Today in Rural Japan - volume 1: countryside. The other is Life and Times Today in Rural Japan, Volume 2: City Views.

Multimedia like the interview project by (Tokyo) Sophia University students talking to Fukushima survivors allows you to get to know part of people's lives up-close, Voices from Tohoku.

Books and articles

Understanding Japanese Society has been revised recently by anthropologist Joy Hendry and gives close-up, as well as big-picture discussion of life in the language and society of Japan.

Neighborhood Tokyo goes back to the late 1980s but still sheds light on the close-knit dimension of streets even in big cities.

Yokohama Street Life: The Precarious Career of a Japanese Day Laborer (2015) by Tom Gill follows his Day Laborers of Sanya (2001) book. Real lives far from the glossy surfaces of Japan.

2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake is composed of real-time tweets flying around Japan and abroad beginning on the March 11, 2011 afternoon initial seismic shock of the Great East Japan Disaster. [ebook sold at No-Cost]

The Roads to Sata by Alan Booth (1985) chronicles his adventure from north to south in the days when the value of the Yen was rising and before the real estate bubble burst in 1993.

Walking the Kiso Road by William Scott Wilson retraces one of the main routes to and from the Tokugawa capital of Edo (today's Tokyo). He combines keen observation and lots of context drawn from traveler advice of that period.

Fiction is a way to glimpse some of the psychological dynamics of people interacting.

The Makioka Sisters by TANIZAKI Jun'ichiro is set in 1930s Kyoto

Okubo Diary by Brian Moeran (1985) about his fieldwork in rural Oita prefecture

The River Ki by ARIYOSHI Sawako (1980)

Convenience Store Woman: A Novel by Sayaka MURATA 

Native English Speakers

Since the 1970s the Government of Japan and in the recent generation also local governments and school have employed English speakers to prompt freer conversation and thinking inside and outside the foreign language classrooms. Since this sort of contract work is well developed and supported, it provides a solid foundation for learning the life and society of Japan, giving as well as taking lessons for one's career. Recruiting, applications, and interviewing vary by sending country: Japan English Teacher, Assistant Language Teacher, or Assistant English Teacher - check with the nearest Japanese consulate or embassy for details (USA example: applications in fall, interviews follow, arrival for orientation the following June). Languages other than English: some cities and prefectures employed CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) to communicate with select countries/languages (e.g. Russian, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Korean, among others). The Japanese consulate can point the way there.

STEAM - science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics

KIT-IJST stands for Kanazawa Institute of Technology - Intensive Japanese for Science and Technology. It has been doing 6 week summer sessions on the west coast of Honshu for 20 years or more, emphasizing the communication and miscommunication connected to S.T.E.A.M. education, along with cultural fieldtrips and experiences to break up the book and lab work.


more online sources of Japanese life, livelihoods, sights and sounds

cross-posting from the June 2021 newsletter of the Consulate General of Japan (Detroit office)

...the print publication known as niponica is now also a web magazine, available in Web and PDF formats, in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and several other languages.     Another example is Japan Video Topics, a collection of over 150 videos on dozens of topics about modern life in Japan and Japanese cultural traditions. These informative videos are now available, in multiple languages, on the Web-Japan.org website and a dedicated Japan Video Topics YouTube channel. The YouTube channel playlists include "Japan's Famous Places," "Foods," "Pop Culture," "Technology," and more. Other resources, such as Japan Fact Sheets, Kids Web Japan, and Trends in Japan information may be found on the Web-Japan.org website.


Zen Buddhist practices in Detroit (radio story on May 21, 2021)

Link to radio story this morning to share with others curious about Buddhism away from East Asia. [6 minutes 35 seconds]

Mornings in Michigan: Detroit Buddhist temple feels like "a home away from home"
By Erin Allen • May 21, 2021

For most of us, to start the day is to turn off our alarm, get dressed, have a coffee or maybe water, and then start work or school. But there's a little place in Detroit where the first few things on the list are instead — sitting, chanting and meditating.



Learning about Burakumin matters then and now

Special issue from the diligent and far-ranging minds at Asia-Pacific Review/Japan Focus

Introduction to the Special Issue Refuting Mark Ramseyer's Interpretation of Japan's Burakumin

Tomomi Yamaguchi (Special Issue Coordinator)

This special issue, "Japan's Burakumin (Outcastes) Reconsidered: A Special Issue Refuting Ramseyer's Interpretation", edited by historian Ian Neary and sociologist Saito Naoko, brings together eight papers by a range of Japanese and Anglophone scholarship. 

This is the second in a series of special issues addressing the work of J. Mark Ramseyer, the Mitsubishi Professor of Japanese Law at Harvard University. The first, which examined several controversial papers on Japan's wartime "comfort women", appeared in a recent supplement to a special issue edited by Alexis Dudden entitled "Academic Integrity at Stake: The Ramseyer Article – Four Letters" . 

As the problem of Ramseyer's "comfort women" analysis drew international attention, his problematic scholarship on issues related to minorities in Japan, notably Okinawans, Zainichi Koreans, and Burakumin, have also drawn fire from scholars, journalists and activists. 

Since 2017, Ramseyer has published four articles about the Buraku question. This special issue features seven responses to the articles by historians, sociologists and anthropologists of Buraku issues, together with an introduction by Ian Neary. While a few statements criticizing Ramseyer's scholarship on Buraku have already been published by journalist Kadooka Nobuhiko, IMADR (The International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism) and the Headquarters of Buraku Liberation League (in Japanese), this special issue is the first attempt to bring together multiple statements criticizing Ramseyer's works on Buraku by leading Japanese and Anglophone specialists. Some of the statements published in this volume have been sent to the journals that published Ramseyer's articles. Beyond refuting Ramseyer, the special issue introduces recent scholarship on the Buraku issues in bilingual Japanese and English texts.


Then and now, photos from Great East Japan disaster 10 years later

Japan's 2011 tsunami, then and now - in pictures
by Kazuhiro Nogi

Ten years ago, one of the most powerful earthquakes on record triggered a devastating tsunami in Japan, killing more than 18,000 people and triggering catastrophic meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Kazuhiro Nogi's photographs compare the destruction of 2011 with the same locations following their reconstruction.

Ishinomaki (Miyagi-ken), Minamisoma (Fukushima-ken), Kesennuma (Miyagi-ken), Ofunato (Iwate-ken), Miyako (Iwate-ken), Ishinomaki (Miyagi-ken), Tagajo (Miyagi-ken), Natori (Miyagi-ken), Tagajo (Miyagi-ken), Otsuchi (Iwate-ken).

[published 10 March 2021 by The Guardian newspaper online]


book and documentary (Kyushu) - 40 years of Japan fieldwork

Promoting her latest book, Prof. Joy Hendry talks of her long-term ties to the people of rural Japan [extremis.com 2021 An Affair with a Village],


new book about planning Qualitative Research in Japan


Studying Japan is the first comprehensive guide on qualitative methods, research designs and fieldwork in social science research on Japan. More than 70 Japan scholars from around the world provide an easy-to-read overview on qualitative methods used in research on Japan's society, politics, culture and history. The book covers the entire research process from the outset to the completion of a thesis, a paper, or a book. The authors provide basic introductions to individual methods, discuss their experiences when applying these methods and highlight current trends in research on Japan. The book serves as a foundation for a course on qualitative research methods and is a reference for all researchers in Japanese Studies, the Social Sciences and Area Studies. It is an essential reading for students and researchers with an interest in Japan!

Kottmann, Nora and Reiher, Cornelia (eds.) (2020) Studying Japan: Handbook of Research Design, Fieldwork and Methods, Baden-Baden: Nomos.



visiting a "book cafe" in Fukui-ken

Just published from Echizen-city: a 2-minute introduction to this classic "book cafe" (vinyl record collection, too).
The name seems to be "Godot" (as in the stage production, "Waiting for Godot"), but when the phonetic Katakana is reworked into alphabet, it comes out "Go dou."

It is a good example to glimpse the atmosphere and details of this kind of shop.


new book (2019), Japan & China interrelations of 15 centuries

excerpt from December 2020 obituary for Dr. Ezra Vogel (90), published by the Japan Times online.

At the age of 89, he published "China and Japan: Facing History" (2019), which reviews the history of political and cultural ties between the two nations over 1,500 years. Vogel hoped that the book would offer an accurate portrayal of how the two countries learned from each other over the centuries, but also serve to encourage the Chinese and Japanese leaders to forge a more constructive relationship going forward.


conversations (podcast series), "Deep Dive"

Hosted since 2018 at japantimes.co.jp this series includes modern, historical, cultural, and current event subjects in its dozens of episodes.

Here is one about the art of translating Japanese literature into English, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/podcast/episode-67-convenience-store-woman-art-translation/

language of the Ainu

In northernmost Japan, keeping the meanings and relationships with people, with land, with ancestors alive:


Minamata 1968 story of pollution traumas, trailer


Europe's only officially sanctioned Shinto shrine

A simple search at Atlas Obscura for some of the East Asia locations, societies, and languages can turn up a wide variety of short, sometimes thought-provoking or quirky, articles. Today this one appeared about the only Shinto shrine in Europe that is officially approved. It is in San Marino, the tiny republic located to the southeast of Bologna, Italy. If you are curious how this all came about read on for more,


Miyazaki Hayao's ANIME, the early years

article 10/2020 from the International Institute for Asia Studies in Leiden, The Netherlands (in English),


online database of events for Japan Studies

(Please circulate.)


The Japanese Studies Events Database is a crowd-sourced digital resource commons created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to online event programming undertaken by institutions and programs worldwide.


The database is intended to serve the international Japanese Studies community—students, scholars, institutes and institutions—by providing a virtual clearing house for information about the range and vibrancy of programmatic activities and research taking place about Japan. There are so many wonderful things—lectures, webinars, online workshops and panels—taking place at universities and centers around the globe. The hope is that the database will further deepen connections and foster collaboration within the larger community, particularly during these difficult times when holding in-person events is more challenging.


Universities, research centers, academic departments, and scholars are welcome to share Japan-related programming on this database. If you wish to post an event, please first contact rijs_events@fas.harvard.edu for the Google Form link and password. Upon completion of the form using your email address and password, you will receive an auto-reply confirming submission of the Google Form. This email can be referenced for subsequent edits as needed.


Please browse the database here: https://datastudio.google.com/u/0/reporting/621571f0-8678-4efd-a158-c90f85b53513/page/DbleB


If you have questions, please contact rijs_events@fas.harvard.edu and thank you for your support of Japanese studies.