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.


young learners & old, too (book - Wabi Sabi)

Announcement for a children's book about imperfection and impermanence,

Like many children's books, older readers can learn something, too!
Of course wabi-sabi and other culturally rooted realities have Wikipedia pages in English and often in Japanese, too.
But the illustrated and simpler language of the children's book may be the most effect way to communicate these things.


two articles, "at the end of life in Japan"

Not meant to be morbid, these anthropology short articles document changing social life.

Colleague Yohko Tsuji has published an article on the Anthropology-News blog about cultural and social developments in the care of the dead in Japan (cemetery decisions), https://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2020/08/13/changing-mortuary-practices-in-japan/

This nicely complements her 2014 article on the blog for Society for East Asia Anthropology concerning funeral practices. http://seaa.americananthro.org/2014/04/evolving-funerals-in-japan/



in Kyoto 1910, "Makiko's New World"

This video is about changes in life through the eyes of recently married Nakano Makiko. It is from her diary in Kyoto. This 10-minute opening passage is part of a 1-hour full-length story you can find at library lending services, aems.uiuc.edu, or streaming services of libraries via the Kanopy collection. Distribution and purchasing is handled by DER.org (documentary educational resources).


Rural population declines leading to more 'aki ya' (vacant homes)

Story from contributors to Atlas Obscura.com which has brought the often obscure stories from around the world to online readers for many years. Searching the site for 'japan' will turn up many more besides this one today.


now streaming (5 minute anime; English & Japanese) for "Mottainai Granny"

Since 2004, the Mottainai Granny has been teaching lessons of respect for environment and resources, including the waste of food.

[author and illustrator Mariko] Shinju adds that being more mindful of the environment is an important part of life amid a global pandemic as well. "Before we try to restore our lives to how it used to be, we should aim for a better world than before," she says. "I would like to move forward by giving priority to what we should do to live and finding ways to make everyone happy in a sustainable society that protects the environment."

Under the kind but watchful eyes of Mottainai Grandma, every day can be an opportunity to make the world a better place by respecting the environment.

Starting in June the 5 minute episodes are streaming (Japanese or English currently offered, other languages to follow) at
https://mottainai-baasan.com/en . [online article excerpt, July 10, 2020]
news article in full, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2020/07/10/general/mottainai-grandma-cartoon/


new Ainu museum opens

Despite Covid-19 complications and delays, the opening at last was celebrated,


looking at 1913-1915 Tokyo in moving pictures

People excited about their modern new lives 100+ years ago.
(about 5 minutes) Link, https://youtu.be/MQAmZ_kR8S8

In case this 4k video data is too much, then use the Youtube "settings" [gear wheel] to playback at lower quality.


collection of 89 videos in Open Access (Smithsonian Institution) project

Results can be filtered by topic, among other things. Many of these go back in time a generation or more ago and serve as a time-travel experience.


since the 1970s - the arc of Japanese society

Nice news feature that gives wide view, both for experts to reflect on and for new learners to see.

...In Japan, 1970 marked a decade of unprecedented growth and optimism among large numbers of Japanese, who were convinced the future would only get brighter despite growing problems of environmental pollution and an urban infrastructure struggling to keep up with the waves of people relocating from rural to urban areas in search of prosperity. Newspapers touted Japan's first satellite, the Lambda 4S-5 rocket, and reported on an experimental technology being tested at a Tokyo bank called an "automatic cash dispenser," which allowed you to withdraw cash with a special plastic card.

      Against this background, the Osaka Expo opened to the general public on March 15, 1970. It came just six years after the hugely successful 1964 Tokyo Olympics. By the time the expo ended 183 days later on Sept. 13, a record 64 million visitors had passed through its gates.



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