Wednesday, November 14, 2018

2018 Fall Festival in Six Parts: 2) Taking a break with another neighborhood association

The neighborhood boundaries and streets do not always match up so we have to briefly take our danjiri through another neighborhood to get from point A to point B. But not to worry! The other neighborhood association does not take offense or worry about an invasion. They actually prepare food and drink for us so we can take a break and socialize together. We do have a little battle as each neighborhood association does a taiko drum performance.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

2018 Fall Festival in Six Parts: 1) Pre-departure

Another successful and fun-filled neighborhood fall festival... Our neighborhood association puts in a lot of effort for this two day event. Not only does it bring our neighborhood closer together, but it promotes good relations with other neighborhoods through shared celebrations. Lots of photos (again) this year so I am dividing them into six parts. Part One includes the blessing by the shinto priest at the local shrine before we started.

Monday, November 12, 2018

"The standing bars of Osaka: Cheap, cheerful and nostalgic" & The Beginning of a New Tachinomiya Project

Unbeknownst to the visual anthropologist, he is caught in the act 
of research. Photo by his significant other parked across the street.

One of my tachinomiya field sites is closing at the end of this month so I have been rushing to do some salvage ethnography, trying to record the unique shop before it closes. I have no concrete plans for the research data and photos at this time (a few ideas though) but the rush is on.

A recent article in The Japan Times by Matt Kaufman seems to confirm the relevance of tachinomiya to contemporary Japanese society and validate my research. Read on and continue to check out VAOJ for the results of the new project. 

"The standing bars of Osaka: Cheap, cheerful and nostalgic" in The Japan Times, 11/10/18:

Across Japan, tucked down quiet alleyways or occupying the corner shops at busy intersections, you’ll see tachinomiya. Often translated a “standing bar,” there are two very distinct types of tachinomiya: licensed restaurants and small, privately owned liquor shops (sakeya no tachinomi).

The origin of the latter tachinomi can be traced to the Edo Period (1603-1868), when sake shops started offering customers a quick tipple from square wooden measuring cups known as masu.

These shops evolved into modern liquor stores during the Meiji Era (1868-1912) when they started selling beer, wine and spirits such as whisky, and installed makeshift counters, often made by balancing a slab of wood on stacks of empty beer crates.

Different regions have their own names for these shops. In Tohoku they are called mokkiri and in eastern Japan they are known as tachikyū. But, in recent years kaku-uchi, the type of tachinomi that originated in Kitakyushu and spread to Tokyo during the industrial revolution, has become the catch-all term used to describe these shops.

Some are well over 100 years old: Matsugawa Saketen in Kyoto has been owned by the same family since the beginning of the Meiji Era; in Osaka, there is an old liquor shop named Shibacho that has been in the same spot for 152 years; and in Tokyo, you can drink at Suzuden, which dates back to 1853.

After World War II, thousands of unlicensed tachinomiya started appearing across the country. In 1949, the government reclassified tachinomiya as restaurants in order to collect taxes. Liquor shops with standing bars were not licensed to cook food on the premises, but canned food and snacks such as dried squid were permitted to be served.

Owners also found loopholes to get around the rules, especially in Osaka. Food is brought in from outside, and nowadays it is easily heated up in the microwave. Chairs are still prohibited, but mismatched stools are kept scattered about just in case an elderly customer with a “bad leg” needs to sit down for a minute.

The author goes on to provide brief snapshot descriptions of three famous local shops. Check out the whole story at the source.


Related VAOJ posts:

Photo Exhibition and Visual Ethnography - "Tachinomiya: There Are Two Sides to Every Noren"

AJJ Presentation - Tachinomiya: Photo Exhibition as Research Method

Shooting Culture in Japan Series

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

"This photographer will make you think again about your phone use"

The photographer Eric Pickersgill has captured what this means for our personal lives in a series of disconcerting images. The project is called Removed, because Pickersgill physically removes the phones from his subjects' hands, but asks them to hold their posture and focus.

The idea was prompted by a commonplace visit to a café, which Pickersgill wrote about as follows:

Family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies. I am saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and I doubt we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience. Mom has her phone out now.

Pickersgill is not set on demonizing the smartphone, but drawing attention to the way it can erode our relationships if we're not aware of our habits.

See and read more:

I can't believe how quickly this device has become addictive and so common-place. When I ride the train to and from work it seems that everyone is using their smartphone, isolated in their own private wagamama world. I usually find Bill Marh to be (entertainingly) obnoxious. But he has some good points here...

New Rule: Social Media is the New Nicotine | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO), published on May 12, 2017.

I liken the smartphone to the addictive game from season 5, episode 6 (October 28, 1991) of Star Trek: The Next Generation.