Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Internet Resources for Japanese Students and Scholars

Carefully remove the knife and check out these useful resources:

1. Skillful Internet Searching

Vincent K. Pollard at the University of Hawaii gives good advice for on-line searching and provides links to several useful resources. (advertised on H-ASIA)

Link to Skillful Internet Searching

2. Jim Breen's Japanese Page

Jim Breen from Monash University has compiled an incredible source for Japanese language software and education resources. He writes, "I have assembled this set of pages: (a) to provide information about a number of my projects in the area of Japanese computing and dictionaries, (b) to provide links to some of the resources available on the WWW on Japanese matters."

I am still in the process of exploring this valuable resource but I have already downloaded rikaichan (it displays in a pop-up the meaning of the Japanese word under the mouse pointer) and subscribed to the Kanji a day email list (a kanji character is sent everday with explanations, stroke orders, etc.). Lots and lots of good stuff to help us overcome Japanese language deficiencies... Do check this site out. (Thanks to MH for introducing me to this site.)

Link to Jim Breen's Japanese Page

As a recent guest lecturer noted, blogs are all about sharing. If you have information about useful sites dealing with Japan and/or visual anthropology, please share via a comment.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sources for Japanese DVDs

Students often ask where they can get copies of documentaries about Japan and/or Japanese films with English subtitles. This question has recently come up in H-Japan and so here I share two suggested sources.

1. Documentary Films on Japan (and other areas)

Link to Documentary Educational Resources

Japanese (and East Asian) Films with English Subtitles

Link to YesAsia.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Visual Anthropology Related Events in Kyoto

A couple announcements as posted by H. Smith in the H-JAPAN listserv. Please note the dates. The film is tomorrow (9/19) and the lecture is October 12. Both seem like very worthwhile events. Please check them out.

1. Film at Kyoto University

The Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS) is pleased to announce a Wednesday evening film series on the Kyodai campus this fall, mainly on the theme of the city of Kyoto and its history.

The first in the series will be the documentary film by David Plath, "Makiko's New World" (1999), based on Kazuko Smith's 1995 translation of the diary of Nakano Makiko (Makiko's Diary: A Merchant Wife in 1910 Kyoto), the young wife of a merchant family living on Gojo-dori. The diary covers the year 1910, and offers many insights into Kyoto life and customs in the late Meiji period. The film offers visual enhancement of the diary with many revealing images of the period.

Film: "Makiko's New World" (1999), dir. David Plath. Length: 1 hour

Date and time: Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2007, at 6:15 pm

Place: International Seminar House ("jPod") on the Kyoto University Campus (main Yoshida campus; see map http://www.kyoto-u.ac.jp/english/eaccess/e07_acce/images/main200708.gif ). The easiest way to reach the jPod is to take the flight of steps leading into the Kyoto University campus from the east side of Higashi-Oji, about 100 m north of the intersection of Higashi-Oji and Higashi-Ichijo (bus stop: Higashiyama Higashi-Ichijo). At the head of the stairs, immediately to your right you will see the large five-story University Head Office [Honbuto]. Walk past the front of this building, and onto the path between this building and the old brick building to its left. You will enter a large clearing, to the right of which is a small, one-story wood and glass building. This is the jPod.

Note: Plath produced Ted Bestor's film, Neighborhood Tokyo.

2. Lecture by Donald Richie

The Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS ) is very pleased to announce a special lecture by the distinguished writer and film critic Donald Richie:

Title: "Traditional Aesthetics in the Japanese Film"

Date and time: Friday, October 12, 2007, from 4:00 pm.

Place: Room 211, Kyodai Kaikan, 15-9 Yoshida Kawara-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto. Kyodai Kaikan is located about a nine-minute walk southwest of the center of the Kyoto University campus in the Yoshida area. For a location map, see http://www.kyodaikaikan.jp/access.html. By public transportation, Kyodai Kaikan is about a seven-minute walk from Marutamachi station on the Keihan rail line, or from the "Kyodai Seimon-mae" bus stop on Kyoto City Bus lines #206 (from Kyoto Station) or #201 and #31 (from Shijo Keihan station).

The lecture is open to the public, and free of charge.

For further information, please phone (075) 468-8420 (KCJS office, weekdays 9-5), or email Henry Smith .

Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

People Watching and New Student Blog Watching

We are well into the second week of classes in the new fall semester and my visual students are starting their blogs. This semester is a little different from the past. In the past students did a research project and then posted their visual results on their blog. Unfortunately, many seemed to do their postings (and research?) at the last minute, which resulted in less than the level of ethnographic quality I was hoping for. I accept responsibility, of course, for expecting students to do a semester-long visual ethnography on top of their language courses and other classes and activities.

This semester I am asking students to keep a photo-journal. They are required to post at least two original photos and some descriptive text every week. How will their impressions of Japanese culture and their camera work change throughout the semester? How will they be able to incorporate class readings into their work? Some students have no experience with blogging and some are a little confused as to what they are supposed to photograph. Is Go out and take photos of Japanese culture! too vague? Anyway, many of the early postings are very nice and I see a lot of potential for excellent blogs.

Scroll down until you see the "Fall 2007 Student Photo-Journal Blogs" section. Please check out their blogs and leave comments. I am hoping this new assignment will be more successful for open-text, collaboration, communication and of course good anthropology.

The photos in this posting were taken with my new Sanyo HD2 Xacti Video and Digital Zoom camera. It has a very different feel to it - almost like a handgun rather than a camera. So I need to get accustomed to it. I have it with me almost all of the time so when I find myself with free time I practice with this new gadget. I like the quality photos and video it takes - and it works very well my my MacBook Pro and iMovie HD software. Being able to switch quickly between still digital photos and video with a flick of the thumb is convenient. Close-up shots are a little tricky with this camera - I find that I have to physically back up and away from my subject more than with other cameras I have used in the past. The other challenge is that the only language of the camera is Japanese, so it is taking me a little longer to learn some of the more advanced features. I have yet to figure out how to make it stop talking to me...

I have also been practicing my people watching. Most of the shots in this posting were taken in Kyoto. I sat by the river and took my camera out and started snapping away. People were hanging out by the river with a significant other, gathering in groups before going out to eat and drink, and listening to street musicians. In previous posts I've expressed my concerns about taking photos of people in public. Even though my use is academic and not-for-profit, I feel a little funny taking and using pictures of people without asking permission. As an anthropologist I feel ethical responsibilities to protect the privacy of the people I study. What if I take and post a photo of someone, albeit in public, but being in a place where they are not supposed to be? Am I being too sensitive? Many of my students have told me so.

Photojournalists seem to be able to take photos in public without asking permission as long as the people in the shots remain anonymous. My father was a photojournalist, but he always had people sign a consent form - better safe than sorry. Ideally I want to ask permission as well. But there are some times when that is not possible. So what to do?

In these shots I practiced trying to get pictures of people without them being easily recognized. A lot of back and side shots. Does this work? Is this ethical?

Is the shinkansen ("bullet train") public space? Is it OK to shoot and use when people are oblivious and/or asleep?

The stereotypical salayman on the bullet train: exhausted and sleeping. Note his required paraphernalia: beer, newspaper, briefcase with laptop computer inside, bag of omiyage (souvenir/presents)...

A homeless man tries to sleep along the bank (and his home?) of the Kamogawa River in Kyoto. Above him was the busy hustle and bustle of an early Saturday evening on the bridge in Sanjo. Not far away other people sat by the river, talked, laughed and seemed oblivious to him. He seemed to ignore them as well, especially when he got up to urinate in the river.

This posting is probably a poor example for students to emulate. What am I trying to show in these photos? How do these photos illustrate Japanese culture? Well... they are Japanese people (most of them anyway)... doing Japanese things (I suppose) in Japan. We can note clothing and hair styles, body language and behavior. I can appreciate the difficulty of my students' assignment. I wish them well in their photo-journals. And I hope we can all learn to be better visual anthropologist together.

As always, any comments, feedback or advice is appreciated.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Use of Visual Anthropology in "Japanese Wooden Boats in Woodblock Prints" Research Project

From a recent post on H-ASIA by T Kurt Knoerl, Director, The Museum of Underwater Archaeology:

Graduate student Michelle Damian has posted video clips of her visit with Japanese Shipwright Mr. Kanji Mitsumori as part of her seventh project journal entry. Through the journal Michelle shares her experiences while conducting her MA research on Japanese wooden boats. This includes a variety of activities from studying woodblock prints to travel to Japan. She writes about the importance of woodblock prints, museum exhibits, and intensive study of classical Japanese language texts. You can read her latest entry and view the video clips by clicking on "Research" in the left hand menu of her journal found here:

Link to Japanese Wooden Boats in Woodblock Prints Research Project Journal

Damian's on-line research journal is sharp - a mix of text and illustrations in a very nice layout. The use of video clips is a good addition as well. Check this site out as a great example of a visual research blog.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Visual Anthropology of China Resources

I have recently subscribed to the H-ASIA listserv and the H-Japan listserv. Both of these are intended for professional scholars and teachers engaged in research in Asia and Japan respectively. I am getting barraged with messages daily (as opposed to EASIANTH) dealing with research questions, job postings, conferences, fellowships, etc. Some visual anthropology material comes through as well and I will do my best to forward important visual anthropology resources on this blog. Two of note, while not dealing with Japan, are good visual sources for China.

1. Historical Photographs of China

This project aims to locate, archive, and disseminate photographs from the substantial holdings of images of modern China held mostly in private hands overseas.

You can view the different collections of images from 1840 to 1950. There are thumbnails that you can click and see larger versions of the photo. There is also some limited information about each photo (such as date, photographer, names of people in the photo, etc.). While useful for Chinese history specialists, this site is worth a look for visual anthropologists to see how photos can be cataloged and made available via open access.

Link to Historical Photographs of China

2. Arts of China Consortium (formerly Chinese and Japanese Art History WWW Virtual Library)

The Arts of China Consortium (ACC) was founded in 2002 to promote the study and understanding of Chinese art history, archaeology, and visual and material culture, and to support the research and professional activities of its members.

Lots of information for professionals and students including job postings, calls for papers, conference information and grant/fellowship listings. There is also a section of links related to Chinese arts that might be useful for visual anthropologists.

Link to Arts of China Consortium

The arts of China Consortium is part of the Asian Studies WWW Virtual Library and the East Asian WWW Virtual Library. Both can be accessed at that site or by clicking below.

Link to Asian Studies WWW Virtual Library

Link to East Asia WWW Virtual Library

There is Japan specific related links in both of these. All of these sites have so many links to other sites - there is a wealth of information to get lost in out there. Good hunting. And good luck finding your way back home...