Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Friday-Signing" Event in Osaka

My Deaf friends asked me to pass this information on.

The organizers of this event sign in both Japanese Sign Language and American Sign Language. It should be an interesting international event. If you have time, check it out. For more information, check out their blog:


Fun stuff...

Perhaps some visual images might be helpful...

(Image borrowed from The Daily Yomiuri, 1/28/08)

(from The Daily Yomiuri Photo Grand Prix, 1/27/08)

What a great photo! As the Yomiuri put it, this photo certainly "capture[d] the right moment." What does this photo say about Japanese people? What does it say about monkeys? What do you think?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Visual Symbolism, Baseball and the Japanese Rising Sun Flag

"I don't need an interpreter. My bat does the talking."

(Image borrowed from The Official Site of The Chicago Cubs)

The Chicago Cubs have a new ad campaign stressing the international flavor of their team. Japanese player Kosuke Fukudome, formerly of the Chunichi Dragons, is prominently displayed in the new campaign with a version of the Japanese flag in the background. The flag is the one used by the former Imperial Japanese Army and Navy (interestingly enough the flag is still used by the current Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force).

(Image borrowed from

There is a lot of symbolic baggage with this flag and the Fukudome ad has generated many complaints from American war veterans. The flag is also a problematic symbol in Japan as well. Many equate it with right-wing nationalism and Japanese imperialism. While the Cubs have defended the use of the flag in their ad, they might have benefited from consulting with a visual anthropologist in the early planning and design stages.

Read more in the following articles:

HARD DRIVES: Fukudome can blow by flag flack (Daily Yomiuri, 1/30/08)

Cubs unleash bold, new ad campaign (, posted on the Official Site of the Chicago Cubs)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Workshop on Documentary Digital Video for Scholars in Asian Studies

This announcement comes from EASIANTH, H-ASIA and H-Japan:

The Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies (EAPS), the Asian Educational Media Service (AEMS), and Applied Technologies for Learning in the Arts & Sciences (ATLAS) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, invite applications for a weekend workshop on documentary digital video for scholars in Asian Studies, May 15-16, 2008, in Urbana, Illinois.

This workshop is intended for faculty and graduate students who are interested in turning a current Asia-focused research project into a documentary digital video for an educational or public audience. Today's user-friendly media inspires many scholars to envision an audio-visual expression of their research. We will offer eight such
scholars introductory training towards the creation of a professional video, in the context of an academic career.

The workshop will provide an introductory overview of the filmmaking process, from framing your project, through funding and planning, to filming in the field, and finally, to post-production and distribution. Equipment choices, ethical issues, and resources for further assistance will be discussed. Both lecture and hands-on components will be included. Participants will produce a short interview project in the course of the weekend. No prior experience or training in media design or techniques is assumed. The workshop will be led by both academics with filmmaking experience and professional filmmakers with research experience.

Eligibility: Scholars at any level of seniority affiliated with an academic and/or research institution. Graduate students should have already defined their dissertation project. Applicants must have an original, current research project on an Asian topic (any discipline), a portion of which they envision expressing in documentary video format. Participation is competitive; successful applicants will have delineated a video project which addresses a gap in available Asian Studies media and will have the potential for bringing this project to fruition. Those accepted must complete a
questionnaire and prepare assigned readings prior to attending the workshop. Accommodations for May 14-16 and meals for May 15-16 are included; graduate students will be offered assistance with transportation costs up to $400.

After completing the workshop, participants will be eligible to compete for two small seed grants to produce pilot videos to launch their projects.

Applications and more information are available at:
Deadline for receipt of applications: February 28, 2008.

With further inquiries, please contact:

Tanya Lee
Program Director
Asian Educational Media Service (AEMS)
Center for East Asian & Pacific Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
805 West Pennsylvania Avenue, MC-025
Urbana, IL 61801
TEL: 217-265-0642 or 888-828-AEMS
FAX: 217-265-0641

Monday, January 28, 2008

A sad day for Gonzo Anthropology...

Dr. Gonzo Fedorowicz, 1992 - 2008. Rest in Peace.

Visual Anthropology of Japan is saddened by the passing of Gonzo. This blog started out with Gonzo. Like his namesake, he was a huge inspiration for the author. As the cat of a visual anthropologist, Gonzo was widely traveled, well known and admired by many in North America and Asia. He will be missed, but his legend will live on.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Globalization of Sushi: Report on "60 Minutes"

Recently the CBS news show "60 Minutes" ran a story about the globalization of sushi. Anthropologist Ted Bestor appears in the story. Check it out at the following link:

Link to 60 Minutes story

60 Minutes "used" a lot of Bestor's material without giving him enough credit, I think. But I suppose it is cool to see an anthropologist on a popular TV show. Check out Bestor's research for more information on this interesting topic.

UPDATE: Is sushi safe to eat? See the recent story (and photos) from the MSNBC website:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

PM Fukuda's New Year's Greeting

Link to YouTube clip

Here's a bizarre little piece brought to my attention from Japan Today.

Link to Japan Today - Quote of the Day

It's boring (even more so than speeches by previous Japanese Prime Minister Abe) and blatant propaganda. It is also a lesson on how not to film a speech. Here are some observations form a body/comm visual anthropologist:

It is terribly obvious that Fukuda is reading from a teleprompter; his eyes and at times entire head moves from side to side as he reads. You can also tell when the film shifts to the strange perspective giving us Fukuda's profile against the Japanese flag.

Fukuda is also very uncomfortable during this filming. He has dry mouth and makes some unintentional facial gestures at interesting points in his speech. His eyebrows appear angry when he introduces himself as "prime minister." His eyes make an uncomfortable squint when he mentions "change."

Am I being too hard on the guy? Should I give him an A for effort (after all his pronunciation isn't that bad...)? No. He fails in presentation, and even more important, he fails on content. Happy 2008 indeed...


"Fukuda seen as tanuki..."

Photo borrowed from El Mundo de Dragon Ball

From an article in the Daily Yomiuri (1/5/08), "Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is a tanuki (raccoon dog)... in a recent Internet survey..."

"On images they associate with Fukuda, many respondents said they thought he was like tanuki as it is hard to guess what he is thinking, he looks hard-nosed, and can sometimes seem vague."

Read the DY article: