Monday, January 31, 2011

城崎温泉町...冬に (Kinosaki Hot Spring Town... in Winter)

Over the weekend I was able to visit Kinosaki, a well known hot spring resort area in Toyooka city, Hyogo prefecture. Visiting an onsen (hot spring) is a special treat, especially during the winter. A highlight of the trip was bathing in a rotenburo, or open air hot spring, submerged in hot water with snow and freezing cold wind blowing from above. Kinosaki is also known for crabs, and I was able to eat some very tasty ones indeed. What struck me the most about the trip was the weather - it was really winter, with cold and snow that we have not had in Osaka for some time. Now, my family and friends in in Michigan-Wisconsin-Minnesota will remind me that the cold and snow shown in these photos is nothing compared to the usual winter in the great lakes area. And certainly there has been more snow in other parts of Japan. But it was still an interesting experience seeing winter emerge as the train proceeded closer to Kinosaki. In all the train ride from Osaka to Kinosaki was about three hours. About an hour before reaching Kinosaki the snow started to emerge. At Kinosaki it snowed non-stop; it was enough to remind me why I moved to warmer climates. A challenge of visual anthropology is to share the experience - and I am sure my photos fail to capture the experience of trudging around wet snow and slush while visiting various onsen and my own flashbacks of childhood winters. Still it was a great setting for taking pictures as the snow and lighting provided different shots even of the same scene.

Link to Kinosaki Hot Springs web page:

Related - "Onsen Blog":

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Stuck in Motion - A Cool Video Technique" (and an interesting representation of Japan?)

Trey Ratcliff is a photographer and author of the self-proclaimed #1 Travel Photography Blog, Stuck in Customs. He promises a new picture posted in his blog everyday. He also shares some  advice on technique and equipment. His video representation of Japan, Stuck in Motion (originally titled The Moments Between - Seeing the Edge), illustrates one of his interesting techniques and certainly reminds us visual anthropologists how visual representation is about the manipulation of time. Here is a quote from his discussion about his cool video technique:

Okay, stick with me for a minute here. I think an important thing to “think about” is the nature of human memory. We live life a certain speed. We are only immediately, consciously aware of about 30 frames per second. However, our brain does not record and react at 30 frames per second. It can do a lot more than that.

Our brains record memories like tiny fantastic movie reels, networked together by feelings, associations, and experience. As a photographer, I always have to remind myself that the brain does not store memories like a computer stores JPGs. We DO NOT take millions of snapshots and file them away. Nor do we take hour-long TiVo recordings of the day and store them for later retrieval. The truth is somewhere in between — fleeting thoughts of moments that grabbed you and will never leave.

We do certainly sense the world at greater than 30 frames per second. You know by experience that you can pick up on the micro-emotions that appear on people’s faces when you talk to them in person. You lose a lot of that over TV or Webcams. Those means can suffice, but, given the choice, in person is always better. Case in point, I’d wager to say some of your deepest memories were experienced in person rather than on TV or over a webcam, which take an arbitrary 30 (or 24) slices of time.

Read more at this blog post:

He seems to be spending some time in Japan and has many photos of Japan:

He has some great photos and videos - somehow he seems to go beyond typical stereotypes of Japan in his representations. His blog is a resource worth checking out.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Announcement from H-ASIA: - The on-line journal for the study and exhibition of the arts of Asia


Asian Arts, the on-line journal for the study and exhibition of the arts of Asia. is dedicated to all aspects of Asian art. It is our ambition to offer a forum for scholars, museums and commercial galleries. We display highlights of exhibitions in public and private institutions and galleries; present new discoveries by scholars and connoisseurs; and, by providing space for private galleries to present their works, offer the visitor a selection of fine Asian art worldwide. [...]

We welcome and encourage color photographs in material submitted for publication. We also welcome letters and requests for information from scholars visiting the site. [...] Please feel free to post letters on any subject; we particularly welcome enquiries with photos of objects you wish to have more information on. [...]

It looks like this is a great resource with a lot of interesting visual materials on Japan and Asia. Check it out.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Conferences and Calls for Papers: The Body, Religion and Film

Visual anthro related announcements from H-Asia:

1. Call for papers: The Body in the Cinemas of South Asia, University of Vilnius, Lithuania, June 30-July 2, 2011

For more information:

2. Call for papers: Buddhism and Film: Aspects and Perspectives of Media-Communicated Religion, Workshop at Freie Universitaet Berlin, June 2nd and 3rd, 2011

For more information: 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Announcement from H-Asia:

AsiaPacific - An Asia Pacific Online Film Library

Self description (from their web site): 

What are we? streams culturally and historically significant films from Asia and the Pacific that entertain, educate and inspire viewers to think beyond boundaries. With the latest streaming technology, subscribers have unlimited access to our films in DVD quality.

Who are we?

We are an experienced team of Asia and Pacific film programmers working in concert with notable scholars, critics, and curators who carefully select our films. Our curators and’s president Jeannette Hereniko are members of the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC), a well-respected international organization. Every year NETPAC awards prizes at major international film festivals.

What’s our storyline?

By acquiring digital rights and streaming our film collection on our website, we give our subscribers access to half of the world’s films: films made by Asians and Pacific Islanders.
Fact: 95 percent of these films are never seen outside of their own countries because mainstream distributors don’t bring them to the global market, or filmmakers from these areas lack access to distribution channels.
Our curators -- experts in Asian and Pacific cinema studies – hand-pick our films for their cultural nuances and historical significance, and for their themes, filmic techniques and styles.
Our film selections present artistic works that offer viewers a broad historical and cultural context about Asia and Pacific. We are creating an online library and archive because we believe the virtual environment is the best way to keep our cinematic heritage in perpetual circulation. features high-quality reviews, excusive interviews, theme-based searches, online commenting, podcasts, and much more.
Our filmmakers -- among them, renowned directors from China, Korea, India, Iran, and Southeast Asia -- receive royalties. A portion of our profits go to support the important work of NETPAC. In the future, a special research and development fund will support future film projects of filmmakers who have contributed films to this website.


Conference Announcement: Film and Cinema in Singapore

Conference date: 6 Oct 2011 - 7 Oct 2011 

Venue: Singapore; venue to be confirmed

Organisers: Jointly organised by Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore and Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University
Call for papers - deadline 2 April 2011

This conference will serve as a platform for both scholars and practitioners to review existing paradigms in addition to charting new approaches and directions into the study of film and cinema in Singapore. Suggested themes include, but are not limited to:
- Historical Evolution
- Geographies of Cinema
- Audience Reception
- Archiving Film
- Cultural and Media Policies and Politics
- Cultural Economy and Film Industry
- Semiotics
- Film Genres (Mainstream/Independent Films)
- Film & Visual/Installation Arts
- Cinematography
- Filmmakers & Artistes
- Film Research 

For more information: 

This is not necessarily Japan-related, but it is always good to see what's going on at film and cinema conferences.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"That Unforgettable Day--The Great Tokyo Air Raid through Drawings あの日を忘れない・描かれた東京大空襲"

Image borrowed from Japan Focus (artist: Fukushima Yasusuke)

 New content at Japan Focus about artists depicting the Tokyo air raids. Brief description:

The following paintings depicting the Great Tokyo Air Raid of March 10, 1945 were featured in a special exhibit hosted by the Sumida Local Culture Resource Center (墨田郷土文化資料館) in 2004. The Center staff originally settled on the idea of collecting amateur and professional artwork as a unique way of contributing to the preservation of the public memory regarding the March 10 incendiary air raid. Each painting is accompanied by a short explanatory text written by the artist. As well as giving insight into the particular scene depicted in the painting, these explanations generally touch on the artist’s overall air raid experience.

Check out the whole story and paintings at Japan Focus:

Related post: New resource about Japan air raids:

Monday, January 17, 2011

VAOJ Ranked in the Top 50 Anthropology Blogs...

This time VAOJ was recognized by the web site Masters in Teaching in the "Top Specialty Blogs for Anthropologists" category. Thanks again to all my students and readers for making this kind of recognition possible.

Check out the entire Top 50 list:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"Film by 14-year-old director from Okinawa to hit cinemas"

From today's Japan Today:

A film directed by a 14-year-old boy has gained such popularity in his native Okinawa Prefecture that it will be commercially screened at theaters on the mainland beginning with three cinemas in Tokyo and Yokohama this weekend.

The feature film titled "Yagi no Boken" (adventure of a goat) by Ryugo Nakamura, a third-year student at Okinawa Higashi Junior High School in Okinawa City, has drawn 40,000 viewers during screenings at community centers in the prefecture last year, leading to the upcoming theatrical release.

The film depicts lives of local boys and other people in the Yambaru area in the northern part of Okinawa Island through the escape of a goat kept for food.

"Goats are food in Okinawa," Nakamura said. "Many films portray Okinawa like a tropical paradise. I hope people will know about its real culture and tradition."

Producer Yuichi Ide said, "I would like people across the country to see this film because of its quality. You would not believe it was shot by a junior high school student."

Nakamura, who will turn 15 on Monday, began shooting independent movies when he was eight with the video camera of his father who died in an accident. He has created more than 30 short films thus far.

Critics raved about his short film "Yagi no Sampo" (a goat on a walk), which served as the groundwork for the latest feature, at the Okinawa tourism drama competition in 2009.

For the latest movie, most actors and crew members were chosen from top local professionals, and Cocco, a renowned female singer born and raised in Okinawa, sings the theme song of the movie.

Nakamura wrote a letter to Cocco asking her to provide the song for the film.

The film is scheduled to hit theaters in many parts of Japan after being released in Tokyo and Yokohama on Saturday.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hanshin Tigers Lecture by William Kelly

Announcement from SSJ Forum - not necessarily visual anthropology related, but it is about the Hanshin Tigers...

Contemporary Japan Group at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo, will have the first meeting of 2011 on Thursday, January 27 at 6:30 PM.

Speaker: William W. Kelly (Professor of Anthropology and Sumitomo Professor of Japanese Studies at Yale University)

Title: The World of the Hanshin Tigers: An Anthropology of Contemporary Sport

Date/Time: January 27 (Thu), 2011 at 6:30-8:00 PM
Location: Room 549 5th floor, Akamon Sogo Kenkyuto, Institute of Social Science, Hongo Campus, University of Tokyo

Language: English
RSVP: NOT required
Admission fee: Free

Abstract: For the last three decades of the twentieth century, the Hanshin Tigers were the heart and soul of Kansai professional sports and emblematic of a sport that was so central to the development of transportation, media, and leisure in that region. To an anthropologist, the Hanshin Tigers represent an intriguing lifeworld centered on the production and presentation of what was arguably the most important sport in twentieth-century Japan. In this talk, I will first outline the five key elements of Hanshin Tigers sports world: the stadium, the team, the management, the fans, and the media. I will then introduce four themes embodied in this sports world: the uncanny mimicry of Bushido baseball; Japanese baseball as edu-tainment; Osaka’s second-city complex and Hanshin Tigers baseball as the nobility of failure; and the Hanshin Tigers baseball as workplace melodrama.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hozanji Temple 2011: Selected Shots

I suppose technically my hatsumode, or first visit to a shrine or temple at new year's time, was on January 2nd when I visited the local shrines in my neighborhood. But I feel my real hatsumode was yesterday, when I visited Hozanji (宝山寺), a Buddhist temple in Ikoma City, Nara. I have visited this temple for over 15 years now. This is where I purchase ofuda (talisman) to protect my house and juzu (prayer beads). Hozanji is one of the first temples I visited in Japan and I find it to be spectacular. It is quite large and people go there to pray - it is not as much of a tourist attraction as some of the more famous temples in Nara and Kyoto. Even when it is crowded at new year's, one can still find quiet places and enjoy a sense of spirituality. And it is a great place to take photos.

For more information about Hozanji, check out the following links.

Link to Ikoma City Official Homepage:

Link to Hozanji Temple Homepage (in Japanese):