Friday, October 28, 2011

Visual 3/11 Materials

Next week in the Globalization and Contemporary Issues course we will devote an entire class period to the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster of 3/11. That is not to say we have not been discussing the topic yet. 3/11 has impacted almost every subject we have taken up. Even the topic of Japanese baseball we covered today (the season was postponed - out of necessity and respect - and eventually modified - more day games to save power).

How will we try to take on 3/11 in the classroom? This is the concern of many teachers and anthropologists. David Slater at Sophia University has been active in organizing a workshop in Tokyo or Sendai next summer tentatively titled "Teaching the Crisis: Materials, Pedagogy and Research for 3.11." Announcements for this have been posted on many Japan-related listservs.

There is also a blog set up to assist in teaching 3/11 materials. From its own description:

Teach 3.11 is a participatory resource to help teachers and scholars locate and share educational resources about the historical contexts of scientific and technical issues related to the triple earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters in Japan.


There is also the massive Harvard's Japan Disaster Archive. Its own description:

The Digital Archive of Japan's 2011 Disasters project is an initiative of the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University in collaboration with several partners. We aim to collect, preserve, and make accessible as much of the digital record of the disasters as possible, to enable scholarly research and analysis of the events and their effect. We hope that the records preserved will be useful both in the near term as a source of direct information about the disasters, as well as long into the future as scholars seek to understand the events of March 11, 2011 and their impact on Japan and on the world.


This post is a haphazard attempt to organize some of the material on 3/11. In doing so I find myself keep adding more and more. I fear I have lost any sense of structure. So I am going to stop with what I have now (even at the expense of mentioning the increase in sign language interpretation and news sources for the deaf as a result of 3/11 - remember seeing the sign language interpreter at the early press conferences? I'll save this for a future post...)

Here are sources that include photos, videos, first hand accounts, blogs, articles, etc. Please feel free to add more sources and/or comments/advice about the upcoming class session.

Japan Focus' Guide to Resources on Japan’s 3.11 Earthquake, Tsunami, Atomic Meltdown

Japan Focus has several articles on the 3/11 conveniently organized at the following link.


A Summary of News From Japan: After the Earthquake and Tsunami

Photo caption: Japan Burning After Earthquake 2011. This source is what is says - a summary. 


Japan marks 6 months since earthquake, tsunami

Here's an update as to how things have progresses in the last 6 months from The Frame at The Sacramento Bee.

This combo image, the initial destruction and progress of cleanup after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami is seen in Higashimatsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, in northeast Japan. The top photo, taken March 14, 2011, shows Japan Self-Defense Force personnel search for victims near stranded fishing boats and damage from the tsunami. The middle photo, taken June 3, 2011, shows a temporary dump set up in the same area, while the bottom photo taken Sept. 1, 2011 shows a stranded ship still sits in the area after the debris were removed. AP / Kyodo News

Read more:

Colin Tyner's blog posts on The Great East Japan Disaster

[The posts] exhibit my series of posts on the Great East Japan Disaster (Higashi Nihon Daishinsai). I pasted together as one electronic document. All of the links to the articles and pictures appear as on the day that I wrote the piece.


MSNBC Photoblog

A Japanese tsunami survivor stands in front of messages displayed on the wall of a relief center in Rikuzentakata, in Iwate prefecture on March 22. The twin quake and tsunami disaster, Japan's worst crisis since World War II, has now left at least 9,079 people dead and 12,645 missing, with entire communities along the northeast coast swept away.


Conveying the Sadness in Japan’s Stoicism

Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder lives in Japan and was able to capture some great shots to document the 311 disaster and after effects.

Link to a slideshow of his 311 photos:

Japan Quake Shakes TV: The Media Response to Catastrophe

By Philip J Cunningham at Japan Focus: A discussion and description of the Japanese media coverage of the earthquake. Includes several interesting YouTube clips.


JPQuake: Journalist Wall of Shame

Lots of examples of how the foreign/western media has provided "sensationalist, overly speculative, and just plain bad reporting" of the events.


Debris from Japanese Tsunami Could Hit US

Video from NBC Nightly News via MSNBC.

Bringing Photography Into Life-- After 311 Japan Quake

Documentary: 311

Announcement from H-Japan:

311, Directed by Mori Tatsuya, Watai Takeharu, Matsubayashi Yojuu, and
Yasuoka Takaharu, 2011 / Japan / HD / 94 Minutes

311 is one of the first documentaries completed about the March 2011
disaster in Japan and focuses not just on the destruction and human toll,
but also, in a self-reflexive fashion, on the fundamental problems of
media attempting to report on such suffering.

See more information in the flyer below (click to expand):

VAOJ Posts on 311

A distant view from Osaka...

March 12

March 22

March 28

It seems we have more than enough to get started. I am looking forward with great anticipation to our class and how we will organize and discuss 3/11. Again, I beg for comments and advice.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

New Japanese Technology in the News...

Tokyo tech fair opens with clapping robot

Story and photo above from Japan Today, 10/21/11.

From robotic hand-clapping arms to a device that could show tsunami alerts in the sky, Japanese technology researchers showcased their latest inventions in Tokyo Thursday.

Two pairs of artificial arms welcomed visitors as the Digital Content Expo opened for a three-day run, producing a realistic clapping sound due to the soft palms of the hands.

The arms, named Ondz, are made of white skin-like urethan “flesh” and aluminum “bone.” They create what the developer calls the “organic” sound of human hand clapping by the patting of soft palms.

“I want the the audience to enjoy the creepy and surreal feelings this product gives as entertainment,” said Masato Takahashi, researcher at the graduate school of media design at Keio University, who molded the design on his own body.

Ondz could be used in musical performances, to enhance the sound of real clapping. Or viewers watching a programme online could click a button to make hands at the broadcast site clap, Takahashi told AFP.

He also said he would like to produce a “spanking machine” to hit comedians, as well as stomping feet to complement the hand-clapping arms.

Read the whole story:

'Subtitle glasses' to debut at Tokyo film festival

Story from The Daily Yomiuri Online, 10/22/11.

Olympus Corp. and a nonprofit organization have jointly developed special eyeglasses that project subtitles on the lenses so the hearing impaired can enjoy Japanese movies.

A type of head-mounted display (HMD), the glasses will be unveiled at the Tokyo International Film Festival that runs through Oct. 30.

The device was developed by the Tokyo-based precision equipment maker and the non-profit Media Access Support Center (MASC), based in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture.

MASC has been working to provide better access to information for people with hearing difficulties by promoting captions for films and DVDs, and is providing captions from its Web site through the iPhone to the device.

According to MASC, subtitles for the hearing impaired need to include not only dialogue but also information on who is going to speak before actors deliver their lines. It also needs to explain to viewers about footsteps, honking horns and other sound effects.

As it costs at least 1 million yen per film to print these subtitles, few films provide them. Only 51 of 408 new releases in 2010 had the special subtitles.

Theaters showing these films are also limited, especially in rural areas. Since the subtitles may annoy non-impaired viewers, the films are generally shown only for about two days even in metropolitan areas.

Mitsuhiko Ogawa, 49, vice director of Tokyoto Chuto Shiccho Nanchosha Kyokai, an association for people with hearing disabilities, said films give people with hearing problems an important opportunity to relate to other people and society. "It would be great if we were able to go see a movie with anybody, anytime, anywhere," Ogawa said.

Even if the HMD comes into wide use, however, scripts for subtitles still have to be made for each film. MASC director Koji Kawano, 48, said making HMD subtitles costs less than one-fifth of usual subtitles as the HMD subtitles do not have to be printed on film. "The problem is who bears the cost," he said.

Kawano stressed films with HMD subtitles will also be good for seniors with hearing difficulties. He said demand could be increased by expanding the HMD's functions to allow the use of foreign-language subtitles.

Read the whole story:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Imperial Exposure: Early Photography and Royal Portraits across Asia"

Symposium announcement from H-ASIA:

Coinciding with the Sackler exhibition Power/Play: China’s Empress Dowager, this symposium examines imperial portraiture during the advent of photography in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

While Power/Play addresses the unique circumstances and intentions behind photographs of Empress Dowager Cixi, the symposium is an opportunity for a broader comparative analysis of the engagement with photography in ruling courts across Asia. Among other topics, scholars consider how photographs of court figures were used to create images of power, to establish a sense of nationhood, and to express a religious identity, as well as the relationship between early photographic representations and more recent imperial images from the region.

Freer Gallery of Art
Meyer Auditorium
Monday, December 5–Tuesday, December 6, 2011

For more information:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

変な Henna Tattoos at Kobe India Festival

Over the weekend while exploring Kobe we came across the India Mela 2011 in Merikan Park. There were performances, food, booths selling various Indian merchandise, etc. The Indian food was tempting but we had already made plans to gorge ourselves with meat at the nearby Brazilian restaurant. Somehow the India Mela didn't captivate me as much as other ethic festivals I have attended in the past, especially the Thai Festival in Frankfurt last summer (perhaps already being in Japan I already have enough of the orientalist fix...). What did catch our eyes were the henna tattoos.

Why not mark up our bodies temporarily? The tattoos were supposed to last for a week to ten days they told us.

We requested matching tattoos, 1000 yen each. However the artist wasn't able to make them match and we got a 500 yen discount. Still they looked kinda cool until the henna dried and flaked off, leaving very light markings on our skin no one has noticed this week.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Announcement from SSJ-Forum:

The Japan Echo Foundation (formerly Japan Echo Inc.) has launched a new website:

The site carries content in English, Japanese, Chinese (both traditional and simplified characters), French, and Spanish. We have plans to expand this to include
Russian and Arabic, too.

Readers of _Japan Echo_ magazine may know that our print publication came to an end when the DPJ's "jigyō shiwake" process axed the MOFA funds that bought a portion of its print run for distribution via Japan's embassies and consulates. For a year following the last issue of the magazine, we operated the website Japan Echo Web (, a MOFA-funded project. The contract for this is subject to an annual bidding process, and for the current fiscal year we decided not to take part; a different firm is producing that site's content now.

The Nippon Foundation approached us last year and offered us funding for a new website, which is what we launched yesterday.

The "In-depth" section of the website will carry content similar to what we used to translate for _Japan Echo_, although most of it will be original material, rather than translations from the Japanese monthlies. The other sections of the site include lighter content on Japan's society and culture, interviews with political and business figures, photographic and video presentations, and much more.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"Damage control"

Image and text borrowed from Japan Today Picture of the Day (10 October 2011). Caption reads: "This photo, released on Saturday by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), shows the damaged No. 3 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture. Officials said Sunday the plant is now relatively stable."

Sometimes a picture says more than it was intended to...

See the photo and reader comments at Japan Today: