Friday, May 31, 2013

"Etiquette for taking photos in public"

Taking photographs in public has long been an interest here at VAOJ under the guise of the Shooting Culture in Japan Project. Today the The Japan News published a general and useful essay on the subject:

With the spread of high-quality digital cameras, even on cell phones, anyone can enjoy photography. However, it is important to give sufficient consideration to the subjects of images, whether people or objects, to avoid causing discomfort.

A 35-year-old female company employee in Osaka Prefecture took a photo of a display at a variety store with her smartphone because she wanted to decorate her own room in a similar fashion.

But the store’s employee warned her not to take the shot.

“I stopped instantly after the warning and apologized to the employee. Are such photos really forbidden?” the woman asked the Yomiuri Shimbun photographer.

Norihiko Matsumoto, senior director of the Japan Professional Photographers Society, contributed to a book on photography etiquette. “When you take a photo inside a shop, you should get permission from the staff upfront. Don’t secretly photograph things,” he said.

If staff forbid photography in a store, you should heed their warnings, Matsumoto added.

When you photograph a person or an item, you could be implicated in violating portrait rights or copyright.

“Unless you’re prepared to accept the risk of legal action, it’s wise to follow the other party’s instructions,” he said.

Are there any tips for getting the go-ahead when asking for permission to take a picture?

Matsumoto advises, “It’s best to thoroughly explain your reason for taking the photo.”

You should say what motivated you to want to photograph the subject. “Because it’s a nice arrangement” in the case of a dish display, for example, or “The way the outfit is put together looks fashionable” in the case of clothing.

In doing so, you put the other party more at ease and increase the likelihood he or she will permit the photo, Matsumoto says. He also said it is necessary to thank the person after taking the picture.

Additionally, people should be more careful about posting photos online, such as on blogs and social networking sites where the photos are highly public.

Another female company employee in her 30s knows that a photo of her and her friend at an event was posted on Facebook without her permission. She has yet to lodge a complaint with Facebook about the incident, but she said, “Just the thought that many strangers are looking at my photo makes me feel uncomfortable.”

In such cases, the photographer must obtain the subject’s consent to post photographs online.

“People should make sure to tell their subjects they are being photographed and ask about uploading any shots on the Internet before they are taken,” said Fumihiro Shimakura of the Japan Network Security Association, a corporate nonprofit organization.

“Sometimes people won’t agree. When they seem unsure about allowing the photo to be posted, it’s better to avoid the action altogether,” Shimakura said.

The same can be said for group photos, in which cases it is often difficult to obtain the consent of each subject.

Additionally, you should not post photos of anime characters or celebrities. Because these photos could be copied without permission, you run the risk of getting into trouble.

As the number of digital cameras equipped with global positioning systems is increasing, the locations where photos were taken may be included in online postings.

“When you take a photo at home, turn off the GPS and don’t post your private information. These are basic guidelines everyone should follow,” he added.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

"Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia 2013 to be held in Tokyo and Yokohama"

From Japan Today, 5/30/13:

The Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia 2013 will be held in Tokyo and Yokohama from May 31 until June 8.

The festival was founded by actor Tetsuya Bessho whose passion is to connect all the different cultures in the world through short films. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Short Shorts Film Festival.

More than 5,000 films from 120 countries will be screened. The competition section will feature 80 films from 37 countries. The festival has been officially accredited by the Academy Awards, with the Grand Prix winner eligible for nomination in the Short Film Category of the Academy Awards.

For more information:


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Golden Week III: 花博記念公園鶴見緑地

Please excuse the delay in the third installment of 2013 Golden Week Visual Anthropology Photo Explorations - final exams, festivals and exhibitions and real life got in the way of blogging. The last photographic adventure took place at Tsurumiryokuchi Expo ‘90 Commemorative Park. The goal aside from taking photos was a leisurely picnic. Other people had other goals and recreations at the park. The two major themes seemed to be walking dogs and cosplay. If you are doing one and/or the other, then this is the setting for you. But there is oh so much more...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Kayo Ume's photos filled with mischievous affection"

From The Japan News, 5/28/13:

By Shinji Inoue / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer

A middle school girl covers her head with underwear in her room. Another girl tries to urinate like a boy. They are part of the honest, mischievous and affectionate depictions of the world of girls by photographer Kayo Ume.

Ume, 32, is known for using a sympathetic eye to take photos of amusing but often overlooked moments in the daily lives of children and adults.

An exhibition of about 570 of Ume’s photos is being held at the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery through June 23. This is her first solo exhibition at an art museum and includes some large pieces and others on display for the first time.

The exhibition, Kayo Ume: Umekayo, opens with a series of large photo panels bearing the images of middle school girls who laugh at each other’s adolescent curiosity about sex. These photos were taken in 2000-2001.

“I think these photos depicting ordinary girls’ real lives may be shocking for middle-aged, business suit-clad men,” said a smiling Ume.

A native of Ishikawa Prefecture, she was first acclaimed for her photos of a primary school boy who is rolling his eyes and boys who are lying down in the street. She called these boys “invincible.”

In 2007, she received the prestigious Kimura Ihei Award for photography for her Umeme collection.

Her photos are always taken from a journalistic viewpoint.

However, as crimes involving children are increasing and the public is growing more and more wary, she has been more careful and considerate in approaching children to photograph, according to Ume. So before taking photos of children, she usually builds a good relationship with young children of her female acquaintances and these children’s friends.

Ume in 1998 began taking photos of her grandparents and family members who live in her hometown of Noto. She named these photos the Jichan-sama (Long Live Grandpa!) series.

At the venue, the inner walls of a special space built for the exhibition are filled with these photos. The series includes photos illustrating her younger sister’s growth, marriage and childbirth and her grandmother’s death. It is a record of her family history that is changing as time passes.

“I take photos that I can look lovingly at,” she said. “Recently, my viewpoint has become that of a mother.”

The exhibition will also be shown at The Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum in Niigata from March 15, 2014.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Announcement: 13th Nippon Connection Film Festival

13th Nippon Connection Film Festival – The Program
More than 130 films & 41 cultural events
4 – 9 June 2013, Frankfurt am Main
New festival locations: Mousonturm and Naxoshalle

The program for the 13th edition of the Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection is complete! Over the course of six festival days, the audience will have the chance to discover more than 130 short and feature films from Japan, with many German, European, and world premieres, from 4 – 9 June 2013. The genres range from subtle dramas and wild comedies to anime and critical documentaries. Many filmmakers and artists from Japan will be present at the biggest festival for Japanese cinema worldwide. An extraordinary cultural program will top off the festival, offering a rich experience of this outstanding country. For the first time, the Nippon Connection Festival will not take place on the University campus, but at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and at Naxoshalle in Frankfurt. Other locations will include the German Film Museum and the Mal Seh‘n cinema.

For more information:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Announcement: VAOJ Student Photo Exhibition, May 22-25

VAOJ students have been working all semester on their ethnographic visual projects and their resulting photos will be exhibited from Wednesday, May 22 to Saturday, May 25. This time the photo exhibition will be included with the Asian Studies Program Ceramics and Manga show. Lots of good art to see. Free and open to all students, staff, faculty and general public.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Announcement: IAFOR Open Film Competition in Osaka, November 8-10, 2013

The International Academic Forum (IAFOR) is inviting filmmakers from around the world to submit an original short film for the annual IAFOR Open Film Competition. Amateur and professionals are welcome to enter, however entrants are limited to just one submission for the category, regardless of category. There is no charge for entering a film.

in English (or with English subtitles) are welcome in the following categories:
- Fiction 
(under 40 minutes/over 40 minutes)
- Documentary (under 40 minutes/over 40 minutes)
- Anime (under 20 minutes/under 40 minutes)
- Spot News (International/Regional/National; under 20 minutes/under 40 minutes)
- Music Video (under 10 minutes)
Judge Panel
Films will be judged by a panel of three judges:
- Judge 1: Professor Gary Swanson, The University of Northern Colorado (USA)
- Judge 2: 
Dr James Rowlins, Singapore University of Technology and Design (Singapore)
- Judge 3: TBA

The closing date for entries is September 15, 2013.

Winners will be announced at the Asian Conference on Film and Documentary in Osaka, Japan (November 8 – 10, 2013). The overall winner will be awarded a grand prize of US$1000 and a trophy. Winners of the individual categories will be awarded a trophy.  
For more entry information and to download the entry form, please visit

Friday, May 10, 2013

Announcement: VAOJ Student Film Festival, May 14

VAOJ students have been working all semester on their projects and their resulting films will be shown on Tuesday, May 14 at 6:30 PM. This time the venue is the Grand Hall on the 4th Floor of the ICC Building. Enter the ICC from the main street near campus or rear access via the land-bridge in front of the library; take the elevator to the 4th floor, enjoy the view and enter the hall for the films. Free and open to all students, staff, faculty and general public.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Golden Week II: ネコ公園

The second stop for strolling and photographic adventures during Golden Week was what I will refer to as "Cat Park" near my neighborhood.  Stray cats are a problem in Japan. Signs are displayed in the park with messages discouraging abandonment of pets and animal abuse, and to "think about" the repercussions of feeding strays. Some people make daily trips to the park to feed the strays and bond with the animals. They get to know the personality of the cats and their various roles in the cat society. I happened upon such a woman who pointed out a male who she considered to be the boss cat in the park and informed me about a mother who recent gave birth to a litter under a bridge. The adventure today reminded me of Kazuhiro Soda's observational film, Peace, which deals with social workers and stray cats in Japan.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Golden Week I: 鶴橋

There was lots of walking to be done during the Golden Week holidays. Warm, sunny weather made for pleasant strolls and photographic adventures. The first stop was Tsuruhashi, the center of Korean and Japanese-Korean culture in Osaka.