Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Some recent interesting and brief videos to introduce Japan

One of the challenges of teaching courses about contemporary Japanese culture at my university is that my students come from a variety of countries, backgrounds, majors and areas of knowledge. I cannot assume all of my international (and local) students are anthropology majors and/or have knowledge about the social sciences, cultural studies and/or Japanese studies. To bring my students up to speed at the beginning of the semester I usually recommend that they read An Introduction to Japanese Society by Japanese sociologist Yoshio Sugimoto. Now in its 4th edition (2014, Cambridge University Press) I find the chapters on "The Japan Phenomenon and the Social Sciences" and "Geographical and Generational Variations" to be especially useful as an introduction to Japan. But these days I have to wonder if my students actually do such recommended readings... Perhaps another way to introduce Japan might be through the use of popular YouTube videos. With this thought in mind I offer the following as a starting point for the exploration of Japan and its cultures. They are not perfect as there are a few small errors here and there, some bias problems and they might appear too pop in style for academics, which is why I still strongly recommend Sugimoto...

Geography Now! Japan

History of Japan (Bill Wurtz)

[360°VR] JAPAN - Where tradition meets the future (VisitJapan)

Why Japan Has No Mass Shootings (act.tv)

Initial information and motivation from Japan Today, 2/17/18: https://japantoday.com/category/features/lifestyle/informative-video-condenses-everything-about-japan-into-16-minutes-of-pure-gold

1 comment:

The Grand Narrative said...

Just had to give a fistbump for the Sugimoto recommendation! :) I only have an old 2nd edition (2003) copy myself, but I remember that those two chapters were a real revelation, which I've modeled my writing and introductory lectures on Korea on ever since. Alas, I can't really justify the expense of purchasing the latest edition, but I'm still really curious as to what has changed in the 11 years between them. Am I naive in assuming those 2 chapters would be fundamentally the same?