Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This is a scam targeted at deaf people...

This is a work in progress posting.

Warning, the "announcement" below is a scam targeted at deaf people. I have deactivated all the hotlinks in it. It is a blatant and poorly done as well with spelling mistakes and a strange layout that juxtaposes several different images and graphics. To my knowledge there is no "Confederation of the deaf" nor a "Prince Mayour Ola." Unfortunately it does steal the logo of a legitimate deaf related organization, RC Deaf Missions Malaysia. Its director assures me that they have nothing to do with this and are quite upset that their logo has been stolen and used for such a scam.

Have you received this scam e-mail? It comes as HTML code and has "LUCKY WINNERS OF THIS YEAR 2008 DEAF PROMO!!!" in the subject line. I am trying to ascertain how and why I received the mail and how widespread it is. If you have any information, please contact me or leave a comment.


Dear Winner,
Confederation Of Deaf  People™ hereby congratulates you and at the same time informing you that You are among the lucky winners of this year 2008 deaf promo® Money OrderSM sent to you from Prince Mayour Ola has been Approved.®
Money OrderSM : $500,000.00  USD
Winning Number  : CZ982032214JH.
Deaf Site             : Deaf Vp
Address Verification
We will like you to get back to us with this information as follow
We will await your response back to this E-mail till the next 48,hours as all winner are to reply back immediately.
Domestic Winners Details
*We are goverment approved
*Non Scam E-mail
*Money Will be delivered to you in cash form no check or money order 
We are proudly supported by...............
Get  some Zeropaid GearFBI SCAM PROTECTED
 Note: Please do not reply to this E-mail if you are not a deaf, if you do and you were caught you will be handled over to our authourity, because we are GOVERMENT APPROVED
Thank you for reading our E-mail copyright®.  We look forward
to satisfy all deaf arround the world because we don't want any deaf to suffer. 
Confederation of deaf people®
Signature Confirmation
****************************** ****************************** ****************************** *******
Delivery Service**UPS Delivery Post-Man**                                                             



Please be careful of this and other e-mail scams.

UPDATE: I have contacted various deaf people and deaf researchers but nobody has indicated that they received this e-mail. I on the other hand received the e-mail again on a different e-mail account. If you have any information, please share...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

2008 大学日本手話勉強グループ春飲み会

Another semester has ended and thus it was time for another get together with the kids from the JSL study group and Deaf people from Osaka and Kyoto. We had a record number of 27 participants (15 Deaf, 12 hearing).

This year's event had much to celebrate. N has recently graduated and will enter graduate school in Australia. It was J's 21st birthday. All four sempai (who called themselves the Power Puff Girls) are leaving. Only two members from this semester will be back in the fall. There were many laughs and many cries. I was especially proud to see my students chatting away in JSL to my Deaf friends. Thank you to all who participated. I hope we can continue our friendship and fellowship, and the spread of sign language all over the world.

The JSL Study Group will be on summer break; we will start up again in early September. But stay tuned to VAOJ for more sign language related news.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Japanese Photographer Daido Moriyama

(The Three Views of Japan No. 3 - Mutsu Matsushima [1974]. Image borrowed from

A life on the streets: Photography museum celebrates Daido Moriyama's 70th birthday

Special to The Japan Times, May 22, 2008

"I'm not always a stray dog. Sometimes I'm a cat," says Daido Moriyama. "Or an insect."

A stray dog with piercing eyes and a hint of a snarl may be the most famous of the monochrome images captured by the Japanese master of black and white photography. And as Moriyama nears his 70th birthday, it is clear that his feral days of roaming the streets, camera in hand, are not yet over.

"As long as I can walk, I will continue wandering the streets," he says. "The streets are my territory and I still wander them aimlessly with my camera."

Moriyama is among Japan's most important postwar photographers. Gritty and textured, stark and poignant, his images have long cast an unsettling spotlight on an ever-changing society.

Read the whole story:

Link to Moriyama daido's official web site:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Photographer Speared by Javelin at Utah Meet"

This is not Japan or visual anthropology related, but I believe it illustrates the spirit of the Gonzo Visual Anthropologist.

Image and story from The Associated Press.

A newspaper photographer got a little too close to the action at the state high school track championships — and was speared through the leg by a javelin.

Ryan McGeeney of the Standard-Examiner was spared serious injury in Saturday's mishap, and even managed to snap a photo of his speared leg while others worked to help him.

"If I didn't, it would probably be my editor's first question when I got back," McGeeney said later.

The 33-year-old McGeeney, an ex-Marine who spent six months in Afghanistan, was taking pictures of the discus event and apparently wandered into off-limits area set aside for the javelin throw.

Striking just below the knee, the javelin tip went through the skin and emerged on the other side of his leg.

"It wasn't real painful. ... I was very lucky in that it didn't hit any blood vessels, nerves, ligaments or tendons," McGeeney said.

Much of the javelin was cut off at the scene. The piece in McGeeney's leg was removed at a hospital, and he received 13 stitches.

The javelin was thrown by Anthony Miles, a Provo High School student who said when he saw what had happened, "my heart just stopped."

"One of the first things that came to my mind was, 'Good thing we brought a second javelin,'" Miles' coach, Richard Vance, said Monday. He said Miles was "in a little bit of shock," but he assured the athlete that it was not his fault.

With a subsequent throw, Miles went on to win the state title in javelin for teams in Provo High's size classification, 4-A.

Alls well that ends well...

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Cigarette Machines May Get Face Scanners"

Want to buy tobacco? Look into the mirror to begin age verification. Caution: Looking young may prevent you from smoking.

The Finance Ministry may install automatic age-verification devices on all cigarette vending machines in addition to the identity card readers that are due to be fitted to all such machines by July, sources said.

A complicated application procedure means relatively few smokers have applied for the new Taspo ID cards, which carry a photo of the bearer and proof of his or her age.

Push the button for face scanning to begin. Continue to look deeply into the mirror.

But Fujitaka Co., a vending machine maker of Nagaokakyo, Kyoto Prefecture, has developed a scanner that can estimate a person's age in about three seconds based on the size and number of wrinkles and pouches around the eyes and mouth. The device uses a digital camera and is built into the vending machines. Customers simply press a button to get the device to check their age.

According to the company, the scanner is about 90 percent accurate. People who are only just over 20, the legal smoking age, or whose age is difficult to verify through facial features can insert their driver's license into the device instead.

Congratulations. You have the necessary bone structure, sags and crow's feet to be eligible to buy tobacco. Now insert money here.

About 1,500 such scanners are in use on a trial basis in 21 prefectures in the Tohoku and Kyushu regions, where the Taspo cards were introduced May 1.

The Finance Ministry has allowed cigarette buyers to use their driver's license as an alternative to the Taspo card to prove their age.

A ministry official said, "We'll make a decision on the validity of facial age-verification technology after looking into whether it can reliably prevent minors from purchasing cigarettes."

Story from The Daily Yomiuri Online, May 19, 2008.

Images borrowed from Fujitaka web page.

Bolded sarcasm courtesy of VAOJ.

See the story, Japanese smokers to face age test, at the BBC web site as reported on May 12, 2008.

Is this more weird Japan? Why is the government trying to make it so easy for people of legal age to buy tobacco? You can insert the special TASPO card, your driver's license, and now your face. The Japanese government owns 50% Of Japan Tobacco, the "Japanese government monopoly corporation for domestic tobacco sales. Also active in pharmaceuticals and food." I wonder why there has been no discussion of such age verification for alcohol and other adult-oriented vending machines?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Subtitles or Voiceover?

This is a debate that often erupts in Visual Anthropology class. Usually subtitles win out. But here is an interesting article from Japan Today that brings up some problematic (and unfortunate) issues regarding subtitles.

More recently, however, film distributors have become increasingly aware that younger audiences are unable to comprehend subtitles on current films. To simplify things, subtitle producers have been ordered to reduce the number of words flashed on the screen to the bare minimum, and use of Chinese characters has been cut.

But the comprehension problem may also be indicative of the dumbing down of the nation. Young adult moviegoers’ lack of familiarity with many basic historical facts, says the Sankei, in some cases has not progressed beyond middle-school level.

As a result, distributors are rapidly switching over to voice dubbing—not only for animated cartoons, but also for conventional cinema.

Link to 'What are Nazis?' Today's kids can't handle movie subtitles at Japan Today:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How America Sees Japan: Sumo Car Wash

(As seen at Tokyomango...)

Solar Power? More Weird Japan...

(Image and text below borrowed from Japan Today.)

Caption: A model for lingerie maker Triumph Japan wears a “solar-panel bra.” The solar panel can display messages on the removable small electric board when the cell generates electricity. The bra is also equipped with pads designed to hold beverages so that the usage of cans and plastic bottles can be reduced, Triumph said.


Read comments and reactions to this photo.

Link to Japan Today Picture of the Day:

The manufacturer, Triumph Japan, has had some other interesting ideas, as you can see in the following two links. The warm biz might be practical, and the Hanshin Tigers' fun, but others are... well, you decide.

Link to 8 Best Bizarre Bras from Triumph Japan:

Link to Triumph International Theme Undies:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Yasukuni" Shown in Osaka

Documentary "YASUKUNI" screened at Osaka theater
(Kyodo News, May 10, 2008, 10:29 AM)

A movie theater in central Osaka began screening the controversial documentary film "YASUKUNI" on Saturday, becoming the first theater to do so in the Kansai area of western Japan.

The Seventh Art Theater in Yodogawa Ward will run the film by Chinese Director Li Ying till June 6. Depending on viewer turnout, the showing will be extended, it said.

Preliminary Report:

I was among the first people in Osaka to see Yasukuni this morning. It was my intention to get there well before the first 9:30 AM showing to see/photograph any trouble that might have been brewing near or inside the theater. I thought I might be lucky enough to get a ticket for the second screening at 11:55 AM or maybe even tomorrow.

When I arrived the only brewing trouble seemed to be coming from the media and its traveling circus outside the theater. I started taking some pictures when a theater staff member asked if I was there to see the film. I replied yes and was told to proceed on the other side of a rope. As I entered the customer line, the media swooped down on the foreigner.

No asking of permission, no acceptance of my claimed language difficulties, boom! I had two TV cameras shoved in my face and was being asked why I was there to see the movie. I replied that I was interested in Japanese politics. Why? I was asked. The questions got longer and longer and I felt as if they were attempting to put words into my mouth. Finally I politely said I was done. I turned around and there were more reporters and cameras aimed at my face, looking to get their shot. So I started taking pictures of them.

Disappointed reporters and cameramen turn away from the visual anthropologist.

I was ushered into an elevator and up to the 6th floor. I was asked not to take photographs. It seemed that I had three choices of tickets for the day: 1) a standing room only ticket for the 9:30 show, 2) a ticket for a special hall set up on the fourth floor for the 9:30 show, or 3) a ticket for the 11:55 show. I chose number 2.

The main theater on the 6th floor had about 130 viewers I was told. On the 4th floor in a large hall belonging to a Chinese restaurant a special screen and speakers were set up. About 100 people viewed the film there.

This photo is of the hall on the 4th floor set up to accommodate excess viewers. A few people were taking photographs so I quickly snapped this one. The hall quickly filled up before the film began.

There were many staff people ushering customers here and there. There weren't any uniformed police but there were some plain clothed security guards. Two sat in the rear of the hall; they were older men with scars and quite frankly, scary-looking. Before the film began, two more security guards came in and sat on each side in the front of the hall. They had earphones in their ears and handguns under their jackets.

The atmosphere was odd and tense. I felt as if I were at some illegal gathering... Many people seemed to come by themselves. There wasn't a whole lot of interaction between the members of the audience except for a group of older people who sat in the front of the hall. They all seemed to know each other; eventually one woman started passing out flyers for a "Viva! Cuba X Japan Fiesta" on May 20. The woman made a special effort to make sure I got a flyer. I was truly among a hotbed of radical Japanese.

After the film I was able to buy a film program/study guide (700 yen) and talk with theater staff members a bit. I waited my turn to take the elevator and was once again greeted by the media.

I was still processing the film in my mind, so when the microphone was jammed in my face again I said, "No comment..." More disappointed media. But other Japanese people were there to give their comments. I felt this was more appropriate anyway. This is a Japanese issue; why was the media swooping down on a foreigner to get his opinion?

So what is my opinion of the film? I will offer a few brief comments.

Overall, I felt as though I really didn't learn anything new from the film. The film portrayed, often times in a jerky and blurry video style, radical right wing activities at Yasukuni, but these were public events that seemed to demand an audience and documentation. They were intended to be public events, so I don't see how real nationalists would have a problem with these scenes. Perhaps some right leaning politicians might feel like they would want to hide such activities to an international audience...

In one scene, war veterans paraded into the shrine and prayed. The movie poster (seen below along with the movie program and my ticket stubs) highlights one of these public events.

What is odd about the movie poster is the position of the man's arms. What is the meaning of this man's gesture?

Actually, the gesture is captured/photographed at the wrong moment. The man holds his hands apart before bringing them together for a Shinto prayer-clap. The photo should have been of the prayer/clap itself. The hands outstretched taken out of context is suggesting some other meaning.

Li Ying focuses on a sword maker and much of the footage of the sword being made is quite beautiful. I suppose it is a juxtaposition of a beautiful art resulting in a deadly weapon. Li Ying at times seems a little aggressive when interviewing the sword maker. At times the sword maker seems to not know the answer, or perhaps not want to answer, some more politically motivated questions.

Overall, the film is interesting and might be educational to people who don't know much about the issues surrounding Yasukuni shrine. But one has to wonder if such people would come out to see this film anyway. All of the sensational protests and media coverage gave the film much more attention that it would have otherwise gleaned. A colleague has recorded and given me several clips of news coverage of the film and the screenings in Tokyo and Osaka. They all tend to show the more violent scenes from the film. This is yet another example of the media over-blowing an issue; but it also serves to give Li Ying free advertising for his film.

Does the film deserve all the controversy it has received? In the end, probably not. But the film certainly deserved to be made, and it deserves to be seen. Do check it out and offer your opinions here at VAOJ. What do you think of the film? How does the film serve to help us in out understanding of the visual anthropology of Japan?

(Special thanks to JH. Preliminary report written 5/10; additional text and photos added on 5/12.)

...and more Yasukuni articles trickle in.

Yasukuni: The Stage for Memory and Oblivion. A Dialogue between Li Ying and Sai Yoichi
Translated by John Junkerman, this discussion between "foreign" filmmakers in Japan appears in the latest edition of Japan Focus.

Link to "Dialogue"

Friday, May 9, 2008

Photos of Hiroshima from the Robert L. Capp Collection

An announcement from H-Japan...

The Robert L. Capp collection at the Hoover Institution Archives contains ten never-before-published photographs illustrating the immediate aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. These photographs, taken by an unknown Japanese photographer, were found in 1945 among rolls of undeveloped film in a cave outside Hiroshima by U.S. serviceman Robert L. Capp, who was attached to the occupation forces. Unlike most photos of the Hiroshima bombing, these dramatically convey the human as well as material destruction unleashed by the atomic bomb. Mr. Capp donated them to the Hoover Archives in 1998 with the provision that they not be reproduced until 2008. Three of these photographs are reproduced in Atomic Tragedy with the permission of the Capp family. Now that the restriction is no longer in force, the entire set is available below. Please contact Sean L. Malloy ( if you have any information that might help identify the original photographer.

These are some very disturbing photos. Proof that visual anthropology is not always pretty. War is stupid. Nuclear weapons are stupid. What were they thinking? And what are they thinking now? View these pictures at your own discretion.

Link to Atomic Tradegy


There has been some buzz on H-Japan about these photos actually being of Hiroshima.

David Palmer writes:

I would tend to agree with the Hiroshima Peace Museum assessment having serious doubts about these photos.

In late 2004, I presented the paper "The Missing 72 Hours: Are there Hidden Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Photos?" at the Kyoto Peace as a Global Movement III conference. It was based on an assessment of all known photos of the Hiroshima atomic bombing up to that year, including consultation with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on the issue. One interview I did with a Hiroshima hibakusha a year earlier led to him showing me photos he believed were such hidden photos never before seen - which he honestly believed - and which had been handed down from person to person for some 40 years or so.

We had the photos digitalized so that they could be circulated to a range of scholars in the US, Japan, and Europe. Eventually, a number of people in Japan identified them as the 1923 Kanto earthquake, and most likely the Korean massacres in Tokyo (Kanto-ku). Several elements in the photos indicated they were not Hiroshima or 1940s era. These included the buildings, burnt out, that do not match Hiroshima buildings - or terrain. Also, 1920s era straw hats (flat top with brim) were in these photos - something not characteristic of attire in 1945 Hiroshima. It turned out also that the photos were in the collection of the Tokyo Science Museum (which had liaised with the Hiroshima Peace Museum) - it was common after the earthquake to make post cards of the photos and sell them throughout Japan.

Certain parts of the Capp collection photos also have these characteristics. Note, also, that in one photo an arm has clearly been severed, as if cut off. This would be characteristic of the anti-Korean riots, not Hiroshima in August 1945.

Finally, the bodies do not have characteristics of radiation burns that are universal in Hiroshima photos.

The problem of Capp finding the film, however, raises more complex identification issues - but the key is the elements of identification within the photos. It might be useful, too, for those with the original film to have it analyzed for chemical makeup to try to determine the date the film may have been manufactured.

However, when the investigation I initiated - which turned out to be Kanto earthquake photos, not Hiroshima atomic bomb ones - included observations by Hiroshima hibakusha, who were volunteers at the Peace Museum - their response was that regardless of the fact that these were not A bomb photos, the images were very similar to what they remembered in their own experiences.

For 72 hours - as I indicated in my conference paper - there was a void of photography. After that period, official Japanese Imperial Army photos generally show the "atomic wasteland" and individual injuries. They are entirely different than the hibakusha drawings and paintings of a vast human catastrophe. The handful of photos by Matsushige Yoshito - taken some 1000 meters from the hypocenter - are all that we have so far of that 72 hour period. Japan's military tried to surpress all information - radio, printed, and photographic - of the Hiroshima atomic bombing immediately after it occurred because they feared it would ruin public morale. Subsequent US censorship obviously was aimed at preventing the truth of the catastrophe from impacting on world opinion.

This was a project I could not continue because I was denied funding, including from the Japan Foundation. I am convinced, however, that there are photos, somewhere, but it will take a team of researchers and reasonable funding to locate them and authenticate them. They are photos, I believe, that neither the Japanese government nor the US government want the public to see.

They reveal a horrendous war crime (by the US) and continued cover-up of military censorship (by both the US and Japan).

Ann Sherif writes:

Some of the photographs from the Capp collection supposedly of Hiroshima casualties appear in the book by Malloy, Sean L. Atomic Tragedy: Henry Stimson and the Decision to Use the Bomb Against Japan (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2008)( p. 3, pp. 139-140). On p. 3 of the book. Malloy states ""Mr Capp donated these photos to the Hoover Institution Archives in 1998 with the provision that they not be reproduced until 2008. Mr. Capp has since passed away, and I am grateful to his wife and family for allowing me to reproduce these photos in time for inclusion here."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Golden Week 2008

Batch 1

Batch 2

Batch 3

Every picture tells a story. Taken together these pictures tell the stories of my Golden Week 2008. I am in every photo. Want to know the details? No narration for you - use your imagination... Can you make up your mind for yourself? Can you trust your own interpretations?