Sunday, November 30, 2008

Finger-pokin' Fun: Tuttuki Bako

(Image borrowed from Crunch Gear)

From Japan Today (11/30/08):

When it comes to thinking up vaguely creepy toys, Japan really takes the cake. Case in point is the new Tuttuki Bako, a plastic box with a finger-sized hole on one side. Stick in your digit and it magically appears on the screen in front. You can then engage in all kinds of poking, flicking and squashing fun. Our favorite is the Face Stage, where you poke a digital person’s nose until they sneeze. There are also several mini games that let you bounce a panda or squash an amoeba-shaped blob.

Here's some more things you can do with your finger. Lots of interesting visual potential here...

(Image borrowed from Crunch Gear)

Read more at Crunch Gear:

Here's a YouTube clip illustrating the fun...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Local groups try to combat the rise of HIV infection in Japan › Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion

(Image borrowed from

The HIV/AIDS situation in Japan slowly starts to be reported in mainstream media. Here's an example:

The statistics speak for themselves: 25 million dead, 33 million infected and 2 million new cases each year. The global AIDS epidemic, which first reared its head 27 years ago, continues to spread around the globe. As governments and NPOs work together to lessen the impact, infection rates have slowed and the public’s knowledge throughout the First World has increased — except in Japan.

Read the rest of the story.

Local groups try to combat the rise of HIV infection in Japan › Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion

Posted (as an anthropological blogging experiment) using ShareThis

World AIDS Day is December 1. Here are some links with useful information on how you can get involved.

World Aids Day 2008:

World AIDS Campaign:

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Announcement from H-ASIA:

A Human Rights Film and Arts Festival titled 'Move Media Rights Festival' (MMRF)( focusing on South East Asia, but covering the wider Asian region, will be held from the 11th to the 19th of December, 2008 in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Mae Sot. It is being organized for the first time in Thailand on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

During this year's festival around 30 films will be shown over 8 days, this includes films as well as documentaries. 9 open dialogues sessions with film makers, experts, victims and producers on the themes of the films is also incorporated into the program.

A separate 3-day workshop in English will be held from 16 to 18 December each day"s session lasting from 10am to 3pm. The workshop will conducted by well qualified, experienced and renowned filmmakers and organizers of film festivals. A key resource for the workshop will be Mr. Nick Danziger, the renowned documentary Film Maker and Programme Director of EIUC Summer School on Cinema & Human Rights.

There is a limited amount of workshops scholarships available for talented Thai citizens and other nationals living in Thailand and abroad. Applications are still being accepted.

On 19 December 2008 from 4pm-6pm, The 'Maria Therese Godskesen' memorial human rights defenders lecture on Film and Human Rights will be held to mark the closing ceremony. The lecture will be held at the October memorial hall in Bangkok. The distinguished speakers are:

Mr Mr. Boonthan T. Verawongse, formerly Director, Amnesty International, Thailand

Dr. Mike Hayes, Office of the Human Rights and Social Development (OHRSD), Mahidol University, Thailand

Mr. Nick Danziger, Film Maker & Programme Director of EIUC Summer School on Cinema & Human Rights

Dr. James Gomez, Department of Political Science, Keio University, Japan

Chalida Uabumrungjit from Thai Film Foundation, Thailand

Additionally, there is room for art expositions on human rights and human security issues. MMRF also wishes to honour deserving artists and film makers.

The MMRF is running this human rights film festival in partnership with Amnesty International-Thailand, Office of the Human Rights and Social Development (OHRSD), Mahidol University, South East Asia Regional Cooperation in Human Development (SEARCH), Movies that Matter Foundation from the Netherlands, the Thai Film Foundation and other local partners. The Move Media Project (MMP, web: is the core partner of the event.

For further information please contact:
The Festival Director
Move Media Rights Festival
C/O: International Development Service (IDS)
246, Times Square Building, 12 th floor, Unit 1203, Sukhumvit Rd,
Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Cell: + (668) 4671-9735

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Japanese "Deaf" Drama Starring Suzuki Ami

Story from Japan Today, November 13, 2008:

Ami Suzuki shows warmth in new daytime drama

Singer Ami Suzuki, 26, takes on the challenge of portraying a hearing-impaired character in “Love Letter,” a new TV drama celebrating the 40th anniversary of TBS’s “Ai no gekijou” daytime dramas. Suzuki plays the lead role of a young woman growing up, who communicates through sign language. She travels to Shodo Island in Kagawa Prefecture, where she falls in love for the first time and makes lifelong friendships.

Suzuki expressed her concerns and aspirations when she said “I want to express my true feelings through sign language. With music, I can express things like love clearly through the words, but on stage I have to convey things that are not expressed easily, so that’s tough. But I think I’ll be able to convey the warmth of people through sign language.”

The drama starts on Nov 24 and is on weekdays at 1 p.m.

More information from Asianbite:

Set on Shodoshima in Japan's Inland Sea, the story follows the experiences of the hearing-impaired protagonist along the path to adulthood, such as her first love and her first breakup. The 15-year span of the story is divided into three parts, with Suzuki playing the character as an adult. Rio Yamashita will play the character in junior high, while Yukina Matsushima fills in for the elementary school version of the role.

Well let's see how they do with another deaf drama. Has it really been 4 years since the last one, "Orange Days?" (And is Suzuki Ami really 26?) I have blogged about the challenges of representing deaf people in Japanese dramas. I hope "Love Letter" does a better job.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chinese and Taiwanese Photo Collections

Here's an announcement about collections of photographs from China and Taiwan from H-ASIA.

1. Thomas H. Hahn Docu-Images

From the web site: The galleries on display here belong to the category of documentary photography. The main subject area is China and that country's rather rapid transformation from a rural to an urban-centered society. Taken together, these galleries constitute a visual archive that for the most part is meant to capture and to preserve information (or "evidence of certain developments" perhaps). Only sometimes are these photographs speculative or interpretive. And although I do not claim to aspire towards the highest degree of objectivity (or "truth") embodied in the image as such, I do claim a certain amount of authority over and understanding of the subjects treated in this visual fashion.

2. Gerald Warner Taiwan Image Collection

From the web site: The Gerald Warner Taiwan Image Collection is a photographic record of a US consul's impressions of urban and rural life in Taiwan under Japanese colonial rule. Totaling 340 photographs and postcards gathered by Warner between August 26, 1937 and March 8, 1941, these images provide a snapshot of Taiwan's hybrid culture of Chinese, Taiwanese, Austronesian, and Japanese influences. The subjects represented are wide-ranging, including clothing, arboriculture, urban structures, agriculture, religious rituals, topography, highways, parks, and more. These digitized images have been researched and annotated to serve as a web-based encyclopedia of colonial Taiwan's material culture.

3. The Michael Lewis Taiwan Image Collection

Colonial Pictorial Works Taiwan Image Collection, Special Collections & College Archives, Lafayette College Libraries, Lafayette College, Easton, PA, USA

A collection of 59 sepia photographs from Taiwan from the period 1933-1938. They are digitized images from a book with the following metadata - Title. English: Taiwan, Title. Japanese: Taiwan no fuko, Format. Medium: Printed pictorial book, Creator. Maker: Yamazaki, Kinichiro, editor, Creator. Company: Publisher unknown, Wakayama Prefecture, Date. Original: circa 1939.

4. Bucklin China Archive

From the web site: In 1923, Harold Bucklin took his family on a remarkable journey from Providence, Rhode Island to Shanghai, China, where he produced an exquisite body of work of large format photographs of Pre-Revolutionary China using a Graflex camera. This website is dedicated to Harold and Hazel Bucklin and their remarkable journey. On the pages that follow, you will have an opportunity to retrace their footsteps and view this unique archive of photographs from another time.

There are also some photos of the 1923 Yokohama earthquake included in this collection.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Congratulations - It's a Girl...

VAOJ is proud to announce the birth and adoption of Mugi-chan. She now fills the post of official (cute/かわいい) mascot and adviser to Visual Anthropology of Japan that was vacated by Gonzo.

Some professional bloggers have suggested that when one writes a post about his/her cat, the blog is headed for doom. Japanese bloggers would beg to differ. One of the most popular blogs in Japan, apparently getting 50,000 hits a day, is about the cat Hatch-chan. Read more about this cat and its blog at the URLs listed below:

Link to "Meet Hatch-chan, Japan's First Blogging Cat" at InventorSpot:

Link to はっちゃん日記 (in Japanese):

Now I am not suggesting that everyone blog about their cats. I personally find it disturbing when cat owners put hats, clothes and other accessories on their pets and take/post photographs of the tortured souls. The topic of this post is the power of photography.

A friend of mine recently found an abandoned kitten at her work place. She herself could not adopt the cat because she has two dogs at home. She asked me if I was interested. I thought about it but didn't give a committed answer. Was I really ready to have another cat in my life? My friend continued to drop hints every once in a while. Finally, around the time we were reading parts of Susan Sontag's On Photography in Visual Anthropology class, my friend sent me a picture of the kitten.

To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge -- and, therefore, like power.

There was extreme power in the photograph my friend sent me of the cat, and my friend knew it. The picture was far more powerful than any text spoken or written. How could I possibly refuse?

Post Script: I had indeed forgot what it is like to have a kitten (Mugi-chan is only two months old) - it is like she is tripping on acid all the time. My life has become much more complicated... and interesting.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Beauty in Contemporary Japan: Fall 2008 Body/Comm Workshop

What is beauty in contemporary Japan? According to Fall 2008 Body/Comm students: big (enlarged) eyes; colored, curly hair; long, skinny legs; bone-thin body; large (proportioned) breasts; no body hair; whitened skin accessorized with make-up; painted, gem studded and pierced fingernails and an all encompassing cuteness that is non-threatening to the patriarchy...

Thanks to all participants (especially those who braved the Algorithm Exercise warm-up). Click here to see how previous Body/Comm students have dealt with Japanese beauty.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fall 2008 Globalization Kobe Fieldtrip

This semester we had a small and intimate group to discover and experience globalization in Kobe. As usual we examined the Japanese image of western-ness in the Kitano area, the Japanese conception of China in Nankin machi and finally the memorial, port and playground features of the Harbor area. Many interesting observations were made and many good photographs were taken. Enjoy. For previous Kobe fieldtrip posts, click here.

Photos from Maria:

Photos from Yuka:

Photos from Kristina:

Photos from Emi:

Photos from Steven:

Thanks to all who contributed their photos. One can never get enough globalization in Kobe...