Monday, March 23, 2009

Mental. Update.

Another article about Kazuhiro Soda's new film, Mental, appears in today's Japan Today:

New documentary explores taboo subject of mental illness in Japan

...In his latest offering, “Seishin” (Mental), Soda uses the same fly-on-the-wall filmmaking techniques to record life inside a small mental health clinic in Okayama Prefecture. Due for domestic release in June after generating a buzz on the international film-festival circuit, “Seishin” takes audiences into a world that many would prefer to keep hidden. Soda depicts consultations and therapy sessions, with interviews that delve into the patients’ personal histories and battles with mental illness. The result is a film that offers not just greater insight into the world inside the clinic, but into Japanese society as a whole.

Read the whole story at Japan Today:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Trans-Asia Photography Review

The Trans-Asia Photography Review is a new international refereed journal devoted to the discussion of historic and contemporary photography from Asia. Online and free of charge, it is published at Hampshire College and archived in collaboration with the University of Michigan Library Scholarly Publishing Office.

The Trans-Asia Photography Review offers a forum in which a nuanced, detailed history of Asian photography can be articulated, and in which contemporary works can be assessed in historical and cultural context.

Issues will be published semi-annually, beginning in January 2010. A special listings section of the journal will be updated monthly to keep readers informed of new publications and exhibitions worldwide relevant to Asian photography.

For more information, including submission guidelines, see their website.

Link to Trans-Asia Photography Review:

Image Database to Enhance Asian Studies

an Image Database to Enhance Asian Studies [IDEAS]

The goal of the Image Database to Enhance Asian Studies [IDEAS] is to unify digitizing efforts already in progress at various campuses into a shared searchable database, open to anyone with access to the World Wide Web. IDEAS focuses on the generally underrepresented area of Asia in an attempt to make multi-media materials more widely available for specialists and non-specialists alike. The scope of the IDEAS project will allow for the continued addition of new materials over time, encouraging participation in both use as well as development of the database through faculty and staff workshops. IDEAS is the first multi-institutional, interdisciplinary, pan-Asian searchable database in the country. (from "About the IDEAS Project.")

The IDEAS project is the result of a collaboration between Colorado College, Earlham College, Lake Forest College, and St Olaf College, and is funded through a grant from the Midwest Instructional Technology Center. The IDEAS project hopes to encourage cooperative sharing of ideas, expertise, and resources among comparable institutions building or considering online image collections. (from IDEAS Home.)

Link to IDEAS:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Update: More of the Colonel Found and Bass Speaks

(Image borrowed from Japan Times, 3/12/09.)

More of Colonel Sanders has been found, and it looks like his remains will end up in Koshien Stadium. And Randy Bass, who turns 55 today (Happy Birthday!) seems thrilled.

"I've been back to Japan every year since I retired in 1988 and on every trip it's always been 'The Curse of Colonel' that the fans feel has held the team back," Bass said. "Now that they’ve found the Colonel, the curse is over, and it’s time to put your money on the Tigers. It’s history for the Tigers to find the Colonel, and it great for the fans"

(Image borrowed from the Oklahoma State Senate.)

Read more:

Link to Bass Celebrated In Japan As 'Curse' Lifted at, 3/12/09:

Link to 'Curse of Colonel Sanders' statue returns minus hand, feet, glasses at Japan Times, 3/12/09:

Link to Long lost Colonel Sanders statue may adorn refurbished Koshien Stadium at Mainichi Daily News, 3/13/09:

Link to Senator Randy Bass Biography at Oklahoma State Senate:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"What I’ve Learned from Japanese Photography" Talk by Leo Rubinfien

Announcement from International House of Japan:

Forum: What I’ve Learned from Japanese Photography

Speaker: Leo Rubinfien, Photographer
Moderator: Yoshitaka Mouri, Associate Professor, Tokyo University of the Arts
Date & Time: Thursday, April 23, 2009, 7:00 pm
Venue: Banquet Room, International House of Japan
Admission: Free
Language: English (no Japanese translation provided)

Mr. Leo Rubinfien is an acclaimed photographer and essayist, who served as guest co-curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's 2004 retrospective of the work of the great Japanese photographer Shomei Tomatsu. Mr. Rubinfien's work is in the permanent collections of major museums in America, Europe, and Japan, while his writings on photographers of the 20th century are regarded as important texts in the field. His exhibition "Wounded Cities," currently on view in the United States, addresses the psychological impact of terrorism on people in cities throughout the world. His books include A Map of the East (David R. Godine and Thames & Hudson, 1992), Shomei Tomatsu / Skin of the Nation (Co-author with Sandra S. Phillips and John W. Dower, San Francisco MoMA & Yale University Press, 2004), and Wounded Cities (Steidl, 2008). In this lecture/discussion meeting, he will give a talk on Japanese and Western photography from a comparative perspective, with special attention to the work of Tomatsu.

For more information and to apply, check out the I-House website:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Curse is Lifted! Colonel Sanders Has Been Found!

(Image borrowed from, 3/10/09)

The upper half of the Kentucky Fried Chicken Colonel Sanders statue that was thrown into the Dotonbori river in 1985 was found and brought to the surface on Tuesday, ending the 24-year mystery as to its whereabouts, and some say ending the curse that has plagued the Hanshin Tigers ever since.

The statue was thrown into the river on Oct 16, 1985, after the Hanshin Tigers won their first, and only, Japan Series championship. Fans who resembled Tigers players jumped into the river, but since no one resembled first basemen Randy Bass, fans grabbed a life-sized statue of KFC mascot Colonel Sanders and threw it into the river.

The statue was discovered by divers at about 4 p.m. Tuesday after construction workers conducting magnetic resonance testing detected an obstruction on the riverbed about 200 meters downstream from where the statue was thrown in. A crane brought the statue up. The colonel had lost his hands, glasses, and his lower body.

Divers on Wednesday found the Colonel’s lower body and his right hand.

Story from Japan Today, 3/11/09.

Where the Colonel was found:

(Image borrowed from, 3/10/09)

Other Links:

Colonel Sanders rescued from river after 24 years in Daily Yomiuri Online

Colonel stages a comeback in Osaka in Japan Times Online

(Image borrowed from The Hanshin Tigers Page.)

Read more about the curse and Tigers' history at The Hanshin Tigers Page.

Osaka is celebrating. And now Hanshin has no excuse for not winning. 2009 will be the year of the Tigers! Go Tigers!


From Mainichi Daily News, 3/11/09

The upper body of the statue was discovered at around 4 p.m. about 200 meters away from where it plunged into the water in 1985. When the figure was being pulled up by the crane on a salvage barge, construction workers could be heard to say, "It looks like a corpse." However, when Tigers fans such as the riverside project foreman saw the statue, they exclaimed, "It's the Colonel!" Passersby also stopped in their tracks to take in the scene.

With the media and locals looking on, divers began their search for the lower body at around 8:50 Wednesday morning, and discovered the right hand some minutes later. About 10 minutes after that, the diver's voice burst from a speaker on the salvage barge, saying, "It's the lower body. There's no mistake about it," bringing on a cheer from reporters and workers alike.

The statue sections are covered in river mud and badly stained, and the figure's feet, left hand and glasses have yet to be uncovered. The Osaka Municipal Government, which is responsible for the riverside, is holding the statue and will consult with Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan on how to handle it.

And what do Hanshin Tigers fans believe the Colonel's discovery portends?

"We'll be number one in Japan this year for sure," they say.

(Image borrowed from Mainichi Daily News, 3/11/09; caption reads: A photograph shows the upper half of a Colonel Sanders figure that was thrown into the Dotonbori River by ecstatic Hanshin Tigers fans in 1985 after the team took the Central League title.)

(Image borrowed from Mainichi Daily News, 3/11/09; caption reads: The lower body and the right hand of Colonel Sanders, which were discovered on Wednesday morning.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Documentary on disabled to be screened"

(Image borrowed from the Daily Yomiuri Online, 3/8/09; caption reads: A scene from the documentary "Ashita Tenki ni Naru?" featuring disabled people working at a welfare institution.)

From the Daily Yomiuri Online, 3/8/09:

A documentary featuring people with mental disabilities or autism living in a welfare institution was completed in February, with its first screening scheduled for April in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.

With the aim of showing the day-to-day lives of disabled people, who tend to have limited contact with society, Nobue Miyazaki directed "Ashita Tenki ni Naru?" (Will It Be Sunny Tomorrow?), produced by the Koto Ward-based production company Peace Create.


The screening will be held from 7 p.m. on April 1 at Bunkyo Civic Hall in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo. Advance tickets are 1,000 yen each. Tickets sold on the day cost 1,200 yen. Tickets for primary, middle and high school students are 800 yen each.

Read the whole story:

Link to film's official website (in Japanese):

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Japanese Sign Language Study Group Video

Finally, here it is. Thanks to all members of the JSL Study Group, past and present, for your encouragement, inspiration and support.

"We study the Osaka dialect of Japanese Sign Language... in English." You can, too. Send a comment for more information.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ninja Bear and Ninja Cat

When people receive visual imagery they make sense of it through their own individual, cultural and social experiences. Does this explain why we anthropomorphize animals? Or are animals copying us humans? Monkey see monkey do? But how are they seeing ninjas? And/Or why do we see animals doing ninja-like behavior?

A couple of shorts from to start off the weekend. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"Photo Only" Weddings

From Japan Today, 3/3/09

"Photo only" weddings become trendy

Couples in Japan have been scaling back their weddings recently, and many prefer simply dressing up, going to a photo studio and taking commemorative photos, inviting no guests to their self-styled "wedding."

The trend comes at a time when more couples, including celebrities, are choosing to hold a less costly wedding, a marriage style called "jimi kon" (no-frills wedding), or holding none, "nashi kon" (no wedding), due mainly to Japan’s economic downturn.

One day in February, a man in a gray suit and a woman wearing a wedding dress and holding a bouquet posed for a photographer at a studio of Watabe Wedding Corp in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward.

The man in his 40s said, "This is only for ourselves. This is our style." He also said they chose the style as they did not want to beat their brains out about whom they should invite to a wedding or party.

Another important use for photography... memorializing a non-event.

Read more:

Weavingscapes at Akiyoshidai International Art Village

(Image borrowed from AIAV website.)

Documentary filmmaker Amanda J. Hill was kind enough to send me an announcement about an art exhibition in Yamaguchi prefecture beginning this weekend featuring her work and that of Jakrawal Nirthamrong and Akiko Yanagimoto. See the following link for more information. Should be of interest for visual anthropologists...

Link to Weavingscapes at AIAV:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Half, Haafu or Double?

(ILLUSTRATION BY EMI YOKOYAMA; Image borrowed from Japan Today, 3/2/09)

This interesting image caught my eye this morning while cruising the internet. It comes from a commentary by Corey Gaskins about the challenges of being of mixed ancestry in Japan. I have had students comment about this issue as well by placing it within the context of globalization. One student referred to herself as "double" rather than half as she found having parents from two different cultures to be empowering and allowed her to have multiple perspectives.

This issue also reminds me of being hard of hearing in Japan. It is a similar situation where you are half in the hearing world and half in the deaf world but not really a member of either. The sign for hard of hearing in JSL is an open hand, palm facing the side, moving from the head to the torso as if cutting the body in - you guessed it - half. As Gaskins talks about organizations for haafus in Japan, there are organizations for hard of hearing people as well.

Japan is certainly an interesting and problematic place to explore the concepts of self identity and group identity. And I think the illustration above works well to bring attention to this important dialogue. Nice visual anthropology...

Link to Gaskins' commentary at Japan Today:

Link to a similar commentary form a former student: