Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Newspaper Photo Books Focus on March 11 Quake-Tsunami Disaster"

From NSK News Bulletin Online, July 2011:

A number of newspaper companies, including those from areas hardest hit by the March 11 mega-quake and tsunami, are publishing books of news photographs about what is being called the “worst disaster in a thousand years”.

In the disaster areas, many newspaper subscribers have made bulk purchases of such photo books to send them to acquaintances outside the areas in the aim of getting others to appreciate the severity of the damage.

Officials at newspaper companies say the photo books are drawing high acclaim from readers for preserving a record of the disaster in the familiar medium of the newspaper.


The Yomiuri Shimbun and the Asahi Shimbun, both of which are leading nationwide daily newspapers, each published a special bound-volume issue of their newspapers covering the mega-quake and tsunami. The Yomiuri also released an A4-size, 418-page bound-volume issue on April 23, titled “The Great East Japan Earthquake: A Month-Long Record.” The book features reduced-size copies of front pages, national news pages, city news pages and some feature pages from the Yomiuri’s last daily edition of each day in the one-month period after the quake struck on March 11. Yomiuri officials said they expect the specially bound-volume to be a collectors’ item that would be used as a reference guide to the full scope of the disaster.

Read the whole story:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Encountering a Character All Dressed Up for a Matsuri...

On the train on the way to work I heard a jingle-jangle of bangles and bobbles and looked up to see a man dressed up as a seemingly walking museum of Japanese pop culture. He sat down at the other end of the train while people stole quick glances at him. He himself seemed to be absorbed in text messaging on his cell phone.

I wanted his picture. So I got my camera out from my backpack, switched lenses and double-checked the camera settings. If this man got off at the same stop as me, I would be ready...

As luck would have it he got off at my stop. I got off behind him and encountered the hot afternoon sun blazing in my face. Not wanting to shoot towards the sun I circled around the station and approached him from the opposite side. "Excuse me..." He was still busy text messaging and listening to his iPod as well. Finally he looked up and acknowledged me. "Your clothes are really interesting. Can I take your picture?"

He agreed, but asked me to wait as he put on his "hat." The sun was bright casting extreme white-hot patches of light and shadows. I shot as quickly as I could as he was waiting for the next express train. Towards the end he asked me to photograph him from behind.

I asked him if he often dressed this way and he replied that he dressed up for the Gion Matsuri that day in Kyoto. I thanked him as his train arrived. A very quick encounter. I was lucky to get a couple decent shots, but still wish I had more time to talk with him and take better photographs.

Visual anthropology, street photography and photojournalism all share the challenge of shooting in less than ideal situations. And they all can benefit from extended fieldwork rather than quick chance encounters. But it is still better to have shot something than never to have shot at all... or something to that effect. I'll keep an eye out for this guy and maybe I can talk with him further about his costume.

He seemed happy to be photographed. One might assume he was dressing for attention anyway. But it was important to get his permission. Would he have given permission to just anyone? Did it matter that I was polite and respectful? That I was a foreigner? That I spoke to him in Japanese? These are all part of the ethical considerations of doing visual anthropology in public.

Was this man doing cosplay? How did he choose the different parts of his costume. There's everything from AKB48 to Hello Kitty to Hanshin Tigers to Pocket Monsters to loose socks to traditional enka singers... What other pop culture icons can you identify? Is this man a walking representation of Japan?

"Film on double A-bomb victim set for British debut"

From today's Japan Today:

A documentary film on double atomic-bomb survivor Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who was joked about on a BBC quiz show, will make its British debut this summer, with his eldest daughter hoping the screening will make people in the country and around the world more aware of the risks of nuclear power.

‘‘I was furious at first and it was difficult to forgive the BBC’’ for airing the ‘‘Q1’’ quiz show in December in which her father was called ‘‘the unluckiest man in the world’’ for experiencing both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic-bombings in August 1945, Toshiko Yamasaki, Yamaguchi’s daughter, said Tuesday.

‘‘But then I thought about what my father would say about this. He would have said, why not ask everyone to watch this documentary so that people can have a better understanding of the effects of atomic weapons,’’ Yamasaki, 63, told a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

According to Yamasaki, preparations are currently under way for the film ‘‘Twice Bombed: The Legacy of Yamaguchi Tsutomu,’’ produced by Hidetaka Inazuka, to make its British debut at a screening in London in mid-August.

The film depicts Yamaguchi’s antinuclear campaigning at the United Nations headquarters in New York among his other activities over the course of five years of filming, including his lecture to a group of American high school students visiting Nagasaki.

It also shows James Cameron visiting Yamaguchi in hospital in Nagasaki, 10 days before his death due to stomach cancer in January 2010 at the age of 93. During the meeting, Cameron said he would make efforts to make a film on atomic-bomb survivors, as Yamaguchi had hoped.

In the latest version of the film, Inazuka, who attended the press conference with Yamasaki, said he has added an extra two-minute interview with Yamaguchi, in which he expresses his opposition to nuclear power on his 91st birthday on March 16, 2007.

‘‘The bottom line is, there shouldn’t be nuclear (technology) in our world. As a former naval architect, I see our current technology and materials are not sufficient for the ‘peaceful use’ of nuclear energy, and as a result, accidents will continue to happen,’’ Yamaguchi says in the film in response to a question asking what he would like to convey the most.

Inazuka said he respected Yamaguchi for campaigning not just for the abolition of nuclear weapons but also against all kinds of nuclear power, even as some other Japanese atomic-bomb survivors made a clear distinction between them.

‘‘Now that the Fukushima nuclear crisis has happened, I am determined to tell the world Yamaguchi’s message,’’ he said.

Yamasaki said, ‘‘I remember that my father was always concerned about the fact that as long as nuclear energy exists on earth, there is always the possibility of fallout or a meltdown.’‘

It is time for the whole world, not just Japan, to once again recognize that nuclear power should be completely removed from the world, she said.

Yamaguchi, who worked as an engineer at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard in Nagasaki, experienced the atomic-bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, while on a business trip and the atomic-bombing of Nagasaki three days later after returning home.

After losing one of his sons in 2005, Yamaguchi began to actively tell his story, believing he had been kept alive to share his experience.

See the story and reader comments:

Related: "Are A-Bomb Jokes OK?" by David McNeill:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Takatsuki-shi Federation of the Deaf - Women's Section

Yesterday I had another opportunity to meet deaf people in Takatsuki-shi, this time at the meeting of the Takatsuki-shi Federation of the Deaf - Women's Section. It was a very hot day (35 degrees C) but the participants were very energetic and kind. Thank you for listening to (seeing, actually) my lecture and for the interesting discussion afterward. These kinds of cultural interactions between Japanese and foreigners, and deaf and hearing people are important - and it makes anthropology that much more fun.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fun Visual Diversions (at no cost)...

Myra at the VAOJ Honolulu office always seems to know when I need some fun visual diversions to take me away from the challenges of real life. Mahalo, Myra!

Click here:

Drag the mouse around at various speeds for more effects. There's a bunch of stuff like this, with music, on YouTube in you do the appropriate search. But for me, now, perhaps this is enough diversion...

Monday, July 11, 2011

"Hong Kong and Asian Cinema: Creativity and Culture in an Era of Globalization"

Announcement from H-Japan:

With the Support of
MARCH 18-20, 2012

Hong Kong and Asian Cinema: Creativity and Culture in an Era of Globalization

This meeting of the Asian Cinema Studies Society welcomes paper, poster, workshop and panel proposals covering all aspects of Asian film and media. Although proposals related to the conference theme of Hong Kong and Asian cinema in the era of globalization may be given priority, proposals on all aspects of Asian film and media are welcome.

Please send proposals of 200-300 words as RTF or WORD attachments to Dr. Natalie Wong at For all proposals, be certain to include the title, author(s) name(s), institutional affiliation, mailing address, and email contacts, as well as a brief biography of each contributor. For panel, workshop, and group submissions, be certain to provide a brief description (100 words) of the contribution of each participant. Sessions will be 1 1/2 hours in duration, and time limits will be strictly enforced.

Deadline for proposals: December 31, 2011

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by the end of January 2012.

We regret that we cannot offer any funds for travel or accommodation. However, there will be NO registration fee for those presenting papers, serving as panel chairs, or participating in workshops, poster sessions, or in any other official capacity. Registered guests are welcome to attend as well; however, some conference events/meals may only be available for those presenting papers or serving in other official capacities.

About the Asian Cinema Studies Society (ACSS):

Inaugurated in 1984, ACSS has been dedicated to fostering research in Asian film and related media. It publishes *Asian Cinema *twice yearly, and features all types of Asian film, including full-length movies, documentaries, animation, and experimental. Nine ACSS conferences have been held since 1988, including five in the United States and one each in Australia, Canada, South Korea and China. Many of the papers presented at ACSS conferences have been published in Asian Cinema and other journals and books.

For more information on ACSS and for membership details, visit its website at

July meeting of the Kyoto Asian Studies Group: "Mediating Women's Lives in Early Twentieth-Century Japan: Visual Advertising in Department-Store and Women's Magazines"

Announcement from H-ASIA:

The speaker for the June meeting of the Kyoto Asian Studies Group is Julia  Sapin, who will present "Mediating Women's Lives in Early Twentieth-Century Japan: Visual Advertising in Department-Store and Women's Magazines."

The lecture will be held on Tuesday, July 12th from 6:30-8:30 in Room 213  of the Fusokan on the Doshisha University Campus (see link below for access information).


Women became a target for advertisers in early twentieth-century Japan and  thus a primary market for social trends that were mirrored in these commercial ventures. The kimono shops that would become Japan's first department stores were among advertising's biggest users, producing posters, flyers, postcards, and publicity magazines that employed bold and novel visual elements for their power of persuasion. Department-store magazines have been a little-studied aspect of the department-store advertising machine and their similarities to women's magazines have also been overlooked. The first women's magazines predated department store magazines, but the most prominent and representative examples of the former, such as Fujin koron (1916) and Shufu no tomo (1917), did not develop until after the big department stores had launched their publicity magazines. This paper compares these two media, considering their textual content, but focusing primarily on how they incorporated visual forms to achieve their primary objectives. While on the surface it would seem that these two media had very different aims, they were actually rather similar in terms of their visual framing of possibilities for women's lives, offering alternatives to the government-prescribed notion of womanhood.

Julia Sapin is Associate Professor of Art History at the Department of Art at Western Washington University.

Sponsored by the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies.

For access information see: