Sunday, September 29, 2013

Incredible Interpretations

This weekend I have been attending the Signed and Spoken Language Linguistics Festa at Minpaku (National Museum of Ethnology) in Suita, Osaka, Japan. The conference has included workshops on word order, number systems in sign languages, language description, documentation and sentence structure. On Saturday there was a screening of the Chinese film, "The White Tower," about deaf man and his struggles with marriage. After the film there was a Talk Show to discuss the film and the issues it raises.

One of the most fascinating parts of this conference was the amount of interpretation going on. The photo above illustrates the interpretation during the before-mentioned Talk Show. From left to right on the stage we can see an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, the moderator, the two Chinese filmmakers with a Chinese to Japanese interpreter in between them, two panelists (one of them deaf), the Japanese Sign Language (JSL) interpreter (whose image is projected larger above her) and the International Sign (IS) interpreter. Seated in the front row are two more JSL interpreters for the deaf panelist. Furthermore, the event was being filmed and broadcast live on the internet. So there was a row of seats dedicated to video cameras, one camera for each interpreter and speaker. This was a very complex process but handled very smoothly I'd say. This shows the lengths humans want to and can communicate with others despite differing languages.

Minpaku website (in English):

Website for "Signed and Spoken Language Linguistics Festa" (in Japanese):

For more information about "The White Tower":

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Anthro-film Laboratory and Visual Anthropology of Japan Joint Screening and International Premiere Event

Anthro-film Laboratory and Visual Anthropology of Japan present a joint screening and international premiere event. Two recent graduates from the University of Southern California Masters in Visual Anthropology Program will screen their thesis films. Discussion will follow. The event is free and open to all.

Thursday, 26 September 2013, 6:30 PM
Kansai Gaidai University, Hirakata-shi, Osaka
International Communication Center (ICC Building 6)
4th Floor Grand Hall

Lowcura, 30 minutes by Jazmin Ontiveros

Synopsis: From the post World War II era, a time when car ownership became one of the key components of the “American Dream” myth, the lowrider stood as the Chicanos symbolic refusal of the mainstream, American need-for-speed. With their chin up, their y que! (so what!) facial expression, and their carefully slicked-back hair, Chicanos cruised the concrete streets low and slow. Under warm California sunrays, Chicanos’ lowriders dropped jaws and turned heads. Lowriders were not fast and competitive; they were slow and visible.

Following this historical continuation of lowriding, Lowcura takes us on a ride into the present-day Bay Area's lowriding scene from the passengers seat of the Padrinos Car Club’s lowriders. Through the lens of a car club member’s younger sister, the passenger and filmmaker, we see the Padrinos’ lowriders as mobile murals for the concrete streets to see. But once the ignitions are off and the lowriders are parked, we are introduced to a 30 year-old legacy of a brotherhood--or a second family--created in the streets of South San Francisco.

As lowriding has spread globally to places such as Japan and Brazil, the film provides a window into the ways in which the lowriding movement is always rooted in friendships, hometown pride and of course, the love of cruising.


The Making of a King, 30 minutes by Nicole Miyahara

Synopsis: Lesser known than their more popular counterparts, drag kings are biological female performance artists who dress in male clothing and perform masculinity. In Los Angeles, where queens traditionally rule the stage, these kings challenge the pervasive idea that they can’t reign just as fierce. Some perform simply for the love of the stage and as a creative outlet from the monotony of their day jobs; for others, the stakes are much higher. Landon Cider is known as So-Cal's "premier" drag king and produces and hosts three drag king shows in the greater Los Angeles area. He is working toward making drag his full time occupation and has hopes to be the first drag king on the popular "reality" TV show, RuPaul's Drag Race. The Making of a King gives us a candid look at this fast growing drag king community and the dedication it takes to become a male illusionist. They reveal aspirations to be recognized in pop-culture, how they re-imagine masculinity, and what their futures in-and-out of drag hold for them.

Featuring performances from: Landon Cider, Lucky Johnson, Havok Von Doom, Phantom, and many more along with the electro pop beats of Hi Fashion.


Map of Kansai Gaidai:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Anna Mindess Guest Lecture @ Deaf World Japan

Deaf World Japan is very fortunate to have Anna Mindess give a guest lecture on September 17. Mindess is an American Sign Language interpreter, author of books and DVDs about Deaf culture, educator and most recently a food critic. If you happen to be in Osaka on the 17th, please come.

Mindess' webpage:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Deaf Worlds HIV/AIDS and Deaf Communities is still available!

In a recent post, I incorrectly stated that the Deaf Worlds HIV/AIDS and Deaf Communities focused edition was out of print and no longer available. I am happy to say I was wrong. This important book is still available, and at a discount price.

The major themes of the book are that HIV/AIDS seems to be a bigger problem for deaf people than hearing people, mostly due to the fact that HIV/AIDS information is rarely available in sign languages. In many countries rates of HIV/AIDS infections are higher for deaf people than for hearing people. The book includes articles, reports and poetry about deaf people with HIV/AIDS in Africa, the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

This is not a plug or plea for you to buy the book. It is a request that you read it, spread the word about the problem and add to the discourse on improving the situation. How have things changed (or improved) since the time of the research in this book?

Available at Forest Books:

Also available at

For information about my article dealing with HIV/AIDS in the Japanese Deaf World:

I am still willing to send a copy of my article to anyone who is intereted.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Digital Archive of Japan's 2011 Disasters (JDA): New Content and Features for 2013

Announcement from H-Japan:

The Digital Archive of Japan's 2011 Disasters has launched a new front page, along with new content and features that enhance the usefulness and accessibility of the archive.

The front page now includes:

Links to an overview of the archive, a list of partner organizations, and navigational help, available in both English and Japanese.

A stream of recently uploaded "Collections," or user-curated exhibitions of archived items.

New content includes:

A "Translate" button that allows users to add their own translations of item descriptions, in any preferred language.

Images and full-text news articles from the Asahi Newspaper Company’s English-language “Asia & Japan Watch” website.

Japanese headlines from a variety of other news sources such as the Jiji Press and the Mainichi, Yomiuri, and Sankei newspapers.

Japanese news broadcast videos from NHK.

New website content updated almost daily.

In addition, two upcoming features will be available in the early fall:

A bookmarklet that can be dragged to the browser toolbar to add content to the archive from any web page.

A presentation editor that will allow users to build interactive multimedia presentations out of materials in the archive.

We hope these updates enhance the content, design, and interactivity of the JDA. If you have any feedback or examples of how you have used the archive, please feel free to contact us.

The Digital Archive of Japan's 2011 Disasters project is an initiative of the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University in collaboration with several partners. We aim to collect, preserve, and make accessible as much of the digital record of the disasters as possible, to enable scholarly research and analysis of the events and their effect.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The New Kinema Club Website

Announcement from H-Japan:

Kinema Club, the website devoted to the study of Japanese moving image media, is moving! The preliminary version of the new site is already up with a new address. With the new site, we envision a renewed and active Kinema Club functioning as a site for information and new work on Japanese cinema and other media. In particular, Kinema Club will begin to function as a peer-reviewed electronic publication allowing scholars to present new ideas. Here are some of the new and old functions:

Research: Kinema Club will now publish peer-reviewed conference reports and research and film notes. We envision presenting kinds of work that are not well-accommodated by existing journals, or that are designed to encourage discussion, not present final conclusions.

Resources: As before, Kinema Club will offer bibliographies, guides to online articles, tables of contents and other information valuable to the study of Japanese cinema.

Education: Kinema Club will continue to present sample syllabi and other information beneficial to education in Japanese moving image media

Conferences: As an organization Kinema Club continues to hold annual conferences and workshops. The website will offer the most up-to-date information on those events.

KineJapan: The mailing list run by Kinema Club remains a vibrant space for discussing Japanese film. The new website offers a quick guide on how to participate on KineJapan.

As the new site gets going, we encourage your suggestions and submissions.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Record number of new AIDS patients seen"

Tucked away in the "In Short" section of The Japan News newspaper (9/1/13, p.2) and the 8th story in the "Society" section of its website we can see that HIV/AIDS continues to be a big problem in Japan with rising numbers of people infected:

The number of people in Japan who developed AIDS without knowing they had HIV in April-June totaled 146, a record high for any quarter since records began in 1984, according to the health ministry.

The ministry said the number of newly reported HIV infections came to 294, the second-highest so far, meaning the total number of newly reported AIDS and HIV patients amounted to a record high of 440.

A ministry official said that while the highest number of AIDS infections occurred in people in their 40s, there was a conspicuous increase in the number of infections among people in their 50s and older. Infections are spreading in a wide range of age groups, the official said.


VAOJ has long be covering the HIV/AIDS situation in Japan. Click here for previous posts.

My interest in this serious and seriously under-reported problem began with research about deaf people with HIV/AIDS that was eventually published in HIV/AIDS and Deaf Communities (Schmaling and Monaghan, eds. 2006). Click here to see the post. The book (actually a focused edition of the journal Deaf Worlds) seems to be out of print and no longer available. If you are interested, please leave a comment requesting the text and I will be happy to send it to you.