Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Japanese Disability Marks

Recently I was on the subway in Kyoto and saw a sign sponsored by the City of Kyoto with information about various marks associated with disabilities. These marks seem to be growing and it is important that people be able to recognize, understand and accommodate disabled people and facilities as appropriate. This is especially true after the new Law to Eliminate Discrimination against People with Disabilities enacted on April 1, 2016.

New law bans bias against people with disabilities, but shortcomings exist, say experts:

77% of public unaware of anti-discrimination law for disabled people:

Please refer to the photo above:

1. International symbol mark for people with disabilities - identifies a person as disabled; also identifies facilities for disabled peoples use
2. Disabled person mark - identifies a car driven by a disabled person with a driver's license
3. Deaf/deaf/hard-of-hearing person mark - identifies a car driven by a Deaf/deaf/hard-of-hearing person with a driver's license
4. International symbol mark for blind people - identifies facilities that are considered safe and barrier-free for blind people
5. Ear mark - indicates a company or service who will be understanding and accommodating about communicating with a Deaf/deaf/hard-of-hearing person (in terms of reading, writing, and/or use of technology such as iPads and the internet for remote sign language interpretation; but does not indicate any on-site ability to use sign language)
6. Hearing Loop T Ear mark - indicates an area wired with broadcasting equipment that works with hearing aids and cochlear implants for enhanced clear sound
7. Hosho Dog mark - indicates a business or service that allows service dogs
8. Ostomate mark - indicates a restroom with equipment for people who have had an ostomy (a surgical operation to create an opening in the body for the discharge of body wastes)
9. Heart Plus mark - identifies a person with a disability inside the body (heart, respiratory function, dentition, bladder, small intestine, liver, immune function, etc.)
10. Help mark - identifies a person with a so-called hidden disability (prosthetic limbs, artificial joints, internal disability, intractable disease, etc.)

For more information (and some more marks) see the Government of Japan Cabinet Office webpage on marks concerning people with disabilities (in Japanese):

Related on VAOJ: "Disabled woman yelled at for using train’s priority seat, 'not looking like a handicapped person'"

Related: I was happy to see that the American Anthropological Association is working to create barrier-free arrangements for their annual meetings.

AAA is committed to ensuring that our Annual Meeting is inclusive and accessible for all attendees and that we meet and exceed all of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). AAA will make arrangements for sign-language interpreters, sighted guides, and other disability-related access needs and services for meeting registrants.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

2018 Setsubun Shots @ Kayashima Jinjya

Setsubun in Japan marks the beginning of spring and is often celebrated with mamemaki (soybean throwing ceremonies) with cries of Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (Devil get out! Good luck in!). This year (on February 3 - sorry this post is a bit late...) I was able to participate in the ritual at the nearby Kayashima Shrine. Beans and visitors were blessed by the Shinto priest before all lined up to get a package of beans and then a cup of warm amazake (sweet non-alcohol sake). It was a very nice celebration and chance for the neighbors to gather.

Setsubun is celebrated differently depending on location. See a larger celebration at the Naritasan temple on Osaka a few years ago:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Some recent interesting and brief videos to introduce Japan

One of the challenges of teaching courses about contemporary Japanese culture at my university is that my students come from a variety of countries, backgrounds, majors and areas of knowledge. I cannot assume all of my international (and local) students are anthropology majors and/or have knowledge about the social sciences, cultural studies and/or Japanese studies. To bring my students up to speed at the beginning of the semester I usually recommend that they read An Introduction to Japanese Society by Japanese sociologist Yoshio Sugimoto. Now in its 4th edition (2014, Cambridge University Press) I find the chapters on "The Japan Phenomenon and the Social Sciences" and "Geographical and Generational Variations" to be especially useful as an introduction to Japan. But these days I have to wonder if my students actually do such recommended readings... Perhaps another way to introduce Japan might be through the use of popular YouTube videos. With this thought in mind I offer the following as a starting point for the exploration of Japan and its cultures. They are not perfect as there are a few small errors here and there, some bias problems and they might appear too pop in style for academics, which is why I still strongly recommend Sugimoto...

Geography Now! Japan

History of Japan (Bill Wurtz)

[360°VR] JAPAN - Where tradition meets the future (VisitJapan)

Why Japan Has No Mass Shootings (

Initial information and motivation from Japan Today, 2/17/18:

Monday, February 19, 2018

"Mie man arrested for collecting photos he took of female coworker while at work"

To illustrate the complexities and anxieties of public/nuisance photography, especially when unrequited love is thrown into the mix...

From Japan Today, 2/18/18:

Police in Kameyama City, Mie Prefecture, have arrested a 25-year-old man on charges of violating the Anti-Stalking Control Law. He is said to have taken numerous pictures of a female coworker without her knowing using his smartphone camera.

The incident was uncovered in October of last year when a man doing some weeding in an area of thick grass stumbled across a plastic box containing several items including a USB memory stick. On the stick were over 100 images of a 24-year-old woman that appeared to have been taken without her knowing.

Police managed to trace the images back to the suspect who had secretly taken the photos of a coworker with whom he was infatuated while she was in and around their workplace. The man reportedly admitted to the charges saying, “I took the pictures because I liked her but I couldn’t bring myself to speak to her.”

Reaction to the news online sided largely with the suspect. Many felt that he was simply a shy person suffering from a case of unrequited love rather than a threat to anyone’s safety.

“You can get arrested for only that? Shocked.”

“I sympathize with him.”

“While it certainly is unpleasant to photograph someone without them knowing, does it really fall under the anti-stalking law?”

“This makes me furious. They regulate smartphone cameras like they were guns.”

“I know how he feels… that’s a terrible story.”

“The man who picked up the memory stick seems more suspicious. Why did he snoop around like that?”

“We live in an age where being shy is an arrestable offense.”

“That’s scary. So anytime I take pictures in public places where there are other people I can be arrested for it?”

“His motive seemed more cute than malicious.”

The investigation is still ongoing and police are looking into whether or not similar incidents involving other women exist. They also have yet to interview the woman whom he had photographed.


Also note the reader comments after the article.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Heartbreaking Tragedy: "One dead, four injured after construction vehicle rams pedestrians in Osaka"

Very sad news from The Japan Times, 2/1/18:

A loading vehicle struck a group of students and teachers from a school for children with impaired hearing in Osaka on Thursday, killing an 11-year-old girl and injuring four others, police and rescuers said.

The driver of the loader, Takuya Sano, 35, was arrested at the scene.

The girl was identified as Ayaka Ide, who was heading home with two other pupils the same age at around 4 p.m., accompanied by two female teachers in their 40s.

According to the police, the five had left the public school in Osaka’s Ikuno Ward and were waiting on a sidewalk for the traffic signal near its gate to change when the loader rammed them.

Sano was quoted as saying he accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brake when the traffic light turned red. It is not known why he veered into the students.

The accident took place in a residential area about 400 meters south of JR Tsuruhashi Station. Road work was underway near the site.


I visited this Deaf school in December and gave a guest lecture for the deceased little girl's class. She and her classmates were so energetic, so full of life. I am shocked and heartbroken.