Friday, April 19, 2019


What else to do on such a day except to get comfortably numb... (Thanks, Matt!)

Monday, April 15, 2019

「Visual Anthropology of Japan: Neighborhood Fall Festival」Presentation at AJJ 2019 Spring Workshop @ Minpaku

Anthropology of Japan in Japan 2019 Spring Workshop
April 20-21, 2019
The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku), Suita City, Osaka

See schedule below for other presentations.

「Visual Anthropology of Japan: Neighborhood Fall Festival」
Sunday, April 21, 2019
14:30, Conference Room 6

Abstract: For over fifteen years, I have been living in Shirogaki-cho in Kadoma City, Osaka Prefecture, a small bedroom community conveniently located between a busy train station and two major expressways. While I know a few people who live close to me, most of my neighbors are strangers, especially those people moving into the new apartment buildings that are increasingly replacing the traditional-style homes. However, there is a small group of families and individuals that organize and participate in neighborhood festivals and events. The largest of these events is the Fall Festival; for two days these people push and pull a large wooden cart called a danjiri around the neighborhood to bestow blessings from the Shinto gods of the local shrine. Navigating the danjiri is hard work, because the cart is heavy and awkward to steer through the narrow and winding streets. Many people in the neighborhood watch the danjiri from their doorways or windows as it passes by their houses. Some people give small cash contributions. I have always been amazed by how few people participate in this local grand festival. Are they too busy? Or do they not care about the festival? In this presentation I will offer a visual ethnography of the Shirogaki-cho Fall Festival and its participants through photos and autoethnographic vignettes. Over the years my participant-observation role has moved from event photographer to major pusher (with the latter being a more appreciated contribution). The Kishiwada Danjiri Festival is more popular and familiar to the public because of its competitive (and dangerous) danjiri races. My study is influenced by Ronald Dore's neighborhood study approach (1958) and Eyal Ben-Ari's discussion of volunteer organizations that constitute the community (1991). Similar to Ted Bestor's monograph (1989) and film (1992), I focus on themes such as local identity, the perceived threat of culture change and strong community bonding (even if only among a small group of neighbors).

There are a lot of good presentations at this year's spring workshop. For some more visual anthropology I would especially recommend Lucile Druet's Saerubi: collecting kimono in Japan and abroad, (Sunday, 4/21, 13:30). See you at Minpaku!

Monday, April 8, 2019

"The Haunting Beauty of the Reconsecration of Shinto Shrines"

Photographer Yukihito Masuura spent more than a decade documenting rituals that connect past and present.
APRIL 05, 2019


Friday, April 5, 2019

Local Tachinomiya Jōren-san Borrows My Sunglasses...

A regular at a local tachinomiya asked me about my sunglasses. "What brand are they? Where did you buy them?"

"I think I bought them at Aeon Mall. Brand? I bought them because they were inexpensive..." I replied. I handed him the glasses and told him to try them on. He did and I snapped this quick pic. He then asked me to take a picture using his phone. I did and he promptly made it into his keitai wallpaper.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Jalan Jalan (46) [SPECIAL BAKA]: A trip to the Immigrations turns into a wandering around Cosmo Square...

I had been putting off the long journey to Cosmo Square to take care of some business at the Immigration Office for some time. When I finally went it turned out to be a wild goose change. Procedures had changed and so I didn't have to do what I thought I had to to do. A wasted trip. But why not turn a wasted trip into a Jalan Jalan SPECIAL, albeit a baka one...

So off in the distance I saw this Intex Osaka complex and thought something interesting must be there...

What I found was a huge event complex without much going on. Except in one corner there was a long line of young women. What were they waiting for?

It turned out to be an "individual high touch event" to commemorate the release of a single by a Korean idol group Monsta X: MONSTA X、日本5作目のシングル『Shoot Out』One of the fans gave me a flyer with this image of the band.

Here is their new video... For ethnographic purposes only - no endorsement or recommendation intended...

Next, I headed for some tall buildings...

I entered the Osaka Prefectural Government Sakishima Building, also known as Cosmo Tower.

Here I was able to go to an observation deck on the 55th floor for a 360 degree panoramic view. And a snack of tako yaki and chu-hai.

Ahhh the view...

And here's one of Intex Osaka from 55 stories up...

The cafe had some Christian and unicorn themes going on...

Nice, spacious barrier-free restroom made you feel you were up in the clouds...

Time to go...