Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Behind the Scenes:「Tenbun Closing」Presentation @ Anthropology of Japan in Japan Annual Meeting 2020

A Multimodal Special Bonus

Here's some more information about this post-fieldwork event: behind the scenes secrets, out-takes, bonus photos and dissemination of data.

I. The Performance
I have received some good feedback after the presentation. One colleague wrote, "I enjoyed also the performative moment when you drank "sake"—not sure whether everyone noticed."

Oh that was real sake I tell you. Gonzo Anthropology. I bought a small bottle just for the session. Tasty. I also hung the piece of the noren I received after Tenbun closed behind me but it didn't look so great in the background onscreen. So I used a virtual picture instead. But soon the room smelled like grease and tobacco as the noren hadn't been washed in well over a year. So with those smells, the grease remaining on my fingers and the taste of the sake, it was real sensory ethnography during this post-fieldwork event...

There were also comments about the emotion of the presentation. I am really glad that people felt it. I have presented "The End" segment a few times at conferences and classes and I always get choked up.

II. Cut For Time - Methodology
I usually went to Tenbun without much stuff, just my trusty Nikon D700 and its 24-120 VR lens kit. When I wasn't shooting I left it on the bar. I wanted people to get used to me and the camera. The first night of the final week I brought only my camera but the battery died very quickly. So I had to use my back-up: the camera on my iPhone 7 plus. The next night I decided I needed to be better prepared, so I brought a big bag full of equipment (pictured above). Luckily there was room in my bag for the big bottle of sake and glasses Tencho gave me.

The morning of the last night I tried to replace the SD card in my Nikon. But some of the small pins in the narrow slot were bent and I couldn't fix it. So for the final night I used my new(er) Panosonic Lumix G9 Pro. I am still not so used to using it but it is very light due to being mirrorless and got the job done. Still, I am sad at the passing of my D700...

III. Cut For Time - COVID-19 and Social Distance Concerns
Tenbun's last week was after my university suspended face-to-face classes and went remote but before the Japanese government called for the country-wide state of emergency. You can see from the photos and video that there were few masks at Tenbun and no social distancing. People were shaking hands, putting their arms around one another, hugging... On the last night I was at the crowded bar standing next to a regular customer of over 20 years who is a medical doctor. I commented to him that we were probbaly being very stupid and careless. He agreed, but then said that no matter what, he had to be there. "If I get sick and die, so be it. I have to be here now." He explained when he graduated from medical school he had trouble finding a job and was very depressed. The only support he got was from going to Tenbun and Tencho. He said he would always be grateful to Tencho and referred to him as his onjin (roughly translated, benefactor). I haven't heard this term for a long time. I wonder if people still use the term.

IV. Project Links - General
Click on the links below for more on the Tachinomiya Project.

Photo Exhibition and Visual Ethnography - "Tachinomiya: There Are Two Sides to Every Noren"

"Tachinomiya" Photo Exhibition and Visual Ethnography: The First Week

"Tachinomiya" - A Successful and Memorable Photo Exhibition/Event/Research Method

Happy Tachinomiya Halloween - and - (Pre-)Announcement: AJJ Presentation in December: "Tachinomiya: Photo Exhibition as Research Method"

AJJ Presentation - Tachinomiya: Photo Exhibition as Research Method

ANNOUNCEMENT:「Tachinomiya: Photo Exhibition as Post-Fieldwork Encounter」- Society for East Asian Anthropology Regional Conference 2019 in Tokyo

Tenbun Closing 「天文のれんを下ろす」Paper/Presentation at 2020 AJJ Annual Meeting

V. Project Links -「Tenbun Closing」
Click on the links below for more on 「Tenbun Closing」.

Sad News for VAOJ and Many Others: Tenbun Closing - Leading to a Week of Intensive Photography and Salvage Ethnography

「Tenbun Closing」- Leading to a Week of Intensive Photography and Salvage Ethnography pt.2 - posing for pictures, sharing drinks with the staff, farewell handshakes and hugs, reminiscing with old photos and having your favorite sake for the last time...

「Tenbun Closing」- Leading to a Week of Intensive Photography and Salvage Ethnography pt.3 - "...and how do you feel about Tenbun closing, Tani-san?"

「Tenbun Closing」- Leading to a Week of Intensive Photography and Salvage Ethnography pt.4 - What's in my bag?

「Tenbun Closing」- Leading to a Week of Intensive Photography and Salvage Ethnography pt.5 - Raw Data of the Last Night

「Tenbun Closing」- Leading to a Week of Intensive Photography and Salvage Ethnography pt.6 - The Shutters Are Drawn And The Noren Is Taken Down

VI. Future Tenbun Projects
Well, I can't give it all away. Stay tuned to VAOJ for more!

Tenbun Lives! Post-Producing Forever!

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