Wednesday, September 29, 2021

「There Are Two Sides to Every Noren: Photo Exhibition as Art and Anthropology」@ A/R/P (Art/Research/Practice) 2021, October 3

There Are Two Sides to Every Noren:
Photo Exhibition as Art and Anthropology


Abstract: Visual anthropology is an intersection of art and science – it entails commitment, ethical concerns, close relationships and ever-changing negotiations with participants (subjects and audience). This on-going research project is a visual ethnography of a tachinomiya (Japanese standing bar) in Osaka called Tenbun. It is based on my years of patronage, including two years of dedicated participant-observation and photography. Tenbun features many kinds of food and drink, a lively and relaxed atmosphere and plenty of colorful characters including the owner, employees and regular customers. One outstanding feature of this tachinomiya is its long, dark blue noren, a kind of fabric curtain as its entrance that signals that the shop is open for business and provides partial seclusion for the shop and customers. The noren can be seen as a fluid wall; when calm it blocks much of the view from the outside, but when the wind blows its separated partitions offer more glimpses of the inside. The glimpses can be narrow or revealing. One cannot control the wind; this fluid wall illustrates the complexities of personal privacy in public spaces in Japan, especially in the context of taking photographs in public and image rights. An important component of this project was a photo exhibition with prints and portraits illustrating the atmosphere of Tenbun. Initially I thought the photo exhibition to be the final product of the fieldwork and research. But I found the exhibition and interactions with the gallery audience to reveal important aspects of heuristic processes, meaning-creation, evocation and multivocality. Viewers were doing more than merely looking at my photographs, they were analyzing, scrutinizing, reacting and providing various interpretations and valuable feedback. In this multi-media presentation, I will discuss the "post-fieldwork encounters" of the photo exhibition as a collaborative media event through multimodal analyses and autoethnographic vignettes.

A/R/P (Art/Research/Practice) 2021
Tokyo University of the Arts 
Oct. 3 - Session 7 - 13:30 - 15:00
via Zoom (conference registration required - free!)
For more information about the conference and program:

I'm really looking forward to this conference!

おすすめ!Check out Can Tamura's presentation, "Pandemic-Friendly Posthuman Ethnographic Filmmaking: The 24 Solar Terms of Echigo-Tsumari," Session 8, Oct. 3, 15:15-16:45.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

「Tenbun’s Last Call: Drinking Establishments in Japan Before and During COVID-19」@ New York Conference on Asian Studies 2021, Oct. 1-2

Abstract: This presentation is a multimodal visual ethnography of drinking establishments such as izakaya (“Japanese pubs”) and tachinomiya (“standing bars”) in Japan before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus will be on a 40-year-old standing bar in Osaka called Tenbun. Tenbun serves many kinds of alcohol and food items and has a lively atmosphere with plenty of colorful characters, including the owner, employees and regular customers. Not only is it a popular place to eat and drink, it is an important setting for socialization. This study is based upon over two years of dedicated participant-observation and photography, a photo exhibition and other post-fieldwork encounters. COVID-19 has brought changes for eating and drinking establishments in terms of safety precautions and consumption behavior; many shops have been forced to close. Tenbun closed shop in March, 2020. This research project examines the intersection of food anthropology, multimodal research methods, recent research on drinking establishments and the plethora of “foodie” media productions. It has also become a form of salvage ethnography. My data and photographs not only preserve Tenbun but also document the eating, drinking and socializing habits of Japan before the COVID-19 pandemic.

SUNY Brockport, Brockport, New York
October 1, 2021 - Session A1
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM EDT (12:00 - 1:30 AM, Oct. 2 Japan time)
via Zoom (conference registration required)
For information on the conference and program:

Monday, September 27, 2021

New Publication:「Barrier-Free Communication for the Deaf in Japan: A Local Initiative for Medical Interpretation Services in Japanese Sign Language」

Fedorowicz, S.C., “Barrier-Free Communication for the Deaf in Japan: A Local Initiative for Medical Interpretation Services in Japanese Sign Language.” Journal of Inquiry and Research, Volume 114. Kansai Gaidai University, (2021): 319-337.

Abstract: A new city hospital in Hirakata, Osaka opened in 2014. In 2011, a small group of deaf citizens requested a much-needed service at the new hospital: on-site, full-time medical interpretation in Japanese Sign Language (JSL). The group sought to strengthen their position by aligning themselves with foreign residents in the city. The Hirakata Initiative for Medical Interpretation Services for Deaf People and Foreign Residents set out “to change the city to be friendly to every citizen with a secured and comfortable life… [and] to ensure easy access for the hearing impaired and foreign residents to medical care.” Public forums were scheduled featuring doctors, professors, interpreters and other specialists to discuss the needs and future prospects of medical interpretation. Initially there were feelings of optimism that policies and services crafted locally would ultimately serve as a template for medical interpretation in other areas in Japan. Although the group disbanded before realizing their ultimate goals, their activities were still worthwhile and beneficial. By analyzing the achievements and failures of the initiative, important lessons can be learned for future deaf activism. This paper, through multimodal and autoethnographic techniques, explores how the pluralistic dynamic efforts of local grassroots organizations are often the most successful in improving cultural, linguistic and personal accessibility for deaf communities in Japan (Mori 2011).

Key words: Deaf / Japanese Sign Language / barrier-free / medical interpretation / ethnography

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