Wednesday, May 31, 2023

"In Tokyo, Skipping the Hot and New for Enduring Haunts"

Photo and story from The New York Times, 5/29/23.

Using a guidebook published more than 20 years ago, a writer searches out the bars and restaurants that express the city’s traditional eating and drinking culture.


Monday, May 29, 2023

One of my greatest accomplishments as a professor: Turning a French student into a Hanshin fan!

Continuing the theme of having great pride in my students... In my Globalization class we spend some time talking about global sports and I use baseball as an example with the Hanshin Tigers as a case study. This is often times difficult for my European students and others from countries where baseball is not so popular or even non-existent. After informing me of his confusion and lack of knowledge about baseball, Gwendal left his comfort zone for some fieldwork. His own words:

"As you -insisted- suggested in class, I went to Koshien to watch the Tigers this evening and THEY WON! I indeed liked the atmosphere here and shared this moment with the people around my seat that were surprisingly friendly toward me. Some young Japanese boys even lend me a pair of the things to make some noise and asked me after the match to take a picture together."


Hanshin progress report as of 5/29/23: First place in the Central League (6 games ahead of second place DeNA) and riding an 8-game winning streak!

Sunday, May 28, 2023

My students continue to make me proud...

My student (from several years ago), Dan, is the guy with long hair drinking and rocking out.

Video: VALKYRIE ZERO - Frogs Of The Round (2023)

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

A View of the End of the Semester...

This is a a view from the 4th floor window in the Center for International Education, a popular spot for students to watch the sunset. During the semester, more and more I found myself at this spot a few moments before my classes began to gather some last minute energy. Tomorrow is the last day of final's week and the Asian Studies Program closing ceremony is Saturday. I need some more of that energy to finish grading final exam essays... Congratulations and best of luck to all of our students.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Lots of pink at Koshien for Mother's Day!

Screen shots from Sky A cable network. Hanshin Tigers vs. DeNA Yokohama Baystars.
The umpires were wearing pink shirts and hats, the catchers were wearing pink chest protection, the players were wearing pink wrist bands and some batted with a pink bat, all to honor Mother's Day. Too bad the balls weren't pink...
Umeno finally had a good day: two hits, a sacrifice fly and one RBI. It's about time. I hope he keeps it up.
Sato (grand slam homerun) and Chikamoto (four hits) posing with red Mother's Day carnations after their hero interview.
The final score: Hanshin 15, DeNA 7.
Hashin swept the the three-game series with DeNA and took first place away from them. Let's keep it!



I cooked the Mother's Day dinner. I made a Japanese version of chicken cacciatore from my Mom's recipe that I haven't eaten in years. Yummy! And the gals were happy...
Chicken cacciatore with smashed potoatoes and corn on the cob...


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

New publication from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission For Asia and the Pacific: 「Sign language, what is it? An ESCAP guide towards legal recognition of sign languages in Asia and the Pacific」


Sign language is a distinct language. This recognition is enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. There are over 200 sign languages spoken around the world by 70 million Deaf persons. Yet, most hearing people have not been exposed to sign languages and either misunderstand or have limited knowledge about Deaf persons and sign languages. Deaf persons remain largely unheard and unseen in Asian and Pacific societies. The Asia-Pacific region is rich with social, cultural and linguistic diversity. Sign language and Deaf culture are important elements of this rich tapestry.

Sign Language, What is It? An ESCAP Guide towards Legal Recognition of Sign Languages in Asia and the Pacific seeks to refute myths about sign language. It explains the history, distinct elements, and culture of sign language and Deaf persons. It clarifies the importance of early Deaf childhood learning, Deaf education and sign language interpreting. The Guide provides key elements of laws that recognize sign language as a language and that promote its use in diverse situations in the daily life of Deaf persons. This Guide is the first publication on sign language that has been produced to support ESCAP member States in understanding the importance of sign language as a basis for the implementation of the Convention provisions with regard to Deaf persons, Deaf linguistic rights and Deaf culture. This Guide emanates from a collaborative endeavour between ESCAP and The Nippon Foundation.

I might change the first sentence to "Sign languages are real languages that use a visual modality."

This project was a great undertaking and this guide is an excellent resource with useful information, references and citations of important research, infographics, photographs and other materials. Japan is well represented. Especially on pages 54-55, 57-58, 89, 95,137 and 178.

For more information and a free download of the document!

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Bomb shots... what a great idea...

Photo and text from The Japan Times, 5/6/23.

In between talks on security and technology, the leaders of South Korea and Japan plan to unwind over a drink.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is preparing to share a "bomb shot” with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida over a casual dinner Sunday. The concoction, a combination of beer with South Korea’s national spirit soju, is a mainstay in K-dramas and often shared among colleagues and friends in the country to bond.

The meal is part of an official two-day summit in Seoul — the first in 12 years — meant to strengthen ties between the U.S. allies. Seen as a chance to restore shuttle diplomacy, the visit takes place ahead of a trilateral meeting between the U.S., South Korea and Japan during the Group of Seven meeting in Hiroshima later this month.

The relaxed dinner at Yoon’s presidential residence in Seoul will showcase Korean cuisine. Yoon intends to serve charcoal-grilled meat, according to people familiar with the event. Korean rice wine, called Cheongju, will be offered throughout the meal, and high-level officials from Yoon’s ruling People Power Party suggest that bomb shots are "most likely” to follow.


Last month, South Korea added Japan back to its "white list” of trading partners, and Japan later announced it would do the same.


Friday, May 5, 2023

The Kodomo no hi koinobori (carp streamers) at Ishizu Canal in Newagawa-shi

Resource: 【寝屋川市】子どもたちの健やかな成長を願って泳ぐこいのぼり。石津導水路の知られざる秘密をご紹介![Neyagawa City Carp streamers swim to pray for the healthy growth of children. Introducing the unknown secrets of the Ishizu Canal!]

Bonus videos!

See also:

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

"Japan moves to criminalize exploitative photo voyeurism"

Text from Japan Today, 5/2/23.

A bill has been submitted to an ongoing session in the Japanese Diet targeting a crackdown on people who take surreptitious photographs, a move that would make it illegal nationwide to snap voyeuristic images of a sexually exploitative nature.

While the issue is particularly serious for young athletes targeted by people engaging in "sneak photography" at fields and courts around the nation, the situation remains unresolved as proving sexual or malicious intent in photos taken of athletes competing in sporting attire is difficult.

At a symposium on April 15, lawyers working on the issue and former national volleyball team member Kana Oyama, among others, stressed the need for legislation, saying it is a "remaining issue" for sneak photography, especially for competitive athletes.

"You cannot say that just because photos are taken of someone who's clothed that it isn't a problem," said lawyer Yoji Kudo. "We shouldn't give up on legal controls simply because it is difficult to draw a line of distinction," he said.

Kudo spoke of his determination to have clear legislation after pointing out the damage caused when images of athletes' bodies are posted and proliferated on the internet.

He gave examples of other countries where clandestine photography is punishable by law.

Oyama says she first learned the reality of photo voyeurism in junior high school when, while changing out of her uniform at a venue with no locker room, her coach warned that photos of her were being snapped.

"I feel a responsibility to create an environment where children can genuinely engage in sports," Oyama, now a mother of two, said about her call for stronger legislation.

Until now, people caught by police taking photos without the subject's consent fell under the purview of prefectural anti-disturbance ordinances. But ordinances differ from municipality to municipality regarding the acts they cover and the penalties involved.

Along with legislation related to "photography crime" prohibiting surreptitious pictures of a person in postures that might be construed as sexual in nature, supplying or disseminating sexually explicit images or video are also included as punishable offenses.

Such voyeurism cases have occurred more frequently in recent years, with a corresponding uptick in arrests made. Under the new law, violators would face imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to 3 million yen.

The new regulation, however, does not include photography of athletes in sporting attire at competitions, except in cases when an infrared camera that can see through clothing is used. It would prohibit the taking of such photos of athletes in training, though.

According to the National Police Agency, the number of arrests for surreptitious photography reached 5,019 cases in 2021, roughly three times the 2010 figure.

One major cause for the increase was the spread of smartphones but perpetrators say that no matter how they do it, they treat it like a game which allows them to find satisfaction with little regard for guilt or risk.

There is a common psychology to men who take photos of athletes or others with sexually exploitative intent. Some view it as "dependence syndrome" because people carrying out such activities tend to do it on a regular basis, making it a deeply-rooted issue.

"It was curiosity. I tried it and snapped the photo. It was almost like a game," a former junior high school teacher in his 40s who began taking voyeuristic photos in college told Kyodo News in an interview about his first time committing the offense.

As he was able to capture more and more images, he became increasingly absorbed in "the game," and his methods became increasingly daring.

"I never imagined I'd be caught," but in 2019, a train passenger spotted him placing his smartphone under the skirt of a female high school student. He was referred to prosecutors on suspicion of violating an anti-disturbance ordinance.

He felt guilty about his actions as a teacher responsible for children. But he added, "When I was doing it, all my inhibitions flew away. When the switch turned on, I forgot everything and couldn't see anything around me."

About 2,000 voyeuristic images were found stored on his phone when he was caught.

The man believes that photographing athletes for sexual gratification can be considered the same as doing it on a train or the street. "It is a value that pervades our society. There is a Japanese view that sexualizes women," he said.

Akiyoshi Saito, a social worker who treats and supports sex addicts, says that photo voyeurism, like gambling, "has an aspect of dependence on the act."

Although the new legislation will undoubtedly impose penalties in hopes of preventing the crimes, the former teacher said, "It's not that simple. There are people who would do it even if they were sentenced to death."

In March, an aviation trade union released a survey suggesting that about 70 percent of flight attendants in Japan have reported photos being taken of them surreptitiously.

Akira Naito, chairman of the Japan Federation of Aviation Industry Unions, called the number "astonishing," stressing the need for strict penalties through legislation.

Although flight attendants primarily answered that their entire bodies or faces had been photographed, some reported pictures of their breasts, buttocks or other regions being taken in the close confines of an aircraft, demonstrating it is an all-pervasive issue.

Sakura Kamitani, a lawyer and expert on victims of photo voyeurism, said, "The trend toward making it a crime to photograph is a big step forward, but it is unfortunate that athlete voyeurism is not punishable."

"I am aware that it is difficult to put the law into writing, but it is still a crime that requires legislation," Kamitani said.