Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"Mobile-fixated girls easy prey for photo-snapping pervs"

From The Japan Times, May 25, 2014:

by Eric Johnston

With more than 167,000 students studying at 49 universities, junior colleges and technical schools, and with large numbers of high school students visiting on trips, it’s no surprise that Kyoto Prefecture can feel like a giant campus.

Downtown Kyoto and neighborhoods near major universities draw huge numbers of young men and women out for a good time, while train and bus stations disgorge teenagers and young adults, sometimes chattering, sometimes sleepy, on their way to or from class or a sightseeing spot with classmates. But as Kyoto police have warned, it’s teenagers who are most at risk from perverts with a camera.

The Kyoto Prefectural Police said 51 percent of the victims of illicit photography reported last year were their teens. In 38 percent of the cases, they were photographed on commercial premises, especially shopping malls, while 35 percent were snapped in train and bus stations.

In 57 percent of the cases, the alleged perpetrators were charged with illegally taking photos with smartphones. A further 20 percent used regular cell phones and 13 percent used digital cameras.

Just over two-thirds of the accused perpetrators were in their 20s and 30s, while one in five was over 40. Only eight percent of the perpetrators were 50 or older.

Prefectural governments and police departments, including Kyoto, suggest practical steps high school or college-aged females can take to minimize the chance of becoming an unwitting victim of a pervert with a camera. These include pressing down their skirts when on elevators and staircases, but also being more aware of their surroundings while shopping or using their smartphone while standing.

It’s advice so simple some might think it a waste of government time and money to be posting on official government websites. However, a March survey of more than 1,200 teenagers and parents by Digital Arts, a Tokyo-based IT security firm, showed 95 percent of high school girls had mobile devices, and that nearly 30 percent of all high school students were using them between three and six hours a day, checking e-mail, sending text messages, playing games, and so absorbed that they are unaware of their surroundings or what other shoppers, passengers, or people walking or standing behind them might be doing with a smart phone camera.

Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/25/national/mobile-fixated-girls-easy-prey-for-photo-snapping-pervs/#.U4NlNS9ZG2x

"Kyoto law puts ‘upskirt’ photography in focus"

From The Japan Times, May 25, 2014:

Penalty for illicit snaps upped to ¥1 million fine or a year in prison

by Eric Johnston

Each spring, Kyoto is at its busiest. The cherry blossoms bring in multitudes of tourists, and the start of the new academic year means not only thousands of local students returning to the classroom, but also busloads of junior high and high school students from around the country arriving at hotels and taking the obligatory tour of Kyoto’s historical and cultural landmarks.

At this time in particular, no visitor can fail to escape the clicking of cameras. Be they the semi-professional photographer, with his Canon EOS ID X, Nest Traveller NT-6294AK tripod and telephoto lens longer than your arm, posed on the banks of the Kamo River waiting for the right mix of light and shadow, or the hordes of tourists prowling the backstreets of Gion with their iPhone cameras, searching for Kyoto “geiko” or, really, anything “Kyotoesque” to quickly snap to prove they were there. Everybody is a shutterbug.

But in recent years, the Kyoto police have warned, another kind of photography has become a public nuisance: “Upskirting.”

Surreptitious filming or taking of pictures up the skirts of high school females has long made headlines throughout Japan. A whole subgenre of magazines exists for Peeping Toms who earn their living by taking photos on the sly, while the Internet has created unprecedented opportunities for getting photos and video out to the peeping public.

In an attempt to crack down on sleazy photographers, Kyoto Prefecture has revised an ordinance that expands the scope of protection. Ordinances forbidding covert filming do exist for public places such as shopping centers, railway stations, trains and buses, which fall under the definition of public buildings and transport systems.

The problem, however, is that their scope has traditionally been limited, tying the hands of local governments in preventing perverts from shooting illicit pictures or video, while the punishments have been deemed by police and legal experts as often insufficient to deter perpetrators even if they do get caught.

In October 2012, a male teacher at a Kyoto city junior high school was caught taking pictures under girls’ skirts. Kyoto police could not make an arrest for illegally filming and had to arrest him on another charge. But the incident sparked local interest in expanding the definition of the ordinance, which had been limited to “public places and transport.”

Expanding the definition beyond “public places,” it had long been felt, ran the risk of violating Article 35 of the Constitution, which states that “the right of all persons to be secure in their homes, papers and effects against entries, searches and seizures shall not be impaired.”

But police and law enforcement authorities had long complained that “public places” meant limited protection in quasi-public areas.

A Kyoto prefectural survey last year of 1,700 people said 63 percent did not know that schools and private workplaces fall outside the definition of a “public place”. A total of 89 percent favored extending the reach of the ordinance.

The newly revised ordinance, approved by the assembly in March, now forbids surreptitious filming at “places likely to come under the public eye.”

This means public schools, workplaces, and hospitals are now included in places forbidding such filming or photography. In addition, the revision strengthens the penalty for hidden cameras used at public hot spring bathing areas, changing rooms, and public toilets.

Moreover, in an effort to discourage illicit photographers everywhere, it creates stricter penalties for those who are caught doing all surreptitious filming.

Previously, punishment was up to six months in jail or a ¥500,000 fine. The new penalty is up to one year in prison or a fine of up to ¥1 million.

The change in Kyoto has drawn interest from other local governments. Ishikawa Prefecture plans to propose similar revisions at next month’s assembly, and other governments in the Kansai region have contacted Kyoto Prefecture expressing an interest in adopting something similar.

“It’s not just Kyoto. Other prefectures also think that their ordinances are insufficient. Twenty-seven prefectures are now considering similar revisions,” said Tokyo-based lawyer Hiromasa Hasegawa in a recent blog on Kyoto’s revisions.

The revision also comes amidst growing concern in Kyoto about crime in general, and violent crimes that may result from taking illicit photos or video, in particular.

A separate prefectural survey on safety conducted last year showed that fears of home break-ins accounted for the largest share of concern, with 58.4 percent of the 1,957 residents surveyed in June 2013 saying this is what they feared most. However, some 23 percent said that being filmed illicitly was also on their minds, reflecting increased awareness in Kyoto of the problem.

In 2008, Kyoto police sent 32 incidents of illegal filming to the prosecutors, but that figure had increased to 84 cases by 2013. With the new revisions now in place, however, Kyoto has stronger weapons to go after those who would use their cameras for illicit purposes.

Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/25/national/kyoto-law-puts-upskirt-photography-focus/#.U4NlOS9ZG2x

Monday, May 26, 2014

14th Nippon Connection Film Festival May 27 – June 1, 2014, Frankfurt am Main

Photo borrowed from Nippon Connection.

On Tuesday, May 27, the 14th Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection will start. For six days, Nippon Connection brings together cinephiles and fans of Japanese culture from all over Germany and Europe in Frankfurt am Main. This year, the film festival will take place for the second time at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm and Naxoshalle. Touching dramas, entertaining comedies or unique documentaries: the biggest festival for Japanese film worldwide presents a multi-faceted film program with more than 100 brand new short and feature films. More than 70 filmmakers and artists from Japan will present their works in person. A rich accompanying cultural program with 52 events invites young and old to experience and enjoy Japan.

More more information: http://www.nipponconnection.com/nc-2014-english.html

Sunday, May 25, 2014

"AIDS cases in 2013 highest on record"

More under-reported, bizarre news about HIV/AIDS in Japan. From The Japan News, 5/25/14:

The number of new AIDS patients reported in Japan in 2013 totaled 484, the highest annual figure on record, a health ministry team said Friday.

The number of new HIV cases discovered through medical tests totaled 1,106 last year, the second highest on record. Japan began measuring AIDS and HIV statistics in 1985.

Team leader Aikichi Iwamoto said those who suspect they have HIV infection should get tested because early treatment will help prevent the development of the disease.

HIV infections increased between 2000 and 2008 in Japan.

Source: http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001303653

Click here for previous VAOJ coverage of the HIV/AIDS situation in Japan.

Friday, May 16, 2014

VAOJ Spring 2014 Virtual Student Film Festival

The VAOJ Student Film Festival has gone virtual! You can view the efforts of the class of Spring 2014 at your convenience and leisure from May 16-23. Scroll down to see all the films (films arranged in random order). Comments and feedback are especially appreciated. Enjoy!


(2014, 11:40)
Jordana Valverde

Short film about passionate people working for/with animals in Japan. The aim of the film is to find out why these people are dedicating their lives to work with animals.

Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltzBy8fxD1s


天下一餃子:テクテク (The Best Gyoza Under the Heavens: TekuTeku)
(2014, 11:00)
Scott Steffes

Take a trip to TekuTeku, a gyoza restaurant located in Hirakata, Japan, and meet its owner Keita Shigematu. Keita serves up a combination of great food and fun conversation everyday so please consider stopping by.

Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ9XZZokiuU


Make-up Fake-up
(2014, 10:02)
Keiichiro Soeda

Why do Japanese people wear makeup? Makeup in Japan is now almost its culture. This film focuses on the Japanese makeup style, which seems quite distinctive in many senses.

Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMrJYUnDJw8


Honen Matsuri
(2014, 7:25)
Mitchell Plumer

This video explores the spectacular Honen Matsuri, held each year in Komaki, Japan, and attempts to make an in-depth explanation of the festivals intriguing elements. Japanese subtitles can be selected in the YouTube window.

Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoBgU93UEdM


Tamago Kake Gohan ~its popularity and safety~
(2014, 6:51)
Yu Adachi

This film is about a Japanese dish called Tamago Kake Gohan consisting a hot bowl of rice and a raw egg (optionally with soy sauce). It is a very popular dish among Japanese people. Fieldwork was done at Kansai Gaidai University and a restaurant in Osaka which specializes in Tamago Kake Gohan.

Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74EmP1oSSAQ


(2014, 8:23)
Yumi Ueda

Most study abroad students have never eaten Umeboshi, so I want to tell them "what is Umeboshi." Even if people had it, they can enjoy Umeboshi film!

Access: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_O3C6muiHo


The Meaning of Sakura
(2014, 5:20)
Bettina Angela Sta. Ana

What does the "Sakura" mean to The Japanese as well as to the non-Japanese? I was curious to see whether or not the age gap would reflect the growing difference in values which are being shaped by Japan's growing gap between the 'Traditional' and the 'Modern.' Questions such as, "What does the Sakura mean to you? Why do you watch view them?" will be explored.

Access: http://youtu.be/2a6mokB-Iiw


(2014, 8:54)
Andrew Polenske

This film is an observational documentary about Hakuba, Nagano, a small ski town in Japan. I wanted to show the audience what my experience in traveling there was like, and for them to be able to compare Hakuba to ski towns where they are from as well.

Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTQvuSJKJYU


Japanese Karaoke Culture
(2014, 10:39)
Ritsuki Inada

In this film, Japanese people's ideas about human relationships and entertainment are shown through karaoke, which is an important activity within Japanese culture. Karaoke culture is ingrained in Japan, and various ideas can be considered through this film. Observation and interviews toward young people and elderly people were conducted in Hirakata city.

Access: http://youtu.be/wm6oS3bSzOk


(2014, 8:36)
Kaori Matsumoto

Bento, Japanese style packed lunch, is now spread around the world. You can see the deep connection between bento and the life of Japanese through this film.

Access: http://youtu.be/qtcae19FyYI


Food Sample!!
(2014, 8:17 minutes)
Sayoko Bando

This film is about Food Sample in Japan.

Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwBOSHzovGU&feature=youtu.be


Handwriting in Japan 〜綺麗な字〜
(2014, 10:34)
Shin Akazawa

This film is about the role of handwriting in Japan. I am focusing on 3 aspects of Japanese handwriting in this film.

Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNQJvjgv_uw


'the neko cafe'
(2014, 9:33)
Dylan Woodward-Cross

This film is about exploring the cat cafe as a Japanese tourist attraction. The main focus is the interaction of foreigners and cats in the cat cafe. There are lots of cute cats in this, so enjoy!

Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPHyXvwzRls


English in Japan
(2014, 11:07)
Hillary Hui

This film shows a range of locations where English can be learned in Japan. There are also interviews of different English speaking staff at Kansai Gaidai.

Access: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VETXQeOe51g&feature=youtu.be


Kansai Gaidai Fashion Craze
(2014, 14:27)
El Ouardi Aabir

This film is exposing the Japanese girls way of perceiving beauty relying on different concepts of the Japanese culture as the "Kawai" culture. This project also shows how do Japanese people perceive the perfect woman.

Access: https://vimeo.com/93504144


Thursday, May 15, 2014

VAOJ Spring 2014 Student Photo Exhibition

The Spring 2014 VAOJ Student Photo Exhibition has begun! Check out the prints in the CIE lounge. And you can check out more of the students' work below. Please scroll down to see all 20 projects (projects are presented in random order). Both print and on-line exhibition run May 16-23. Comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.


The Way of Tea
Catherine Lambert

This project on the Way of Tea, or sadô, is rooted in Japanese culture. Throughout this project, I have tried to grasp the feeling and understanding of Japanese culture by researching on and experiencing the Way of Tea. My Japanese host family, who is involved in this practice, made this project possible. I came to have special access to precious knowledge and unique experiences at both Daitokuji temple and Nijô jo in Kyoto. Far from being easy as it might look from an outsider’s point of view, sadô is very complex and filled with gestures of precision and strict behavior models to be followed. The amount and extent of knowledge related to the numerous but precious objects used during the tea ceremony exceed imagination and are continuously perfected by participants. Yet, complexity contrasts with simplicity, peace of mind and harmony of human relations.

See more: http://s1067.photobucket.com/user/catoulapuce/library/The%20Way%20of%20Tea


George Foster Pearson

Rivers have a strange relationship with the world we live in today. They are one of the more stubborn forces of nature; they cannot be easily altered or destroyed (as a tree can be cut down) without the consequence of disastrous flooding. Ergo, they cut through the most urban, industrial, and thickly-developed areas indiscriminately. Centuries ago rivers were essential to the community and living; compared with then their utility is now limited. Trucks have replaced boats carrying cargo, and power-plants have long since replaced water-powered mills. And yet, on a different and more personal level, rivers still maintain a special and equally important usefulness in Japan. In a country where nearly everything seems to be crammed together in the smallest space possible, riverbeds provide a refuge to the community in large, flat, relatively open spaces. Friends and couples have a quiet place away from the home to spend time together and chat. Kids have a place to play sports after school, and old men spend all day fishing. I photographed the Yodo, Uji, Kizu, and Neya rivers, as well as many other smaller rivers and streams, from the mountainous northern Kyoto to the industrial Osaka bay. My goal was to visually document the interaction and complex relationship between the Japanese and their rivers.

Print display only.


Nina Goldman

For this project I sought to explore the concept of wabi-sabi, a Japanese aesthetic that emphasizes finding beauty in imperfection and impermanence. I interviewed a range of Japanese people in an attempt to understand wabi-sabi through their eyes. These interviewees ranged in age from college students to retirees, and they came from not only Kyoto and Osaka but also Okayama, Nagano, and more. While some held professions related to traditional Japanese culture, including a calligrapher, tea-shop owner, and ryokan manager, others were engineers, musicians, and homemakers. The common denominator here is that when I asked, "What is wabi-sabi?" they all responded with some variation on "難しい!" or "That's difficult!" However, when I asked for a suggestion of what to photograph in order to visually depict wabi-sabi, they had a much easier time answering. It was with these suggestions in mind that I took the photos for this project.

See more: http://wabisabinoshashin.tumblr.com/


Dog Goes Woof: What Does My House Say? Pets and Work in Japanese Homes
Molly Dyer

During my stay with my host family, my family has a more unique situation than other Japanese families. It is normal to see maybe 1 or 2 pets in a family, if they choose, but my host family proudly owns around 10 dogs. Along with this more than typical number of pets, my host mother is also a pet breeder, where she brings her work into our home everyday. Through this project, I wanted to highlight two points from within my host home. First, I wanted to show the sort of lifestyle it’s like to have so many pets living with the family each day. Second, I wanted to show the sort of work my host mother brings into our home each day. Since she works a good majority of the day inside the house, there are different and amazing situations, from pet grooming to the birth of animals, that can occur. Pets and animals bring my host mother a great amount of joy and stress relief, where the passion about her lifestyle influenced me to focus on the amazing work she accomplishes.

See more: http://s621.photobucket.com/user/cheezer87/library/Dog%20Goes%20Woof


Mini Japan
Nicole Purpora

Mini Japan, a collection of thirty six photographs shot with miniature polaroid film, presents not only my experiences in Japan over the course of four months, showing Japan though my eyes, but a deeper meaning as well. Back in my hometown in New York, USA, when people are asked how they feel about their home state or country, the response is not always a positive one. My objective was to, along with photographs of my time in Japan, ask some of the Japanese I encountered, “What does Japan mean to you?” Some of their answers were genuine, but others thought too long or hard about the “perfect” answer. They no longer gave a genuine response but rather a response that they might have though was expected of them. Through my photographs I want to not only show Japan on a much smaller scale, but also show a Japan that is accompanied by the country’s people and their impressions of their home.

Print display only.


トラキチ "Torakichi" - "Hanshin Tigers Fans"
Dustin Clark

To be "Torakichi" is more than just crazy outfits and uniforms. To have the utmost loyalty to the Hanshin Tigers Baseball team is to truly be a "Torakichi". Being with them to the bitter end, win or lose, rain or shine, knowing every song and making every game your career allows you. This loyalty, respect and honor seems to be rooted in many Japanese traditions. These cultural aspects have been apart of the Japanese for many centuries and has now taken form within the fan base of the Hanshin Tigers. This has helped create "Torakichi".

See more: http://s1290.photobucket.com/user/djclark2/library/#/user/djclark2/library/?sort=9&page=1&_suid=13989191313400011476322119738646


The Shaku- what?
A Brief Study of Japanese Traditional Instruments

Briana Buchholtz

Because I major in Music Education in America, I wanted to find a way to maintain my studies while in Japan. This project helped me do just that. I was extremely curious about Japanese traditional instruments and even more so in how they were being used today. With only a few exceptions, most people practice these arts in the same traditional way, in order to keep it alive. My subjects had varied answers as to why they enjoy playing, such as wanting to teach it to international students, or because it was habit, but most of them mentioned that when they play, they feel Japanese. They feel happy. I hope that this is demonstrated in my collection of photos.

See more: http://s1283.photobucket.com/user/mirrorbutterfly/library/A%20brief%20study%20of%20Japanese%20traditional%20instruments


花見? Flower Viewing?
Chan Lok Tung

It is obvious to me that sakura (cherry blossom) has a very important place in Japanese culture. In spring, the most popular celebration and social event seems to be hanami (flower viewing). When it comes to hanami, there is a certain image established, which involves people sitting under sakura, feasting and having fun. However, for this project, I would like to show that hanami is much more than just that. Go into a local community and you can find many different amazing activities that people do to celebrate the beauty of sakura, and more importantly, spring, the season of life.

See more: https://plus.google.com/photos/109132330297900866198/albums/6008529867353509489?authkey=CNvLuLKck-K3CA


Kendo and Japanese Tradition
Nobu Shioyama

My project is about Kendo. I try to illustrate kendo objects, rules and mentalities. Kendo is a traditional Japanese martial art like karate. Kendo was a training method for Samurai, but it has grown to include mental training like Bushido. This is today's Kendo. I hope audience are interested in Kendo and feel Samurai Spirit.

See more: http://s1048.photobucket.com/user/Nobu_Shioyama/slideshow/


Full Contact: Sumo in Japan
Hillary Osborne

My project focuses on the sport of Sumo wresting in Japan. The photos in my gallery are arranged in the order in which a typical Sumo wrestling bout takes place. I wanted to show not only the wrestling bouts themselves, but also the process surrounding the bout which involves more than just the wrestlers. I tried to capture the most important parts of the process, though some were difficult to get without a camera capable of high speed functionality. However, I am overall satisfied with the quality and kinds of shots I was able to take. I hope that anyone who looks at my photos is able to see and understand the sequence of a Sumo match.

See more: http://s1284.photobucket.com/user/hosborne2/library/Full%20Contact%20Sumo%20in%20Japan


"Wandering Near Gion"
Jade Hodge

Through my images I wanted to capture my struggles, adventures and fun of traveling through the Gion area of Kyoto. I focused on temples and areas that contribute to Kyoto’s quaintness. I also feel like through my photographs, I embodied a collection of images in a random order and this randomness represents the movement of my eyes because as I journeyed through Kyoto, I would stop and look at other things that also gave off an ancient feel. My intentions were to display how one can still see the beauty of Kyoto even when one is lost. The prefecture blinded my eyes with beautiful greenery and ancient images that captured my vision and never let it go. I portrayed that beauty and quaintness work together as if they were synonyms.

See more: http://s1375.photobucket.com/user/jade2009/slideshow/Visual%20Anthropology%20Class?sort=3


Robo Japan?
Linda Gorman

Robots play an important role in Japan, in terms of both pop culture and the economy. For my project I wanted to learn more about this topic by observing and photographing some of Japan’s most famous robots in action. To accomplish this, I went to a variety of locations, including the Miraikan Museum on Odaiba Island, several robotics stores in Akihabara, and the Toyota Commemorative Museum in Nagoya. A few highlights included an adorable therapeutic robotic pet seal, Toyota’s massive automotive welding robots, and a demo of the humanoid Asimo robot’s dancing skills. I expanded my research by having conversations with a variety of people, including the proud owners of a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner and a journalist who has been reporting on Japanese robots for over five years. In my research into the topic, I’ve only noticed one reaI consistency -- in general, robots tend to produce a strong reaction in those who encounter them, whether it be admiration, discomfort, or something slightly more complicated. After getting to see quite a few robots for myself, I can see why. In the most advanced robots, we can see just a little bit of ourselves reflected.

See more: http://s1308.photobucket.com/user/lggorman/library/


Fan's Support: The Eye-Catchers
Riina Jordan

I took photos of Japanese fans at pop concerts with the focus on their ways to be seen and their love for the artist. Whether is it cosplay, uchiwa-fans or eye-catching clothes, the goal is to show their support and to get noticed by the artist at the concert. Getting to know people and meeting new friends on the way is a bonus!

See more: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124275583@N07/sets/72157644047150918/


UFO Catcher
Pichaya Sadudeechevin

This project is very fun. I took a lot of photos in many game centers, mainly in Namba, Shinsaibashi, and Nipponbashi. One challenge was that some game centers did not allow photography. But I could find other game centers where I could take photographs. I took many shots of claw crane machine itself, overview of the game center, the attractive prizes, and the most important thing which is the facial expression of players. It is so interesting to capture their faces during playing this game. The players had never realized about that until they saw their photos. Everyone laughed at their photos and asked “Are we too serious about this game?”

See more: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124053959@N02/sets/72157644439674763/


PURIKURA: The Artificial Beauty of Japan
Esther Lam

Photobooths first appeared in the United States before they were brought over to Japan. Today, you can see PURIKURA photo booths almost in every game centre in Japan, a mark of its popularity among the Japanese people. These machines were also used to propagate "Kawaii" culture, with the features of automatic Photoshop and decorative computer stickers. In my project, I aim to focus more on the users of the machine instead of the machine itself. I put my photos in a "step by step" order, such that the flow of viewing my photos would be smooth. I hope users of PURIKURA machines can be more self aware and realize that taking PURIKURAS create only superficial beauty.

See more: http://s63.photobucket.com/user/esthercoolcookies1/library/?


Japanese Service
Mako Sakitani

Japan is one of the countries which have great qualities of service in the world. The reason why I choose this topic is because I realized that it is not natural to receive good service when I saw foreigners were surprised at Japanese quality of service. Then, I decided to research on Japanese service and divided into two parts. In the first part of the project, I focused on Japanese technical service including useful machines or devices for people to live comfortably. In the second part, I researched on Japanese service offered by people.

See more: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124344946@N08/


“Kimono in Kyoto”
Azusa Yamazaki

I searched for Japanese people who wore kimono in public on a normal day. This project was conducted through fieldwork and interviews in Kyoto. Most of the people wore kimono cosplay for the first time. There are several reasons why they decided to wear kimono. It is to make a special memory with best friend, to be inspired from people who enjoy kimono cosplay or to adjust into the atmosphere in Kyoto as much as possible. They hesitated or became shy when they received attention from other people at the beginning, but they gradually got used to that situation. Nobody regretted to do kimono cosplay and they spent a really good time in Kyoto. The most interesting point was that they definitely went to a couple of shrines or temples in Kyoto and ate Japanese foods like *odango*. Actually they didn’t know how they explain what Japanese culture is.

See more: http://s1375.photobucket.com/user/azup_qsa/library/?sort=2&page=1


Flora and Dooryard Gardens in Suburban Japan

Emily Scholz

My project shows the relationship between suburban Japan and nature, focusing on the greenery created through human influence, as well as the natural flora of the suburbs. My motivation for choosing this topic stemmed from my almost daily walk to class through a Japanese neighborhood known as 山本ハイツ (Yamamoto Heights). I noticed while strolling through, that where the foliage is sparse, Japanese homeowners create a green space through the use of potted plants as well as roadside trees and bushes. The amount of yard space is very little, leading to a phenomenon known as dooryard gardens. This idea is not uniquely Japanese, but is deeply rooted in the Japanese suburban lifestyle following the industrialization of post-WWII Japan. However, rather than focusing solely on these small gardens, I also explored the little natural green space that is available, and how homeowners utilize it. Through my research, I have found that greenery in Japanese suburbs is a topic that is scarcely documented, and because of this I would like to shed light on it through this photo project.

See more: http://fotologue.jp/emilyscholz/#/15469560/15471573


Makiko Tsujimoto

My project is the Japanese mottainai spirit. Mottainai means that things are wasted and not used as much as they should be. When we say mottainai, we think we have to treat things with more care and gratitude. For this project, I conducted a literature review, talked with an old man at flea market and went to my hometown to find something related to mottainai. Through these methods, I felt that the word mottainai tends to be used when people do not want to lose something, especially among young people in the present. Also, I thought that each person had mottainai spirit before, though mottainai has become a social movement, boom, event or even performance now.

See more: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124279905@N08/


Proprietors of Hirakata
Edward Byrom

Having lived in Hirakata for nine months now, and preferring the local scene to many places in Osaka, I have become friends with many of the local bar owners here. I`ve got to know their personalities, their friends and customers, their hobbies. I started this project as a way to increase the relationship between the local businesses and students of Kansai Gaidai, both exchange and domestic. By showing these proprietors, I hope that their personalities will shine through, and help to bring more people to these small bars and restaurants, and to increase integration between Kansai Gaidai and the rest of Hirakata.

See more: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oxford2osaka/sets/72157644072733130/


Monday, May 12, 2014

Deaf bodies: toward a holistic ethnography of deaf people in Japan

Here is another presentation at the upcoming IUAES conference that might be of interest to visual anthropologists:

Deaf bodies: toward a holistic ethnography of deaf people in Japan

Author: Steven C. Fedorowicz (Kansai Gaidai University)

Short Abstract

Deafness viewed in terms of a deficient physical body perpetuates social limitations. This paper presents a holistic view of the deaf body - biological, ecological, phenomenological, social and cultural - to move beyond impairment and explore the body as a media to interpret and express meaning and worldview.

Long Abstract

This paper is an ethnographic exploration of deaf people in Japan organized around Mark Johnson's philosophy of embodied meaning (2007). Meaning and worldview are created, interpreted and expressed through the body and bodily interactions. For Johnson, the body is not limited to a single essence. The application of this holistic approach to the body treats deafness as a condition that affects human behavior rather than a deficiency/impairment. For the deaf person as a living organism, the body is a whole, its parts coordinating in terms of shape, space, movement and directionality to discern and express qualities. The interaction of the deaf person with her environment creates visual images and clarifies her reality. The sensation, perception and experience felt in the body generates meaning and emotion that are expressed in facial expression and body posture. The body is key in social interactions (family, friends, education, employment, etc.) and the manipulation of cultural artifacts sometimes vastly different from those of hearing people. How do deaf people in Japan deal with limits - or challenges - of communication with hearing people and among themselves? For deaf people the body is a media they use to create text and discourse through the performance of sign language. These ideas will be illustrated through real-life ethnographic observations and examinations of Japanese Sign Language, Signed Japanese, issues of sign language interpretation and advances in technology (extensions of the body) that assist in the transmission and recording of body generated text in non-face-to-face-settings.

This paper is part of an all day session entitled, "Anthropology through the experience of the physical body."

The session begins at 10:30 AM and finishes at 5:00 PM on Sunday, May 18, 2014.
Venue: International Conference Hall of Makuhari Messe, 101b.
"Deaf bodies" will be presented during the last afternoon session, between 3:30-5:00 PM.

For more information: http://www.iuaes.org/japan2014/index.shtml

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Announcement: VAOJ Virtual Student Film Festival, May 16-23, 2014

The VAOJ Student Film Festival is going virtual! This semester, fifteen students have made short ethnographic films on a variety of Japan-related topics. As the last week of class is not the most convenient time for a film festival (especially with 15 films!), people in the past have requested that the student films be made available on-line. So from May 16-23 you can access all of their films here at the VAOJ site. Check them all out at your leisure and convenience. Coming soon...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Announcement: VAOJ Student Photo Exhibition, May 16-23, 2014

Twenty students from the Spring 2014 Visual Anthropology of Japan class will hold a photo exhibition beginning next week. Each student has been researching a particular topic dealing with Japanese culture and its representation, ultimately coming up with 10-15 prints as their final projects. The exhibition is in two parts: Students have chosen their 3 favorite prints and they will be in display at the Kansai Gaidai University Center for International Education student lounge. And then all of their photos will be displayed in a virtual exhibition on this VAOJ site. Check it out!

May 16-23, 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

New Horizon of Anthropological Films from Japan

The Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology (JASCA) will hold their 50th Anniversary Conference jointly with the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) Inter-Congress in May, 2014. Several other anthropological organizations are participating as well.

The conference aims to attract well over 1000 international and domestic delegates to Chiba City in Greater Tokyo. The theme will be The Future with/of Anthropologies. The language of the conference will be English.

For more details: http://www.iuaes.org/japan2014/

This is probably the biggest anthropology conference of the year. One session might be of particular interest to visual anthropologists and filmmakers:

New Horizons of Anthropological Films form Japan

Convener: Itsushi Kawase (National Museum of Ethnology, Japan)

Currently, a considerable number of films have been produced by Japanese anthropologists centering on the variety of cultures in the world. Since 2006, more than 70 films have been presented in the film program in the annual meetings of the Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology. Some of them have been circulated and discussed widely in the internationally-acclaimed academic film festivals. The recent dramatic growth of the anthropological/ethnographic film platforms and visual anthropologists’ scholarly networks in the world have further facilitated the production and progress of methodology of anthropological filmmaking in Japan. Furthermore, several interdisciplinary audio-visual workshops led by anthropologists explore the new form of audio-visual storytelling and expand the practice of knowledge creation in humanities in conjunction with film, contemporary art and anthropology. This film program will present some of the latest films produced by anthropologists in Japan. We invite scholars who are interested in integrating film as the practice of doing anthropology and have the discussion on different audio-visual approaches to anthropological subjects as well as the different styles and conventions employed in the construction of films.

Date and Time: May 18th, 10:30- Venue: Room 304(3rd Floor), International Conference Hall, Makuhari Messe

For more information: http://www.cva-iuaes.com/japan2014/

Friday, May 2, 2014

"Law change would tape interrogations"

VAOJ has been covering this issue of visualization for some time now. Here's the latest from The Japan News, 5/2/14:

Chart borrowed from The Japan News, 5/2/14

Proposed changes to the criminal justice system are likely to require investigative authorities to record audio and video of the entire interrogation of suspects, according to Justice Ministry sources.

The proposals advanced by the ministry call for the entire process of interrogation by police and public prosecutors to be recorded in what has been called the “visualization” of questioning in Japan. Every stage of interrogation, from the arrest of a suspect to his or her indictment, would be subject to recording.

The proposed system would also authorize plea bargaining, an agreement between the defendant and prosecution in which the accused agrees to plead guilty in exchange for concessions from prosecutors.

On Wednesday, the ministry submitted its proposals to a sectional meeting of the Legislative Council, an advisory panel to the justice minister. Most of the proposals were approved by the council’s special committee on the establishment of a new criminal justice system, the sources said.

However, the committee is still divided over whether recordings should be limited to criminal cases subject to trial by the lay judge system, or whether the proposed method should be applied to all crimes. This will likely make it difficult for the committee to reach a consensus on the issue, according to observers.

Another change advocated in the proposals is an expansion of the scope of cases in which investigators may be authorized to use wiretaps as part of their investigations.

The special committee is scheduled to draw up a final report as early as this summer, and then submit it to the justice minister in autumn. The ministry will seek to submit bills aimed at translating the proposals into action to next year’s ordinary Diet session, including one designed to revise the Criminal Procedure Code.

Read the whole story: http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001249839

Click here for previous VAOJ coverage.