Book Announcement: Nuclear Bodies: The Global Hibakusha

Nuclear Bodies: The Global Hibakusha
Robert A. Jacobs

In the fall of 1961, President Kennedy somberly warned Americans about deadly radioactive fallout clouds extending hundreds of miles from H‑bomb detonations, yet he approved ninety‑six US nuclear weapon tests for 1962. Cold War nuclear testing, production, and disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima have exposed millions to dangerous radioactive particles; these millions are the global hibakusha. Many communities continue to be plagued with dire legacies and ongoing risks: sickness and early mortality, forced displacement, uncertainty and anxiety, dislocation from ancestors and traditional lifestyles, and contamination of food sources and ecosystems.

Robert A. Jacobs re‑envisions the history of the Cold War as a slow nuclear war, fought on remote battlegrounds against populations powerless to prevent the contamination of their lands and bodies. His comprehensive account necessitates a profound rethinking of the meaning, costs, and legacies of our embrace of nuclear weapons and technologies.

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Book Announcement: Sōjiji: Discipline, Compassion, and Enlightenment at a Japanese Zen Temple

Sōjiji: Discipline, Compassion, and Enlightenment at a Japanese Zen Temple
Joshua A. Irizarry

Sōjiji is one of the two head temples of Sōtō Zen, the largest sect of Japanese Buddhism. The temple is steeped in centuries of culture and tradition, but it is very much rooted in the present and future, performing functions and catering to needs that reflect the changing demographic, social, and religious landscapes of contemporary Japan.

Based on more than fifteen years of fieldwork, interviews, and archival research, Sōjiji: Discipline, Compassion, and Enlightenment at a Japanese Zen Temple immerses the reader in the lives and experiences of the different groups that comprise Sōjiji’s contemporary religious community. Through clear and accessible prose, ethnographically-grounded analysis, and emotionally compelling stories, the reader will explore the rich pastiche of daily life and ritual activity at a major Japanese Zen temple in institutional, historical, and social context through the lived practices of its community of clergy, practitioners, parishioners, and visitors.

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Book Announcement: Narratives Without Guilt: Japanese Perpetrators and the Question of Responsibility

Narratives Without Guilt:
Japanese Perpetrators and the Question of Responsibility
Frank Jacob

During the Second World War Japanese soldiers committed several different war crimes, including the kidnapping and raping of women or the mistreatment of POWs. In relation to the war crime trials after 1945 these perpetrators were interviewed by the Allied powers and could reflect on their acts during the war. How they perceived their own role for the named eruptions of violence is the main focus of the present book. It takes a closer look at the self-perception and the apologetical narratives of war criminals within the Japanese Army to explain how ordinary Japanese men explained their crimes against humanity once the Second World War was over.

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Book Announcement: Japan on the Jesuit Stage: Two 17th-Century Latin Plays with Translation and Commentary

Japan on the Jesuit Stage: Two 17th-Century Latin Plays with Translation and Commentary
Akihiko Watanabe

The Jesuits were a major source of European information on Japan from the late 16th to early 17th century. Not only were they active missionaries but they also produced linguistic, religious and cultural tracts, regional chronicles, as well as hundreds of Latin plays written in imitation of classical Greco-Roman theatre but set in Japan. An intriguing yet underexplored segment of Jesuit school theatre is that which stages non-classical, non-Western subjects such as Japan, and this volume is the first to present Latin texts of two of these plays alongside full English translations, commentaries and an extensive introduction.

The plays in question – Martyrs of Japan and Victor the Japanese – were performed in Koblenz and Munich, in 1625 and 1665 respectively, and are collated from original 17th-century manuscripts for this edition. They were based on specific events which took place in Japan in 1597 and 1613, and their main characters are historically attested Japanese Catholic converts and their pagan peers.

The juxtaposition of the Latin texts and original English translations makes the plays newly accessible to a wide readership, shedding light on the ways in which Western classical humanism rooted in ancient Mediterranean theatre became intertwined with momentous historical developments across the globe to produce these unique spectacles. The introduction and commentary examine the historical, cultural and literary contexts and provide guidance on interpretative and stylistic issues, allowing for a full appreciation of the plays in which pagan classical, Christian, early modern European and Japanese elements come together.

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Book Announcement: Tsuchi: Earthy Materials in Contemporary Japanese Art

Tsuchi: Earthy Materials in Contemporary Japanese Art
Bert Winther-Tamaki

An examination of Japanese contemporary art through the lens of ecocriticism and environmental history

Bert Winther-Tamaki explores how Japanese artists have continually sought a passionate and redemptive engagement with earth. By focusing on the role of tsuchi (earthy materials such as soil and clay) as a convergence point for a wide range of creative practices, this book offers a critical reassessment of contemporary art in Japan and its intrinsic relationship to the environment.

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Funding: Asian Division’s Florence Tan Moeson Fellowship

The Library of Congress’s Asian Division is happy to announce that it is now accepting applications for the 2023 Florence Tan Moeson Research Fellowship Program. Please note that the fellowship application is accepted only via email submission. In order to apply, the applicant must download the application form and follow the enclosed instructions. The deadline for the 2023 application season is midnight January 16, 2023 US Eastern Time.

The purpose of the fellowship is to provide individuals with the opportunity to pursue research in the area of Asian Studies, using the unparalleled collections of the Asian Division and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The fellowships are for a minimum of five business days of research at the Library of Congress. The grants may vary from $300 to $3,000 and are to be used to cover travel to and from Washington, overnight accommodations, as well as other research expenses. All research trips need to be completed before September 15, 2023. Graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, researchers, and librarians with a need for fellowship support are especially encouraged to apply.

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Book Announcement: Beyond the Book: Unique and Rare Primary Sources for East Asian Studies Collected in North America

Beyond the Book: Unique and Rare Primary Sources for East Asian Studies Collected in North America
Edited by Jidong Yang

Beyond the Book is the first ever volume dedicated to the studies of rare East Asian materials collected by individuals and institutions in North America, including those currently held at University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University; Duke University; Harvard University; Hoover Institution; Library of Congress; University of Michigan; University of Pittsburgh; Rutgers University; Stanford University; University of Toronto; University of Washington; and Yale University.

Most of the materials discussed are in a non-book format, such as archives, maps, prints, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings, diaries, correspondence, posters, and unofficial publications.

Beyond the Book not only reveals many interesting and forgotten stories in the two centuries of cultural exchanges between East Asia and North America, it also provides fresh clues for East Asian studies scholars in their search for important research materials.

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Fun Link Friday: Urban Miniature Models of Japan

For those who have visited Japan, miniature models are nothing new. From our favorite plastic ramen bowls to recreations of historical buildings in museums, gazing on tiny versions of the world instill in us a sense of wonder.

Earlier this month, Colossal highlighted the work of Christopher Robin Nordstrom, who has been taking the miniature world of Japan to a whole new level. Focusing on the everyday, he’s recreating the spirit of everyday life in Tokyo, with small-scale models of police booths, hair salons, shop fronts, and other sites that remind us of both the charm and the grime of Tokyo’s urban landscape.

Read all about these projects at the original article or jump right to Nordstrom’s instagram to see not only finished products but his work in progress as it comes to life!

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Book Announcement: Church Space and the Capital in Prewar Japan

Church Space and the Capital in Prewar Japan
Garrett L. Washington

Christians have never even constituted one percent of Japan’s population, yet Christianity had a disproportionately large influence on Japan’s social, intellectual, and political development. This happened despite the Tokugawa shogunate’s successful efforts to criminalize Christianity and even after the Meiji government took measures to limit its influence (after decriminalizing it out of diplomatic necessity). From journalism and literature, to medicine, education, and politics, the mark of Protestant Japanese is indelible. Herein lies the conundrum that has interested scholars for decades. How did Christianity overcome the ideological legacies of its past in Japan? How did Protestantism distinguish itself from the other options in the religious landscape like Buddhism and New Religions? And how did the religious movement’s social relevance and activism persist despite the new government’s measures to weaken the relationship between private religion and secular social life in Japan?

In Church Space and the Capital in Prewar Japan, Garrett Washington responds to these questions with a spatially explicit study on the influence of the Protestant church in imperial Japan. He examines the physical and social spaces that Tokyo’s largest Japanese-led Protestant congregations cultivated between 1879 and 1923 and their broader social ties. These churches developed alongside, and competed with, the locational, architectural, and social spaces of Buddhism, Shinto, and Japanese New Religions. Their success depended on their pastors’ decisions about location and relocation, those men’s conceptualizations of the new imperial capital and aspirations for Japan, and the Western-style buildings they commissioned. Japanese pastors and laypersons grappled with Christianity’s relationships to national identity, political ideology, women’s rights, Japanese imperialism, and modernity; church-based group activities aimed to raise social awareness and improve society. Further, it was largely through attendees’ externalized ideals, experiences, and networks developed at church but expressed in their public lives outside the church that Protestant Christianity exerted such a visible, surprising influence on modern Japanese society.

This groundbreaking history offers answers to longstanding questions about Protestant Christianity’s reputation and impact, but also goes further. It importantly uses a new space-centered perspective to focus attention on Japanese agency in the religion’s metamorphosis and social impact, adding a fresh narrative of cultural imperialism.

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Intensive Summer Japanese Workshop: IU Bloomington

Every June and July, the intensive summer Japanese Workshop helps students develop their linguistic and cultural competency rapidly and effectively through live online instruction, extracurricular activities, authentic materials, and real-time interactions with instructors and presenters from Japan. Classes are conducted primarily in Japanese and focus on the rapid development of practical communication skills.

Course Options:

Intensive First-year Japanese Online
Intensive Second-year Japanese Online

Deadline: February 3rd, 2023

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