Fun Link Friday: Eiji Ohashi’s lonely vending machines

This week is just a quick fun link– a CNN feature on the photographer Eiji Ohashi, who has spent years photographing vending machines that often stand alone in Japan’s most isolated places. Travelers unfamiliar with Japan are often shocked by the ubiquity of vending machines, whereas those who have lived there for extended periods of time may not be surprised to find a brightly-lit machine standing in at the roadside in the middle of empty fields, far out in the country.

Photograph by Eiji Ohashi.

Ohashi beautifully captures the presence of these machines, and a dozen or so of his photographs can be seen in the original article highlighting the development of his work, and you can visit his site for information on purchasing the book of his photos, Roadside Lights.

Happy Friday!

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Fun Link Friday: Interactive digital views of the Edo period

Although having digital views of any view you wish has long been a staple in science fiction film, that day is pretty much already upon us! Recently the Atmoph Window company released information on their high definition window displays, which bring to life a variety of views and their related audio as a part of smart display technology.

These windows include more than 1,000 views of the world (and can even be linked to show you your room when you’re away??), but what I find really interesting is that one view is of early modern Japan!

The company got footage from Toei Studio Park, an area of Kyoto managed by Toei Studios Kyoto, which is responsible for filming a number of historical drama series. I suppose this makes more sense than making a totally computer-generated site, or going back in time. 😉

Read a little more about the project at Japan Today‘s article!

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Fun Link Friday: Olympics meets Noh

A quickie Fun Link Friday for you all today! Those who have been following the 2020 Tokyo Olympics carefully probably know that their social media campaign is “Make the Beat,” inviting people to post to social media with the hashtag #2020beat to get amped up for the games.

Recently a video was released with a somewhat special take on the beat– a performance by the Olympic mascots with a traditional noh theater performer. You can see the brief advertisement below:

This video maybe should come as no surprise though, given that the famous kyogen actor Nomura Mansai will be directing the opening and closing ceremonies. Do we have more premodern arts to look forward to in the upcoming games? I hope so!

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Book Announcement: Agents of World Renewal: The Rise of Yonaoshi Gods in Japan

Takashi Miura

This volume examines a category of Japanese divinities that centered on the concept of “world renewal” (yonaoshi). In the latter half of the Tokugawa period (1603–1867), a number of entities, both natural and supernatural, came to be worshipped as “gods of world renewal.” These included disgruntled peasants who demanded their local governments repeal unfair taxation, government bureaucrats who implemented special fiscal measures to help the poor, and a giant subterranean catfish believed to cause earthquakes to punish the hoarding rich. In the modern period, yonaoshi gods took on more explicitly anti-authoritarian characteristics. During a major uprising in Saitama Prefecture in 1884, a yonaoshi god was invoked to deny the legitimacy of the Meiji regime, and in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the new religion Ōmoto predicted an apocalyptic end of the world presided over by a messianic yonaoshi god.

Using a variety of local documents to analyze the veneration of yonaoshi gods, Takashi Miura looks beyond the traditional modality of research focused on religious professionals, their institutions, and their texts to illuminate the complexity of a lived religion as practiced in communities. He also problematizes the association frequently drawn between the concept of yonaoshi and millenarianism, demonstrating that yonaoshi gods served as divine rectifiers of specific economic injustices and only later, in the modern period and within the context of new religions such as Ōmoto, were fully millenarian interpretations developed. The scope of world renewal, in other words, changed over time.

Agents of World Renewal approaches Japanese religion through the new analytical lens of yonaoshi gods and highlights the necessity of looking beyond the boundary often posited between the early modern and modern periods when researching religious discourses and concepts.

For more information:

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Fun Link Friday: Small Worlds Tokyo

If lately you’ve just been feeling insignificant compared to the vastness of the universe, maybe you need to plan on booking a trip to Small Worlds Tokyo, which is set to open next spring. Planned as the world’s largest diorama park, it will be a 8,000 square meter indoor facility, with the objects at 1/80th scale.

Visitors will get to choose from many different themes, including Kansai airport, towns across the world, the Space Center, areas of Tokyo, and even Sailor Moon and Neon Genesis Evangelion! Can a miniature immersion experience be just as intense as a life-size one?

There’s even the option to purchase a special ticket to create a 3D model of yourself and place it inside the action. So if you ever wanted to imagine yourself as a part of the world below a hulking mech, now might be your chance!

More information can be found on the Small Worlds website and various articles advertising the new park. Tickets aren’t open yet, but be on the lookout if you’re in Japan.

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Call for Applications: 7th Summer School in Japanese Early Modern Palaeography

The Seventh Summer School in Japanese Early Modern Palaeography will run between Monday 10 August and Friday 21 August 2020.

Core contents of the Summer School

As always our Summer School focuses on Edo-period materials. Our sustained work in teaching what we call holistic palaeographic literacy  総合的な和本リテラシー has resulted in a programme that works very effectively. In the seventy-two hours of tuition that we offer, we devote roughly the same amount of hours to the three linguistic/palaeographic areas of wabun in cursive (kuzushiji and hentaigana), kanbun in non-cursive and sōrōbun in cursive. We also actively encourage participants to explore research questions in the field of Japanese early-modern palaeography.

You can read more about our teaching philosophy in the forthcoming number of the journal Shomotsugaku 書物学 no.9, October 2016.

The theme of this year summer school is Daily life in Edo-period Japan 江戸時代の庶民生活 (III). As every year we cover new materials, so that returning participants can benefit as well.

For more information, visit:

Deadline: 1 February 2020

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Funding: The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) invites applications in the 2019-20 competition year of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies. In cooperation with the Foundation, ACLS offers an integrated set of fellowship and grant competitions supporting work that will expand the understanding and interpretation of Buddhist thought in scholarship and society, strengthen international networks of Buddhist studies, and increase the visibility of innovative currents in those studies.

  • Postdoctoral Fellowshipstwo-year stipends to recent recipients of the PhD for residence at a university for research, writing, and teaching
  • Research Fellowships: one-year stipends for scholars who hold a PhD degree, with no restrictions on time from the PhD
  • New Professorships: multi-year grants to colleges and universities to establish or expand teaching in Buddhist studies

These are global competitions. There are no restrictions as to the location of work proposed, the citizenship of applicants, or the languages of the final written product. Applications must be submitted in English. Program information and applications are available at

Deadline for submission of fellowship applications: November 13, 2019.
Deadline for institutional applications for New Professorships: January 8, 2020.

For more information, please email

Program in Buddhist Studies on Facebook.

The American Council of Learned Societies is the leading private institution supporting scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. In the 2018-19 competition year, ACLS awarded over $25 million to nearly 350 scholars worldwide. Recent fellows’ and grantees’ profiles and research abstracts are available at We look forward to an equally successful competition year in 2019-20, and we encourage you to circulate this notice to members of your community who may be interested in these fellowship and grant opportunities.

Established in 2005, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation is a private philanthropic organisation based in Hong Kong. The Foundation’s dual mission is to foster appreciation of Chinese arts and culture to advance global learning and to cultivate deeper understanding of Buddhism in the context of contemporary life.

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