Book Announcement: Translating the Occupation: The Japanese Invasion of China, 1931–45

Translating the Occupation: The Japanese Invasion of China, 1931–45
Edited by Jonathan Henshaw, Craig A. Smith, and Norman Smith
UBC Press

From 1931 to 1945, as Japanese imperialism developed and spread throughout China, three regions experienced life under occupation: the puppet state of Manchukuo, East China, and North China. Each did so in a distinct manner, but making sense of experiences and decisions made during this crucial period has been an elusive goal for historians.

Despite the enduring importance of the occupation to world history and historical memory in East Asia, Translating the Occupation is the first English-language volume to provide such a diverse selection of important primary sources from this period for both scholars and students. Contributors from six different countries have translated sources from Chinese, Japanese, and Korean on a wide range of subjects, focusing on writers who have long been considered problematic or outright traitorous. Each text is accompanied by a short essay to contextualize the translation and explain its significance.

This volume offers a practical, accessible sourcebook from which to challenge standard narratives. The texts have been carefully selected to deepen our understanding of the myriad tensions, transformations, and continuities in Chinese wartime society. Translating the Occupation reasserts the centrality of the occupation to twentieth-century Chinese history and opens the door further to much-needed analysis.

For more information:

Posted in announcements, culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fun Link Friday: Bamboo Art of Tanabe Chikuunsai IV

Every now and then the internet recirculates something super cool from several years ago that didn’t make it onto my radar but is perfect for a Fun Link Friday! This week I’ve come across Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, a Japanese artist specializing in the art of woven bamboo sculpture.

A This is Colossal article from 2018 featured his work from an earlier exhibition at the MET and some other installations, which are absolutely massive and awe-inspiring! Tanabe is a fourth generation bamboo specialist, with the techniques passed down. Each piece of bamboo must be moistened to bend and curve and he recycles the pieces for subsequent installations (!). In addition to some great photographs on the linked Colossal article, you can see this super cool video of him below constructing on of his pieces for the TAI Modern museum. Amazing!

Posted in culture, fun links | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Announcement: Tales of Idolized Boys: Male-Male Love in Medieval Japanese Buddhist Narratives

Tales of Idolized Boys: Male-Male Love in Medieval Japanese Buddhist Narratives

Sachi Schmidt-Hori

In medieval Japan (14th–16th centuries), it was customary for elite families to entrust their young sons to the care of renowned Buddhist priests from whom they received a premier education in Buddhist scriptures, poetry, music, and dance. When the boys reached adolescence, some underwent coming-of-age rites, others entered the priesthood, and several extended their education, becoming chigo, or Buddhist acolytes. Chigo served their masters as personal attendants and as sexual partners. During religious ceremonies—adorned in colorful robes, their faces made up and hair styled in long ponytails—they entertained local donors and pilgrims with music and dance. Stories of acolytes (chigo monogatari) from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries form the basis of the present volume, an original and detailed literary analysis of six tales coupled with a thorough examination of the socio-political, religious, and cultural matrices that produced these texts.

Author Sachi Schmidt-Hori begins by delineating various dimensions of chigo (the chigo “title,” personal names, gender, sexuality, class, politics, and religiosity) to show the complexity of this cultural construct—the chigo as a triply liminal figure who is neither male nor female, child nor adult, human nor deity. A modern reception history of chigo monogatari follows, revealing, not surprisingly, that the tales have often been interpreted through cultural paradigms rooted in historical moments and worldviews far removed from the original. From the 1950s to 1980s, research on chigo was hindered by widespread homophobic prejudice. More recently, aversion to the age gap in historical master-acolyte relations has prevented scholars from analyzing the religious and political messages underlying the genre. Schmidt-Hori’s work calls for a shift in the hermeneutic strategies applied to chigo and chigo monogatari and puts forth both a nuanced historicization of social constructs such as gender, sexuality, age, and agency, and a mode of reading propelled by curiosity and introspection.

For more information:

Posted in announcements, culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fun Link Friday: Kimono Craft Past & Present

Without a doubt, one of Japan’s most iconic symbols is the kimono. A recent Atlas Obscura article highlighted Chiso, one particular kimono-producing company in Kyoto that has purportedly been in business since 1555. Dedicated to hand-crafted, artisanal details, Chiso’s workshop only produces about 25 kimono per year, with each one taking several months to create from scratch.

Although the market for traditional kimono is not getting any bigger, these pieces are truly works of art, and this has been evident from a special virtual exhibition of Chiso’s wares hosted by the Worcester Art Museum, entitled Kimono Couture: The Beauty of Chiso.

The exhibit features detailed explanations of the kimono-making process along with some stunning photographs! So be sure to read the full Atlas Obscura article to get some history on Chiso and then kick back for the weekend enjoying what the virtual exhibit has to offer!

Posted in culture, fun links | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Call for Applicants: Noh Training Project US 2021

Training opportunity: Noh Training Project US 2021

The Noh Training Project is an intensive 3-week training program covering the singing and dancing of Japan’s centuries-old dance-drama with veteran performers from Theatre Nohgaku. During the final week of instruction, Kita school Master Teacher and Intangible Cultural Asset Akira Matsui joins the project. Participants will also have the chance to work with the musical instruments of noh. Actors, directors, dancers, musicians, and academics interested in Japanese performance experience are encouraged to apply.

The Noh Training Project US:
Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden-Sydney, Virginia
May 16-June 4, 2021

Program Features:

• Daily sessions in the singing (utai) and dancing (shimai) of noh
• Weekly presentations of noh performances on video followed by discussion
• A final recital performance on June 4, 2021.  Students will perform one short dance piece and chant for 1-2 other pieces.
• Noh actor Master Teacher Akira Matsui will provide instruction during the final week of training.

Hampden-Sydney College is the tenth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States (1775), and the oldest of the country’s few remaining private colleges that specializes in educating and developing young men.  The College is located on a beautiful, residential campus situated on 1300 acres in south-central Virginia, 60 miles southwest of Richmond.

Registration deadline: 03/15/21


Posted in announcements, culture, study tools | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Japan and East Asian Studies Podcasts

Let’s face it, there are a ton of podcasts out there on Japanese language, culture, history, current events, and Japan in general. Few of us have the time to dig through them all and sort out what’s what. The subgenres are also many: podcasts in Japanese, in Japanese for learning Japanese, in English for learning Japanese, about living in Japan, about Japan, etc.

Below, I’d like to provide a starting point for the latter type of podcast, emphasizing Japanese Studies itself, particularly series that are being released by and/or for scholars of Japan. These can provide a great foundation for learning more about Japan in general, particularly from experts in the field.

This list is based on an excellent chapter on podcasting as pedagogy by Tristan R. Grunow (Pacific University) entitled “Podcasting During the Pandemic and Beyond” in the Asia Shorts volume by the Association for Asian Studies: Teaching About Asia in a Time of Pandemic, edited by David Kenley.

Below, I will provide a short description of each podcast and its contents, including Japan-focused and East Asia-focused podcasts. Some podcasts are available on your typical podcast platforms and/or are hosted on their respective websites, so be sure to poke around based on your needs.




Japan on the Record

Format: Interview
Average Length: 15-20 minutes
Genre: News, Current Events

Japan on the Record is a podcast hosted and produced by Tristan R. Grunow (Pacific University) where specialists from the Japanese Studies field react to current issues in the news and/or Japanese Studies field. Each episode, which drops roughly every 1-2 weeks, features a 1 on 1 interview (with the exception of special features, like a roundtable on #BlackInTheIvory). Topics have included accessibility, protests, racism, the Olympics, and more. Given its focus on current matters in the news, the podcast skews towards modern/contemporary subjects.

Japan Forum Podcast

Format: Interview
Average Length: 40-50 minutes
Genre: Publications, Research

Japan Forum Podcast is affiliated with the official journal of the British Association for Japanese Studies, Japan Forum. As a multidisciplinary journal of Japanese Studies that includes topics across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and more, the podcast also interviews specialists in the field on relevant topics and/or their recent works. The focus thus far has been heavily modern Japan, and some of the earlier episodes are a bit rough in quality. The podcast has eleven featured episodes since 2019, and seems to post roughly on a monthly basis.

Michigan Talks Japan

Format: Interview
Average Length: 40-60 minutes
Genre: Publications, Research, Academics

Michigan Talks Japan is a podcast produced by the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan. The podcast is hosted by cultural anthropologist Allison Alexy, who interviews scholars of Japan about their work, backgrounds, and the Japanese Studies field more generally. Guests are drawn from speakers for CJS, so they range widely in their expertise across time periods and fields. The podcast is organized into short “seasons,” with the first season containing 5 episodes and the second season now in progress. They also have a previous podcast series connected to CJS, the Japanese Studies Radio Hour (2016-2018), which is currently archived and had a similar format.

New Books in Japanese Studies

Format: Interview
Average Length: 50-60 minutes
Genre: Publications, Research

The New Books in Japanese Studies podcast is a subsection of the New Books Network, which is a consortium of podcast channels that introduce new scholarship to the public through interviews with authors. The podcast has been active since 2017 and covers a variety of time periods, fields, and topics. Episodes are roughly an hour long, as they delve deeply into the works discussed, and are posted on an irregular schedule because of the diversity of topics, which might fall into many different categories on the New Books Network. Listening is a good way to keep on top of the Japanese Studies field (and many others). There have been 30 episodes to date. Note that there is also a broader category of New Books in East Asian Studies as well.

The Meiji at 150 Podcast

Format: Interview
Average Length: 30-40 minutes
Genre: Publications, Research, History/Culture

The Meiji at 150 Podcast was also managed and produced by Tristan R. Grunow, and ran from 2017 to 2019. The podcast was created in conjunction with the Meiji at 150 project hosted at the University of British Columbia, which sponsored conferences, workshops, multimedia and pedagogy resources, and more related to the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration. The podcast features interviews with specialists in Japanese history, art, literature, culture, and more, discussing their research and teaching connected to this moment of Japanese history. 

In keeping with the theme, the podcast is 150 episodes. There are several features that make this podcast stand out as easy to navigate and readily accessible, including an episode guide that allows you to search for interviews by author, theme, or topic, and full transcripts of 50-60 selected episodes. The Meiji at 150 Podcast is great for casual listening or formal use in the classroom, particularly in conjunction with the many other resources available on the project site.

Hokkaido 150

Format: Interview
Average Length: 15-40 minutes
Genre: Publications, Research, History/Culture

Hokkaido 150, also produced by Grunow, is follow-up to the Meiji at 150 Podcast, and complements the Hokkaido  at 150: Settler Colonialism and Indigeneity in Modern Japan and Beyond project, focusing on the 150th anniversary of the Japanese colonization of the island of Hokkaido, or Ainu Moshir as it was known to the Indigenous Ainu peoples. This podcast, no longer active, featured 11 episodes of interviews with scholars of Japan from various disciplines, discussing settler colonialism in Hokkaido, Ainu history past and present, and more.

History of Japan Podcast

Format: Documentary-style narrative
Average Length: 30-40 minutes
Genre: History/Culture

The History of Japan Podcast has been run by Isaac Meyer, a former PhD student specializing in modern Japan at the University of Washington, from 2013 to the present. Meyer pics a different topic from Japanese history each week and covers it in episodes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour long. Podcast episodes are straightforward narration that is engaging and well-researched. Each episode also includes show notes that link to related scholarship used to develop the episode, as well as visual aids like images and maps. At a whopping 374 episodes and counting, there’s a lot to dig into.


East Asia


East Asia for All

Format: Co-hosted analysis
Average Length: 30-40 minutes
Genre: Pop culture, Media, History/Culture

East Asia for All is a podcast hosted by Melissa Brzycki (Monmouth University) and Stephanie Montgomery (St. Olaf College), scholars of East Asian Studies. The podcast focuses on digging deep into East Asian popular culture, from everyday understandings and reception to situating them in historical perspectives. They cover films, TV, literature, and many other aspects of pop culture. There are currently 9 episodes and 8 minisodes, and they drop sporadically, no doubt because both hosts are full-time professors. The production value is high and the topics fun, so hopefully more will come out before long. The website also features extensive reading lists for each episode and transcripts.

East Asia Now

Format: Interview, Lecture
Average Length: 15-60 minutes
Genre: Current events, History, Research

East Asia Now is a podcast developed by the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. It explores the connections between East Asia and the United States through interviews, discussions, and lectures. The podcast grew out of a previous (now discontinued) project, TransAsia and the World, which ran from 2018 to 2019 and featured about 15 episodes on similar topics. East Asia Now picked up this thread in 2019 and has released 5 or 6 episodes in 2020, each about an hour long. The future posting schedule and/or plan for continuation is somewhat unclear. 

University of Chicago East Asian Studies Podcast

Format: Lecture
Average Length: 20-60 minutes
Genre: Current events, History, Research

The University of Chicago East Asian Studies Podcast ran between 2009 and 2014, featuring 38 episodes. Each episode features a recording of a lecture or presentation from their various East Asian Studies lectures series and events, some of which are available in both audio and video format. 

East Asia Hotspots

Format: Interview
Average Length: 20-40 minutes
Genre: Current events, Politics, Research

East Asia Hotspots is a podcast on contemporary politics, policy, and society in East Asia produced by East Asia National Resource Center at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. The podcast currently has three seasons starting from April 2020, with four episodes per season (the current season, #3), has two episodes. Guests are featured for interview-style discussions on modern East Asia. Each episode is anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes long, and transcriptions of each episode are available as a downloadable PDF.

Postcards from Asia

Format: Documentary-style narrative
Average Length: 60 seconds
Genre: History/Culture

Postcards from Asia (now under the larger rubric of Postcards from Abroad) is a podcast program produced at the University of Kansas. A collaboration between Kansas Public Radio and the Center for East Asian Studies, each episode is a 60-second-long snapshot of some facet of life in China, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia. There are just over 300 of these mini episodes, and on the website you can also access the transcripts that go with them.


There are many more podcasts out there about Japan, from deep dives into history or popular culture to guides to everyday life while being an immigrant abroad. Hopefully the podcasts above give you a starting point to better understand current events and see what some of the latest scholarship is bringing to the table! Happy listening!

Posted in graduate school, main posts, study tools, undergraduate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Book Announcement: Shakespeare and East Asia

Shakespeare and East Asia
Alexa Alice Joubin

Structured around modes in which one might encounter Asian-themed performances and adaptations, Shakespeare and East Asia identifies four themes that distinguish post-1950s East Asian cinemas and theatres from works in other parts of the world: Japanese formalistic innovations in sound and spectacle; reparative adaptations from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong; the politics of gender and reception of films and touring productions in South Korea and the UK; and multilingual, diaspora works in Singapore and the UK. These adaptations break new ground in sound and spectacle; they serve as a vehicle for artistic and political remediation or, in some cases, the critique of the myth of reparative interpretations of literature; they provide a forum where diasporic artists and audiences can grapple with contemporary issues; and, through international circulation, they are reshaping debates about the relationship between East Asia and Europe.

Bringing film and theatre studies together, this book sheds new light on the two major genres in a comparative context and reveals deep structural and narratological connections among Asian and Anglophone performances. These adaptations are products of metacinematic and metatheatrical operations, contestations among genres for primacy, or experimentations with features of both film and theatre.

For more information:

Posted in announcements, culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fun Link Friday: Snow Monkey Relaxation

Are you feeling the weight of winter? Wishing there was a way to relax a bit and just hang? While many of us can’t travel to Japan right now, we can still appreciate those who are coping better with winter from afar. In particular, through May it’s snow monkey bathing season, and I always find it a delight to see these little guys letting all the stress of being a monkey melt away in a good bath.

There are a number of places throughout Japan where you can check out these onsen monkeys, like the Yunokawa hot spring in  Hokkaido or the Nagano Snow Monkey Resort.

But if you’re not satisfied with just watching reports on them or looking at cute photos (seriously, click the Nagano one!), there are also a couple places out there that livestream their monkey hot springs. Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse? Or at least you can take a cue on self-care from these little buddies and have yourself a nice bath to unwind this weekend! ♨️

Posted in culture, fun links | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Funding: KCC Japan Education Exchange Graduate Fellowships Program

Kobe College Corporation – Japan Education Exchange


The KCC Japan Education Exchange Graduate Fellowships Program was established in 1996 to support qualified PhD graduate students for research or study in Japan. The purpose of the fellowship is to support future American educators who will teach more effectively about Japan. One fellowship of $30,000 will be awarded. Applicants may affiliate with Kobe College (Kobe Jogakuin) for award year, if selected.

Completed applications and all supporting materials must be submitted to the KCC Japan Education Exchange email address: no later than March 15, 2021.

For more information:

Posted in announcements, financial assistance, funding, graduate school, study abroad | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Announcement: A Proximate Remove: Queering Intimacy and Loss in the Tale of Genji

A Proximate Remove: Queering Intimacy and Loss in the Tale of Genji
by Reginald Jackson (Author)

Open Access: June 2021

How might queer theory transform our interpretations of medieval Japanese literature and how might this literature reorient the assumptions, priorities, and critical practices of queer theory? Through close readings of The Tale of Genji, an eleventh century text that depicts the lifestyles of aristocrats during the Heian period, A Proximate Remove explores this question by mapping the destabilizing aesthetic, affective, and phenomenological dimensions of experiencing intimacy and loss. The spatiotemporal fissures Reginald Jackson calls “proximate removes” suspend belief in prevailing structures. Beyond issues of sexuality, A Proximate Remove contends that Genji queers in its reluctance to romanticize or reproduce a flawed social order. This hesitation enhances how we engage premodern texts and question contemporary disciplinary stances.

For more information:

Posted in announcements, culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment