Fun Link Friday: Masterful kiri-e designs by Masayo Fukuda

In past Fun Link Fridays we’ve featured some cool paper artistry, from pop-up designs and intricate cranes to moving paper sculptures. Today’s feature is next-level kiri-e (paper cutting) by Masayo Fukuda, who has over 25 years of experience making cut-outs that look laser-sharp in their precision. Her use of delicate lines and negative space is truly stunning, bringing to life eerily translucent figures of animals, in particular. You can check out an article from last year by Hi-Fructose on some of her work and also follow her on Instagram for videos and photos of her art. Happy Friday!

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Open Access Special Journal Issue: Narratological Perspectives on Premodern Japanese Literature

Narratological Perspectives on Premodern Japanese Literature

Edited by Sebastian Balmes

With articles by Sonja Arntzen, Jinno Hidenori, Midorikawa Machiko, Simone Müller, Takeuchi Akiko, Michael Watson, Robert F. Wittkamp, and myself.

This special issue comprises eight studies that deal with Japanese narratives from the tenth to the fifteenth century, including theater and painting, from a narratological point of view, revolving around discourse, character, and time. While narratology provides useful tools for analysis, some theories need to be revised in order to apply to Japanese texts. The papers in this volume contain several such proposals, but their focus lies first and foremost on examining characteristics of premodern Japanese narrative, which—compared to Western (medieval) literature—stands out through its elusive qualities. The special issue is equally aimed at an audience with a background in Japanese Studies and at scholars who take an interest in diachronic and intercultural narratology.

All articles, or the entire volume in one PDF, can be downloaded from the following website:

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Funding: Tanaka & Green Academic Scholarships

The Japan-America Society of Washington DC is pleased to announce the opening of the Tanaka and Green Academic Scholarship for the 2020-2021 school year.

Applicants should fill out the online application form and submit the following documents with the application form before the deadline of August 21, 2020. All documents should be included as attachments to the application and include the applicant’s full name.

JASWDC will not follow up if an application is incomplete. Failure to submit all required documents, or to fully complete the application, will render the applicant ineligible.

complete application includes the following documents:

  1. (A) Proof of acceptance at a college or university in Japan and (B) certification that the proposed academic study is an official student exchange program of the college or university in the US. This can be a letter or notice from either the US home college or university or the Japanese college or university.
  2. School transcripts for the past academic year

In addition to these attachments, a recommendation form must be filled out by a professor or advisor at a student’s college or university in the US. The recommendation form will be sent to the recommender’s email address the applicant provides in the application once the completed application has been submitted.

Requirements for Applicants

  • Must be enrolled full-time in an undergraduate or graduate school in the United States
  • Must give proof of acceptance at a college or university in Japan as a full-time foreign exchange student for either one semester or one academic year
  • Must give proof that the program in Japan is an approved student exchange program of the applicant’s home college or university in the US
  • Must intend to return to the college or university in the United States
  • May be majors in any subject, but must demonstrate that they have taken or plan to take academic courses related to Japan, whether in the US or at the Japan college or university
  • Must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States

Deadline: August 21, 2020

For more information:

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Book Announcement: Seeds of Control: Japan’s Empire of Forestry in Colonial Korea

Seeds of Control: Japan’s Empire of Forestry in Colonial Korea

by David Fedman

Japanese colonial rule in Korea (1905–1945) ushered in natural resource management programs that profoundly altered access to and ownership of the peninsula’s extensive mountains and forests. Under the banner of “forest love,” the colonial government set out to restructure the rhythms and routines of agrarian life, targeting everything from home heating to food preparation. Timber industrialists, meanwhile, channeled Korea’s forest resources into supply chains that grew in tandem with Japan’s imperial sphere. These mechanisms of resource control were only fortified after 1937, when the peninsula and its forests were mobilized for total war.

In this wide-ranging study David Fedman explores Japanese imperialism through the lens of forest conservation in colonial Korea—a project of environmental rule that outlived the empire itself. Holding up for scrutiny the notion of conservation, Seeds of Control examines the roots of Japanese ideas about the Korean landscape, as well as the consequences and aftermath of Japanese approaches to Korea’s “greenification.” Drawing from sources in Japanese and Korean, Fedman writes colonized lands into Japanese environmental history, revealing a largely untold story of green imperialism in Asia.

For more information:

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Job Opening: News Assistant – Pentagon/Foreign Affairs

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Sector: Commercial
  • Experience: Early Career


Position description
Company: The Asahi Shimbun
Position: News Assistant – Pentagon/Foreign Affairs
Salary: $36,000 to $40,800

The Asahi Shimbun is Japan’s leading national daily newspaper. Based in Tokyo, it has a circulation of nearly six million. Its North American bureaus are located in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.


Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree (master’s degree preferable). Background in foreign affairs and domestic politics is highly desirable. Interest in East Asia preferred.

For job description and more information:

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Book Announcement: The Japanese Economy

The Japanese Economy

Hiroaki Richard Watanabe

Although still the world’s third largest economy, Japan continues to feel the effects of the collapse of a massive asset price bubble in the early 1990s. In recent years further setbacks, including both the Asian and global financial crises, and the 2011 Fukushima earthquake, have only added to the economy’s difficulties and made its prospects under Abenomics at best mixed.

Hiroaki Richard Watanabe examines the ups and downs of Japan’s postwar economic history to offer an up-to-date and authoritative guide to the workings of Japan’s economy. The book highlights the country’s distinct business network and its unique state–market relationship. It explores the characteristic institutional complementarity that exists among different sectors and business practices and gives particular attention to human factors, such as labour market dualism, gender discrimination and migration. Although often associated in western minds with futuristic automated efficiency, Japan’s economy, Watanabe shows, retains many inefficient and peculiar practices that do not comply with global standards.

The book provides readers with a concise survey of Japan’s recent economic history, the economy’s characteristic features and the challenges it faces.


1 Introducing the Japanese Economy
2 The Transformation of the Japanese Economy since the 1990s
3 Measuring the Japanese Economy
4 The Structure of the Japanese Economy
5 The Human and Labour Factors of the Japanese Economy
6 A Distinctive Japanese Economic Feature: ‘Galapagos’ Syndrome
7 Conclusion: Prospects and Challenges for the Japanese Economy

For further information please visit:

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An Introduction to Japanese Game Localization

Today we’re featuring a guest post by Sarah Tangney, a translator and editor with experience working in game localization. She received her BA in English with a minor in Japanese from a small liberal arts college in the United States and attended the Middlebury Language School for Japanese. 


Photo by Mia J

So your Japanese is pretty good, you like translation, and you’re considering how you can make a career out of this. I’m Sarah and I’ve been working in Japanese-to-English game localization since 2014 (in-house in Tokyo from 2014 to 2017, occasional freelance from 2015 to 2018, and full-time freelance since 2019). I’m going to provide an overview of the industry and what you need to get started in it.

What is Game Localization?

Game localization is the process of translating a game, and localization specialists (translators and editors) and managers work either freelance or in-house at game companies (console and mobile). While there’s many possible language pairs, my experience is in translating a Japanese game into English and then localizing it for a western audience, so that’s what I’ll be providing information about. In most cases, localization specialists have to do a bit more than just straight translation into English–the game also needs to be localized so it will appeal to a different culture. Of course, there’s lots of opinions on how much localization, if any, is truly necessary for each game. For more on the process of Japanese game localization itself, check out the excellent blog Legends of Localization.

Getting Started in the Field

In general, you need a minimum of JLPT N2 Japanese to start working in localization. So pass the test first and then start looking into this field. You’re generally not ready to translate games at a professional level until you have at least N2, and you will most likely need to show you’ve passed N2 to be considered for in-house jobs.

There’s two ways to go about getting into the field: freelance and in-house. Freelance can be done from anywhere, and you don’t need to be living in Japan or a major US city with a lot of game companies to do it. The way to begin translating games freelance always involves first passing a translation test. Some companies that you can contact about taking their test include:

And there’s many more. Signing up for alerts is a good way to find out about new work (some legit, some you’d be better off ignoring). You’ll always need to pass a company’s translation test before they’ll hire you. However, even if you’ve passed their test, there’s no guarantee you will be assigned work. And if you don’t pass, you may not receive a lot of feedback that helps you know how to improve. Attempting to break into the industry by freelance translating when you have no experience and no connections can be very frustrating, though you do sometimes get lucky. To build up your translating resume even if you don’t have any professional experience, pick a project to practice translating (it can be anything you want – a light novel, manga, visual novel game).

The other way to get started is by working in-house as a staff translator (localization specialist). However, this path is generally limited to people who are already living in Japan and who have a bachelor’s degree. (These jobs do exist outside Japan as well, generally in major US cities and some in Europe like Pokemon in London and Nintendo in Germany, but the ones outside Japan will usually require candidates to have prior experience. I’m also much less experienced when it comes to the job market for game localization outside Japan, so I can’t speak too much on this.)

Japanese game companies do not tend to hire from outside Japan–the process of providing a visa (CoE – certificate of eligibility) is one not many Japanese HR departments are familiar with. They’d much prefer to hire people who are already in Japan. If you want to break into the industry this way, I’d recommend planning to go work in Japan as an English teacher while getting your Japanese to N2, then once you’re N2 certified starting to apply to game localization jobs. (This is basically the path I took.) New visa rules have also made it much harder to switch from tourist visa to work visa, so I wouldn’t recommend going that route if you don’t want to teach English and your Japanese is already good enough for in-house jobs. It’s still best to go with a different job for the initial visa and then switch once you’re there.

Now, if you’re ready to job hunt in Japan for game localization jobs, I recommend using these websites:

When I was job hunting in Japan for game jobs, I’d post my resume/public profile in English and Japanese, search for game localization jobs by keyword, and apply to a handful. Usually recruiters would contact me, send me job info, and we’d go from there. For those who haven’t job hunted in Japan before, unless a friend is referring you to a job at their company almost everything is done through recruiters. They receive a commission if you are offered and accept a job they introduce you to, so they’re very motivated to help you in the job search process. (Of course, they do tend to get upset if you ever decide a company isn’t right for you and want to cancel an interview/withdraw from the hiring process, even if it’s because you already got a job offer elsewhere. They will try very hard to convince you to keep going so they get their commission, so be careful and stand firm if that’s what you want.)

In my experience, someone whose Japanese is at a high (minimum N2) level and who is a native speaker of English with a bachelor’s degree–not to mention a professional, mature attitude–was perpetually in high demand at game companies in Japan (mainly Tokyo, though there a handful in Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka as well). Native speakers of other languages like French and German are also kept on staff at several big game companies in Japan, but there will be fewer of those types of jobs offered at any given time.

These are companies I know of in Tokyo that have in-house game localization teams (not an exhaustive list):

  • Voltage Inc. (where I got my first in-house localization job)
  • Cybird Co. Ltd.
  • KLab Inc. (KLabGames)
  • Cygames
  • Square Enix
  • Okko
  • Gumi Inc.
  • Colopl
  • Arithmetic

Types of Jobs

Each company will do things in its own way, but a few of the jobs found at game companies include:

  • Localization Specialist (Translator and/or Editor/Reviewer/Proofreader)
  • Localization Project Manager
  • Localization Manager/Head of Localization

If you’re just getting started, you’ll want to aim for the translator/reviewer type jobs. After some years of experience, you can try to move up to project manager (someone who handles the timeline of a project and assigns work to a team of translators) and eventually localization manager (the head of the entire localization team).

Some of the editor/reviewer/proofreader jobs (especially freelance ones) do not require Japanese ability/fluency, but I personally think it really does help, especially in being able to pick up on translation errors the translator may have made.

Networking/Meeting Translators

Most translators working in the Japanese game and media translation industry can be found on Twitter. Everything is fairly decentralized and it can be hard to know where to start. Aspiring translators are encouraged to make an account and start following some well-known translators to get a feel for what the job is like and what the hot topics are. Threads such as this one asking people to tell the story of how they broke into the industry are a good place to start. There’s also this thread boosting Black voices in the J-E media localization industry. You can also look at my follower list (my Twitter is linked below) as I’m following a lot of J-E game translators. My advice is to follow anyone who seems interesting and listen to what they have to say.

More Information

For more on the industry, the blog J-EN Translations is a great resource, especially the Interviews with Localizers series. My thoughts on my experiences working in-house in game localization can be found in my interview for that series!

If you have any questions or want to see more about my professional experience, find me here:

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Funding: Hakuhodo Foundation Japanese Research Fellowship

16th Hakuhodo Foundation Japanese Research Fellowship

With the goals of further strengthening the fundamentals of international research into and deepening understanding of Japan, the Hakuhodo Foundation Japanese Research Fellowship invites leading international researchers of the Japanese language, Japanese language education, Japanese literature and Japanese culture to Japan to conduct
residential research.

Researchers working in the fields of Japanese language, Japanese language education, Japanese literature or Japanese culture who reside outside Japan and meet all of the criteria below.

  • Affiliated with a higher education or research institution (including postdoctoral scholars, adjunct professors and part-time lecturers), or have equivalent research and educational background
  • Researchers with a doctoral degree (including degrees to be granted on or before December 2020) OR an equivalent level of research or education background
  • Sufficient Japanese language proficiency to be able to conduct research in Japanese
  • Non-Japanese national residing outside Japan or Japanese national who has resided outside Japan for 10 years or more and been active in the academic community of the country of their residence
  • Able to stay continuously in Japan for the duration of the Fellowship period and participate in research reporting sessions arranged by the Foundation
  • Applications are not sought from those whose purpose is to write a doctoral thesis.
  • As research reporting and communications with the Fellowship secretariat on various procedures will be conducted in Japanese only, a suitable level of Japanese language ability is required.
  • Those who have previously received support for residential research in Japan may also apply.

Eligible research

Japanese language, Japanese language education, Japanese literature and Japanese culture research

Application period

Applications must be submitted online between June 1 and October 30, 2020.

For more information:

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Job Opening: Japan Society, Digital Producer

Location: New York, New York
Sector: Non Profit
Experience: Mid Career

Position description

Join our team at this exciting time as our new President and CEO reintroduces Japan Society for the global era in our second century with plans for global innovation, program revitalization, and deepened bridge-building between the people of the United States and Japan. As the Digital Producer, you will be responsible for managing the organization’s owned digital real estate and will play a key role in shaping the digital roadmap for the future.

The Digital Producer is responsible for overseeing, developing, and updating all content on the Japan Society website, including program and event pages, promotional placements, and registration flows. This person also manages email marketing initiatives across multiple teams, scheduling and producing all campaigns, and ensuring a successful build, testing and launch process. The ideal candidate should have a solid understanding of website and mobile optimization, SEO/SEM and analytics, plus be comfortable with light graphic design and image editing. HTML and CSS proficiency is a must.

As the Digital Producer, you must be an excellent project manager, with superb writing and proofreading skills. The role requires flexibility in working across multiple projects concurrently, with an ability to shift priorities when needed.

For more information:

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Resource: Videos on careers related to Japan

Anybody here interested in what you do with a degree in Japanese Studies? 😛

Justine Wiesinger, an assistant professor at Bates College, has recently been collecting videos from a wide variety of people who use Japanese in their careers to help promote the Asian Studies department at Bates and give students around the world who are interested in Japan an idea of where their skills might lead them.

The website will be updated throughout the summer, and already features interesting videos from people working in academia, the hotel industry, in animation, with Google, and more! Be sure to check it out here and come back periodically to see what new videos go up!


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