Fun Link Friday: Musical Calculators

This week’s Fun Link Friday is a tweet by あたりめ (@atarimae_400), a Twitter user who regularly posts incredible videos of him using electronic calculators, the simple keystroke chimes of an iPhone, and the like to reproduce complex musical compositions.

In this recent post in particular, あたりめ reproduces a whole series of JR train station chimes in Tokyo, seemingly using just the one-tone chimes of individual keys on his electronic calculators. If you’ve ever spent time in Tokyo, you’ll recognize these chimes which play as a train from a certain line is stopped at a certain station.

A Japanese website called Sound of Station ( allows you to listen to the chimes for a wide range of train lines – both JR and private – all across the country.

I don’t know if I could consciously identify any station by its tune (or vice versa), but I’ve long wondered whether I’ve perhaps developed a subconscious sense for whether it’s my stop or not by listening to the tones. I think I have for the Okinawa Monorail, if not the Tokyo trains.

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

Resource: is a job-hunting website for those seeking jobs at companies or organizations in Japan that are LGBTQ+ friendly.

I suppose I should note a disclaimer in this post, that I (Travis) do not identify as LGBTQ+, and quite obviously it’s a very diverse community, so I cannot presume to know what features might be most pertinent for you. But I hope that some of those which caught my eye may be of value.

Glancing through the site, two things which popped out at me as potentially rather attractive are buttons for searching for 「LGBTの先輩社員がいる職場」(workplaces where you’ll have LGBT colleagues), and 「自分らしい髪型服装で働く」(workplaces where you can dress, and wear your hair, in a way that fits you).

Scrolling down, we find individual companies rated on their LGBT Friendliness, including ratings for diversity, community, training (研修), and personnel system (人事制度).

The front page of the website indicates that all listed companies have gone through review, such that they’re “only listing excellent LGBT friendly companies” (審査を通過した優良なLGBTフレンドリー企業だけ掲載), and you don’t have to reveal your sexuality to use the site (セクシュアリティは非公開でもOK).

The site allows you to search by region within Japan, industry, and type of position (e.g. full-time, contract work, internship), as well as by which companies or positions offer certain benefits – some particular to LGBT concerns, such as “no difference in male/female uniforms” (男女別の制服無し), and time off for surgery (手術休暇), as well as more general benefits, such as having weekends off, no overtime, overseas business trips, or jobs that don’t require prior experience. The site also allows you to search within several different categories of jobs specifically contributing to or otherwise working with the LGBT community.

Best of luck in your job hunt!

Posted in jobs, main posts, useful links | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Book Announcement: Behold the Buddha: Religious Meanings of Japanese Buddhist Icons

Behold the Buddha: Religious Meanings of Japanese Buddhist Icons

James C. Dobbins

Images of the Buddha are everywhere—not just in temples but also in museums and homes and online—but what these images mean largely depends on the background and circumstance of those viewing them. In Behold the Buddha, James Dobbins invites readers to imagine how premodern Japanese Buddhists understood and experienced icons in temple settings long before the advent of museums and the internet. Although widely portrayed in the last century as visual emblems of great religious truths or as exquisite works of Asian art, Buddhist images were traditionally treated as the very embodiment of the Buddha, his palpable presence among people. Hence, Buddhists approached them as living entities in their own right—that is, as awakened icons with whom they could interact religiously.

Dobbins begins by reflecting on art museums, where many non-Buddhists first encounter images of the Buddha, before outlining the complex Western response to them in previous centuries. He next elucidates images as visual representations of the story of the Buddha’s life followed by an overview of the physical attributes and symbolic gestures found in Buddhist iconography. A variety of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and other divinities commonly depicted in Japanese Buddhism is introduced, and their “living” quality discussed in the context of traditional temples and Buddhist rituals. Finally, other religious objects in Japanese Buddhism—relics, scriptures, inscriptions, portraits of masters, and sacred sites—are explained using the Buddhist icon as a model. Dobbins concludes by contemplating art museums further as potential sites for discerning the religious character of Buddhist images.

Those interested in Buddhism generally who would like to learn more about its rich iconography—whether encountered in temples or museums—will find much in this concise, well-illustrated volume to help them “behold the Buddha.”

For more information:

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

Fun Link Friday: Virtual Museum Exhibits

As quarantine continues for many of us, we’re often looking for ways to do things online that we would have otherwise enjoyed doing in person. A couple months ago Tokyo Weekend featured a list of Japanese art museums that have either worked with the Google Arts & Culture initiative or set up their own means of showcasing some of the art that the public hasn’t been able to enjoy lately.

So if you’re feeling the need to “get outside” and do something different, be sure to browse the many museums listed on Tokyo Weekender’s article! Happy Friday!

Posted in culture, fun links | Leave a comment

Recommendations for Employment Seekers in and Beyond Academia

Today’s guest post is by Philip C. Brown, Professor of Japanese history at The Ohio State University. This is a complementary article to his submission to Round 2 of the “The ‘Rebirth’ of Japanese Studies” virtual roundtable for the Association for Asian Studies conference 2020. Brown reflects on what kind of training and preparation can be done to prepare graduate students for both academic and non-academic jobs.


From the perspective of securing academic jobs or institution building, outreach beyond our specialties is critical.

Regardless of which of path you are interested in, open to pursuing, or exploring (institutions of higher education, government, NGO, journalism or business) making the transition from graduate school to a viable career is a challenge for a job applicant as well as the faculty and departments that support of your career. Today’s market for academic jobs means increased competition for the college and university positions that most of us envisioned when we entered graduate school. The pandemic and the financial costs it has engendered will influence the market for Japanese studies Ph.D.s for some time.  To speak frankly, individual professors and graduate departments can only do so much to support the full panoply of career possibilities, even with the best of intents.

Graduate students (but also faculty and departments) can take steps to help in making the transition to a job. Since most people who pursue higher graduate degrees in our field first apply to work in post-secondary education, let me start by suggesting ideas that apply primarily to that sphere. Then I have some thoughts for other career lines.

Two caveats: 1) A number of departments and programs do some or all of what I suggest, so some of these ideas may be familiar, but I also know of a good number that do little to provide guidance and support. 2) This listing is a start; please add further suggestions!!

Thoughts for academic jobs:

– Get on a department faculty search committee as a graduate student representative if you can. It does not need to be in the Japan field. It may even be better if it is not. You will get an inside-the-black-box perspective on the strategies candidates use to connect with people who are not in their specific disciplinary field or sub-field.

– As you watch faculty operate, you may get a sense of how much the discussion might change if there were different people on the committee, a good sense of how people think about the candidate and the department’s needs, what stands out in a CV and letter of application. You can get a feel for the vagaries of the selection process. Who participates at a given time in the decision, issues of personality, issues of loyalty to an advisor or friend, the distinctive characteristics of an applicant pool in a given year, etc. Each of these elements is unpredictable and can change group decisions even when individual judgments are consistent from search to search. A caution: Being a graduate student, you are most likely now at a relatively large research institution; those to which you are likely to apply will not be. A given institution might place more weight on teaching or service than record of publication as they review applicants. Geographical/temporal boundaries of courses you are expected to teach will likely differ. Try to imagine which elements of the process you observe might carry over into other institutional contexts.

– Get teaching experience; and if at all possible, get it beyond your narrow specialty (e.g., for someone in modern Japanese history, beyond that field and beyond even East Asian history). Leading discussions for a class is good, getting some experience taking full responsibility for a standard introductory course is better.  Part-time replacement for a semester at a nearby school as well as work in your own program should be explored as an option.

– Go to job talks (and mock job talks), again, not only in your field but also in other fields in regional/national specialties and departments where you are likely to seek employment. Everyone presenting will have done good research, so look for what they might do in choosing content, presentation techniques and discussion to make their work appealing to a broader audience.

– Find and arrange (ideally, with others such as department graduate student organizations or reading groups, organizations of gender, color, veterans or other interest groups,) to bring to your department or program people in the field from different kinds of institutions (you can probably leave out folks from R1 programs) to talk about a) what they and their colleagues do in their daily work, what’s exciting or dreary, and b) what they look for in job applicants, what characteristics a good CV and letter of application display. This can be done in person (if the department will fund) or via video conference.

– Establish networks with recent graduates of your program that will permit sharing of their experiences in their new work world, at least through digital means.

Thoughts for Non-academic Jobs:

With the possible exception of a small handful of careers (e.g., translation), the first challenge is to get a clear sense of what other careers might be like: museum curator, librarian, public servant, business, journalism, banking and finance and more (I list these because I know people who made the transition from Japanese Studies to these careers). These days, universities no longer operate the summer schools that were called “Ph.D. re-tread programs” such as those offered by the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, or the University of Virginia did during the downturn of the late 1970s and early 1980s. (These programs recognized that unemployed Ph.D.s were a valuable potential resource for non-academic jobs. Business schools at these institutions organized intensive summer programs for a selected group of applicants, provided introductions to the language of business, developed effective resumes, introduced basic skills such as elementary accounting and finance, etc.  As I recall, Columbia University’s School of Journalism did a longer re-training program for potential journalists.)  So initiative in learning about alternative careers lies largely in the hands of individuals or groups of graduate students, although departments might lend support.

– The possible careers are too numerous for any one program to address, but as above, it is possible for departments or groups of graduate students to invite people in to talk about the nature of the work that they do, the qualifications needed to enter a career, what skills are useful to have (Is specialized training needed? If so, how much?)

– As career information gathering proceeds, make some reassessment of the skills you have developed to date. Language is certainly one, but so, too, is cogent writing ability, the capacity to draw reasonable conclusions from incomplete information, understanding the limitations of information sources, adaptability, knowledge of software and information systems of one sort or another, the ability to work in a team, to organize, and more. My bet is that as understanding of particular careers grows, so, too, will your awareness of skills you have to offer.

N.B. Most jobs/careers in government, NGO, business, etc. will not be defined as Japan specific. These organizations look for people with more generally defined characteristics. Some people get jobs directly associated with Japan early on, but in many cases employers will want to be confident of a candidate’s ability to do their work before they put them in a Japan-related position.

All of this is hard work and generates added tensions while you are in graduate school, an educational setting exquisitely designed to make one feel inadequate. So as a final comment, I strongly enjoin you to take very good care of #1. We’re used to using the rational part of our brain, and that is important; but it is also critical to learn how to address the emotional elements of our study and work. This requires some self-awareness. Some people relieve stress with vigorous physical exercise; others with yoga or crafts. Find something that suits you to help you address stress and frustration, to be patient with yourself. You’ll handle your career searches better, I’m sure.

And to faculty, I would urge you to consider in what ways you are lending your support to the students you advise (or those you don’t) in consideration of the above needs of present-day students. We are all in this together.

It would be great if those who have been through these processes recently would share their experiences and lessons learned here.

Posted in graduate school, main posts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fun Link Friday: Amabie sweets

Amabie sweets by かおる堂 in Akita prefecture.

Amidst the regular pandemic news over the last weeks, there have been numerous reports related to Japan centered on amabie アマビエ, a supernatural, mermaid-like creature from Japanese folklore. Although amabie only appears in one text from 1846 (and thus was probably not widely known), the legend that drawing a picture of amabie will ward off illness has captured the imaginations of people living through the time of COVID-19. As a result, makers of traditional Japanese sweets have shifted to making cute amabie of their own.

Here are just a few varieties that have popped up:

By 和創菓ひとひら in Hakodate.

By くらづくり in Kawagoe.

By 金蝶園総本家 in Gifu.

By 紅谷三宅 in Tochigi.

There are many more out there, but this is just a sample of tasty amabie trends emerging. Have a favorite? Let us know! Stay safe and have a happy Friday!

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

Book Announcement: Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics

Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics

Edited ByBarbara Holthus, Isaac Gagné, Wolfram Manzenreiter, Franz Waldenberger

This book situates the 2020 Tokyo Olympics within the social, economic, and political challenges facing contemporary Japan.

Using the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a lens into the city and the country as a whole, the stellar line up of contributors offer hidden insights and new perspectives on the Games. These include city planning, cultural politics, financial issues, language use, security, education, volunteerism, and construction work. The chapters then go on to explore the many stakeholders, institutions, citizens, interest groups, and protest groups involved, and feature the struggle over Tokyo’s extreme summer heat, food standards, the implementation of diversity around disabilities, sexual minorities, and technological innovations. Giving short glimpses into the new Olympic sports, this book also analyses the role of these sports in Japanese society.

Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics will be of huge interest to anyone attending the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. It will also be useful to students and scholars of the Olympics and the sociology of sport, as well as Japanese culture and society.

For more information:

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

Resource: Historical Sound Recordings from the National Diet Library

As the digitization of resources grows, it’s important remember that not everything is visual! At the end of 2019 Japan’s National Diet Library announced that it had added 1,000 new recordings to its already substantial database of historical sound recordings. Known as Rekion, the Historical Recordings Collection.

The database boasts of 50,000+ sound recordings, which can be browsed by title or by of its 19 genres:

Although there is an English site that provides these categories, the titles themselves are only available in Japanese. Furthermore, the majority of the holdings are only accessible through NDL and its partner institutions. However, you do have the option of ticking the “available online” option under the search bar to filter out things that you don’t have access to, which is helpful in navigating what is streaming and what is not. At the moment, approximately 4,900 titles are open to listeners.

In addition, the NDL has prepared some of the open-access materials with commentary, which can be useful for expanding your knowledge or teaching. These pages can be quite extensive and are also sourced with references.

Many of the recordings are from as early as the 1920s and look fascinating. Be sure to poke around the site and see what they have! Happy listening!



Posted in main posts, study tools | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Announcement: Masculinity and Body Weight in Japan

Masculinity and Body Weight in Japan: Grappling with Metabolic Syndrome
By Genaro Castro-Vázquez

Drawing on the concept of the somatic self, Castro-Vázquez explores how Japanese men think about, express and interpret their experiences concerning bodyweight control.

Based on an extensive ethnographic investigation, this book offers a compelling analysis of male obesity and overweight in Japan from a symbolic interactionism perspective to delve into structure, meaning, practice and subjectivity underpinning the experiences of a group of middle-aged, Japanese men grappling with body weight control. Castro-Vázquez frames obesity and overweight within historical and current global and sociological debates that help to highlight the significance of the Japanese case. By drawing on evidence from different locations and contexts, he sustains a comparative perspective to extend and deepen the analysis.

A valuable resource for scholars both of contemporary masculinity and of medical sociology, especially those with a particular interest in Japan.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1 From Obesity and Overweight to Metabolic Syndrome
  • 2 The Somatic Self and the Japanese
  • 3 The Somatic Self, Metabolic Syndrome and the Mass Media
  • 4 The Somatic Self of Some ‘Chubby’ (debu) Men
  • 5 The Somatic Self of Some Beefy and Slim-muscular Japanese Men
  • 6 The Somatic Self and Culinary Practices of Japanese Men
  • 7 The Somatic Self and Social Class of Some Japanese Men
  • Conclusion

For more information:

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

Call for Applications: Reischauer Policy Research Fellows Program

Reischauer Policy Research Fellows Program

Program Overview:

Inaugurated in May 2013, the Reischauer Policy Research Fellows Program is a critical element of the Reischauer Center at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. It is designed to support the Center’s various research initiatives, while also providing recent undergraduate or graduate students with broad practical experience regarding the public and private-sector analysis process. Fellowships are paid and tenable for one academic year beginning in August 2018 with the potential for renewal for an additional year.

More information about our activities can be found on the Reischauer Center’s website ( and Facebook page (@ReischauerCenter). Please direct any questions about the position or application process to the Research and Program Coordinator at <>.

Job Description:

Research Fellows personally assist Dr. Kent Calder, Director of the Reischauer Center, with projects related to the Center’s mission of supporting the study of transpacific and intra-Asian relations. Recent topics include, but are not limited to: policy best practices in U.S.-Japan relations such as infrastructure, public diplomacy, and agriculture; the role of cities in global governance; the functioning of Washington’s ‘idea industry’ and government-business relations; global energy policy; and comparative Eurasian political economy.

Fellows also provide logistical support for seminars, luncheons, and conferences offered by the Reischauer Center. They are able to interact with senior researchers affiliated with the Center as part of our Visiting Scholars Program, who typically join us for one academic year from various government agencies in Japan. Furthermore, Fellows are welcome to participate in events in the larger Johns Hopkins SAIS community and are frequently able to attend courses relating to Japan Studies and Asian political economy.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis with final decisions made no later than July 2020.

For more information: link

Posted in announcements, graduate school, job openings, jobs | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment