Fun Link Friday: Edible Toast Masterpieces of Japanese Art

In the past we’ve shown a variety of tasty pieces of art for Fun Link Fridays, typically of the bento variety. But what if toast was your literal canvas?

Last month My Modern Met featured a piece on Japanese designer Manami Sasaki, who is taking breakfast to the next level with some incredible representations of Japanese artwork and other delicious designs.

Playing with squid ink, edible flowers, and a variety of vegetables and fruit, Sasaki brings ukiyo-e prints into colorful and flavorful life. I’m not sure I could wait that long for my toast, but I sure do admire her work! You can see more at the My Modern Met article or on Sasaki’s instagram.

Happy Friday!

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Japanese Translation Competitions and Prizes

For those who are looking to test out their translation skills as they level-up their Japanese, I’ve compiled a list of currently active translation prizes and competitions.

This includes those that are specific to Japanese translations and those that are more generally for international works in translation. Know of something not here? Leave a comment or shoot us an email!



JLPP International Translation Competition
Japanese Literature and Publishing Project, Agency for Cultural Affairs

Translation of Japanese Literature Prize [US citizens]
Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture, Columbia University; Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission

Lindsley and Masao Miyoshi Translation Prizes and Grants [non-US citizens & non-permanent residents]
Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture, Columbia University; Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission

Japan Association of Translators Contest
Japan Association of Translators

John Dryden Translation Competition
The British Comparative Literature Association and the British Centre for Literary Translation

Kurodahan Press Translation Prize
Kurodahan Press [**cancelled as of 2021**]

Selden Memorial Translation Prize
Cornell University, Department of Asian Studies


Best Translated Book Award
University of Rochester

International Booker Prize
The Booker Prize Foundation

John Glassco Translation Prize
Literary Translators’ Association of Canada

Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize
The American Literary Translators Association

National Book Award for Translated Literature
National Book Foundation

PEN Translation Prize
PEN America

The TA First Translation Prize
The Society of Authors

Warwick Prize for Women in Translation

Willis Barnstone Translation Prize
University of Evansville

World Literature Today Student Translation Prize
World Literature Today


Know of other competitions not included here? Let us know!

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Book Announcement: Prostitutes, Hostesses, and Actresses at the Edge of the Japanese Empire: Fragmenting History

Prostitutes, Hostesses, and Actresses at the Edge of the Japanese Empire: Fragmenting History

Nobuko Ishitate-Okunomiya Yamasaki

Book Description:

Analysing materials from literature and film, this book considers the fates of women who did not or could not buy into the Japanese imperial ideology of “good wives, wise mothers” in support of male empire-building.

Although many feminist critics have articulated women’s active roles as dutiful collaborators for the Japanese empire, male-dominated narratives of empire-building have been largely supported and rectified. In contrast, the roles of marginalized women, such as sex workers, women entertainers, hostesses, and hibakusha have rarely been analyzed. This book addresses this intellectual lacuna by closely examining memories, (semi-)autobiographical stories, and newspaper articles, grounded or inspired by lived experiences not only in Japan, but also in Shanghai, Manchukuo, colonial Korea, and the Pacific. Chapters further explore the voices of diasporic Korean women (Zainichi Korean woman born in Japan, as well as Korean American woman born in Korea) whose lives were impacted, intervening ethnocentric narratives that were at the heart of the Japanese empire. An appendix presents the first English translation of a memorable statement on comfort women by former Japanese propaganda actress, Ri Kōran / Yamaguchi Yoshiko.

Prostitutes, Hostesses, and Actresses at the Edge of the Japanese Empire will appeal to students and scholars of Japanese literature and film studies, as well as gender, sexuality and postcolonial studies.

For more information:

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Book Announcement: Maiko Masquerade: Crafting Geisha Girlhood in Japan

Maiko Masquerade: Crafting Geisha Girlhood in Japan
by Jan Bardsley

Maiko Masquerade explores Japanese representations of the maiko, or apprentice geisha, in films, manga, and other popular media as an icon of exemplary girlhood. Jan Bardsley traces how the maiko, long stigmatized as a victim of sexual exploitation, emerges in the 2000s as the chaste keeper of Kyoto’s classical artistic traditions. Insider accounts by maiko and geisha, their leaders and fans, show pride in the training, challenges, and rewards maiko face. No longer viewed as a toy for men’s amusement, she serves as catalyst for women’s consumer fun. This change inspires stories of ordinary girls—and even one boy—striving to embody the maiko ideal, engaging in masquerades that highlight questions of personal choice, gender performance, and national identity.

For more information:

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Book Announcement: Mobilizing Japanese Youth: The Cold War and the Making of the Sixties Generation

Mobilizing Japanese Youth: The Cold War and the Making of the Sixties Generation

Christopher Gerteis

In Mobilizing Japanese Youth, Christopher Gerteis examines how non-state institutions in Japan—left-wing radicals and right-wing activists—attempted to mold the political consciousness of the nation’s first postwar generation, which by the late 1960s were the demographic majority of voting-age adults. Gerteis argues that socially constructed aspects of class and gender preconfigured the forms of political rhetoric and social organization that both the far-right and far-left deployed to mobilize postwar, further exacerbating the levels of social and political alienation expressed by young blue- and pink- collar working men and women well into the 1970s, illustrated by high-profile acts of political violence committed by young Japanese in this era.

As Gerteis shows, Japanese youth were profoundly influenced by a transnational flow of ideas and people that constituted a unique historical convergence of pan-Asianism, Mao-ism, black nationalism, anti-imperialism, anticommunism, neo-fascism, and ultra-nationalism. Mobilizing Japanese Youth carefully unpacks their formative experiences and the social, cultural, and political challenges to both the hegemonic culture and the authority of the Japanese state that engulfed them. The 1950s-style mass-mobilization efforts orchestrated by organized labor could not capture their political imagination in the way that more extreme ideologies could. By focusing on how far-right and far-left organizations attempted to reach-out to young radicals, especially those of working-class origins, this book offers a new understanding of successive waves of youth radicalism since 1960.

For more information:

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Resource: Library and Archive Travel Grants

Not everyone is based at an institution where they have access to a Japan Studies collection, particularly a comprehensive one that may have the specialist materials they need. Fortunately a lot of larger institutions with these holdings sponsor library or archive travel grants to help those who might need to make a short-term visit for research.

The following list is of those grant programs I could find, some of which are Japan-specific and others that are not. There are likely many more, particularly at archives that may seem unlikely to have Asia-related holdings. If there is anything not included below that is relevant, please leave a comment or email so it can be added!

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Book Announcement: Interpreting the Mikado’s Empire: The Writings of William Elliot Griffis

Interpreting the Mikado’s Empire:
The Writings of William Elliot Griffis

For more than fifty years, William Elliot Griffis (1843–1928) chronicled a rapidly changing Meiji Japan and its people. He was unequaled in the length of his writing career and the breadth of his work, which illuminated the entire sweep of Meiji history and reached a multiplicity of American audiences. A teacher in the provincial city of Fukui and later in Tokyo, he reported in magazine essays on the last days of feudalism in Japan and its aspirations to become a modern nation. After returning to the United States, he continued to write. In dozens of books and hundreds of articles, he covered topics including the samurai class, daily life, racial theory, empire, and war. Extending his reach even further, he was a tireless public speaker and delivered thousands of lectures on Japan. He described his self-appointed task as “interpreting Japan to America, with voice and pen.” This anthology brings together the best of his writing, offering a dynamic perspective on Meiji Japan through the eyes of a colorful and engaging writer.

For more information:’s-Empire-The-Writings-of-William-Elliot-Griffis

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Book Announcement: Japan’s Private Spheres: Autonomy in Japanese History, 1600-1930

Japan’s Private Spheres: Autonomy in Japanese History, 1600-1930

Author: William Puck Brecher

Japan’s Private Spheres: Autonomy in Japanese History, 1600-1930 traces the shifting nature of autonomy in early modern and modern Japan. In this far-reaching, interdisciplinary study, W. Puck Brecher explores the historical development of the private and its evolving relationship with public authority, a dynamic that evokes stereotypes about an alleged dearth of individual agency in Japanese society. It does so through a montage of case studies.

For the early modern era, case studies examine peripheral living spaces, boyhood, and self-interrogation in the arts. For the modern period, they explore strategic deviance, individuality in Meiji education, modern leisure, and body-maintenance. Analysis of these disparate private realms illuminates evolving conceptualizations of the private and its reciprocal yet often-contested relationship to the state.

For further information:

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Fun Link Friday: Pixel Animation Battle of Sekigahara

Pixel art has been around for decades, and whether you’re playing a video game or enjoying some 8-bit nostalgia of daily life in Japan, it’s always a joy.

A couple of weeks ago Spoon & Tamago featured the work of the videographer Yusuke Shigeta, who has taken pixel art to the next level by animating a famous 17th century folding screen, the Sekigahara sansui zu byobu of the Osaka Museum of History, using 3D modeling and pixel design.

The result is a super cool rendering of the late medieval/early modern world, helping us imagine what it might have been like to be on the ground! You can check out the video below for a glimpse at the animation and see more details at the Culture Gate website where this and other art projects are being sponsored. Happy viewing!

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Resource: Grassroots Operations of the Japanese Empire Translated Primary Sources for Teaching Purposes

Today’s resource post is Grassroots Operations of the Japanese Empire: Translated Primary Sources for Teaching Purposes. Begun in 2021 by Sayaka Chatani, Assistant Professor of History at the National University of Singapore, the website provides a wide variety of primary sources related to the Japanese empire.

In order to facilitate use in high school and college classrooms, each source has been translated into English and is presented with a brief introduction to its context written by a historian. Citations are also given for the original source, making it easy to refer to for further investigation.

The translation section allows one to either select key words that will pull up relevant documents or to browse by geographic location. There is also a separate “Other Useful Sources” section that refers to many other sites and archives with relevant research materials, making this a great place for educators teaching on modern East Asia to look for further classroom materials (or send students hunting for other sources).

Given the difficulty of and time investment in publishing large translated sourcebooks for teaching, Grassroots Operations of the Japanese Empire: is an excellent means to leverage collaborative scholarship and expertise for open-access resources. There is information provided on how scholars can contribute their own translations or class assignments and Chatani welcomes students to share any sources of their own and potentially take part in the writing process, modeling forward-thinking and inclusive pedagogical methods for integrating students into our scholarship. I hope to see this site continue to grow and transform in the years to come!

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