Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Restroom Etiquette: No Noodles in the Sink!

I found this notice posted in the restroom at a certain university in Osaka. Apparently someone doesn't know the rule about noodles in the bathroom...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

ONLINE COURSE: Visualizing Japan

Announcement from H-NET Notifications:

Harvard-MIT MOOC: Visualizing Japan (1850s-1930s): Westernization, Protest, Modernity

Seminar Date: 2014-09-03 Now open for registration. Free!

A first-time MIT/Harvard MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), Visualizing Japan opens windows on Japan’s transition into the modern world through the historical visual record. Teachers include John Dower (MIT), Andrew Gordon (Harvard), and Gennifer Weisenfeld (Duke).

This co-taught course looks at Japanese history and the skills and questions involved in reading history through images now accessible in digital formats. The course is based on the MIT "Visualizing Cultures" website devoted to image-driven research on Japan and China since the 19th century ( The introductory module considers methodologies historians use to “visualize” the past, followed by three modules that explore the themes of Westernization, in Commodore Perry’s 1853-54 expedition to Japan; social protest, in Tokyo’s 1905 Hibiya Riot; and modernity, as seen in the archives of the major Japanese cosmetics company, Shiseido.

This MOOC will be followed by Visualizing Postwar Tokyo by Shunya Yoshimi of the University of Tokyo.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Arrest of Tokyo vagina artist sparks free expression protest"

Here's an article about Japan's laws related to the visual (especially those deemed "obscene")... From Japan Today, July 16, 2014:

Japanese police have arrested a Tokyo artist on obscenity charges for distributing data that allowed recipients to make 3D prints of her vagina, sparking protests over what supporters said was an attack on free expression.

Megumi Igarashi, 42, who calls herself Rokude Nashiko which roughly translates as “bastard kid”, had been trying to raise funds online to pay for the construction of a kayak, using a 3D printer, modeled on the shape of her genitals.

Japan has a notoriously vibrant pornography industry that caters to a vast array of tastes. But obscenity laws still forbid the depiction of actual genitalia, which usually appear censored or pixellated in images and videos.

The artist—who has created other genital-inspired artworks—was arrested Saturday for “distributing data that could create an obscene shape through a 3D printer,” a police spokesman told AFP on Tuesday.

Before her arrest, Igarashi—who remained in detention on Tuesday—had collected about one million yen through an Internet crowd funding site.

In exchange for donations, she supplied data to supporters that would let them create 3D prints of her genitals.

Igarashi’s supporters said they were shocked by what they described as the police’s unusually broad use of Japan’s obscenity laws in this case.

Activist Minori Kitahara said police raided Igarashi’s office and seized 20 of her artworks.

“Japan is still a society where those who try to express women’s sexuality are suppressed, while men’s sexuality is overly tolerated,” she said.

Japan’s pornography industry is predominantly targeted at men and the country only last month made the possession of child pornography illegal.

The ban excludes “manga” comics—those aimed at adults as well as children, “anime” video and computer-generated graphics, following calls to protect freedom of expression.

Campaigners had long urged Japan to toughen its stance on child pornography, complaining it was a major source of the material for global markets.

If convicted, Igarashi could receive up to two years in jail or a fine of as much as 2.5 million yen, according to her lawyer.


UPDATE! Check out how The Huffington Post covered the story (thanks to MH for the reference):

Sunday, June 22, 2014

ETHNOFEST Athens Ethnographic Film Festival: Call for Films - Xenophobia and the Ethnographic Film

The Athens Ethnographic Film Festival continues the exploration of the anthropological world through the image and is looking for films made by anthropologists (or related background), including students' works, either as dissertations or as assignments.

The Athens Ethnographic Film Festival is introducing a new themed-screenings section, which will be showcasing ethnographic films focused on particular social issues. This year's theme is "xenophobia". As we consider issues of racist violence, aggressive expressions of nationalism and social exclusion to be of pressing relevance for the Athenian society today, we have decided to launch the themed section of the festival with a selection of ethnographic films that deal with such issues.

We are inviting submissions for films made by/ in collaboration with anthropologists (or other social scientists), which deal with one or more of the following issues: xenophobia; racism; racist hatred/violence; (religious/ ethnic) intolerance; social exclusion; discrimination; nationalism; euro-centrism.

The deadline is for submissions is July 28th.

For more information:

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Interrogation audiovisual recordings set to expand"

From The Japan News, 20 June 2014:

The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office said Wednesday it will expand the test interrogation audiovisual recording program from October.

Currently under the program, public prosecutors record the questioning of criminal suspects in cases with lay judges, as well as suspects with mental disorders.

The recording is conducted as part of prosecutors’ three-year efforts to restore credibility that was undermined by evidence falsification and cover-up scandals at the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office.

Now that the program has proved the recordings’ effectiveness in helping the court determine whether suspects gave confessions to interrogators voluntarily and whether they are credible, the nation’s top prosecutors office plans to record the questioning process for bribery suspects, sexual violence and child abuse victims, and spouses of murder suspects, the office said.


"Govt to OK use of anonymous personal data"

Graphic and text from The Japan News, 20 June 2014:

The government plans to allow companies to provide personal data they own to third parties without consent from the individuals the data pertains to if the data is scrubbed of identifying details, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

A study panel of the government’s IT Strategic Headquarters has compiled a draft for an outline on the utilization of data concerning personal information, such as browsing history and smartphone location tracking. The draft was to be presented at a meeting of the headquarters’ study panel on personal data on Thursday, and shortly to be adopted by the headquarters.

The government will then seek opinions from the public with the aim of revising the Personal Information Protection Law at an ordinary Diet session next year. The government reportedly aims to realize the plan in 2016.

With more and more companies utilizing so-called big data, a blanket term for huge quantities of digital data accumulated through information and telecommunication systems, there are growing calls for the protection of individual personal data such as Internet browsing history.

The government believes consumer concerns must be dispelled by establishing rules on such data to realize its plan to revitalize the nation’s economy through the utilization of big data, which was incorporated in its growth strategy.

The draft proposes that companies be allowed to offer without consent from individuals data that was scrubbed of identifiable information . Regarding how such data will be rendered anonymous, the draft hypothesizes that personal information would be made vague—for example, ages would be stated as “in his or her 20s” or “in his or her 30s” and addresses would be kept to prefectures, excluding municipalities.

Companies will use such data in accordance with voluntary rules to be compiled by relevant industry organizations and others.

The draft also calls for the establishment of a third-party organization tasked with inspecting and supervising companies to prevent exploitation of the rules and to ensure personal information is made anonymous. The envisaged watchdog will be granted authority to make on-the-spot investigations and issue recommendations for relevant companies, according to the draft.

Regarding such information as fingerprints and other biometric data, the government is to decide whether such data could be offered to third parties without consent from the relevant individuals by the time the bill will be compiled.

The draft regards such information as race, belief and social position to be sensitive information and prohibits companies from dealing with them in principle.

Regarding the utilization of personal data, many consumers are concerned that their preferences and behavioral patterns, as well as their names and addresses, will be exposed. Last year, East Japan Railway Co. suspended the selling of records of train and bus use by Suica card holders. JR East claimed it would be impossible to identify individuals from the data, but the firm reversed its position due to stronger than expected criticism from users.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Seminar about the Takarazuka Revue Company @ the Japan Foundation, London

Image borrowed from the Japan Foundation, London.

Paul at the Japan Foundation, London, sent me this very interesting announcement:

This special event commemorating the 100th anniversary of Takarazuka provides an opportunity to cultivate a cross-cultural understanding of the theatre company through discussion. Beginning with a brief talk by Dr Nobuko Anan, a lecturer in Japanese studies at Birkbeck, University of London, regarding the history and characteristics of Takarazuka, she will be joined by Noriko Tosaka (aka Ai Otohara) and Machiko Nakano (aka Reo Kazami), two distinguished former Takarazuka performers, as well as Jano Williams, co-director of the documentary Dream Girls (1994). Tosaka and Nakano will reflect on their past experiences inside the exclusive, fiercely competitive company whose practices have remained largely unchanged for a century. As arguably one the first filmmakers outside of Japan to capture the elite world of Takarazuka, Williams, a British filmmaker, will speak about their motives for making their insightful film, and what they observed through the camera behind the scenes of the dazzling revue.

Following the discussion, the former Takarazuka performers will take part in a short demonstration illustrating the distinct form of male and female characterisations that the company is so well known for.

Date: 27 June 2014 from 6.30pm
Venue: The Japan Foundation, London

For more information:

There's a lot of other interesting and exciting events going on at the Japan Foundation. If you are in London, check them out!

Friday, June 6, 2014

“LONGOCAMPO DOX” – Film and Visual Anthropology Summer School

Image borrowed from
Caption reads: "If you want to shoot something, shoot a film! 
© Longocampo hunt, 1900, Kalinderu studio"

Announcement through contact on the VAOJ Facebook page:

We would like to bring to your attention a fresh and beneficial South-East European initiative, for the moment with its main headquarter in Romania, connecting SEE region with the world through socio-anthropology, film and visuality.

Socio - Visual Academy is a catalyst for education and production of socio-visual research, transmedia and film. The main objective of SVA is researching and educating in the ways the social sciences, new media, visual art and cinema can collaborate and bring positive contributions to a better understanding of human interaction and solving of society's issues.

In August 2014 , Socio-Visual Academy challenges creative adrenalines within “LONGOCAMPO DOX” – Film and Visual Anthropology Summer School:

Creative Documentary, Visual Anthropology, Experimental Cinema 2 – 17 August 2014, Campulung Muscel, Golescu Mansion

Exploring transdiciplinary practice, collaborative production, social impact. Dead-line for the submission of applications: 20 June 2014

Applications open and further info at:

A month later... a few offerings from the rainy Nakanoshima Matsuri

For information about the Nakanoshima Festival:

See the festival on a sunny day: Click here.