Feb 6

Japan Insights—Early Japanese Clocks and the Skills of the Craftsmen Who Made Them

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By Makoto Shirai, secretary, Japan-Insights Research Institute (Non-profit organization in Tokyo)

Replica of Man-nen Tokei, ©Toshiba Science Museum

Dear Friends,

Are you interested in clocks in Edo period?

Let me introduce an essay from Japan-Insights archives.

The eighth one is on Time of the Tokugawa Period by Mr. Ashley Strachan.

https://topics.japan-insights.jp/Public/pdf/japan-insights_jp/topics/JIN_Wadokei.pdf

Please share this expert’s experience!

Japan-Insights is a nonprofit open database compiled by leading experts in Japanese studies. The posts present a broad range of historical and contemporary topics that encourage visitors to engage with the real Japan through immersive experiences. Follow the Facebook page and website to learn about and share these insights from around the country!”

#japan #japaneseculture


Feb 4

Japan and the Midwest – A networking event connecting Japan and the Heartland

Laurasian Institution Presents: Japan and the Midwest – A networking event connecting Japan and the Heartland

Connecting Japan and the Heartland, this is a casual networking event for professionals. Whether you have a connection to the Midwestern U.S. or Japan, join us to nurture connections between both.

laurasian.org/register

〜アメリカ中西部と日本を結ぶ交流会〜
日本と中西部に関係がある方々を集め、国を超えてオンライン交流会を開催します。中西部での思い出でを語ったり、新しい中西部とのつながりを作りに、お気軽にご参加下さい。
参加費無料・抽選あり

Saturday, February 20th at 8pm (ET) / 7pm (CT)
日本時間2月21日 (日) 午前10時

laurasian.org/register


Jan 29

WIT Life #350: サラリーマン川柳コンクール

Professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03) presents WIT Life, a periodic series about aspects of Japanese culture such as film, food and language. Stacy starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she offers some interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.

明けましておめでとうございます! Hope everyone’s Year of the Ox has been getting off to a good start. With the cold plus Covid, it’s understandable if this winter season is not getting much love. Something that might bring a little brightness to these dark days are the salaryman poems courtesy of Dai-ichi Life Group. Every year this life insurance company sponsors this contest for 川柳 (senryū, or “three-line unrhymed Japanese poems structurally similar to haiku, but treating human nature usually in an ironic or satiric vein”).

As you might expect, these poems from the last fiscal year largely address issues of Covid and working from home. The top 100 senryū were willowed down from 62,542 entries, and they can be found here (scroll down to the light red rectangular box that says 「優秀100句はこちら」 and click the + sign on the right). To my knowledge the poems only exist in Japanese, but content-wise they are relatively simple and extremely enjoyable (some of the entrant’s names are entertaining as well). Happy reading!


Jan 27

The Japan Foundation of New York Literary Series: Yu Miri and her translator Morgan Giles

The Japan Foundation, New York have recently launched JFNY Literary Series. For this new talk series, we will be inviting notable writers in Japanese literature and their translators to discuss their work, speak on the art of translation, and touch upon the current literary scene in Japan. 

For our inaugural session, we have invited Yu Miri and her translator Morgan Giles. Yu’s novel Tokyo Ueno Station, which was translated by Giles, won the 2020 National Book Award for Translated Literature. They are joined by moderator Dr. Stephen Snyder, interpreter Bethan Jones, and curator Allison Markin Powell from the collective, “Strong Women Soft Power”.  

The event is now available to watch on our YouTube channel! Watch the event here: https://www.jfny.org/event/jfny-literary-series-yu-miri-x-morgan-giles/ 


Jan 25

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers: Todd Wassel, Shiga-ken (1999-2001)

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JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers is produced by Ryan Hata (Tottori-ken, 2014-2017), Margie Banin (Kochi-ken, 2005-2007), and Jim Walsh (Fukushima-ken, 2018-2020). Want to be featured next? Submit your information here.

Todd Wassel, Shiga-ken (1999-2001)

Accomplishment:
New Book on Japan
Walking in Circles: Finding Happiness in Lost Japan

Book Description Guided by a wandering ascetic hiding from the Freemasons; naked Yakuza; a scam artist pilgrim; and a vengeful monk, Walking in Circles is a fun, inspirational travel memoir set in a Japan few outsiders ever get to see.

Award-winning writer Todd Wassel draws on over twenty years in Japan to retell his epic journey through the contradictions of a contemporary yet traditional Japan while trying to overcome the barriers to happiness modern life throws up.

Over half a decade after first landing in Japan Todd is lost, unable to go home, or move forward. Convinced there is more to life, he risks everything to return to the one place he found answers years before: the ancient Shikoku Henro pilgrimage. Walking the 750-mile henro path, sleeping outside each night, Todd is armed with only a Japanese map and the people he meets along the way.

Can he find what he’s looking for before the path, or his new friends, break him?

More Information:
After the JET program I continued living and teaching for 5 years. From there I switched professions to international development working in and visiting over 45 countries. I’m now the Country Representative for The Asia Foundation in Laos. I still get back to Japan at least once a year to visit my wife’s family, and explore the mountains with my family.

Public Information:
Buy the Book: mybook.to/WalkingInCircles-AJET
Website: https://toddwassel.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toddwasselauthor
Email: todd@toddwassel.com


Jan 22

By Jack McDonough, 2021 prospective JET

It’s all a Conspiracy! (Sato and Misaki) Art by Grace McDonough. You can find Grace’s art here!

Most anime feature protagonists who are special: characters who are brave, strong, or brilliant; think Light Yagami from Death Note or Goku from Dragon Ball. These characters either inspire you or have incredibly enviable traits.  Welcome to the N.H.K. does not have a special character: no knight in shining armor, no undefeatable hero.  This anime’s main character is lazy, pathetic, and cringy: Tatsuhiro Sato, a man who thinks he is being controlled through his TV by the Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai, the Japanese Hikikomori Organization, a play on the real-life Nippon Hoso Kyokai, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation. 

Welcome to the N.H.K. is an anime adaptation of the light novel N.H.K. ni Yōkoso! by Tasuhiko Takimoto, featuring Tatsuhiro Sato, a self-proclaimed hikikomori, meaning recluse: hikikomori do not work or attend school, do not have a diagnosed mental disorder, and have been at home for six months or longer without interacting with people other than their family. Sato also calls himself a NEET: “Not in Education, Employment, or Training.” He moved to Tokyo from Hokkaido to attend university, but experienced a panic attack and dropped out of school. He binges television all day, receiving an allowance from his parents; however, the allowance shrinks throughout the show due to his father being fired from work.

Sato is surrounded by a cast of characters who all have issues: Kaoru Yamazaki, an otaku who shirks his responsibilities in Hokkaido to create video games in Tokyo; Hitomi Kashiwa, a female office worker who is depressed and obsessed with conspiracies; and Misaki Nakahara, a broken girl who is searching for someone more pathetic than herself to cling on to. 

The relationships between Sato and the rest of the cast are dysfunctional and self-serving. Hitomi uses Sato to talk about her conspiracy theories in hopes that he will care about her and alleviate her depression, while Sato tries to rekindle the physical relationship he had with her in high school. Kaoru uses Sato to help him create a video game so that he can prove his escape to Tokyo was not in vain, while Sato plans to show their game to Misaki so that he can prove he isn’t a total loser. Misaki needs Sato to prove to herself that there is someone more pathetic than she is, while Sato relies on a bevy of services Misaki provides him, e.g. buying groceries, preparing his meals, cleaning his apartment: essentially keeping him alive. Welcome to the N.H.K. is adept at portraying the complexity of its characters and relationships, and you’ll find yourself alternately rooting for and cursing at the cast in between scenes.  

Welcome to the N.H.K. will make you laugh and feel empty at the same time; you’ll find Sato’s inability to function hilarious and cringy, all while a creeping sadness envelopes you throughout the show. The emotion of the show is bolstered by the soundtrack which oscillates between screamo tracks when Sato is having a breakdown and slow, smooth guitar and synth tracks when Hitomi or Misaki are reaching out to Sato for comfort. Every element of this show just works to create a unique experience that you won’t get from any other anime: you just have to go watch and discover it for yourself. 

Writing this recommendation has been extremely difficult and I finally realize why: Welcome to the N.H.K. isn’t a TV show, it’s a sleight of hand trick. It’s a trick done right in front of your eyes, in slow-motion, and you still can’t tell how the trick is done. N.H.K. is a depressing show about hope: the hope to persevere even in the face of hopelessness. What you’ll find is that Hitomi, Kaoru, Misaki, and even Sato, are regular people: they’ve just experienced one too many little tragedies and need help to get back on their feet. At its conclusion, N.H.K. will give you the hope that you need to continue on: not the hope that things will get better, but that things can get better if you treat yourself and others with dignity and compassion. Protagonists in other anime either have god-like powers or unhealthy habits that are excused because they are the main character, but not Sato. Sato is a great protagonist because he has no powers; he doesn’t have a free pass to be a misanthrope; he is forced to live a life with consequences, just like you and me. Welcome to the N.H.K is a show that will bring you back down to earth: once you’re down there, sulk for a moment, then get back up again. 


Jan 22

Japan Insights—Experiencing Edo Culture Near Tokyo

By Makoto Shirai, secretary, Japan-Insights Research Institute (Non-profit organization in Tokyo)

Woodblock print depicting tattooed Kabuki actors purifying themselves in a waterfall before completing the pilgrimage to Mt. Oyama. 1863, by Kunisada (Utagawa Tokyouni III) © Isehara city, Board of Education

Dear Friends,

Are you interested in Edo Culture?

Let me introduce an essay from Japan-Insights archives.

The seventh one is on Mt. Oyama Pilgrimage by Mrs. Alice Gordenker.

https://topics.japan-insights.jp/Public/pdf/japan-insights_jp/topics/JIN_OyamaPilgrimage.pdf

Please share this expert’s experience!

Japan-Insights is a nonprofit open database compiled by leading experts in Japanese studies. The posts present a broad range of historical and contemporary topics that encourage visitors to engage with the real Japan through immersive experiences. Follow the Facebook page and website to learn about and share these insights from around the country!”

#japan #japaneseculture


Jan 19

Job: Resident Director – Critical Language Scholarship Summer (Okayama, Japan)

Posted by Sydney Sparrow. Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email


Position: Resident Director
Posted by:
Critical Language Scholarship Summer
Location: Okayama, Japan
Contract: Full-Time

Here’s a job passed along to us directly from the American Councils for International Education, which manages the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program:

American Councils for International Education is currently hiring 2021 summer Resident Director for Japanese immersion program of the Critical Language Scholarship Program (CLS Program, see www.clscholarship.org  for more information about the program).

Resident Directors are the first-level of support for CLS students for the duration of the program. The Resident Director supports student success by ensuring the health and safety of the participants, helping them to maintain a Japanese-only language policy, and helping to acclimate them to life in Japan.

Read More


Jan 12

Sailor Moon: How These Magical Girls Transformed Our World

Sailor Moon: How These Magical Girls Transformed Our World

Thursday, January 28, 8PM (EST)

About this Event 

Can you believe that it’s been almost 30 years since Sailor Moon was first published in the weekly girl’s manga magazine Nakayoshi in 1992?! The manga and its animation adaptation quickly broke records and became a milestone of ’90s girls’ manga and anime. Sailor Moon next turned into a social phenomenon by reaching far beyond the boundaries of its genre, gaining widespread popularity among adults as well as children, and appealing to all genders and sexual orientations. Then, as it started being exported to other parts of the world, it became many people’s first introduction to Japanese pop culture. 

Why was Sailor Moon such a hit when it first appeared, and why is it still so popular today? What led to Sailor Moon‘s rise outside of Japan, and what impact did it have on the generation that grew up with it? 

Come join our panel discussion with Kumiko SaitoMari MorimotoSamantha Close and Kathryn Hemmann as they explore the history and legacy of Sailor Moon, as well as the fandom and fan culture it helped create in the U.S. 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JF_NewYork/status/1348738956381151234 

Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ep5-sailor-moon-how-these-magical-girls-transformed-our-world-tickets-133786919277 


Jan 11

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers: Dr. Mary J. Eberhardinger, Hyogo-ken (2008-2010)

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JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers is produced by Ryan Hata (Tottori-ken, 2014-2017), Margie Banin (Kochi-ken, 2005-2007), and Jim Walsh (Fukushima-ken, 2018-2020). Want to be featured next? Submit your information here.

Dr. Mary J. Eberhardinger, Hyogo-ken (2008-2010)

Accomplishment:
Book

More Information:
https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781793639325/A-Rhetoric-and-Philosophy-of-Gifts

https://usjetaa.org/jets-on-japan-forum-issue-no-1/

I’ve lived in Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Greensboro, Osaka, Pittsburgh, Singapore, Slippery Rock, and Tanba. I am passionate about having conversations with aspiring JETs, those who wish to pursue graduate or doctoral study, or otherwise. Let’s connect!

Public Information:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-j-eberhardinger-ph-d-91968527/


Jan 9

Japan Insights—Enjoy Sites and Sights in Edo Period

By Makoto Shirai, secretary, Japan-Insights Research Institute (Non-profit organization in Tokyo)

Illustrated Screen of Edo, Edo Zu Byobu, 17th Century
Courtesy of National Museum of Japanese History

Dear Friends,

Have you looked at Japan from Edo period?

Let me introduce an essay from Japan-Insights archives.

The sixth one is on Samurai Art of Edo period (1603-1867) by Dr. Timon Screech.

https://topics.japan-insights.jp/Public/pdf/japan-insights_jp/topics/JIN_EdoArtAndCulture.pdf

Please share this expert’s experience!

Japan-Insights is a nonprofit open database compiled by leading experts in Japanese studies. The posts present a broad range of historical and contemporary topics that encourage visitors to engage with the real Japan through immersive experiences. Follow the Facebook page and website to learn about and share these insights from around the country!”

#japan #japaneseculture


Jan 7

Job: Youth & Outreach Program Coordinator – Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (Delray Beach, Florida, USA)

Posted by Sydney Sparrow. Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email


Position: Youth & Outreach Program Coordinator
Posted by:
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Location: Delray Beach, Florida, USA
Contract: Full-Time

Thanks to JET alumna Wendy Lo (Toyama-ken, 2002-2005) for passing along the following job opening at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens where she works:

I would like to inform you of a job opening at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, for a Youth & Outreach Program Coordinator. This is a full-time position. 

Application Process: Job description and details on how to apply can be found here: https://morikami.org/job-opportunities/


Jan 6

The Heritage Series: Mouth of the Ocean

by Communications Specialist Bianca Sánchez (Hiroshima-ken ALT, 2016-2018). Bianca is an artist and writer whose creative works reflect mankind’s deep-rooted connection with the natural world. Visit her full portfolio here.

Mouth of the Ocean (2019)
Blue ink on paper, 9″ x 12″
Instagram: @artseabianca
Email: artseabianca@gmail.com

Mouth of the Ocean

by Bianca Berenice Sánchez on January 6, 2021

Over a century before my 15th birthday, a young Japanese boy had fled a leper colony that stood on the small island of Ōshima outside Kagawa, Japan. He was about my age when he escaped what would have been a terrible fate at the Ōshima Seishoen Sanatorium, an infirmary for leprosy patients established in 1909. Over the next four decades, Japan believed in ridding its society of “impurities”, sending officers to locate and exile anyone with the disease and their close relatives. Patients were treated like prisoners, disinfected with ice water, experimented on, and underwent unethical surgeries while isolated from society. Life on the small island was worse than death.

Knowing this, Casimiro sailed east into open waters without knowing if he would even survive, but that didn’t matter. Whatever was out there had to be better than Ōshima. The young man eventually found himself in México where he settled in the port town of Guaymas. This was his opportunity to reinvent himself, find work, and begin a new life. He first changed his name, erasing what he could of his Japanese identity and embracing México as his home. Over the years, he found work mining silver, constructing railroads, and growing little green chiles in his garden. He later married and started a family: three sons and a daughter named Blanca.

Blanca was my grandmother, and her father, my great-grandfather, was named Casimiro Ortiz. I was fifteen or so when my dad first told me this story. He only had bits and pieces of information, but I was astounded nonetheless. Up until then, I thought that I was nothing more than Mexican-American, my roots buried somewhere in the hot Sonoran Desert and prickly mountains of Chihuahua, México. I grew to appreciate my newfound roots and wanted to unravel them further.

Mouth of the Ocean (2019) is adapted from a photo I took in 2018 in Yamaguchi, Japan. I was with my colleague and friend, Nakamura-san, as we drove to the island of Suo-Oshima outside Yamaguchi, but not the one from my great-grandfather’s story. “Oshima” translates to “island”, and Japan has a lot of those. Nakamura-san knew about my family’s past, and before our trip, she revealed to me that many years ago, thousands of residents sailed east from Suo-Oshima to settle in Hawaii. There they prospered and built new lives for themselves – a story all too familiar. The small island now has a museum dedicated to those who left with an archive of family names and ages documented before leaving. There we hoped to discover Casimiro’s real name, but the trip proved unsuccessful.

In my drawing, I took creative license by adding the vines and flowers. I enjoy creating tiny details like these – they hypnotize me as I draw them. They also breathe some life and motion into the original image. You can see the breeze lifting some petals. You can almost taste the salty and sweet brine it carries.

Mouth of the Ocean represents an entry point to a strange yet familiar world. The firm stance of the Japanese torii gate reassures the viewer that whatever place sits beyond the sea, many have survived the journey there before just as many will survive it there after. Casimiro’s life remains shrouded in mystery, but the pieces of his story that I have push me to learn more about who he was and who I am. I may never find all the answers, but I will find myself.


Jan 2

Job: CBTC Systems Engineer I – Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA, USA)

Posted by Sydney Sparrow. Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email


Position: CBTC Systems Engineer I
Posted by:
Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (MEEPI)
Location: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Contract: Full-Time

Thanks to Susan Garvan, Staffing Specialist with Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (MEEPI) for passing along the attached job opening with her company.

Are you a recent or soon to graduate Electrical Engineer or Computer Science Engineer who is “business fluent” in Japanese?   If so, we have an opportunity to use your degree and Japanese language skills while learning the newest technology in the rail transportation industry for the USA. 

In this newly created role the Engineer will learn Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) technology provided to you by Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (MEPPI).   You will have the opportunity to visit our parent company, Mitsubishi Electric (MELCO) in Japan for up to a year, gaining valuable training on the CBTC Systems.   Upon completion of your training you would return to the USA and will be based at our Pittsburgh, PA headquarters in the CBTC Systems Engineer I role with MEPPI’s Transportation Systems Division.   

As the CBTC Systems Engineer I you will:

  • Participate in an initial 6-12 month assignment in Japan learning CBTC technology by working with MELCO engineers.
  • Assist with application engineering activities for system design in support of proposals and projects including: requirement specification, architecture and interface description, system integration and development planning, design reviews, development of requirements traceability, software validation and verification, and creation/maintenance of track database.

Read More


Dec 28

WIT Life #349: 今年の漢字

Professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03) presents WIT Life, a periodic series about aspects of Japanese culture such as film, food and language. Stacy starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she offers some interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.

2020年の漢字

We have come to the end of this crazy Covid year, and that means it’s time for 今年の漢字 (kotoshi no kanji, or kanji of the year). 密 (mitsu, or close, dense and crowded) was selected, reflecting Japan’s initial response to the virus by promoting avoidance of 三つの密 (mitsu no mitsu or sanmitsu). These are also known as the 3Cs, and refer to 密閉 (mippei, or confined, poorly ventilated spaces), 密集 (misshuu, or crowds of people) and 密接 (missetsu, or close-contact settings). Japan was able to control infection rates to an extent this way, but as in the U.S. there are worries of a surge early next year as a result of gathering during the 年末年始 (nenmatsu nenshi, or year-end holidays). Runners-up to 密 included 禍 (ka, or damage, as in コロナ禍) and 病 (byou or yamai, or disease and illness).

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