Stream B

Cultural representations of Japan

Panels:

B1: The future of endangered traditional arts and crafts for housing and clothing

Traditional lifestyle such as housing and clothing depended on locally available materials.  Availability of materials and their suitability for the local climate are closely related to the natural environment, and people used them sustainably.  Styles of housing and clothing also depended on the economy, and the produced modes and styles influenced their lifestyle and local culture.  Some of them have evolved in modern contexts, and the others gave way to newer technology and disappeared. In some unfortunate cases, valuable arts and culture became forgotten or alienated because of misunderstanding or misuse, or they lost value in a vicious circle in the market economy.


This panel discusses Japanese arts and craft used for housing and clothing. The focused topics are historical utility items such as Ainu fish leather craft from pre-history era, Tatami grass mat and Kamiko paper clothing from around the tenth century, and Meisen kimono from the pre-war modern time.  Each presenter clarifies how his/her item was established and sustained in particular local contexts in various regions and societies. The panel also analyses in what social context these items can be endangered or revitalized.  Current preservation efforts will be introduced based on fieldworks from Hokkaido to Kansai to support the discussion. The panel will examine the rationality, without nostalgia, for preserving these historical items in the modern and future contexts. The panel and the audience together will find out the right direction for these industries in the 21st century.

Preservation of Ainu fish leather tradition through fashion higher education

Elisa Palomino, Central Saint Martins University of the Arts, [email protected]

Ainu ethnic minority populations in Hokkaido have worn clothes made from fish skin leather for the past 6,000 years. Ainu fished for salmon on the open seas until the Meiji government prohibited traditional fishing. In 2006 the fish skin craft was listed as the intangible cultural heritage of China, but in Japan, the Ainu Fish Leathercraft it is in danger of extinction.

The paper looks how little Ainu Fish Leathercraft has been preserved and seeks to contribute to the academic debate of Hokkaido traditional crafts being recognized by the Japanese government. The author identifies a craft-academic collaboration for the successful implementation of fish leather craft through the creation of workshops where artisans will pass down the endangered skills to the next generations of local and international students as part of a higher education program. The fish leather craft was examined during fieldwork around the Hokkaido observing museum exhibits and performing interviews with museum curators and artisans. Because fish leather craft is not an aspect of Ainu culture that is commonly studied, this paper attempts to fill a gap in the literature of the Ainu. This paper will call for further research on the topic of Ainu crafts, exploring Ainu cultural and ethnic identities and the representation for the Ainu in Japanese society today.

Tatami mats and other organic housing materials misused by Japanese people

Arno Suzuki, PhD, Kyoto University, [email protected]

Tatami, or traditional flooring mats made of dried grass, was once the standard flooring for Japanese houses but disappeared quickly in the last fifty years. Although many Japanese people like tatami, they no longer use it for their houses saying that it does not fit in the modern room with furniture. The grass mats became unpopular also because they invited mold and mites especially after they were spread directly on the concrete slabs of apartment buildings. It was a misuse of the material in a hasty westernization. Tatami was not just a flooring but also a versatile piece of furniture to be used as a table, bed, and chair; it was not meant to hold modern furniture. Tatami also had enough ventilation in older wooden houses, and they did not have the mold or mites problems. Japanese companies created new kinds of tatami with harder synthetic core and durable insect-deterrent chemical surface, but such materials do not provide comfort or micro-climate controlling function as real grass tatami mats did. Most people thus stop using tatami without knowing its real capacity, tatami became rare, expensive, and alienated. The industry is dying. Similar vicious circle occurred to other organic materials such as rice paper for paper doors and screens. Traditional beauty and culture associated with these items disappeared at the same time. We have to clarify their functions scientifically and educate users as well as designers to bring about the real value of these historical materials.

Meisen - present-day preservation and promotion

Saskia Thoelen, Bunka Gakuen University, [email protected]

Meisen (銘仙) is the naming that was given to the boldly printed kimono that were extremely popular during the Taisho period. Even though meisen’s origin was in work-wear for the lower classes during the Meiji period, the introduction of new chemical dyes and shifts in taste changed its image into fashionable town-wear. Its relatively low price the speed at which new designs could be introduced lead to a meisen boom in kimono during the 1920s-30s. After the war, however, the demand for meisen almost disappeared completely. In the present day, the production of meisen kimono is limited and is kept alive through the aid of institutions like the Chichibu Meisenkan (秩父銘仙館). On the other hand, however, a renewed interest in antique kimono as a part of current day kimono boom has aided to a small but significant reappearance of meisen in Japan’s everyday life.

This presentation will take a look at how meisen was promoted during the Taisho period as a new fashion phenomenon. This development will be contrasted with how meisen is surviving today. The promotion and the production of meisen by the Chichibu Meisenkan will be introduced as a case study. Meisen’s position within the current kimono boom will also be discussed, together with a consideration of how this boom could be actively exploited as a potential aid to a further preservation of meisen for the future.
 

B2: The Kimono and its Industry in 21st Century Japan – Tales of Crisis, Change, and Subcultural Appropriation

The Kimono as Japan’s quintessential national dress is facing multiple challenges to stay relevant in contemporary Japan. This panel sheds light on changes in the production, the use, the adoption/adaption, and the depiction of the kimono and its accoutrements over the last 20 years. In particular, our panel discusses the following issues: To which extent have producers and retailers changed their practices and how have established social and economic structures facilitated or hindered such changes? How has the kimono evolved from being a clothing of ‘duty’ and social obligation to becoming a fashion item? How has Japan’s youth and popular culture adopted and adapted the kimono and how are these developments reflected in the country’s popular culture and media?

The Kyoto Nishijin textile industry and the limits of institutional change in times of crisis

Harald Conrad, University of Sheffield, [email protected]

This paper sheds light on recent developments in the allegedly 500 year old obi silk-weaving industry of the Nishijin district in Kyoto. Based on rich interview data collected in 2016-2017, this paper maps change and continuity in the industry and explains the findings with reference to concepts from the economic sociology literature. Overall, the paper argues that established social and economic structures, while having facilitated the successful growth of this industry during the economic boom years before the burst of the bubble economy, are now an important part of the explanation why Nishijin producers finds it difficult to adapt to various challenges, ranging from changing consumer demand to an aging workforce. The next few years will see the disappearance of valuable technologies as the district’s aging workforce retires without successors.

When ‘crisis’ means ‘opportunity’: can fashion save Japan’s kimono?

Julie Valk, University of Oxford, [email protected]

Since the 1990s, a great deal of ink has been spilled over the bursting of Japan’s ‘Bubble Economy’ and its effects on Japan’s economy and society. Much of this scholarship has focused on Japan’s economy as a whole and Japan’s major companies, but little has been written about the effects of Japan’s economic recession on the sector of traditional industries. Among these, the kimono industry and its associated crafts have been severely hit: in 1975, the kimono industry made sales of 2.8 trillion yen. Nowadays, the sales only amount to 10% of this number, a dramatic decrease. As craftspeople age, their children no longer take over the family business for fear of not being able to make a living. In spite of this bleak picture, a small segment of the kimono retail industry is doing well: a select group of shop owners, craftspeople and wholesalers are taking the crisis affecting them as an opportunity to revitalise their industry and shake up the marketing strategies that have confined them to limited sales and target groups. Their efforts to reinvent the kimono as affordable fashion open to everyone has been met with growing success and they have seen their sales rise in the last five years. Highly social media savvy, this network strives to differentiate itself from the ‘traditional’ industry and its image as stuffy and over-priced. For the kimono fashion network, crisis has meant opportunity. Though the industry as a whole continues to suffer, their success questions whether economic crisis inevitably has negative consequences and suggests that, to the contrary, crisis may have generative and creative properties leading to the dynamisation and revitalisation of traditional culture.

The oiran-style kimono trend: (Sub)cultural appropriation and negotiation of Japan's traditional costume

Carolin Becke, University of Sheffield, [email protected]

This paper investigates the (subcultural) depiction of oiran within Japanese popular culture since the early 2000s. Oiran (花魁) are known as highly-skilled courtesans of Japan’s Edo period, rising to prominence due to their work in the then famous pleasure district of Yoshiwara in Edo, now Tokyo. The last 15 years have witnessed an increase in the depiction of oiran in Japanese popular culture. This increased visibility started with the manga ‘Sakuran’ (さくらん, 2001-2003) by popular female manga write Anno Moyoco, followed by artist Ninagawa Mika directing her cinematic debut by turning the manga into a full-length film in 2006. These representations sparked an increased interest by a young female demographic in oiran culture and costumes, resulting in the establishment of the so-called ‘oiran-style kimono’ (花魁系着物), which features front bows and exposed shoulders, appropriating the traditional kimono to be slightly more sexual. Far from being regarded as a proper way of dressing for national occasions by many, the trend turned into a scandal when in 2013 Fuji TV’s daily morning program Mezamashi Terebi (めざましテレビ ) reported on the yearly Coming of Age festival where young women were interviewed wearing oiran-style kimono. The short clip sparked a heated debate online on notions of gender, modesty, adulthood and fashion, all of which I would like to unravel in this paper.

B3: Portrayals of Queerness in Popular culture and the potential and dangers of new queer visibility

In recent years, LGBTIQ-activism in Japan seems to be on the rise with increasing visibility in mainstream media and popular culture accompanying social changes. Awareness and acceptance of homosexuality in Japan are undeniably changing but conservative views on norms of gender and sexuality are also persisting.

The regular appearance of LGBTIQ-activists and artists in TV-shows but also recent examples of LGBTIQ-characters in manga, anime, movies or TV-series point out that emerging visibility of LGBTIQ-issues are fuelled through popular culture. The representations of Queerness found in the media, however, do not always comply with the issues and demands of Queers for recognition. At times, images apply stereotypes and sensationalism when portraying Queerness. Furthermore, even in popular culture products aimed at a queer audience, misleading images can be found. In this panel, we aim to discuss queer visibility through the lens of popular culture, asking how images found in this field may help to further the rights of LGBTQ-people and how popular culture be applied as a means of self-expression. We also ask how popular culture products can work to reinstate and stabilize heteronormativity and strengthen prejudices. Focusing on works in the genres anime, manga and TV-shows, we aim to identify misleading images as well as successes of LGBTIQ-information campaigns. We will analyze the continuing presence of transgressions of gender and sexuality in some niches of popular culture as part of the history of these genres as well as in light of the influence of recent social changes.

Genderbenders – How mainstream manga and anime translate queer culture

Kenji-T. Nishino, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, [email protected]

When looking into mainstream manga and anime which have been published or released since the 1990s, we find several characters that exhibit gender-traits that seem to ignore or even destabilize traditional gender roles. These characters, for example Zoisite from the 1990s Sailor Moon anime, the transgender people from the manga and anime One Piece or Haruhi from the manga and anime Ouran High School Host Club, are deemed to be interesting, unconventional or even exotic.

Gender bending characters are a recurring narrative element and therefore integrated into heteronormative story-telling. I argue that these characters represent a form of gender-crisis that needs to be eradicated or handled in a way that they don’t pose a threat anymore to mainstream’s heteronormativity. Within this narrative queer characters cannot present a valid alternative and need to be regulated in one way or another. How these regulating mechanisms work will be investigated through several case studies.

The second question is whether these characters can actually be seen as a sign of a growing awareness or even acceptance of queer characters in popular manga and anime. The different interpretations of the term “subversion” as they are used by Judith Butler and Homi Bhaba can assist in the search of a suitable assessment.

Queer Characters in Japanese TV-Series

Jasmin Rückert, Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf, [email protected]

Queerness in Japanese popular culture is a topic usually discussed with a focus on anime and manga; representations in TV-series are often overlooked. In comparison to the total numbers of TV-series airing in Japan each year, the number of series featuring LGBTIQ-characters is relatively small, yet their impact should not be underestimated.

When the TV-series Dosokai first aired in 1993, it was perceived as a turning point of visibility for Queers on Television. From then on until the airing of Transit Girls in 2015 (supposedly is the first Japanese lesbian dorama) and the very recent airing of Otōto no Otto in 2018, a number of Japanese TV-Series explicitly dealt with same-sex desire and some stories were even focussing on this topic.

Spanning a period of 25 years, in my presentation I will introduce doramas featuring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender-characters as well as characters who are visibly queer, but do not necessarily fit into the aforementioned categories. I argue that the representations in TV-series follow trends in the perception of Queerness in mainstream media and popular culture. They are influenced by images found in Boys Love, Yuri and through the presence of drag-queens in TV-shows and are not usually aimed at resembling the real lives of queer people in Japan. At the same time and despite apparent criticism, even when applying stereotypes some of the TV-series promote acceptance of LGBT-issues and Queerness. I aim to invite a discussion about these representations on the crossroad between sensationalism and possible positive impacts.

Visible, Intimate Spaces – Queer Contents in Amateur BL Works under Academic Scrutiny

Katharina Hülsmann, Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf, [email protected]

For many years the Boys’ Love Genre has been commonly understood as a venue for the exchange of sexual fantasies by heterosexual women through the medium of homoerotic narratives featuring men. Other voices, such as Mizoguchi Akiko, theorise the Boys’ Love community as a “queer continuum” and a “virtual lesbian space”.

Boys’ Love fictions have enjoyed considerable commercial success as manga, light novels and other adjacent forms of media since the 1990s but it is especially the sphere of amateur fiction, exchanged in person at fanzine events such as Comic Market or on online platforms such as Pixiv, which allow a private and intimate sphere for queer spaces to develop. However, with increased visibility comes increased scrutiny. In May 2017 a paper presented at the 31st Annual Conference of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence created a controversy as it contained direct hyperlinks to amateur Boys’ Love contents hosted on the platform Pixiv. Within the paper, these amateur works were labelled as harmful to minors and obscene. In my paper I want to discuss the ethical implications of academic exploration into spaces that are readily accessible through the internet but at the same time perceived by their inhabitants to be private and intimate.

B4: Critical Otherness: Narratives in/of crisis in modern Japanese fiction

This panel will trace the theme of crisis as it is narrated and represented within works of modern and contemporary Japanese fiction. Unlike discussions of crisis that crystallise on a specific, change-effecting ‘moment’ (for example, the triple disaster of 3rd March 2011, or the collapse of the economic bubble), however, what binds these papers is a concern with the pervasive struggles faced by writers and characters positioned outside of patriarchal and hegemonic narrative norms.

First, Nicholas Bradley traces backwards from Natsume Soseki’s Wagahai ha neko de aru the lineage of the cat in Japanese cultural history as a critical witness whose alternative narrative perspective provides an outlet for ongoing anxieties and frustrations with the changing world around it. Gitte Hansen’s paper reveals the ways in which Murakami Haruki’s lesser-studied stories told by female narrators attend to personal crises of being a woman in Japan. Victoria Young’s paper reads the disruptive strategies of Sakiyama Tami’s fiction that highlight how legacies of war, military occupation, and linguistic assimilation constitute a fraught ongoing reality in contemporary Okinawa. Lastly, Filippo Cervelli’s study of Takahashi Gen’ichirō’s fiction presents a critique of the tendency towards immediacy that obscures from view the issues and struggles that always already beset Japan.

By inscribing alternative perspectives—from animals, women, and voices beyond the regional centre of Tokyo—the texts explored challenge the hegemonic narrative of crisis as destructive singularity. In so doing, they reinscribe crisis as an endemic, inherently multiple, and even potentially subversive constant within Japanese textual identities.

Cataclysmic I-dentity Crisis: Natsume Sōseki, the it-novel, the I-novel and the critical cat

Nicholas Bradley, University of East Anglia, [email protected]

Serialized in Hototogisu from 1905 to 1906, Natsume Sōseki’s Wagahai ha neko de aru is narrated from the perspective of a professor’s pretentious cat, who provides a scathing criticism of Japanese Meiji society. Written on return from two years’ abroad studying English Literature in London, Sōseki’s decision to use a cat-narrator had a massive impact on authors who followed in the new form of Japanese literature that he had a hand in creating. Yet, the question remains: why did Sōseki use this figure of the critical cat-narrator?

Cats in Japanese literature and art date back to the Kamakura period (1185-1333) in which they appeared as yōkai. However, the ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798 – 1861) began a shift in the depiction of cats in art. Faced with cultural censorship campaigns in the late Edo period, artists were forbidden to paint kabuki actors or courtesans. Utagawa sidestepped this prohibition by creating paintings of scenes in which cats replaced human actors. This trend was continued by Sōseki, who was able to criticize society at the time through the figure of the cat, fusing the imported idea of the British it-novel with the burgeoning of the Japanese I-novel, as part of the Naturalist literary movement in Meiji era Japan.

This paper will explore Sōseki’s decision in using a cat as means to vent his frustrations from reverse culture shock, and examine why cats have such resonance amongst a Japanese audience of art and literature.

Narrating Women’s Personal Crisis in Murakami Haruki’s Japan

Dr Gitte Marianne Hansen, Newcastle University, [email protected]

Murakami Haruki’s most well-known character-type is without doubt the lonesome protagonist—the male narrator who tells his stories through the male pronoun ‘boku’ (‘I’). Analyses of gender representations in Murakami’s work have generally led to two critical conclusions about his character construction. First, that his fiction mirrors Japanese patriarchy and second, that he positions female characters traditionally as objects for male subjectivities and sexualities.

While some of Murakami’s stories do fit such generalizations, Murakami’s works are not just ‘boku-stories’ (male-narrated-I-stories) that reproduce established gender roles and exploit the female through the male narrative. His works also portray female main characters, protagonists and narrators that act as subjects in their own worlds, using their own language and first-person pronoun (‘watashi’) to convey stories of their own as in ‘Sleep’ (1989), ‘The Ice Man’ (1991) and ‘The Little Green Monster’ (1991).

Murakami’s female characters are therefore not limited to stories about the ‘mysterious young girl’ and ‘disappeared woman’ as told by his well-known male boku-narrators. As this paper shows, readers also encounter characters that are housewife-narrators and strong-willed protagonists, whose stories reveal the personal crises of women in Murakami’s contemporary Japan.

Like bombs: ‘Island words’ and ‘linguistic terrorism’ in contemporary Okinawan fiction

Dr Victoria Young, University of Cambridge, [email protected]

In 2002, one year after 9.11, the Okinawan writer Sakiyama Tami published one of her most provocative essays, entitled “Shimakotoba de kachāshī” (“Inciting with Island Words”). Split into three parts, the essay targets standard Japanese (hyōjungo) as a monolithic language symbolic of hegemonic oppression and assimilation before setting out the agenda for Sakiyama’s own literature: to inscribe the hybrid tongues of Okinawa as a site of irreconcilable difference.

Sakiyama’s essay, and the works of fiction that have followed it, exemplify this approach to language through their polyphonic and conflicted narratives written in multiple scripts. Accordingly, they have drawn scholarly comparison to the notion of “linguistic terrorism” introduced in Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands: La Frontera. And yet, Sakiyama’s essay even incites terroristic tropes directly, positioning the writer as a ‘suicide bomber’ ready to commit ‘guerrilla warfare’ against the national language. In the contemporary global context, such strategies appear increasingly problematic. They also suggest the ongoing crises of language and representation that imbue postwar Okinawan creativity, which carries the weight of transmitting unspeakable histories of a traumatic wartime past and the vestiges of enforced linguistic assimilation.

This paper will engage with such issues with a focus on Sakiyama’s recent short fiction. While the destructive nature of Sakiyama’s prose has the potential to limit her readership, it will be argued that these stories are timely in all of their complexity, for their ability to connect memory, representation, resistance, and terrorism, in critically significant and challenging ways.

Crises of Time: The tyranny of the immediate in the fiction of Takahashi Genichirō

Filippo Cervelli, University of Oxford, [email protected]

In his fiction, Takahashi Genichirō often portrays crises of contemporary life where characters do not identify with shared ideologies or communities, resorting to repetitive and violent actions to survive their empty daily existences. This paper argues that a central factor for such crises is immediacy. Bearing points of contact with François Hartog’s theory of “presentism”, immediacy describes a literary trait where characters concentrate only on what is immediate, directly relatable to their everyday life, and act repeatedly only to preserve their reality in a never-ending present that submerges definite categories of past, memory and future.

This study focuses on how these crises of time affect contemporary life in two novels by Takahashi: in Godira (2001) ordinary people living in a portion of Tokyo perform repetitive activities, or indulge in violent sexual stimuli to survive each moment, without engaging critically with wider existential issues such as national politics. In Koi suru genpatsu (The Nuclear Plant in Love, 2011), the 3.11 nuclear disaster does not emerge as a single exceptional event, but as a reminder of a life crisis that has been continuing for years, where people only concentrating on immediacy have not thought about the meaning of life and death, of memory and mourning victims. Exploring a central issue in this versatile author’s fiction, this study highlights how contemporary crises can also be denounced at the level of common citizens and from non-normative perspectives on recognized disasters.

B5: Images, Commodities, Embodied Women: Films Stars and the Spectacle of Japanse Modernity, 1926–1936

A new mode of showing the female body, that of spectacle, is present everywhere in the mass visual culture of the interwar years in Japan. As the effect of social, cultural and technological forces particular to the 1920s, this mode marks a certain rupture, but is also shares some continuities with the visual dynamics of Meiji yōga painting.

Our panel will pursue this logic of spectacle, its gender implications and the way it structured the star texts of actresses such as Irie Takako (1911–1995) and Okada Yoshiko (1902–1992). We understand spectacle as the various strategies of composition, framing and lighting that can be traced across cinematic mise-en-scène and camera technique, store displays and visual advertising.  The spectacle involves a Debordian dynamic of dematerialization: of objects and bodies caught up in the tension between the materiality of their sensuous presence and the process of becoming-commodities or becoming-images.

Lois Barnett analyses the circulation of Western-style consumer items between cinema screen, show window and printed advertisement, examining their associations with the star’s body, using examples from the films of Mizoguchi, Shimizu, Naruse and Gosho. Irena Hayter investigates the figure of the department store mannequin girl and its intertextual connections with the film star, tracking the contradictions between the reduction of both to surface images and the militancy of the real historical women who worked as fashion models. Finally, Kerstin Fooken explores the frictions between the commodification of rebellion in Okada Yoshiko’s star image and her real-life transgressions of established gender norms.

Fashion as Material: The Function of Women's Western-Style Fashion Items Onscreen, In-Store and in Print

Lois Barnett, SOAS, University of London, 2[email protected]

Western-style fashion products function on multiple levels within the cinematic space during the 1920s and '30s. Onscreen, these objects become an aspect of mise-en-scène, existing as immediate material signifiers of immaterial narrative elements concerning new female identities and their place in a rapidly modernising landscape. These significations are strengthened by the item's association with both Japanese and Hollywood star bodies. Considering Miriam Hansen's concept of the cinema as a ‘sensory-reflexive horizon’, which enabled the female spectator to associate her own self with the body of the star within the cinematic momentary, the items become literal material goods for consumption, spatially moving from the screen to the department store as the spectator is incited to purchase the star's bodily image and persona. Via print media, the mass reproduction of the images of these objects – and the stars who consume them–causes the objects themselves to dematerialize, allowing their significations to circulate freely and to travel into private spaces unhindered by financial cost, as per the observations of Miriam Silverberg: 'the consumption of images of objects rather than the objects themselves was central to Japanese modern culture'. The material developments within cinematic technology – most prominently, the onset of the full-sound film – heighten the immersive nature of the cinema, both intensifying this process of dematerialization and providing new connotations to existing star personae and fashion commodity images. I examine this using a critical discourse analysis approach to films by Mizoguchi Kenji, Shimizu Hiroshi, Naruse Mikio and Gosho Heinosuke, alongside related print media.

Phantasmatic Projections: The Fashion Model and the Film Star

Irena Hayter, University of Leeds, [email protected]

The modern girl ¬ the young Japanese woman who flaunted convention in the urban playgrounds of the 1920s with her drinking, smoking and frank sexuality – was an image that had little to do with lived experience; ‘a phantom projected onto the social landscape by male critics increasingly anxious about socio-cultural change’, in the words of Miriam Silverberg. If the modern girl was indeed a fantasy, we need to scrutinize in more detail these projections and the libidinal investments sustaining them. My paper will do this through the two figures regarded as the most vanguard modern girls: the fashion model and the film star. In the 1928 Nikkatsu melodrama The Modern Cleopatra, Irie Takako plays a mannequin girl (a model posing in the show windows of a department store) whose transgressions of sexual mores and class boundaries are symbolically punished by the narrative. My analysis traces the thick intertextual connections between the mannequin and Irie’s star persona. Both stars and models circulated in visual economies and were offered up as spectacle; both could be easily objectified because they lacked an embodied voice. Immobilized in the show window, the mannequin girls were reduced to images. This dynamic of sexualized objectification is held in tension by the degree of independence and mobility that the real historical women behind the images possessed. The models have left words and acts that not only help us restore much-needed embodiment to the fantasy of the modern girl but also reveal them as autonomous and politically conscious subjects.

Okada Yoshiko and the Intermedial Commodification of Japanese Silent Film Stars

Kerstin Fooken, School of Arts, Birkbeck College, [email protected]

In the context of the ‘golden age’ of Japanese silent cinema in the mid- to late 1920s, the career of Okada Yoshiko with her modern girl star persona stands out as an early example of the tensions actresses faced among the transitions and continuities of the artistic, technological and economic elements of their industry and the star image they were presenting as public personas. They embodied a still striking visual novelty in the public domain of Japanese society with the subjectivity and agency of a female artistic performer, but were at the same time increasingly commodified through a fixation of their star image in ubiquitous imagery and public discourse. While these visual fixations attempted to structure relationships between the viewing subject and object, they also created specific expectations for experiencing the cinematic spectacle.

In this paper I explore the tensions between the visual fixation of Okada’s star image and the individual agency she exercised as reflected in the public discourse surrounding the scandal she caused by abandoning a highly-anticipated 1927 Nikkatsu Studio production during filming that had been tailored to her star persona over a variety of media platforms. Okada stepping outside the boundaries set by those who wanted control the fixation of her star image thus represented a crisis point for Nikkatsu. Overall I argue that this case study illustrates the dynamics at work between the practices of dematerialization through the increasingly intermedial commodification of the star image and the exercise of artistic agency as a form of resistance.

B6. Representations of crises and trauma in literature and cinema

Destruction and Recovery after 3/11- Analysis of family values in Japanese television drama Saikō no Rikon (2013) and Kazoku Game (2013)

Akiko Nagata, SOAS, University of London, [email protected]

One of the important aspect in television’s effect is the contemporaneousness. Japanese media brought a sense of togetherness in society after 3/11, as the nation kept a close watch on what was happening. The experiences of the earthquake resonated with the people who tried to reconfirm the importance of family. Therefore, this paper will focus on an analysis of family values as portrayed in the two successful dramas Saikō no Rikon (The Best Divorce, 2013) and Kazoku Game (The Family Game, 2013) which both deal with destruction and recovery as key themes. Saikō no Rikon shows how the earthquake became a critical factor affecting the main character’s marital decisions. In times of social instability, reinforcing family bonds became a priority in supporting each other. Similarly, in Kazoku Game, the private tutor works to prevent a dysfunctional family from falling apart by showing them the value of family connections. One can therefore argue that the traumatic events of 3/11 have had a major impact not only on people’s lives but also have they affected the narrative of these television dramas. The idea of kizuna (bonds) have played an important role in rebuilding Japan and reinforcing social connections to resolve an individual’s anxious view of the future. Due to its relationship with contemporary Japanese society and its potential as a driving force behind the creation and proliferation of discourses, I believe a careful analysis of contemporary dramas can highlight the changes in socioeconomic factors and social values in Japan.

Crisis, Continuity and Change: Lessons from Kuraimāzu Hai and its Adaptations

Dr Christopher Hood, Cardiff University, [email protected]

For many a moment of crisis is a time of stress and concern; something to be avoided. But there are some for whom a crisis is a moment of opportunity and is exciting; it is desirable. This is how it can be in the world of journalism. The novel Kuraimāzu Hai follows a local newspaper as it covers the reporting of the world’s largest single plane crash, JAL flight JL123, in August 1985. The author, Hideo Yokoyama, who had himself been a reporter at a local newspaper covering the crash, explores a range of issues relating to the methods of journalists and newspapers as well as the challenges that individuals face. Whilst the book is work of fiction, it contains ‘pillars of truth’ and questions the workings of the Japanese media. This paper explores the way in which the novel highlights the issues of continuity and change in how a newspaper covers a crisis. Furthermore, Kuraimāzu Hai has been adapted for a NHK drama (2005) and a movie (directed by Masato Harada, 2008). The official English translation of novel, under the title of 17, was published in 2018. This paper looks at the way in which there has been continuity and change in relation to the storyline and characters. The paper considers why certain things have changed or remained the same, and what other, if any, changes would be required for the story to become truly adapted for an English-speaking audience.

Moving on, but at What Cost?: Dissociation in Murakami Haruki’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage

Jonathan Dil, Keio University, [email protected]

Faced with numerous natural and human-made disasters in recent decades, Japanese society has continued to find ways to move on, but at what psychological cost? Murakami Haruki’s 2013 Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage, his first post-3.11 novel, while it never mentions the 2011 “triple disaster” directly, is often read as a response to it, given its central themes of trauma and recovery. Another way to read the novel, however, is as a postmodern whodunit novel, a murder mystery where the question of who killed the beautiful heroine, Shirane Yuzuki (also known as Shiro or White), is never decisively answered. The central protagonist of the novel, Tsukuru, entertains the idea that he could be the murderer, his theory requiring him to have committed the crime while in a dissociated state, but whether this is actually the way things happened remains uncertain, and indeed, more positive interpretations of the novel as a story about individual recovery tend to downplay this possibility. Connecting Tsukuru’s strange hypothesis with other examples of murders carried out in dissociated states in Murakami’s fiction, this presentation will argue that Tsukuru’s theory should be taken seriously; indeed, that it highlights a central theme of the work: the way dissociation as a psychological response to trauma allows people to move on, but always at a cost.

What happened to change? Trauma in post-disaster Japanese cinema

Chantal Bertalanffy, The University of Edinburgh, [email protected]

On 11 March 2011, The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami as well as the ensuing meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant penetrated all layers of Japanese existence. The magnitude of events, both literal and symbolic, was understood as a rupturing of Japanese ontological security, catapulting the nation into an unknown era. However, “3.11” did not bring about the socio-political change many people had hoped for, and seven years on, Japan has seemingly returned to ‘normalcy’. Drawing on Jeffrey C. Alexander’s concept of Cultural Trauma, this paper will argue that the Japanese government attempted to frame 3.11 as a collective national trauma in order to sustain its position of power. This way, Japan not only returned to the pre-disaster order, but to a status quo built upon the problematic foundations of the Lost Decade(s). Indeed, if trauma is a cultural construct, it needs continual articulation of its constituent narratives; as exemplified by Ganbarō Nippon in the aftermath of 3.11. By discussing the newest film from the Godzilla franchise, Shin Gojira (Anno Hideaki & Higuchi Shinji, 2016), this paper will demonstrate the mechanisms behind the sustainment of the cultural trauma narrative of 3.11. At the same time, cinema also offers a place of contestation. Therefore, this paper will also explore how individual trauma is not only contrasted to collective trauma, but how the aftermath of the Lost Decade continues to be understood through the lens of 3.11, such as in Odayaka na nichijō (Uchida Nobuteru, 2012).

B7. Linguistic transitions and representations of Japaneseness

The Sociolinguistics of the Lost Decades and the Growth of Dialect Imagery and Humour

Goran Vaage, School of Letters, Kobe College, [email protected]

The Japanese society has undoubtedly gone through a phase of transition since the end of the bubble-economy era. The main argument of this paper is that sociolinguistic aspects of Japanese have experienced changes similar to those of economics, politics or society. Influential research efforts within Japanese sociolinguistics during the last 25 years have brought such changes to attention and given us concepts such as “role-language” (Kinsui 2003), “utterance-character” (Sadanobu 2011), and “dialect-cosplay” (Tanaka 2011). This paper brings together these trends and analyses them in the context of transition during the lost decades. The data, drawn from an ongoing survey on dialect and humour conducted in the Kansai area by the author, combined with historical and contemporary sources from mass-media, shows that speakers of Japanese are – in terms of linguistic behaviour – taking steps away from the conformity that was instrumental during the post-war era of economic growth. Wider ranges in humour structure can be observed and dialects have now become new important commodities. 

Hybrid Verbal Constructions in Japanese: Issues of Interpretation

Vít Ulman, Palacký University Olomouc, [email protected]

Although, much has been written on the topic of various lexical borrowings into Japanese, comparatively little has been done on the influence of other languages on the Japanese grammar. One of the reasons is that it is not a simple task to analyse such linguistic phenomena. Such verbal constructions are of varying age and of varying provenience. Some of these constructions could possibly be influenced by the Chinese language, others are simply shared between Japanese and Korean. The basic issue with researching the origin of such linguistic features in Japanese is that they are often formally indistinguishable from constructions that developed in Japanese without any outer influence, only in case of some it is obvious that they consist partially of morphemes of Chinese origin, e. g. ‘yō-da’. This paper aims to analyse verbal constructions of hybrid origin that can be found in the Japanese language. It is broadly typological in its nature and it draws its inspiration from the developing field of contact linguistics. As there is a very large number of constructions that lend themselves to such an analysis, and due to the time constrains the focus will lie on the most pertinent verbal constructions that have parallels elsewhere, in other languages of the wider East Asia. I will mainly discuss following issues: Various forms of language contact and its results, grammaticalization of borrowed lexicon, and possible sources of individual constructions.

‘It’s really unique in that they have their own kind of psychology’: Using Discursive Psychology to explore the use of ‘Nihonjinron’ by international students

Philippa Carr, Coventry University, [email protected]

The number of international university students learning in Japan is increasing and the integration of these individuals requires exploration.  There is a need to examine how students in Higher Education adapt to local customs and engage with their local communities.  Nihonjinron is a contested concept that presents Japanese culture and language as unique.  It has been previously found that Japanese students use Nihonjinron to account for their performance when learning English.  Therefore, this research aims to explore how English-speaking students learning Japanese use Nihonjinron in their talk.   Eleven English-speaking students on an intensive language course at a Japanese university participated in semi-structured interviews.   Discursive Psychology, a social constructionist approach, was used which allows the exploration of how psychological concepts are used by individuals in their talk. This allows for the analysis of how individuals use the presentation of national identity and culture to manage their accountability.  Some participants presented Japanese culture as psychologically different to other cultures.  These participants used Nihonjinron to legitimise their behaviour which challenged Japanese norms.  Other speakers constructed Japanese culture as similar to other cultures and presented themselves as integrating well with Japanese norms.  Students used the contrasting presentations of Japaneseness as distinct or similar to other cultures to justify their own behaviour. This was presented as a rational decision making process which allowed students to present themselves as fair and tolerant and avoid appearing prejudiced.

B8. Impact of economic shocks on Japanese arts and media

Before We Were 'Lost': Crisis versus Continuity in Bubble-era Art

Sarah Walsh, Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles, [email protected]

Though it is the 1990s that is often referred to as Japan’s 'Lost Decade,' suspended in the vacuum caused by the implosion of the economic bubble, the sense of crisis that permeated the end of the twentieth century was hardly absent from the previous decade. On the contrary, in the 1980s both scholarly and popular discourse circled around two opposing interpretive poles: one emphasizing a triumph over historical setbacks in the success of a booming economy allegedly organized around 'uniquely Japanese' principles, and the other decrying the decade as an intellectually bankrupt 'dead end' for politics, theory, and art practice alike. This productive dichotomy was moreover negotiated across the decade in art criticism, art history, and curatorial practices, with some seeking to establish continuity in the name of a developmentalist history of Japanese modern art. Others argued the opposite, namely, that the eighties' postmodernist flowering was possible precisely due to the collapse of such master narratives, specifically that of artistic modernism. This paper will thus discuss the tension between these competing ideas of the 1980s as either a culmination or a dead end in cultural production, offering two case studies: first, the exhibition 'Mono-ha and Post-Mono-ha' (1987, Seibu Museum of Art) as a landmark of continuity-oriented art history; and secondly, 'The Front Line of Contemporary Art' (1984, Garō Parerugon) as its foil, considering the latter’s embrace of postmodernist thought as a framework for interpreting vastly disparate examples of contemporary art, without the need to locate them in a lineage.

The "Bubble Economy" in Japanese Popular Music

Dorothy Finan, University of Sheffield, [email protected]

The Japanese popular music market is a relatively insular one, where the music that tops the charts is generally produced by the domestic market, for the domestic market. For this reason, popular music performers are able to sing about themes of national identity, explicit or not, to a receptive audience. Furthermore, because national crises are formative moments for national identity, examining how those crises are represented in popular culture can help to shed light on how people see their place in society, and their nation's place in the world. With this in mind, I will examine how Japanese popular music has represented the collapse of the “bubble economy”, and how this representation in popular music has in turn contributed to national memory and identity. By analysing lyrics and music videos from the 1990s to the present day, I will argue that the collapse of the “bubble economy” has been presented as a generational dividing line, associated and conflated with the change of imperial era in 1989. Whilst Japanese popular music in the 1990s generally associated this dividing line with a positive chance for a new Japan, the Japanese popular music of the 2010s has tended to criticise the perceived excesses of the period preceding the bubble “burst”. Additionally, I will consider how Japan’s current economic paradigm, that of “Abenomics”, is beginning to be represented in popular music, and how such representations might be affected by the abdication of the current emperor in 2019.

The Narrativization of the Global Financial Crisis by the Japanese Press

Roddy McDougall, University of Edinburgh, [email protected]

The Global Financial Crisis of 2007 – 2008, culminating in the Lehman Shock on 15th September 2008, has been described as both a “once in a century event” and a “seismic shift” in global economics. Yet despite the exogenous nature of the crisis, it was Japan which felt the greatest impact to its economy. Public understanding and perception of such crises is highly dependent upon news coverage for their dissemination, opinion, and interpretation of unfolding events. However, in doing so, the news media are positioned as powerful gatekeepers dictating how events become populated with meaning and understood within the public consciousness. This is of particular concern to Japan where the kisha club system of journalism has been widely criticised for the cartelization of information and the homogenization of news coverage. A common methodology to investigate this phenomenon within the field of Communication Research is Media Framing, however this has rarely been applied to non-Western primary sources. Likewise, despite the multidisciplinary nature of Japanese Studies, theories of Communication Research have not been widely used. I seek to address these concerns through a joint quantitative and qualitative analysis of the Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun and Nikkei Shimbun over the two-year period following the Lehman Shock, employing Media Frame and Discourse Analysis methodologies. In doing so, I seek to identify not only the narratives employed by the ‘big three’ newspapers of Japan, but also how the metaphor of the Lehman Shock crystallised over time, ready to be applied to subsequent economic crises.