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Events 2010

February 4th, 2010

6:00 PM
"Counting on Kannon with Thirty-Three Images"
Lecture by Sherry Fowler, University of Kansas
Venue: Room 612 Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University
Lecture information:
In Japan many temples with a central icon of Kannon (Avalokiteśvara) were organized by the sixteenth century into pilgrimage routes with thirty-three stops. Thirty-three has significance as the number of manifestations of Kannon described in the Lotus Sutra. As early as the fourteenth century, examples of paintings and sculpture that depict all thirty-three manifestations together appeared in Japan. Yet if we consider the identities of each Kannon icon along the popular pilgrimage routes, they do not match any of the Lotus Sutra manifestations. Instead, we find that each one is usually one of the Six Kannon. Beginning in the tenth century, Six Kannon were grouped together as the focus of a cult to protect beings in the six paths of transmigration. At the time the cult of the Six Kannon faded in the sixteenth century, the Thirty-Three Kannon pilgrimage cults began to flourish and new alliances for Kannon worship were formed through the use of old images.

Lecturer information
Sherry Fowler is a specialist in Japanese Buddhist art history and Associate Professor of Japanese Art History at University of Kansas. Recently she has been researching images of Kannon. Among her publications are Murōji: Rearranging Art and History at a Japanese Buddhist Temple (University of Hawai’i Press, 2005), “Views of Japanese Temples and Shrines from Near and Far: Precinct Prints of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” Artibus Asiae 68/2 (2008) and “Travels of the Daihōonji Six Kannon Sculptures” Ars Orientalis 36 (2006). She has a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of California, Los Angeles.

 

February 11th, 2010

4:10 PM
“Girls in Society: ‘Asia’, Colonial Modernity, and the Place of Vernacular Sociology in Consumer Culture”
Lecture by Tani Barlow, Rice University
Venue: 754 Schermerhorn Extension, Columbia University
*Sponsored by the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society with support from the Department of Anthropology, and the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.

Lecture Information:
“Girls in Society: ‘Asia,’ Colonial Modernity, and the Place of Vernacular Sociology in Consumer Culture” resituates the debates over the historical and political framework of colonial modernity. This presentation establishes a relationship between Sino-Japanese social-science logics and treaty-port consumer culture, as reflected in imperialist corporate commodity advertising campaigns. Central to vernacular or lay sociological philosophy and the visual ephemera of advertising campaigns in the era of the 1910s-1930s was the dynamic term “society.”

Lecturer Information:
Tani Barlow is Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Studies and Director, Chao Center for Asian Studies at Rice University where she teaches in the History Department. Her work has addressed the histories of Marxism and Maoism in China, the question of gender in modernity, and the politics of culture in ‘Asia.’ Tani Barlow is the author of THE QUESTION OF WOMEN IN CHINESE FEMINISM (2004), numerous edited volumes and dozens of articles. She is also the founder and editor of the landmark journal, positions. Her current manuscript, IN THE EVENT OF WOMEN, examines the relation of social science logics to Chinese treaty port consumer culture.

 

February 25th, 2010

6:00 PM
"Rieko Matsuura: An Evening with a Contemporary Japanese Novelist (The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P)"
Lecture by Rieko Matsuura
Venue: Room 403 Kent Hall, Columbia University
*Co-sponsored by the Japan Foundation New York

Lecture Information:
Every decade or so a novel appears that leaves its mark on an entire generation. For Japan in the 1990s, that novel was Rieko Matsuura's The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P. An astonishing, gripping read, this now legendary book was both a critical success and an instant sensation that flew off the shelves. Selling more than 300,000 copies in hardcover, it rocketed its cult author to stardom almost overnight.

The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P tells the story of Kazumi Mano, a naïve twenty-two-year-old who wakes up one afternoon to discover that her big toe has turned into a penis. Her life as an ordinary girl is over, and a rigorous “apprenticeship” has begun. Kazumi flees her homophobic fiancé after he tries to castrate her, and hooks up with a blind pianist with whom she falls in love. Together they join a troupe of sexually deformed and emotionally twisted men and women who tour the country performing what amounts to sexual freak shows. In the course of her bizarre journey, Kazumi is forced to reconsider what she had always passively accepted: her body, her sexuality, and her life.

By turns provocative, intelligent, humorous, heartbreaking, and grotesque, The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P is like no other novel you will read. Matsuura is a master of sensual slipstream, and this work is her chef d’oeuvre.

Lecturer Information:
Rieko Matsuura was born in Matsuyama, Japan, and graduated from Aoyama Gakuin University with a BA in French literature. She debuted as a writer in 1978, while still in college, with “The Day of the Funeral,” a short story that won that year's Bungakukai Prize for New Writers. Since then, she has published six works of fiction and three essay collections—among them Natural Woman (1987), a series of three related novellas exploring lesbian love; The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P (1993), a bestseller that won the Women's Literature Prize, Japan's most prestigious literary award for women writers; and A Dog's Body (2007), about the intimate but nonsexual relationship between a woman with “species identity disorder” who turns into a dog, and her friend-turned-owner.

The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P is Matsuura's first novel to be translated into English.

 

March 11th, 2010

6:00 PM
"Japanese New Religions and Their Colonized Proselytes:  Tenrikyō in Korea, 1893-1950"
Lecture by Micah Auerback, University of Michigan
Venue: Room 403 Kent Hall, Columbia University
*Sponsored by the Columbia Center for Japanese Religion

Lecture information:
The conflict between Korean Christians and state-mandated compulsory veneration at Shintō shrines lives on as a foundational memory of religious crisis in colonial Korea. This talk reframes that story’s familiar themes of ethnonational and religious identity in a different context: the colonial career of Tenrikyō, a Japanese New Religious Movement founded in the final decades of the Edo period. Despite its suppression by the Japanese state—both in Japan and on the Korean peninsula—and despite its forced registration as a branch of Sect Shintō from 1908 onward, Tenrikyō managed to attract a sizeable number of Korean converts, who sustained the religion even after their Japanese co-religionists left the peninsula in 1945-1946. How did Tenrikyō appeal to its Korean proselytes? Drawing on period sources published by Tenrikyō institutions, this talk proposes that one answer can be found in Tenrikyō’s multiple, and sometimes contradictory, roles within the colonial environment: as broker of Japanese colonial rule; as martyr to Japanese state religious policy; and as prism or crucible for relations between the colonizers and the colonized.

Lecturer information:
Micah Auerback is Assistant Professor of Japanese Religions at the University of Michigan. His primary research interests lie in Japanese religions in the late nineteenth through early twentieth centuries, with a special focus on Buddhism. His dissertation research and manuscript currently under revision concern the roles played by Japanese Buddhist individuals, ideas, and institutions on the Korean peninsula during this period. Other topics of continuing interest include relations between religious institutions and the Japanese state from the Meiji Restoration onward; the formation of Buddhist Studies as an academic discipline in modern Japan; and the polymath scientist and sometime student of Buddhism, Minakata Kumagusu (1867-1941).

 

April 2nd, 2010

3:00 PM
“Mixed Messages: Classical Literature in 17th- and 18th-Century ‘Books for Women’”
Lecture by Jamie Newhard, Washington University
Venue: Room 403 Kent Hall, Columbia University

Lecture information:
Although Confucian scholars in the early Edo period made frequent claims regarding the pernicious effect of classical Japanese literature on the morals of women, by the eighteenth century classical literature came to occupy a prominent place in the flourishing segment of the contemporary book market known as josho, or books for women. Examining both the selection of content and the deployment of that content on the printed page, this talk considers what josho reveal about the place of classical literature both in the education of women and in the early modern book market.

Lecturer Information:
Jamie Newhard is an assistant professor of premodern Japanese language and literature at Washington University in St. Louis. Her interests include premodern narrative, poetry, and poetics; medieval and early modern reception of classical literature; the history of literary scholarship and thought; book and publishing history; and gender issues in premodern literature. She has just finished her first book, titled Knowing the Amorous Man: A History of Scholarship on Tales of Ise.

 

April 5th, 2010

5:00 PM
“Koreans as Japanese Soldiers: Reflections on Inclusionary or Polite Racism in WWII”
Lecture by Professor Takashi Fujitani, Dept. of History, University of California, San Diego
Venue: Room 918 IAB, Columbia University

Lecture Information:
Professor Fujitani's presentation will draw from his forthcoming book, Race for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans in WWII. The book is a comparative and transnational study of ethnic and colonial soldiers during the Asia-Pacific War (or the Second World War in the Asia-Pacific region) that focuses specifically on Japanese Americans mobilized to serve in the Unites States army and Koreans who were recruited or drafted into the Japanese military. His research utilizes the two sites of soldiering as optics through which to examine the larger operations and structures of the changing U.S. and Japanese national empires as they struggled to manage racialized populations within the larger demands of conducting total war. As Prof. Fujitani's work uncovers, discussions about, policies, and representations of these two sets of soldiers tell us a great deal about the changing characteristics of wartime racism, nationalism, imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, gender politics, the family, and some other related issues on both sides of the Pacific. These issues go well beyond the soldiers themselves, and their repercussions remain with us today.

Lecturer Information:
Takashi Fujitani is Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego. His primary areas of research are modern and contemporary Japanese history, East Asian history, and transnational history (primarily U.S./Japan and Asia-Pacific). His publications include: Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan (UC Press, 1996; Japanese version, 1994; Korean translation, 2003); Perilous Memories: The Asia Pacific War(s) (co-editor, Duke, 2001); and Race for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans in WWII (forthcoming, UC Press; Japanese version, Iwanami Shoten); as well as numerous book chapters and articles published in Korean, Japanese, and English. His recent research has been funded by the John S. Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, NEH, and SSRC.

April 9th, 2010 (Friday) 6:00 PM

2009-2010 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature Award Ceremony
Recipients: Jeffrey M. Angles, Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen
Venue: C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Kent Hall, Columbia University

The Winners of the 2009-2010 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature

Jeffrey M. Angles
For his translation of Tada Chimako's Forest of Eyes: Selected Poems of Tada Chimako, to be published by University of California Press in 2010.
Jeffrey Angles is an Associate Professor at Western Michigan University, where he teaches Japanese literature and translation studies. He earned his Ph.D. at Ohio State University in 2004, and his book Writing the Love of Boys: Desire Between Men in Early Twentieth-Century Japanese Literature will be published by University of Minnesota in 2010. His other translations include Killing Kanoko: Selected Poetry of Ito Hiromi (Action Press, 2009) and numerous short stories in various anthologies. Recently, he earned a National Endowment for the Arts grant to support his current translation project, the memoirs of the Japanese poet Takahashi Mutsuo.


Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen
For her translation of Shinkei's Murmured ConversationsProfessor Ramirez-Christensen is the Director of Language Studies at the University of Michigan and specializes in classical Japanese literature, especially Heian and medieval poetry, narrative, and criticism. Her research interests include literary hermeneutics and Buddhist intellectual philosophy, as well as feminist readings of Heian women’s writing. Among her works are Heart's Flower: The Life and Poetry of Shinkei (1994) and "Self-Representation and the Patriarchy in the Heian Female Memoirs" in The Father-Daughter Plot: Japanese Literary Women and the Law of the Father (2001).


April 14th, 2010

6:00 PM
2010 Annual Soshitsu Sen XV Distinguished Lecture on Japanese Culture “Why I Posed as Yukio Mishima”
Lecture by Yasumasa Morimura
Venue: Miller Theatre, Columbia University

Prior to Mr. Morimura’s lecture, the Donald Keene Prize for the Promotion of Japanese Culture will be awarded to Impressions, the journal of the Japanese Art Society of America (JASA). Julia Meech, Editor of Impressions, and Joan D. Baekeland, President of JASA, will accept the award.

Lecture information:
Widely known as the artist who transforms himself into the Mona Lisa and movie actresses, Yasumasa Morimura has won international acclaim for his unique and avant-garde expression of ‘beauty’. Since 1985, his focus has been his ‘self-portrait series’, consisting of unique reconstructions of art masterpieces in which the subject’s face is substituted with that of Morimura himself. Through careful study and analysis of the themes, artists, and historical background of these works, Morimura searches out their raisons d’etre and transforms them according to his own interpretations. His ability to deconstruct, subvert, and simultaneously create an homage is what enables his work continually to defy categorization.

Lecturer information:
Yasumasa Morimura was born in Osaka and graduated from Kyoto City University of Arts in 1978. Since 1985, he has primarily shown his work in international solo exhibitions./p>

April 16th, 2010

12:00 PM
**Brown Bag Lunch**
Book Talk by Robert Hellyer:
Defining Engagement: Japan and Global Contexts, 1640-1868"
Lecture by Robert Hellyer, Wake Forest University
Venue: Room 918 International Affairs Building, Columbia University

Lecture information:
The speaker’s forthcoming book explores the internal dynamics and global contexts that shaped foreign relations in early modern Japan. Examining diplomacy, coastal defense, and especially foreign trade, it demonstrates that while the shogunate created the broader framework, foreign relations were actually implemented through cooperative as well as competitive relationships with the Satsuma and Tsushima domains. Successive Tokugawa leaders also proactively revised foreign trade, particularly with China, taking steps that mirrored the commercial stances of other Asian and Western states.

Through its examination of the internal and the global, the speaker’s book offers new insights on the evolution of Japan’s foreign relations in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It also suggests new approaches to understanding Japan’s transition from participation in early modern East Asian practices of foreign relations to the national adoption of international relations, especially the recasting of foreign trade and the centralization of foreign relations authority, in the years surrounding the Meiji Restoration of 1868.

Lecturer information:
A historian of early modern and modern Japan, Robert Hellyer served on the faculty of the University of Tokyo, taught at Allegheny College, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard before coming to Wake Forest in 2005. His book, Defining Engagement: Japan and Global Contexts, 1640-1868, was published by the Harvard University Asia Center in late 2009. He is currently working on a new project, Green Tea and the Path to an Industrial, International Japan, for which he received Smithsonian and Japan Foundation fellowships to support research in Washington, D.C. and Japan. Robert Hellyer earned his B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

April 22nd, 2010

6:00 PM
"The Body in Modern Japanese Theater"
Lecture by M. Cody Poulton, University of Victoria
Venue: Room 403 Kent Hall, Columbia University

Lecture information:
Theater is a performance art that almost by definition requires the presentation of living human bodies enacting an event or series of actions before a live audience. In a fundamental sense, as an art form it is the word made flesh. But the relationship between language and the body was problematized by the process of modernity or modernization, especially in Japan, where the models all came from the West. It was one thing to translate or even emulate the Western novel, for example. But to present Japanese actors on stage as Europeans, or as people transformed by Westernization, involved a process that denaturalized both the text and those who acted it out. How, physically, does one express the experience of living in the modern world? And how does that expression change over the course of time?

This presentation will examine how theater over the past century in Japan has reflected fundamental changes in artistic practice and conceptions of personal and social identity through physical appearance and action. It will cover a wide range of work, from early 20th century to contemporary theater and discuss a number of genres, performers and topics such as: the relationship between text and performance, Japanese and Western bodies, tradition and modernity in theatrical training, butoh, and modern dance. The lecture will use a Powerpoint slideshow and video images to illustrate a selection of different works and genres.

Lecturer information:
Cody Poulton is Professor of Japanese literature and theater and Chair of the Department of Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Victoria, Canada. His books include Spirits of Another Sort: The Plays of Izumi Kyôka (Michigan Monographs in Japanese Studies, 2001) and the forthcoming A Beggar's Art: Scripting Modernity in Japanese Drama, 1900-1930 (University of Hawaii Press, 2010). His translations span from kabuki to contemporary, including work by Kara Jûrô, Betsuyaku Minoru, and Hirata Oriza. He is currently working with his co-editors J. Thomas Rimer and Mitsuya Mori on The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Drama.

April 29th, 2010

6:00 PM
“Book Talk by Donald Keene: So Lovely a Country Will Never Perish
Lecture by Donald Keene (Professor Emeritus, Columbia University)
Venue: Room 301 Philosophy Hall, Columbia University

Lecture Information:
So Lovely a Country Will Never Perish zeroes in on Japan's involvement in World War II and the Greater East Asia War, which provoked a range of reactions from its citizens. Pride, rage, sympathy, revenge—a single year of triumph and three of catastrophic losses forced the Japanese to question their country's presumption and its ability to shape history and the world. Falling to the will of the Allied powers further complicated Japan's postwar recovery, imprinting feelings of shame, resentment, doubt, and self-recrimination onto the national psyche.

No writers have better captured these fluctuations than a group of well-known authors who risked recording their thoughts amid the bombings and fear of invasion. Nagai Kafû, Takami Jun, Itō Sei, Hirabayashi Taiko, Yamada Fūtarō, and the scholar Watanabe Kazuo wrote absorbing narratives, passionate polemics, and crystalline poems. Donald Keene, a leading scholar of Japanese literature, samples from their texts, some of which were written by individuals he knew well. His own relationship with the writers adds a compelling layer to his work. The diary of Itō Sei, for example, with its fervent patriotism and racial claims, forms a stark contrast to the soft-spoken, kind man Keene knew. Weaving archival materials together with personal reflections and the intimate accounts themselves, Keene produces an entirely original portrait of wartime attitudes and foreign domination in Japan. Whether detailed or fragmentary, these diary entries were written for future generations, making clear the danger of false victory and true defeat.

Lecturer Information:
Donald Keene is a University Professor Emeritus and Shincho Professor Emeritus at Columbia University, where he began teaching in 1955. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including one of Japan’s highest honors, the title “Person of Cultural Merit” (Bunka Kōrō-sha) in 2002, for his distinguished service in the promotion of Japanese literature and culture. Other awards include the Kikuchi Kan Prize of the Society for the Advancement of Japanese Culture (1962); the Order of the Rising Sun, Second Class (1993) and Third Class (1975); the Japan Foundation Prize (1983); the Yomiuri Shimbun Prize (1985); the Shincho Grand Literary Prize (1985); the Tokyo Metropolitan Prize (1987); the Radio and Television Culture Prize (1993); and the Asahi Prize (1998). He has received honorary degrees from St. Andrew's College (1990), Middlebury College (1995), Columbia University (1997), Tohoku University (1997), Waseda University (1998), Tokyo Gaikokugo Daigaku (1999), and Keiwa University (2000).

May 6th, 2010

6:00 PM
"War and Peace in the Manga of Tezuka Osamu"
Lecture by Yuki Tanaka
Venue: Held Auditorium, 3rd Floor Barnard Hall

Lecture information
In Japan, as well as abroad, Tezuka Osamu is widely known as the cartoonist who created the immensely popular sci-fi manga series Astro Boy (1952–1968). Yet Tezuka produced many other manga and animated films over his prolific career, the themes of which often centered around issues of war and peace. This lecture examines the interrelation between Tezuka’s experience of Osaka’s aerial bombing by U.S. forces during the final year of the Asia Pacific War and a number of his ‘epic manga’ such as Next World (1951) and Adolf (1983–1985), in which he dealt with such difficult but important themes as the alienation and brutalization of human beings, racial prejudice and hatred, nationalism, and political corruption. The lecture also analyses various philosophical influences on Tezuka’s work. His early experience as a medical doctor and the work of Dostoyevski and Karel Capek, a Czech writer persecuted by the Nazis, are considered in detail. Finally, the lecture contrasts Tezuka’s creative legacy with more recent manga produced by nationalistic cartoonists such as Kobayashi Yoshinori, who tries not only to sanitize the crimes and atrocities that Japanese troops committed against other Asians during the war, but even to glorify Japanese military conduct. What this comparative analysis serves to illustrate is the tremendous power popular culture forms like manga and films have in shaping public images of “national history.”

Lecturer information
Professor Tanaka is Research Professor of History at the Hiroshima Peace Institute, Hiroshima City University. In 2008 he was Visiting Professor at Birkbeck College, the University of London and the Sir Ninian Stephen Visiting Scholar at the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law of the University of Melbourne. Professor Tanaka is an acknowledged international expert on the history of Japanese war crimes during World War II. His two books Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution During World War II and the US Occupation (2002) and Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II (1996) both remain seminal works in English. The latter volume provided extensive background material for a BBC documentary series entitled ‘Horror in the East’ produced in 2000. Professor Tanaka’s most recent book in Japanese, Sorano Senso-Shi (A History of Aerial Warfare), was published in Japan in 2008 to critical acclaim. In 2009, he co-edited the book, Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth Century History, together with Marilyn Young.

September 15th, 2010

6:00 PM
"Tea Demonstration and Lecture"
Demonstration and Lecture by Dr. Genshitsu Sen (Soshitsu Sen XV), Urasenke
Venue: Casa Italiana, Columbia University
Lecturer Information:
Genshitsu Sen was born in Kyoto on April 19, 1923, as the first son of the fourteenth-generation Urasenke grand master (iemoto), Mugensai. He served as the Urasenke grand master for thirty-eight years, up to the end of 2002, when he transferred the iemoto position and the hereditary name Soshitsu that goes with it to his elder son. At the same time, he changed his own name from Soshitsu to Genshitsu. Genshitsu Sen is customarily referred to by the title Daisosho, which literally means “great grand master.” His Buddhist ceremonial name is Hounsai.

Since embarking on his first trip overseas in 1950, Genshitsu Sen has sought actively to promote the way of tea internationally. He has visited more than sixty countries and made over three hundred journeys abroad. He holds a Ph.D. from Nankai University, China, awarded to him in 1991 for the successful defense of his thesis concerning the influence of the Cha Jing, by Lu Yu (8th c.), on the development of Japan’s chado culture, and a Litt.D. from Chung-Ang University, Korea, awarded to him in 2008. Since September 2005, Sen Genshitsu has been serving as Japan-U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, a position he was appointed to by the Japanese government.

September 30th, 2010

6:00 PM
"How the Sacred Foxes Came to Columbia: Anthropological Fieldwork, Synchronicity, and the Collecting Impulse"
Lecture by Karen Smyers, Anthropologist
Venue: Room 403 Kent Hall, Columbia University
*Co-sponsored by the Friends of Columbia Libraries

Lecture Information:
In 2008, Dr. Karen Smyers donated a priceless collection of Inari-related materials to Columbia’s C.V. Starr East Asian Library. Comprising not only books and periodicals, but also rare woodblock prints and a significant number of unique earthenware figurines, the materials were gathered over many years of ethnographic research at Fushimi Inari Shrine and other sites in Japan. At this celebration, Dr. Smyers discusses the origins and significance of the collection, and will field questions from the audience. A reception will follow in Starr’s Rare Book Reading Room, where many of the materials are on display.

Lecturer Information:
Karen A. Smyers majored in religion at Smith College and received a doctorate in anthropology from Princeton University. She subsequently taught at Wesleyan University for nearly a decade, specializing in the anthropological study of religion, especially Japanese popular religion. Her ethnography, The Fox and the Jewel: Shared and Private Meanings in Contemporary Japanese Inari Worship, appeared from the University of Hawai’i Press in 1999. In 2001, Dr. Smyers began training at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich; she received her diploma in 2007. Currently, Dr. Smyers has a private practice as a Jungian analyst in Hadley, Massachusetts, and serves as the President of the Jung Center of Western Massachusetts. In spring 2012, she will teach a class at the Jung Institute in Boston on Japanese mythology, psychology, and ethos. She is still fascinated by foxes.

October 7th-9th, 2010

“John C. Weber International Symposium on Japanese Religion and Culture: Images and Objects in Japanese Buddhist Practice”
Venue: Room 301 Philosophy Hall, Columbia University
*Co-sponsored by the Columbia Center for Japanese Religion
Symposium description:
The Columbia Center for Japanese Religions announces the first annual John C. Weber International Symposium on Japanese Religion and Culture. The 2010 symposium, entitled Images and Objects in Japanese Buddhist Practice, will be held at Columbia University from October 7 to October 9, 2010. The symposium will begin with a keynote address on the evening of Thursday, October 7 by Mimi Yiengpruksawan of Yale University and will be followed by two days of papers and discussion on Friday and Saturday, October 8 and 9. The symposium will bring together scholars of Japanese Buddhism and Japanese Buddhist art from Japan, Europe, and the North America to critically examine the historical use of objects of visual and material culture in Japanese Buddhist practice. Through the presentation and discussion of new scholarly work from diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives, this symposium will explore the relations between images, objects, and ritual in the history of Japanese Buddhism.

A full description of participants, discussants, and paper titles is available on the CCJR website.
 

October 11th, 2010

6:00 PM
"Tsugaru Shamisen Performance
and Lecture"
Performance and lecture by Oyama x Nitta
Venue: Room 403 Kent Hall, Columbia University
*Sponsored by the Japan Foundation, New York
Lecture Information:
The shamisen is a traditional instrument introduced to mainland Japan from Okinawa in the sixteenth century. Somewhat similar in appearance to a banjo, the instrument has undergone several evolutions through the centuries, the latest of which is the Tsugaru shamisen. This unique instrument is heard throughout the world, spanning genres from traditional Japanese folk melodies to contemporary popular hits and original compositions at international jazz festivals. The versatility of the Tsugaru shamisen will be highlighted in a live performance by Oyama x Nitta, a duo formed by two of Japan’s leading Tsugaru shamisen performers.

Lecturer Information:
Yutaka Oyama, from Aomori Prefecture, is a third-generation Tsugaru shamisen player of the Oyama school, who started studying the shamisen at a very early age. He won the National Folkloric Music Association’s Tsugaru Shamisen Contest for two consecutive years (2001, 2002). In addition to live performances all over the world, he is also active in recordings, TV appearances, and commercials. In 2003, he founded Soothe, a musical ensemble based around his Tsugaru shamisen that has performed live, and has released three albums to date: Soothing (2004), Habitual (2006), and Bolinho De Arroz (2009).

Masahiro Nitta, from Hokkaido, is a second-generation Tsugaru shamisen player of the Nitta school. Since 1998, he has won several national Tsugaru shamisen contests. He has released more than five albums since the turn of the century, and has performed extensively in Japan and internationally. He is also active in the film industry, both as a musician and as an actor. Along with performing in Oyama x Nitta, he has formed a band with Minneapolis-based American guitarist Dean Magraw, and also performs as a member of the California-based Monsters of Shamisen.
 

October 14th, 2010

6:00 PM
"Learning Kanji: Perceptions and Strategies"
Lecture by Yoshiko Mori, Georgetown University
Venue: Room 301 Philosophy Hall, Columbia University
Lecture Information:
Japanese language learners often consider kanji (i.e., Chinese characters borrowed into Japanese) one of the most challenging parts of the learning process. Challenges in kanji learning include difficulty in retention, multiple readings of a single character, visual similarity, the polysemic nature of kanji words, the large number of characters to learn, and visual complexity.

In her presentation, Prof. Mori will examine Japanese language students’ beliefs about kanji and kanji learning, and their relationship to the ability to learn novel kanji words. A questionnaire survey identified six attitudes toward kanji represented by the following beliefs: (a) kanji is fun; (b) kanji is difficult; (c) kanji has cultural value; (d) kanji has a future; (e) kanji is useful; and (f) kanji learning requires special abilities. It also identified the following six kanji learning strategies: (a) morphological analysis; (b) rote memorization; (c) context-based strategies; (d) associational strategies; (e) metacognitive strategies (i.e., strategies used to increase awareness of one's own learning); and (f) helplessness.

Further analysis indicated that students considered rote memorization most effective and metacognitive strategies least effective. An examination of the relationship between learner perceptions and learners’ performance on tests, however, revealed that belief in the effectiveness of metacognitive strategies accounted for 14-16% of the variance of success in compositional analysis. Based on these research findings, Prof. Mori will argue that (a) Japanese language students should reflect upon their own kanji learning from various perspectives, (b) students' task-specific beliefs have a significant impact on their achievement in a given task, and that (c) metacognitive awareness plays an important role in dealing with learning challenges.

This lecture is offered as the Sixth Shirato Lecture on Japanese Language.

Lecturer Information:
Yoshiko Mori is Associate Professor and Director of the Japanese Language Program in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Georgetown University. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She specializes in second-language learning and instruction from a psycholinguistics perspective. Her research interests include second-language kanji learning and instruction, the role of metacognitive awareness in vocabulary learning, student perceptions, individual differences in language learning, and heritage language learning. Her work has been published in Reading Research Quarterly, Language Learning, Modern Language Journal, Applied Psycholinguistics, and Foreign Language Annals. At Georgetown, Dr. Mori teaches advanced Japanese reading, Japanese linguistics, and the acquisition of Japanese as a second language. She has also taught courses in second language acquisition and teaching methodology in the Japanese Pedagogy MA program at Columbia University.
 

October 18th, 2010 (Monday) 6:00 PM

6:00 PM
“Marchands, Merciers, and Magots: The Japanese Lacquer Collection of Madame de Pompadour”
Lecture by Monika Bincsik, Ritsumeikan University
Venue: Room 403 Kent Hall, Columbia University
Lecture Information:
The eighteenth-century lacquer market in Paris was governed by the need for large-size Chinese panels, but also the smaller, delicately executed Japanese lacquer objects were highly valued. The utmost luxury was the combination of the rare Japanese “antique” lacquer and their setting into gilded bronze mounts. Many of the chinoiserie cabinets in France were executed for women which suggest an image associated with China and Japan at that time: secluded, but elegant, luxurious feminity. Similar notions were applied to collecting Japanese lacquer: a pastime or a kind of parlour game, the field of the ‘amateurs’. The prices at the art market around the mid-eighteenth century were set or at least greatly influenced by the royal family, Madame de Pompadour and the financiers (fermiers généraux), like Randon de Boisset, friend of the painter François Boucher and owner of a significant lacquer collection. The financiers were buying art as investment – knowing the vulnerability of the property values. As a result of the weakness of the contemporary economy structure, money that couldn’t be invested safely found its way to the sale rooms and art dealers.

Madame de Pompadour purchased most of her Japanese lacquers from Lazare Duvaux. The Marquise from 1746 to 1762 bought, built and leased a total of fifteen properties, the decoration of these required numerous art objects. Her personal tastes were reflected in the interior concepts, she preferred the small-sized, intimate rooms when status and political representation required the monumental. Between May 1750 and June 1758 she acquired about sixty Japanese lacquer objects from Duvaux, including panels re-used to decorate furniture as well as lacquer boxes of different sizes and small maki-e (sprinkled picture) decorated boxes mounted as snuffboxes. Some of the highest quality Japanese maki-e objects to ever reach Europe were in the collection of the Marquise.

Lecturer Information:
Dr. Monika Bincsik, a specialist in Japanese lacquer and the history of its reception in Europe and the United States, has served as the Curator of Japanese Art at the Ferenc Hopp Museum of Eastern Asiatic Arts, Budapest, and is currently a Research Assistant at the Art Research Center of the Ritsumeikan University.
 

October 28th, 2010

6:00 PM
"Are We Rich or Poor? Economic Culture in the Early Tokugawa Period"
Lecture by Mary Elizabeth Berry, University of California, Berkeley
Venue: Room 403 Kent Hall, Columbia University
Lecture Information:
The talk uses three quotations as departure points for exploring the free-wheeling economic climate of early Edo. "Freedom of trade is necessary for the people" (Kyoto city statute, 1622). "The remarkable foods of our country number in the thousands of ten thousands" (popular cookbook, 1643). "By working diligently, you will store up ample grain and gold and thus establish your house. No official will lawlessly take away the surplus" (shogunal statute, 1649).

Lecturer Information:
Mary Elizabeth Berry is the author of Hideyoshi, The Culture of Civil War in Kyoto, and Japan in Print: Information and Nation in the Early Modern Period.
 

November 11th, 2010

6:00 PM
"Rōdoku Workshop"
Workshop by Michiko Shirasaka, Vocal Artist
Venue: Room 403 Kent Hall, Columbia University
Lecture Information:
This event takes the form of an interactive performance workshop, led by Michiko Shirasaka, one of Japan’s best-known contemporary “readers” of Japanese literature and oral story-telling practitioners.

Organized by Fumiko Nazikian, director of Columbia’s Japanese language program, the workshop is designed to provide students of the Japanese language not only with a brief history of rōdoku, but also with an opportunity to present their own recitations in the rōdoku mode. Ms. Shirasaka will offer feedback and commentary to the student participants, and will also demonstrate her own vocal style.

The materials on which the reading performances will be based include both classical and modern Japanese literary works of renown.

Lecturer Information:
Born in Hokkaido, Ms. Shirasaka commenced her career as a narrator and voice actor by joining the NHK Broadcasting Drama Company in 1956. She has since performed in numerous radio dramas and TV programs in Japan. After leaving the Drama Company in 1999, Ms. Shirasaka began teaching Japanese book reading, or rōdoku, at NHK’s cultural classes. She established a reading group called Katari Kōbō with Ms. Ayako Fukuzawa, who was one of her students at the reading class. They hold reading workshops as well as reading performances of classic literature throughout Japan with the aim of promoting an appreciation of the Japanese language. She has recorded many rōdoku CDs, including readings of the classical tale Taketori Monogatari (The Bamboo Cutter), Shūhei Fujisawa’s period pieces, and Kuniko Mukōda’s novels.

 

November 11th, 2010

6:30 PM
"From Sword to Kiln: The Transformation of a Kyoto Family"
Lecture by Takahiro Kondo, Ceramic Artist
Venue: Room 612 Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University
Lecture Information:
The renowned contemporary potter Takahiro Kondō will recount the transformation of his family from hereditary samurai of the Edo period to acclaimed potters in the modern age. In addition, Kondō will speak about his own work, which is noted for its innovative techniques and bold geometrical designs, as well as the artistic legacy of his grandfather, Yūzō Kondō, a Living National Treasure who specialized in traditional cobalt blue–underglazed wares.

Lecturer Information:
Despite growing up in the shadow of the kiln, Takahiro Kondō did not initially turn his hand to it, focusing instead on perfecting his technique at table tennis. As a result, he started his formal training in ceramics in his twenties, unusually late for Japan, after having completed a degree in literature from Hosei University. He has progressed through an initial period of making blue and white porcelain (sometsuke) in the tradition of his family, before branching out into a very different use of porcelain, mainly slab-built rather than thrown. Later he came to incorporate metal and glass into his work, and continues to experiment with other media. He is best known for the precious metal overglaze “silver mist” which he has used with great success to represent different states of water. Kondo was very strongly influenced by his uncle Yutaka in deciding to turn to ceramics and art as his life’s work, and like his uncle, has taken advantage of opportunities to work and live abroad, earning a Master’s degree from the Edinburgh College of Art in 2003, and also exhibiting and traveling abroad regularly. His work is represented in many public and private collections in Japan, the US, the UK, and Australia.

 

November 16th, 2010

12:00 PM
"Making '1968' in Japan: The Political Alchemy of Violence"
William Marotti, Associate Professor of Japanese History, UCLA
Venue: 918 International Affairs Building, Columbia University
*Co-sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute
Lecture Information:
1968 became an iconic year as protestors took to the streets in country after country. But what brought about this mass politicization and participation? Through a microhistorical analysis, Prof. Marotti examines the process as it unfolded in Japan between late 1967 and early 1968, bringing into vivid relief the specificities of local engagement in a global moment.

Press coverage of violent protest incidents, argues Prof. Marotti, provided a medium and occasion for transforming public perceptions of the legitimacy of state force and of political protest itself. Attracted initially by the commercial potential of small, spectacular protestor-police confrontations, coverage slowly came to recognize purpose, reason, and humanity on the side of the opposition. Caught up in police attacks, citizen onlookers, as well as photographers and journalists, became surrogates for imagining a citizenry under direct assault.

Even as protesters underwent a transformation from “animals” to “victims” and even “heroes” in the imagery surrounding such confrontations, Prof. Marotti recounts, the state’s response came to be recognized itself as (illegitimate) violence (bôryoku). In turn, protest itself acquired value as legitimate political activity, indeed, as a voice for a range of concerns from a broadening constituency. In the wake of this transformation, a diminution of state force coupled with an expansion of political subjectivation to enable the explosion of oppositional activity characterizing Japan in 1968.

Lecturer Information:
William Marotti is Associate Professor of modern Japanese history at the University of California, Los Angeles. His forthcoming book, Money, Trains, and Guillotines: Art and Revolution in 1960s Japan (Duke University Press), examines the politics of culture and everyday life in Japan during the 1960s.

 

December 2nd, 2010

6:00 PM
"Literary Genres in Flux: The Meiji State and the Politics of Novelistic Imagination"
Lecture by Satoru Saito, Rutgers University
Venue: Room 403 Kent Hall, Columbia University
Lecture Information:
During the late 1880s and the early 1890s, Meiji Japan witnessed a series of major political changes headlined by the promulgation of the constitution, opening of the Diet, and the issuance of the Rescript on Education. Befitting such a political environment, the literary landscape of the period was in flux, as writers and intellectuals struggled to find suitable ways to provide imaginary support to their readers in navigating this turbulent period of transition. This talk examines some of these literary struggles — the detective stories, science fictions, and political novels of Kuroiwa Ruikō, Morita Shiken, Yano Ryūkei, and Hara Hōitsuan — against the backdrop of the conceptual understanding of the novel as articulated and promoted by Tsubouchi Shōyō and Futabatei Shimei, among others. In so doing, it considers how different literary genres competed against but also acted synergistically with one another and how they fed off other media forms such as newspaper editorials to negotiate for Japanese subjects the intrinsic contradictions underlying the formation of the Meiji state.

Lecturer Information:
Satoru Saito is an assistant professor of Japanese in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at Rutgers University, where he teaches modern Japanese literature, film, and popular culture. His manuscript “Detective Fiction and the Rise of the Japanese Novel” explores the constitutive role that the detective and his story played in the literary formations of modern Japan. A shorter version of the manuscript’s first chapter appeared earlier this year under the title “The Novel’s Other: Detective Fiction and the Literary Project of Tsubouchi Shōyō” in The Journal of Japanese Studies.
 

December 2nd, 2010

6:30 PM
“Zen and the Environment: It’s Not What You Think”
Lecture by Wendi L. Adamek
Venue: Faculty House, Columbia University
*Sponsored by the Columbia University Buddhist Studies Seminar with additional support from the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture and the Columbia Center for Japanese Religion
Lecture Information:
Zen is a hospitable environment for images of emptiness and all-inclusiveness, presenting the realized person as someone who is “at home everywhere. ”A verse from the famous “Ten Oxherding Pictures” says: “Inside his hut, he does not see any object, nothing, outside: rivers flow onward by themselves, and blossoms turn crimson like that.”

Well, does the river flow onward by itself if someone has taken away all the water? In this talk we’ll look at relationships with the non-human world as presented in the “Ten Oxherding Pictures” and the “Fox Koan.” Then we’ll ask: how does the Zen practice of self-forgetting/self-presenting work in the wilderness of our current cultural-natural challenges?

Lecturer Information:
Wendi L. Adamek is a scholar of Chinese religions and environmental issues. Her award-winning first book, The Mystique of Transmission, centered on an 8th century Chan/Zen group in Sichuan. She is currently working on watershed restoration on Maui, while finishing a book on a community of 7th century Buddhists and their relationships with their environment.

 

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