How does the rest of the world look at Japan? Scholars who are studying Japan overseas provide their insights into this country.
The Japan Foundation organizes the Japanese Studies Fellowships Program and gives preeminent foreign scholars in Japanese studies an opportunity to conduct research in Japan. One of the 2015 fellows, Mr. Andrew Campana, who has carried out his research "Poetry Across Media in 20th Century Japan" at Keio University has contributed an essay titled "Poetry? In Postwar Japan: Literary Experiments Beyond the Page."
I was born in the 1980s and grew up reading Japanese manga. The dream of many children in my generation was to become manga artists and draw the stories we created in our heads to our heart's content. At the time of the university entrance exams, however, I did not have the courage to apply to an art degree course, which seemed like the shortest route to realizing my dream of becoming a manga artist, and instead entered the School of Foreign Studies, Anhui Normal University. This decision would turn into a 10-year long detour.
The Japan Foundation invited a group of young intellectuals, with an interest in social issues in contemporary Japan, from Southeast Asian countries for its program. It aims to promote and deepen exchange between specialists, as well as build and strengthen network, in order to establish joint and cooperative initiatives in Asia toward tackling these issues. In FY 2015, under the theme of "Revitalization of Rural Areas and Creation of New Values," the program seeks to provide a comprehensive introduction to the issues confronting rural society in contemporary Japan, such as depopulation, rapid decline of population, and super-aging society, as well as the actual state of the country that has emerged as a result of these issues. It also provides an opportunity for learning about the initiatives taken by the Japanese central and local governments, civil society, and individuals to resolve these issues. Tans Szue Hann and Dang Thi Viet Phuong, two of the program participants, have written their impressions on the program and how they make use of the experience they gained from it for the future.
In his research work, Professor Wang Yong suggests the idea of a "Book Road" to describe the primarily intellectual exchange via books between Japan and China. He compares it with the "Silk Road," the famous network of ancient trade routes that extended across Central Asia, connecting the East with the West, and which derives its name from the trade in Chinese silk.
The Japan Foundation organizes the Japanese Studies Fellowships Program and gives preeminent foreign scholars in Japanese studies an opportunity to conduct research in Japan. One of the 2014 fellows, Ms. Alba G. Torrents, who has carried out her research "Technology, Body and Identity in the Imaginary of Anime" at Kyoto Seika for a year from October 2014, has contributed an essay titled "Anime as (Particularly Interesting) Thinking Devices."
This summer, a new animation featuring Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, as the main character, became a huge hit in China. The Chinese 3D animated film called Monkey King: Hero is Back was released on July 10 and in just over three weeks grossed some 800 million yuan (approximately 16 billion yen*), breaking the records for box office profits for an animated film in China. The movie is still showing in theatres, so ultimately it is projected to gross more than 1 billion yuan, generating huge media buzz. Critics claim that this single movie has restored the confidence of the Chinese animation industry, which had been in stagnation for quite some time.
The Japan Foundation invited historian Dr. Ramachandra Guha and co-organized his lecture with International House of Japan, as part of Japan-India Dialogue 2014: Distinguished Visitors Program. His lecture was entitled "Between Nationalism and Internationalism: The Political Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore" and held on March 18, 2015.
The Japan Foundation awards the Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship to organizations that endeavor to strengthen networks and collaboration among citizens both inside and outside Japan, and mutually share knowledge, ideas, and expertise through intercultural exchange. In 2014, on the 30th year of the prizes, the Prizes for Global Citizenship were awarded to three organizations: Plus Arts ; AmerAsian School in Okinawa ; and the Nara International Film Festival Organizing Committee. Plus Arts has raised disaster awareness around the world from Japan by developing disaster education programs which incorporate attractive designs and fun games to make them accessible to everyone. Plus Arts was recognized as a model program for deepening networks and mutual understanding among citizens inside and outside Japan based on the common global theme of disaster risk reduction.
In Kochi Prefecture's cuisine, regional identity is a major player in molding what people from a region choose to eat and by consequence chooses to use as a proxy to represent their regional culture.
Every year since 1996, the Japan Foundation and the International House of Japan jointly set up the Asia Leadership Fellow Program (ALFP). The ALFP seeks to create a close, personal and professional network of public intellectuals in Asia, deeply rooted in and committed to civil society beyond their own cultural, disciplinary and geopolitical backgrounds. One of the seven ALFP 2014 fellows, Mr. Wonjae Lee (Korea) talks about his two months of ALFP in Japan, such as his views on Japan or the Japanese through ALFP, interactions with other fellows and his expectations towards this program and the younger generation.