Relay Essay

How does the rest of the world look at Japan? Scholars who are studying Japan overseas provide their insights into this country.


Japanese Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Sandra Phillips has been contributing to collect/exhibit Japanese photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art ever since she joined the museum's department of photography as a curator in 1987. Phillips has also helped disseminate Japanese photography in the world history of photography through her publications and lectures. In recognition of her achievements, she received the Photographic Society of Japan's International Award in 2018. We have received this contribution from Phillips that summarizes her commemorative lecture delivered in May 2018 at the Japan Foundation Headquarters (Tokyo). She was a recipient of the Japan Foundation's Artist Fellowship Program in 2000.


Speaking of Soseki 100 Years after his Death - Participating in the Natsume Soseki International Symposium

The Japan Foundation co-hosted a symposium to commemorate the centennial of Natsume Soseki's death in collaboration with Ferris University, the Asahi Shimbun, and Iwanami Shoten from December 8 through 10, 2016. Reiko Abe Auestad, one of the speakers at the event, wrote about her impressions from the symposium and the talk she presented.


Singing the Twilight of Life - Karaoke Cafes and Singing Classes as Part of Elderly Life

The Japan Foundation invites academics and researchers in the area of Japanese studies to study in Japan. The guest contributor for this issue is Koon Fung (Benny) Tong, a 2016 Japanese Studies Fellow who researched "Negotiating Old Age through Music: Understanding the Japanese Popular Music Genre 'ENKA' as Aging Practice and Discourse" at the Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University as a fellow writing his doctoral thesis.

2016.11. 1

Poetry? In Postwar Japan: Literary Experiments Beyond the Page

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."


The New Generation of Manga Artists in China and Sekai Manga Juku

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.


Pondering "Revitalization of Rural Areas and Creation of New Values"

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.


The Style of East Asian Cultural Exchange: As Seen in the Book Road and Written Communication

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.


Anime as (Particularly Interesting) Thinking Devices

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."

2015.9. 1

The Return of a Chinese Anime Hero - Monkey King: Hero is Back - A new portrayal of the Monkey King in animation

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.


Between Nationalism and Internationalism: The Political Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore

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.

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