Book Announcement: Interpreting Japan: Approaches and Applications for the Classroom

Interpreting Japan: Approaches and Applications for the Classroom (Routledge)

By Brian J. McVeigh

Paperback: 978-0-415-73016-7; Hardback: 978-0-415-73014-3

Written by an experienced teacher and scholar, this book offers university students a handy “how to” guide for interpreting Japanese society and conducting their own research. Stressing the importance of an interdisciplinary approach, Brian McVeigh lays out practical and understandable research approaches in a systematic fashion to demonstrate how, with the right conceptual tools and enough bibliographical sources, Japanese society can be productively analyzed from a distance.

In concise chapters, these approaches are applied to a whole range of topics: from the aesthetics of street culture; the philosophical import of sci-fi anime; how the state distributes wealth; welfare policies; the impact of official policies on gender relations; updated spiritual traditions; why manners are so important; kinship structures; corporate culture; class; schooling; self-presentation; visual culture; to the subtleties of Japanese grammar. Examples from popular culture, daily life, and historical events are used to illustrate and highlight the color, dynamism, and diversity of Japanese society.

Designed for both beginning and more advanced students, this book is intended not just for Japanese studies but for cross-cultural comparison and to demonstrate how social scientists craft their scholarship.

Prologue: To Students and Instructors Part 1: Approaches and Analytics 1. Myths: Images and Realities of Japan 2. Rituals: Understanding Patterned Practices and Behaviors 3. Exchange: Analyzing the Flow and Transfer of Goods and Values 4. Macro–Micro Levels: Linking the Everyday with Political Economic Institutions 5. Symbols: Interpreting Images, Representations, and Meanings 6. Identity: How Collectivities Configure a Sense of Self 7. Popular Culture: Arts, Entertainment, and Leisure as Interpretative Windows 8. Ownership: The Relationship Among Property, Politics, and Personhood 9. Embodiment: The Senses, Aesthetics, and Knowledge Formation 10. Theatrics: Social Life as Dramatization Part 2: Applications, Examples, and Illustrations 11. Schooling as an Exchange with the National State 12. The Rhythms and Organizations of Schooling 13. Social Mobility and Class in Japan 14. Japan’s Corporate Culture and Economic Liberty 15. Political Liberation: Examples from History and Art 16. Liberalist Ideologies and their Practice in Japan 17. Searching for “Authentic” Japanese Identity: Portrayals in Popular Art 18. Delineating the “Mainstream” Identity of the Japanese 19. The Symbolism of Spatial Experience 20. Making Sense of Sound: Japanese Auditory Symbolism 21. Conceptual Basics of the Japanese Language 22. How Japanese Encodes Time as Spatial Relations 23. How Political Economics Shapes Politeness 24. Manners and Morals in Everyday Life 25. Gender Relations in Popular Art: Commentary and Critical Appraisals 26. Cuteness: Daily Aesthetics as Resistance to Social Order 27. Changing Patterns and Perceptions of the Japanese Family 28. Japanese Spirituality: Purification and Festivals 29. The Vitalism of Japan’s New Religions 30. Technology, Time, and the Culture of the Copy 31. The Magic of Technology: Fears and Fantasies in Japanese Science Fiction 32. Royal Weddings: The Self-presentation of the State Epilogue: Lessons from Japan: The “Staginess” of Postmodern Social Life

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Fun Link Friday: Travel Posters for Japanese Steamship Companies

If you liked our post on JR ads of the 1930s, you may enjoy this collection of steamship posters from the 1910s. These are scanned from the book Miwaku no Funatabi, published by the Museum of Maritime Science, 1993.

I love the hybrid fashions in the posters, too!

Check them out at Edwardian Promenade and Pink Tentacle.



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Job Opening: Academic Program Coordinator, University of Pittsburgh

job opening - 5Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posted: 10/09/2014
Application Due: Open Until Filled
Type: Full Time
Education: BA required, MA preferred

The Academic Program Coordinator will develop and lead student/faculty-focused and community-based academic activities and events for the Asian Studies Center (ASC). Duties include coordination and support for Asian studies events, visitors, and lecture series. Coordinator will be responsible for designing, producing and updating website materials, newsletters, weekly announcements, other ASC communications materials, and supervision of staff and/or interns. Activities include assessment of ASC academic activities, program building, educational outreach and pedagogical support activities (such as the Japanese speech contest, pedagogy workshops, joint faculty development workshops for K-16, Model UN, community college outreach, and mini-courses). Incumbent will assist with student recruitment and grant writing.

The position requires strong interpersonal and networking skills, proposal development skills, excellent written and oral skills, outstanding organizational skills, attention to detail, website design skills, and experience in higher education and Asian studies. Bachelor’s degree in relevant field required; expertise in Asian language and area studies preferred; Master’s preferred.

Academic background in a relevant discipline or with international emphasis is a major asset. Expertise in an Asian Language. Computer and software literacy a must. Database and Web experience desirable. Ability to work independently, yet collaboratively and in a team a must. Public speaking skills required.

Full details on

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Job Opening: Curator of Gallery Education (PT), Japan Society (NYC)

job opening - 5Japan Society in New York has just posted an opening for a part-time Curator of Gallery Education. This is to my knowledge a new position, which will be working alongside the three full-time Gallery staff, and four Education department staff.

The formal job description as posted on the Japan Art History Forum (JAHF) is as follows:

The Curator of Gallery Education is a diverse, challenging position that will appeal to those who have a passion for museums, art interpretation, and public education. This role’s key objective is to research and develop interpretative materials and related programs for small and major exhibitions and art displays, working closely with curators and colleagues in the Gallery Department and using a wide variety of approaches and techniques. Liaising with other programming departments at Japan Society is important as are building relationships with external partners and key stakeholders.

Essential duties and responsibilities include:

*Work collegially with exhibition curators to explore exhibition and gallery narratives and ensure content is intellectually accessible for a broad audience
*Research, create, and manage exciting and innovative related education and public programs for exhibitions by championing audience needs
*Manage the process of script/text writing for materials necessary for education and public programs and editing in liaison with exhibition curators and program participants, including development of original copy, if required, checking with relevant members of the exhibition team and the Society’s general editor
*Work in tandem with the Officer of Gallery Operations to ensure that image rights and copyright restrictions are adhered to in interpretative materials for programming
*Manage docents, including exhibition-specific training sessions, scheduling docents for daily public tours, processing and scheduling all public tour requests
*Throughout exhibition periods, continually monitor and ensure gallery interpretation meets audience needs
*Handle registrations, confirmations, payments and refunds


*An undergraduate degree in related subject (e.g. art education, art history, art management), and a relevant postgraduate work or equivalent exhibition interpretation experience
*Experience in organizing education and/or public programs
*Demonstrable understanding of the principles and methodology involved in delivering interpretation for a wide range of audiences in museum or art gallery contexts
*Excellent written and oral presentation skills
*Proficient in Window’s office suite and online research
*Excellent interpersonal and communication skills with ability to work within a team and across departments
*Evidence of creativity, imagination, and curiosity
*Good understanding of best practices in museum exhibitions as well as education and public program organization
*Extremely detailed-oriented, with ability to meet tight deadlines
*Japanese language skill and interest in Japanese arts and culture a plus


This is a part-time position with a regular weekday schedule of approximately 20 hours per week. On occasion, the Curator will be expected to adjust scheduled hours to work in the evenings or weekends for Gallery events.

To Apply: Email your letter of interest and resume to the Director of Human Resources, at –

Other open positions at Japan Society can be found at: Japan Society – Career Opportunities

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Job Opening: East Asian History, Lawrence University

job opening - 5Institution:       Lawrence University, History
Location:          Wisconsin, United States
Position:          Assistant Professor, East Asian History

The Department of History at Lawrence University invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track assistant professor position in East Asian history to begin in the fall of 2015. Period and nation of research specialization open, but preference will be given to candidates whose research and teaching focuses on China.  Candidates must be prepared to teach lower and upper division undergraduate courses, including a survey of world history, and will regularly contribute to our Freshman Studies program (see website below). The teaching load is two courses in each of three ten-week terms.

Interested applicants should apply online and submit a letter of application, a curriculum vitae, and a statement of teaching philosophy at Applicants should also have three letters of reference sent to Review of applications to begin immediately; for full consideration, all materials should be submitted by December 1. The department intends to conduct preliminary interviews via Skype in the second week of January; questions may be addressed to Prof. Peter Blitstein, Chair of the Department,

Lawrence University, located in Appleton, Wisconsin, is a highly selective undergraduate liberal arts college and conservatory of music, known for the quality of both its classroom and tutorial education, research opportunities for undergraduates, and faculty of teacher/scholars and teacher/artists. Founded in 1847, Lawrence is a community of 1,500 intellectually curious students that bring a diversity of experience and thought from nearly every state and 50 countries outside the U.S.

Lawrence is committed to enhancing the diversity of its faculty and the diversity of viewpoints and approaches that the faculty represents.  Candidates are encouraged to read more about Lawrence at and to address in their letters of application the ways in which they could contribute to Lawrence’s institutional mission and goals.  This website also includes informational resources about the University and the surrounding community.

Freshman Studies:

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Job Opening: East Asian History, University of New Mexico

job opening - 5Institution:       University of New Mexico – Albuquerque, History
Location:          New Mexico, United States
Position:          Assistant Professor in the History of East Asia

THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO seeks applications for an Assistant Professorship in the History of East Asia in any time period, with an anticipated start date of August 2015. The position is probationary leading to a tenure decision. The University of New Mexico, located in Albuquerque, is a major public research university with a highly diverse student population. The History Department is a unit within the College of Arts and Sciences and has close associations with the inter-departmental Asian Studies Program (major and minor undergraduate degrees) that is administratively housed in UNM’s International Studies Institute.

Minimum qualification: (1) PhD in History with an East Asian specialization or, if ABD, with expected completion by August 2015;

Preferred qualifications: (1) a record of publication, or demonstrated potential to publish, within the field of expertise; (2) teaching experience at the university or college level; (3) ability to teach upper-division courses on China and Japan; (4) ability to teach a two-semester undergraduate survey on ancient through modern East Asia as serves the department’s needs; (5) ability to offer graduate seminars that enhance the department’s thematic PhD concentrations (available on website); (6) ability to mentor undergraduates and graduate students at the MA and PhD levels.

To apply: Applications must include: (1) a signed letter of application describing the candidate’s qualifications for the position and proposed research agenda, with the names of three references and their contact information; (2) a copy of the applicant’s curriculum vitae; (3) an article length writing sample of scholarly work; (4) a list of courses that the candidate has taught or is prepared to teach. (5) Official Transcripts.

Candidates are requested to include an e-mail address at which they can be contacted and to post the candidate name at the top of each page submitted. The above materials must be submitted electronically at, and reference posting number 0825824. In addition, please request that three letters of reference be sent either to the department’s postal or e-mail address. Signed e-mail letters of reference may be sent with subject line “Letter of Reference”. All application materials must be received by November 1, 2014.

The University of New Mexico is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and Educator.  A demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and student success, as well as working with broadly diverse communities


Candidates are requested to include an e-mail address at which they can be contacted and to post the candidate name at the top of each page submitted. The above materials must be submitted electronically at, and reference posting number 0825824. In addition, please request that three letters of reference be sent either to the department’s postal or e-mail address. Signed e-mail letters of reference may be sent to with subject line “Letter of Reference”.



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