Book Announcement: An Anthropology of the Machine

An Anthropology of the Machine: Tokyo’s Commuter Train Network
Michael Fisch
University of Chicago Press, 2018.

From University of Chicago Press:

“With its infamously packed cars and disciplined commuters, Tokyo’s commuter train network is one of the most complex technical infrastructures on Earth. In An Anthropology of the Machine, Michael Fisch provides a nuanced perspective on how Tokyo’s commuter train network embodies the lived realities of technology in our modern world. Drawing on his fine-grained knowledge of transportation, work, and everyday life in Tokyo, Fisch shows how fitting into a system that operates on the extreme edge of sustainability can take a physical and emotional toll on a community while also creating a collective way of life—one with unique limitations and possibilities.

An Anthropology of the Machine is a creative ethnographic study of the culture, history, and experience of commuting in Tokyo. At the same time, it is a theoretically ambitious attempt to think through our very relationship with technology and our possible ecological futures. Fisch provides an unblinking glimpse into what it might be like to inhabit a future in which more and more of our infrastructure—and the planet itself—will have to operate beyond capacity to accommodate our ever-growing population.”

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Job Opening: Assistant Professor in Japanese history, Yale University

The Yale University Department of History intends to appoint a tenure-track assistant professor specializing in the history of the Japanese colonial empire, to begin on July 1, 2019. The successful candidate will be expected to teach courses on the history of the Japanese empire and its legacies, and should be capable of conducting research in both Japanese and one other relevant language (such as Chinese or Korean). We encourage applications from historians of any country or region affected by Japanese imperial expansion, as well as those who consider connections across and within the empire. The ability and willingness to teach classes on the mid-20th century Asia-Pacific wars is highly desirable.


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Fun Link Friday: The view from the shogun’s (toilet) seat?

In case you needed a little more excitement on your visit to the bathrooms at Kyoto station, The Asahi Shimbun reported that through August 16, the subway station paneled the inside of two of their stalls (one in the men’s room, one in the women’s room) with a photographic view of what it would have been like to be sitting in the place of Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837-1913), the last shogun of the Edo period. Reproducing the famous scene of the shogun returning power to the emperor at Ninomaru Palace, I suppose even if one isn’t a history buff, it might still be fun to be surrounded by vassals and gold screens while contemplating life on the can. I wonder what scenes might be next?

Visit the original article for some better photos of the stalls!

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Resource: Late Hokusai: Thought, Technique, Society

Those who are interested in art history or just a fan of early modern painting and prints can explore Late Hokusai: Thought, Technique, Society, an online bilingual research project centered on situating the artist Hokusai (1780-1849) in his social and historical contexts through his work. According to the site, the project takes the Roger Keyes collection of Hokusai’s prints held at the British Museum as its launching point, aiming understand

first, how Hokusai’s art was animated by his thought and faith; second, how Hokusai’s mature style synthesized and redefined the diverse artistic vocabularies he had mastered earlier in his career, and how we can combine stylistic and seal analysis to help identify Hokusai’s genuine oeuvre; and finally, how Hokusai’s work was enabled by the networks that linked him to collaborators, pupils, patrons, and the public.

A large project team of scholars and specialists, including affiliates of the British Museum, School of Oriental and African Studies, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery have built this project to examine in-depth the various prints, drawings, and illustrated books that comprise Hokusai’s body of work.

The site is presently divided into three main sections under “Material,” including “Catalogue Raisonee,” “Bibliography, and “Illustrated Book.” The Catalogue section includes an extensive digital database formed from Catalogue Raisonné of the Single-Sheet Colour Woodblock Prints of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), a resource compiled by Roger Keyes and Peter Morse. While the original contains thousands of photographs and this database is only a text version, this digitized resource includes the multitude of notes and detailed information on each image, making it an invaluable resource. As the site states:

In addition to basic data, description and ascribed date of each print, Keyes lists and describes a sequence of numbered ‘states’, based on the relative degree of block damage observed in the outlines of the finished prints. Keyes also list and describes, where known, later ‘copies’ (facsimile reproductions), which started to be made in Japan from the 1880s, using recut blocks.

Those who wish to prepare for (or perhaps cannot visit) the actual collection will find this catalogue a useful guide to its content.

The Bibliography section contains a huge collection of written resources for researchers compiled into three different sections. The first contains an annotated bibliography (originally published in 1992) of writings on ukiyo-e that date back to 1886. To supplement this list, there is also a select bibliography that is more updated than 1992, stretching to the year 2016. These bibliographies are primarily English-language resources, but the final bibliography is a list of Hokusai-related articles from Ukiyo-e geijutsu (International Ukiyo-e Society, Tokyo, Japan) that traces Japanese scholarship from 1962 to 2015. Casual and serious researchers alike will find plenty of materials here to delve deeply into the study of Hokusai and Edo-period prints.

The final portion of the website is “Illustrated Book,” another database (regularly updated) that provides an online database of almost all of the illustrated books of Hokusai. The Hokusai Project website says the following of Hokusai’s books:

Hokusai designed illustrated books throughout his career, beginning in his teens and continuing until a few months before his death.  These books spanned several genres, from popular novels (kusazôshi and yomihon), through poetry collections (kyôka ehon), to teaching manuals for aspiring artists (edehon) – as well as perhaps his greatest achievement in print, One Hundred Views of Mt Fuji (Fugaku hyakkei).  Although not as well-known as his single-sheet prints, the majority of Hokusai’s work as a print designer went into his illustrated books, which are a testament to his extraordinary ability to bring the world to life on the page.

The database itself has multiple search options and returns digitized images of the books that are open-access for viewing and include Japanese transcriptions of the woodblocks’ text. There is an “English mode” for both the search interface and each individual object’s interface, so users will find it easy to navigate.

Interface for object viewing.

Whether a casual enthusiast or a research, there’s much to explore in the Late Hokusai project in both English and Japanese, so dive right in to the databases and get viewing!



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Job Opening: Postdoctoral/Post-MFA position in Asian Digital Film Production, Hamilton College

For details, see

The Asian Studies Program at Hamilton College invites applications for a two-year postdoctoral/post-MFA position in Digital Film Production, effective July 1, 2019. As part of the College-wide curricular emphasis on digital and experiential learning, the Program seeks a filmmaker with experience in narrative or documentary production in or on Asia. A successful candidate will teach three courses a year on topics related to digital filmmaking and use of digital technologies in humanities. Applicants should have completed Ph.D. or MFA by the time of appointment and possess a demonstrated commitment to excellence in creative production and teaching. Mastery of a relevant Asian language is expected. The successful candidate will be appointed to the Asian Studies Program with possible affiliation with another department or program. The annual salary is $50,000 with $5000 for research for the candidate with Ph.D. or MFA in hand. Application deadline is October 5, 2018.


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Funding Opportunity: Rotary Yoneyama Scholarship 2018


Type: Undergraduate and Graduate (international students at Japanese universities)

Application deadline: 15 December 2018 1:00P.M. Japan time for both April and fall (September/October) 2019 Enrollment.

Japanese Level: N4+

Rotary Yoneyama Scholarship for applicants residing abroad is for overseas students scheduled to enroll in a Japanese university / graduate school. All Rotary International District in Japan will open for 2019 enrollment.

Applicants are expected to have Japanese language proficiency: to understand basic Japanese: JLPT N4 level.

Applicants have to find out and apply for Japanese universities / graduate schools by themselves before applying for this scholarship. And those who enroll in undergraduates are requested to submit a copy of the application for admission for the university / graduated school. Those who enroll in graduate schools are requested to submit a recommendation letter from a supervisor / professor of the applicants’ targeted graduate school.

  • Announcement of Selection Results:
    Notification of selection results are made by email at the following times: Middle of February 2019.
    *If the applicant is rejected for admission to the issuing university / graduate school, they will lose eligibility for the scholarship at that point.
  • Scholarship:
    For April enrollment: Scholarship payment begins in April 2019
    For fall enrollment: Scholarship payment begins in October (or September) 2019
    (1)Undergraduates                    100,000 yen per month
    (2)Master’s students                  140,000 yen per month
    (3)Doctoral students                  140,000 yen per month
    *Research students are not eligible.
  • Supplemental for Airfare:
    A single one-way-airfare-to-Japan is reimbursed at orientation, after arrival in Japan. Successful applicants must submit documentation showing the one-way-airfare-to-Japan. Only the economy class fee is covered.

*This scholarship is not full-covered, so tuition and enroll fee can NOT be paid by us.
*The application guideline is judged based on the one written in Japanese.

For full details and to apply, visit the website.

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Funding: Japan Foundation Japanese Studies Fellowship for Doctoral Candidates


This program provides support to outstanding scholars in the field by offering the opportunity to conduct research in Japan.

4-12 months of dissertation research in Japan for students in the humanities and the social sciences. Applicants must be ABD by the beginning of the fellowship.

US citizens and permanent residents: apply through Japan Foundation New York Office, deadline November 1.

Non-US citizens currently residing in the US apply directly to Japan Foundation Headquarters in Tokyo, deadline December 1.

For more information see:

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