Fellowship: DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion Graphic Culture Research Grant

DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion invites researchers to apply to the 2016 Graphic Culture Research Grant Program beginning May 1st. The grants are awarded to support research related to graphic design and graphic arts from diverse disciplines, regardless of humanities or science. The overriding aim is for such research to contribute to the development of graphic design and graphic art culture in Japan and around the world.

Target Research Fields:
Category A: Research on graphic design or graphic art in general

Academic research on topics such as posters, book design, web design, prints and other formats of communication, print reproduction, representation theory, technology, knowledge or history. A sampling of acceptable research fields includes art or design history, aesthetics, study of specific arts, visual communication theory, museum studies, archiving, comparative culture, technique, technology, image engineering, preservation and conservation science, materials science and engineering, and art education.

Category B: Research relating to graphic designer Ikko Tanaka (1930-2002)

Research on topics such as Ikko Tanaka’s design activities, considerations of his times, and the social significance of his works. Research is to be carried out using the DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion’s “Ikko Tanaka Archives,” which include not only his works (posters, prints, books, original drawings, etc.) but also related materials such as photographs, collected books and documents.

Eligibility: Research scholars must be affiliated with a university, art museum, etc., and must either currently be enrolled in or have previously completed a graduate program at the Masters Degree level or higher. Alternately, individuals who have completed an equivalent portfolio of research to date are also eligible, subject to recommendation for the grant by a university professor or chief museum curator.

Grant amount: Award amounts vary according to the content of the intended research, with an upper limit of 500,000 JPY per year. Grant awards to fund a given research project will be renewable once at the most. Plans to apply for continuation grants should be indicated when submitting the initial application.

Grant period:
(1) The initial grant period is from November 2016 to March 31, 2018.
(2) The period for a continuing grant is from November 2016 to March 31, 2019.

Application method: The application forms can be downloaded from the grant website. Completed applications should be returned by post to the Foundation’s address, clearly marked as containing a “Grant Application.” Applications are not accepted by e-mail or fax.

Application period: May 1 to July 10, 2016 (last acceptable arrival date)

Results announcement: October, 2016 (subject to change)

For further information, and the application forms, see: http://www.dnp.co.jp/foundation_e/grants/

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Book Announcement: ABC Dictionary of Ancient Japanese Phonograms

phonoUniversity of Hawai’i Press has just published John R. Bentley’s ABC Dictionary of Ancient Japanese Phonograms, the first comprehensive dictionary of man’yōgana. It is the ninth entry in the ABC Chinese Dictionary Series edited by Victor Mair. The 600-page volume is an indispensable aid to anyone working with Old Japanese documents. Citations are given from 22 works or collections, including well-known texts such as KojikiNihongi, Man’yōshū and Shoku Nihongi, as well as lesser-known sources such as Paekche stratum materials.

Each entry cites a variety of pronunciations from, among others, Early Middle and Late Middle Chinese, Go-on, Kan-on, and Sino-Vietnamese. Each entry also includes a brief commentary, then examples of usage in specific texts in Romanization as well as translation. The dictionary uses a Romanization system developed by Frellesvig and Whitman and also includes a pinyin index. An immensely helpful 30-page appendix lists each phonogram alphabetically and indicates the source material for each from twelve of the main texts.

It is hard to overstate the importance of this work. Along with Alexander Vovin’s grammars of Old Japanese and ongoing translation of the Man’yōshū, this is an absolutely critical resource for anyone working with ancient Japanese texts.


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Fun Link Friday: Japan’s Invisible Trains

As always, Japan leads the way in its railway technology and inventive designs. It was recently announced that the Seibu Railway company intends to build a train with an ultra-reflective design that will be (almost) invisible to onlookers. Science Alert reported:

Designed by architect Kazuyo Sejima from the Japanese firm Sanaa, who recently received a Pritzker Prize – the Nobel Prize of architecture – the train won’t be completely invisible (obviously), but super-reflective. Basically, it blends into its surroundings by reflecting them off its pristine mirrored surfaces.

What makes this project a bit more promising than some of the ambitious things architects have been coming up with recently is the fact that the design can be applied to existing trains.

Seibu Railway Co. has given Sejima permission to redesign the exterior and interior of its Red Arrow express commuter train, to commemorate its 100th anniversary.

Sounds pretty amazing to me! Check out the video below and the original article here for more details. Happy friday!

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Resource: Ryukyu Language Dictionaries

The Ryukyu-go onsei database 琉球語音声データベース, produced by the Okinawa Center of Language Study at the University of the Ryukyus, is easily one of the better online Japanese-Ryukyuan language dictionaries.

The site contains not only listings for the Shuri-Naha dialect – the main, central Okinawan dialect to which the term Uchinaa-guchi usually refers – but also for the Nakijin (northern Okinawa, Yanbaru) language, and has a sister site for dictionaries of the Amami and Miyako languages.1

The interface is quite simple: enter a standard Japanese word in kanji or hiragana, or a Ryukyuan term in katakana, and it will list a series of possibilities, and related terms. Click through, and it gives you the equivalent Ryukyuan or Japanese term.

This can be extremely helpful, as the vast majority of sites and books give only a Japanese (or Japanized) reading for Ryukyuan places, names, and terms. You could (and I have) look through numerous articles, books, and encyclopedia entries on textile arts & the history of trade and tribute, and find the lavish textiles of the Miyako Islands rendered only as Miyako jôfu (宮古上布), with no indication of the Okinawan term for this product. Is it myaaku uwa nunu (みゃーくうわぬぬ)? Or myaaku juufuu (みゃーくじゅーふー)? Alternatively, many sources will give a Ryukyuan term, without giving the corresponding Japanese term. For example, I have seen numerous sources use the terms udun and dunchi to refer to Ryukyuan elite residences (or their occupants), without any explanation that these would be rendered in kanji as 御殿 (J: goten, “palace”) and 殿内 (lit. “inside the palace”), respectively. Having such a dictionary can thus help greatly to clarify or illuminate the meanings of Ryukyuan terms.

That said, unfortunately, this online dictionary has some flaws. Firstly, its coverage is sadly rather hit-or-miss. For example, taking the term Miyako jôfu which I mentioned above, entering 「宮古上布」 into the dictionary yields no results, and entering either 「宮古」 (a pretty major island chain within the Ryukyus) or 「上布」 yields only results from the Nakijin language, and none from “standard” Okinawan (Shuri-Naha dialect). The dictionary also, for the most part, contains largely only comparatively regular, everyday, words, and not historical terms. Depending on what you’re using it for, then, the dictionary can, of course, be extremely useful, but for me personally, trying to figure out the “authentic” Okinawan terms for specific governmental posts, for example, rather than their Japanized equivalents, this dictionary was less than ideal. If you’re trying to figure out that the Dance Magistrate (躍奉行, J: odori bugyô) – a more significant office than you might think – would have been called udui bujô in Okinawan, this dictionary is not going to help you (and neither will the Okinawa Compact Encyclopedia).

I have also found the dictionary often has trouble with single characters – if you’re trying to search for how to say 鳥、船、馬、or 日 in Okinawan, you might find the search yields only error messages. Still, this is the best we have, and it’s still quite good for what it is.

In print form, the Okinawan-English Wordbook (U Hawaii Press, 2006) and the Okinawa-go jiten 沖縄語辞典 (Kenkyûsha, 2006) are probably two of the best. While there are a number of Okinawan language guides and textbooks (which I don’t know well enough to comment on), I believe that most if not all of the other dictionaries I have come across have been rather expensive affairs.

The Wordbook is written entirely in English & romaji (romanization), with no kanji at all.
This obviously has certain advantages, for Anglophone scholars, journalists, or others trying to investigate something about Okinawa without having more extensive Japanese language ability, and for those of Okinawan descent trying to learn their ancestral language (or just some phrases) without having to go through years of Japanese first. The ability to search in English, and to look up Okinawan terms and get a direct English meaning without having to go through a Japanese intermediary stage, is also quite helpful even for those of us with stronger Japanese ability.

The book begins with a brief section explaining Okinawan grammar, verb conjugations, pronunciation, and so forth. Though it’s short, this really provides the reader with all the basics – while formal lessons, textbooks with example sentences & fuller explanations, and the like would certainly be preferable, I imagine one could begin experimenting with forming simple sentences from this Wordbook alone.

The rest of the book consists chiefly of Okinawan->English dictionary listings, with an English->Okinawan index in the back. Where there is a directly related or equivalent Japanese term, this is also given in romaji. For example, a listing might look like this:

chura-kaagi, n. [kiyora+kage] Beauty.

This “wordbook” is a great resource, but it is unfortunately rather less extensive than a full dictionary. However, Profs. Stewart Curry & Leon Serafim are reportedly in the process of compiling a new edition which will help to rectify this.

The Okinawa-go jiten serves much the same purposes as the online dictionary, and has many of the same advantages. Because it uses kana and kanji (rather than romaji), it is very easy to see what the equivalent or directly related Japanese term is – and this can also help one to understand the nuance or meaning of a term. Sometimes, it even gives the directly equivalent kanji term, and then also a different explanation or translation in Japanese, where the nuances of meaning are actually different between the languages. For example, since Okinawan uses chimu (肝, J: kimo, E: liver) where Japanese would use kokoro (心, “heart”), one ends up with dictionary entries like: 「チムサワジ 【肝騒ぎ】胸騒ぎ、漠然たる不安、心配などで心が穏やかでないこと。」

Another nice feature of this dictionary is that it gives examples of compound phrases. Opening to ヌブイ (上り, J: nobori, E: “to go up”), for example, I find the entry offers: 「スイヌブイ(首里上り)、ヤマトゥヌブイ(大和上り、本土へ行くこと)」, showing how it’s used to mean “to go (up) to Shuri [the Ryukyuan royal capital],” and “to go (up) to Japan.”

This dictionary also has a section in front explaining grammar, pronunciation, verb conjugation and so forth, and a Japanese->Okinawan index to complement the Okinawan->Japanese core of the volume. There is also a brief section which gives the ryûka poems, and kumi udui theatre lines from which some of the words were plucked, thus providing a fuller context, along with Japanese translation of the full poem or line.

The Okinawa-go jiten has some of the same disadvantages, or problems, as the online dictionary, though, in that it includes mostly only “regular” words, and while there are many cultural terms included, there are also a great many which are absent. Miyako jôfu, one of the chief famous “local products” (meibutsu) of the prefecture, and historically a major tribute good sent by the Ryukyu Kingdom to China and Japan, doesn’t appear in this dictionary at all, for example, and neither does hachimachi (鉢巻, J: hachimaki), the court caps worn by aristocrats which, by their color, indicated the wearer’s rank.

For family names, personal names, and placenames, though, at least we have Shunzô Sakamaki’s Ryukyuan Names (Honolulu: East-West Center, 1964). The book doesn’t seem to be too easily accessible commercially (as I write this, Amazon is right now showing just two copies from third-party sellers, each for US$99.99), but for those with access to a university library, it shouldn’t be difficult to get your hands on a copy. Sakamaki lists thousands of names and placenames, along with variant forms – varying either within standard Okinawan, or because of varying degrees of Japanization. For example, the name Kinjô 金城 is a Japanization of the Okinawan name Kanagusuku or Kanagushiku, and can also be Japanized as Kaneshiro. A very useful resource, indeed, for trying to figure out the pronunciation (reading) of Okinawan names, or for trying to figure out the de-Japanized version.

Outside of fuller textbooks that walk you through lessons in learning the language, these are the main resources of which I am aware. If you know of any others that you would recommend, please let us know!

1) Though all of the Ryukyuan languages are often referred to as “dialects”, or hôgen 方言, they are to a considerable extent not mutually intelligible with one another, nor with Japanese, and are thus considered by most linguists to be distinct languages.

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Funding: Louis Frieberg Post-doctoral Fellowships

money [150-2]The Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies offers post-doctoral fellowships for the year 2016-2017. The post-docs are open to scholars in the humanities and social sciences specializing in East Asia, especially China, Japan, Korea and Mongolia.

Fellowships are granted for one academic year or one term with the possibility of extension for an additional year. The starting date of the visit should not be later than four years after receipt of the Doctoral Degree; the fellow must hold a valid Doctoral Degree no later than October 2016.

The fellowship consists of a monthly stipend (tax free) of $1,500, paid in Israeli NIS and linked to the “representative rate of exchange.” Fellows are entitled to one airline ticket (economy class, up to 1500$) for a direct flight from their home town to Israel and back. The fellows are expected to teach one semesterial course at the Hebrew University (for additional payment, according to the Hebrew University regulations). The ability to teach a course in Hebrew is welcome, but is not a prerequisite for attaining the fellowship. The fellows are also expected to actively participate in the life and activities of the Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies. The fellows will present their research at the department seminar of the Asian Studies Department, and possibly at other relevant forums. Any work outside the Hebrew University would be allowed only after specific approval by the Frieberg Center.

The deadline has been extened: Applicants should submit one hard copy and an electronic copy- in one file- of their application to the address below, no later than May 3, 2016.

The application must include:

1. CV
2. Research plan
3. A sample of applicant’s publications (if relevant)
4. Two letters of recommendation

 The applicant should indicate the names and positions of the recommenders, but the letters of recommendation should be sent by the recommenders directly to the email address below.

Please send materials to:

The Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies
Rm 6300, The Faculty of Humanities
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Mt. Scopus Jerusalem 91905
email: eacenter@mail.huji.ac.il

For questions and further info please contact eacenter@mail.huji.ac.il or nissim.otmazgin@mail.huji.ac.il

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Book Announcement: Spectacular Accumulation: Material Culture, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Samurai Sociability

saSpectacular Accumulation: Material Culture, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Samurai Sociability was published by the University of Hawaii Press in January of 2016.

The book is based on a decade of research into the documentary and material evidence from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Japan, focusing on the ways in which elite samurai used art, swords, and other forms of material culture in politics and social relations.

The book examines:

  • The acquisition and exchange of material objects and the acquisition and exchange of hostages
  • The display of material culture at social and cultural rituals such as tea ceremonies, banquets, and celebrations of battlefield victories
  • The exchange of gifts as a means of maintaining warrior social relations
  • The practice of falconry, including the exchange of live falcons and acquisition of land for hunting
  • Social rituals and war, such as head examination ceremonies
  • The deification of Tokugawa Ieyasu using material culture
  • The modern afterlife of Tokugawa Ieyasu and his material culture in museums

The book has a website, to which I will be adding more resources and essays in the months ahead: http://spectacularaccumulation.com

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Call for Papers: 27th annual conference EAJRS

call for papers [150-2]The 27th annual conference of the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists (EAJRS) will be held this year in Bucharest, Romania, 14 – 17 September 2016, organized by the Japanese Language and Literature Department, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures of the University of Bucharest.

This year special attention will be given to “International Cooperation Between Japanese Studies Libraries”, a theme which should elicit multiple views and proposals. As always, we welcome all subjects pertaining to the various activities of the members of the EAJRS.

We are now accepting registrations and proposals for presentations. Proposals for presentations should be returned by 15 May 2016.

Download the registration form here.

More information is available at: http://eajrs.net/
or at: 

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