Fun Link Friday: Japanese gift wrapping

Are you the kind of person who loves or dreads wrapping their gifts at every birthday and holiday season? Those who have been to Japan are probably very familiar with the seemingly mystical power of store clerks who wrap your purchases in layers of fancy paper and ribbons upon request. And while I know I’ll never reach such heights of paper talent, today’s quickie Fun Link Friday gives others a glimmer of hope that they can make their gifts look fabulous, if not like a miniature kimono. Check it out and look to Shiho Masuda’s instagram for more wrapping visual delights!

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Book Announcement: Embracing Asia in China and Japan

Torsten Weber, Embracing ‘Asia’ in China and Japan. Asianism Discourse and the Contest for Hegemony, 1912-1933. (Palgrave Macmillan 2018, 407 pages, 8 illustrations).

This book examines how Asianism became a key concept in mainstream political discourse between China and Japan and how it was used both domestically and internationally in the contest for political hegemony. It argues that, from the early 1910s to the early 1930s, this contest changed Chinese and Japanese perceptions of ‘Asia’, from a concept that was foreign-referential, foreign-imposed, peripheral, and mostly negative and denied (in Japan) or largely ignored (in China) to one that was self-referential, self-defined, central, and widely affirmed and embraced.

As an ism, Asianism elevated ‘Asia’ as a geographical concept with culturalist-racialist implications to the status of a full-blown political principle and encouraged its proposal and discussion vis-à-vis other political doctrines of the time, such as nationalism, internationalism, and imperialism. By the mid-1920s, a great variety of conceptions of Asianism had emerged in the transnational discourse between Japan and China. Terminologically and conceptually, they not only paved the way for the appropriation of ‘Asia’ discourse by Japanese imperialism from the early 1930s onwards but also facilitated the embrace of Sino-centric conceptions of Asianism by Chinese politicians and collaborators. The concluding chapter studies the legacy of historical Asianism in today’s Japan, China, and for Sino-Japanese relations.


1 Introduction

2 Studying Asianism: The Impact and Legacy of Takeuchi Yoshimi

3 Asia Becomes an ism: Early Chinese and Japanese Asianism

4 Asianism During World War One: Macro-Nationalism or Micro-Worldism?

5 The Racialization of ‘Asia’ in the Post-Versailles Period

6 The Regionalization of ‘Asia’: Asianism from Below and Its Failure

7 Asianism From Above: The Realization of ‘Asia’ in Manchuria

8 Conclusion: Continuing Antagonisms and Asianism Today





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Fun Link Friday: Jomon-pattern tattoos

Thanks to Corey Noxon over at ArcheoJapan, I became aware of an exhibit that was reported on back in 2016 connected to both ancient culture and traditions in the archipelago and modern tattoo practice.

A collaborative project between the well-known tattoo artist Taku Oshima and underground culture photographer Ryoichi “Keroppy” Maeda brought to life designs based on indigenous cultures from the Jomon Period (c. 14,000–300 BCE). The exhibition was called The Jomon Tribe, and was featured in the TAV Gallery in Asagaya (Tokyo). The photographs featured a variety of subjects who received Oshima’s black-marking tattoos, which are composed of spiral and cord-style patterns reminiscent of Jomon period pottery.

Jomon pot.

It has been theorized that tattooing practices in Japan go as far back as the Jomon period, and they are known to have also existed among the Ainu people and in Ryukyuan culture (today, Okinawa).

There are a number of sites that reported on the exhibition, and both the photographs and tattoos are stunning. You can still see the exhibition space and some of works on Maeda’s Facebook page, so be sure to check it out!

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Job Opening: Digital Media Coordinator, Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC), Embassy of Japan

Vacancy Announcement

Digital Media Coordinator

The Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC), Embassy of Japan, is seeking a highly motivated, team-oriented individual for the position of Digital Media Coordinator. This individual is primarily responsible for supporting the JICC’s goal to promote a better understanding of Japan and Japanese culture through digital communications. Please see below for a detailed listing of responsibilities.

The Embassy offers group health insurance coverage, paid vacation and sick leave. Working hours are 9:00AM – 5:00PM, Monday through Friday, with weeknight and/or weekend events several times a month (paid overtime). Salary is commensurate with experience. The minimum basic monthly salary for this position is $3,200.

Please note: Candidates must be a U.S. citizen or a U.S. green card holder. Screening will be immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Only successful candidates will be contacted. All candidates will be subject to background checks and security clearance.


  • Digital communications (planning and posting of weekly content on Facebook and Instagram; daily monitoring of social media accounts; content creation; manage website updates; procure images and videos and support video production, including use of YouTube; reporting of digital analytics)
  • Internal communications (organizing photography and filmography of JICC events; drafting reports, letters, and emails for diplomats; assisting with cultural events and computer-related issues)
  • Disseminating information on Japan to the public, including responding to public inquiries about Japan
  • General office responsibilities, including assisting other JICC staff as the need arises
  • Other responsibilities as needed


  • Bachelor’s degree in relevant field
  • Familiarity with web design & development (HTML, CSS, Java, Bootstrap, etc.)
  • Professional use of social media
  • Basic digital content creation
  • Familiarity with analytics and reporting methods
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, and general design principles
  • Flexibility and resourcefulness; ability to multitask, follow directions and take initiative
  • Superior interpersonal and communication skills

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Japanese Language Proficiency
  • Good understanding of Japanese culture, experience living or working in Japan
  • Experience with photography and photo/video editing
  • Knowledge of accessible web design
  • Some communications, marketing, or public relations experience

Application Instructions:

Email your resume, cover letter, and a copy of your university transcript(s) (need not be official) in PDF format to:

Please also answer one of the following in a few sentences:

What is a marketing pixel and how is it used?
What is metadata and why is it important?
How is CSS different from HTML and why is CSS useful?

Please note in the subject line of your e-mail “Digital Media Coordinator”Please no phone calls. Due to the high volume of resumes we receive, we cannot guarantee consideration of your application if the submission instructions are not properly followed. You can download a PDF copy of this job description and application instructions by clicking here.

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Resource: Laures Kirishitan Bunko Database

For those interested in the premodern and/or the history Christianity and its connections to Japan, Sophia University in Tokyo has a fascinating database that’s worth looking into. A digital archive of the rare books of Johannes Laures, S.J., the collection contains as many as 15,000 items in a variety of languages, including Japanese, Latin, French, English, and more.

According to the Sophia University website, the archive includes:

– missionary publications from the 16th century to the present, manuscripts, maps, and artifacts related to early modern history and cultural exchange, linguistics, Kirishitan art and literature, as well as the Japanese anti-Christian literature published during the period of persecution.
– the entire series of “Fr. Petitjean’s Press” published during the restoration of the Catholic Church in Japan (1865-1880).
– Chinese Catholic publications from the late Ming-early Qing period.

The database can be navigated in both English and Japanese, although the individual works can be difficult to navigate because titles of objects and texts are not translated from their original titles (a Latin text, for example, will still have its title and information in Latin!). Even so, the textual content of many works is accessible, as is the various metadata for each object.

The database is divided into three main sections for visitors, Essays (hypertext of Laures’ Kirishitan Bunko), Sources (bibliographic data, maps, maps, images, manuscripts, and other objects), and Texts (images of manuscripts and transcribed texts). These categories can be at times a little opaque, but more useful, I think is that all of the items in the collection have also been arranged on a timeline that is easy to navigate and explore:

With the ability to also narrow fields within the database and timeline by language, date published, and other categorical information, it’s fairly simply to get through despite any linguistic barriers. I think the maps of Asia and the world that are in here (of which there are NUMEROUS examples) are especially fascinating. So be sure to check it out!

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Workshop: Reading Hentaigana and Kuzushiji

The Penn Faculty Working Group for Reading Asian Manuscripts will hold a three-day workshop on reading Edo-period hentaigana and kuzushiji June 28-30, 2018 at the University of Pennsylvania, and invites applications from faculty and graduate students from all fields of Japanese studies to participate.

The workshop will be led by Dr. Laura Moretti, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, and will meet each day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A key feature of this intensive workshop is hands-on experience with a wide range of actual texts, graded by the instructor so that participants can achieve a working knowledge in reading a variety of Edo-period cursive forms. The materials will all be different from those used in previous workshops at Penn and in the Graduate Summer School that Dr. Moretti runs in August in Cambridge ( We will include materials from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. The workshop is suitable for participants with no knowledge of hentaigana/kuzushiji and for those with elementary or intermediary knowledge.

The workshop will be limited to 20 participants and will require a nominal fee of $100 from each participant; travel to Philadelphia, accommodation and related costs are also the responsibility of the participants.

Applications should include a two-page curriculum vitae and a brief paragraph describing how the workshop will be of assistance to your research as well as a self-evaluation of reading skill in hentaigana and kuzushiji. The workshop requires knowledge of Classical Japanese. Graduate students should also include the name of their advisor as a reference. All applications are due May 15, 2018, by 5 p.m., and participants will be informed by May 30 of acceptance; we will also keep a waiting list and notify additional participants on a rolling basis. All participants will be required to pay the fee upon acceptance. For more information, please contact Prof. Julie Davis ( or Prof. Linda Chance (

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Book Announcement: Monsters, Animals, and Other Worlds – A Collection of Short Medieval Japanese Tales

Monsters, Animals, and Other Worlds
A Collection of Short Medieval Japanese Tales

Edited by Keller Kimbrough and Haruo Shirane

Monsters, Animals, and Other Worlds is a collection of twenty-five medieval Japanese tales of border crossings and the fantastic, featuring demons, samurai, talking animals, amorous plants, and journeys to supernatural realms. The most comprehensive compendium of short medieval Japanese fiction in English, Monsters, Animals, and Other Worlds illuminates a rich world of literary, Buddhist, and visual culture largely unknown today outside of Japan.

These stories, called otogizōshi, or Muromachi tales (named after the Muromachi period, 1337 to 1573), date from approximately the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries. Often richly illustrated in a painted-scroll format, these vernacular stories frequently express Buddhist beliefs and provide the practical knowledge and moral education required to navigate medieval Japanese society. The otogizōshi represent a major turning point in the history of Japanese literature. They bring together many earlier types of narrative—court tales, military accounts, anecdotes, and stories about the divine origins of shrines and temples––joining book genres with parlor arts and the culture of itinerant storytellers and performers. The works presented here are organized into three thematically overlapping sections titled, “Monsters, Warriors, and Journeys to Other Worlds,” “Buddhist Tales,” and “Interspecies Affairs.” Each translation is prefaced by a short introduction, and the book features images from the original scroll paintings, illustrated manuscripts, and printed books.

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