I just finished the original Japanese version of Otsuichi’s 「夏と花火の私の死体」and I can’t recommend it enough. Here’s a review of the English translation from a few years back:
Originally posted on Contemporary Japanese Literature:
Title: Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse
Japanese Title: 夏と花火と私の死体 (Natsu to hanabi to watshi no shitai)
Author: Otsuichi (乙一)
Translator: Nathan Collins
Publication Year: 2010 (America); 1996, 2001 (Japan)
I don’t know why I haven’t reviewed anything by Otsuichi yet. Tokyopop has released two collections of his short stories (Calling You in 2007 and GOTH in 2008), and Haikasoru released the collection ZOO, which is a major bestseller in Japan and ended up getting its own film adaptation, around this time last year. It might be that I haven’t reviewed his work before now because, even though his stories are fun and creative, they tend to be hit or miss. Also, they fall squarely into the genre of horror, which has gradually eroded away into “Dark Fantasy” or “Thriller” in the American market (the back cover of my paperback copy of Stephen King’s most recent novel, which involves murder, rape, cannibalism, and mass asphyxiation, tells me that it is “Fiction”). However, the majority of Otsuichi’s stories are pure shock horror of the type that might be found in magazines like Black Static or Macabre Cadaver, which might explain the “hit or miss” factor and also makes them difficult to review. If you like horror, you’ll like Otsuichi. If you don’t like horror, why would you want to read him?
Posted in Reblog | Tagged Contemporary Japanese Literature, horror, literature, Otsuichi, Summer Fireworks and My Corpse, Translation, 夏と花火と私の死体, 乙一 | Leave a Comment »
If you enjoyed the posts on Geek Girl Con, check out Terra Clarke Olsen’s new project:
Over the past few years, many people have written about females in the geek community, and how the group is often dismissed and overlooked. Although all this literature is important and valuable, we want to take it to the logical next step- to create an avenue that shows women are in the geek community. Lady geeks exist; we’re an important part of the geek community, and we’re not going to disappear.
The Unicorn Files aims to capture the diverse body of female geeks by photographing individual geek women, giving women in the community a chance to tell their story. The photos will represent them and what they love.
Originally posted on Have You Nerd:
The Unicorn Files:
Debunking the Myth of Lady Geeks
By: Terra Clarke Olsen
Posted in Geek Culture, Reblog | Tagged female geeks, geek culture, geek dviersity, geeks, nerds, reblog, unicorn files, women geeks | Leave a Comment »
Regarding the education system and social “common knowledge” that leads to ignorance and erasure, check out this post on the causes and effects of the ANA commercial from the perspective of a writer who doesn’t fit neatly into the “gaijin-san” stereotypes. Reblogged with permission and my gratitude.
Originally posted on Lucky ☆ Hill:
This is a very long post. To summarize for the TL;DR crowd, what I’m getting at is that the stereotype of “Gaijin-san” doesn’t exist in a vacuum, that there is a host of racial problems in Japan and that’s part of what makes Gaijin-san so aggravating.
Recently I found out about All Nippon Airways’ unfortunate decision to air an ad featuring a man in Japan’s ubiquitous “Gaijin-san” costume: a large nose and a blond wig. Honestly it left me stupefied because 1. the nose used was extremely large even by Gaijin-san costume standards, and 2. I had come to believe that the Gaijin-san costume was fading out of use. I remember seeing it in the variety shop InCube, being sold with Halloween costumes in 2009, but never again after that year in that store. I’d always check for it because the first time I saw it I was blown away. Can you imagine a “Mr. Black Guy” mask being sold in the U.S. in the year 2009 with no repercussions?
The first time I saw the Gaijin-san costume: August 2009, on some sort of variety show. The premise here was that people from different countries were eating at an international sushi restaurant. Here are the “American” and “Indian” patrons, both with fake noses. To my disappointment, neither a samurai, ninja, sumo wrestler, nor geisha showed up to represent Japan. The inclusion of a Japanese stereotype would’ve at least opened the door for the interpretation that the show made fun of everyone. And wouldn’t it have been funnier if the sushi chef was preparing the fish with a katana?
Posted in Advertisements, Race, Reblog, Visual Culture | Tagged ANA commercial, Lucky Hill, poc, POC in Japan, prejudice, race, racism, xenophobia | Leave a Comment »
For those interested in Japanese folk craft (民芸) and history, check out this Kickstarter for the oral history project to preserve a Tohoku craft and four decades of exchange:
An oral history project aiming to create a digital archive to help place a collection of traditional Japanese folk art in a museum home
In March of 1953, only one year after the end of the US Occupation of Japan, Janell Landis, a 27 year old Pennsylvania native, traveled to Japan as a part of a three-year teaching program. Those three years turned into four decades of engagement with the local Japanese community as an English teacher at Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University and resident of Sendai, Japan. Landis spent her time there teaching English, traveling the country putting on puppet shows (a hobby close to her heart), and even recording English language television programs for her local station. Through this television connection, she serendipitously met Hiroi Michiaki, an artisan specializing in Edo-koma 江戸独楽 (Edo-style wooden spinning tops), with whom she recorded a New Year’s Day special in the winter of 1981. Over the course of the next decade, Landis was apprenticed to Hiroi (to her, Hiroi-sensei), and collected over a hundred of his handmade tops, each a remarkable testament to Japan’s traditional craft culture.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Art | Tagged art, craft, digital archive, Edo-koma, folk craft, Hiroi Michiaki, Janell Landis, Kickstarter, oral history, Sendai, Tohoku, 民芸, 江戸独楽 | Leave a Comment »
For my history-buff readers: the city of Matsue is looking for photographs of and documents about Matsue Castle’s main gate, torn down in 1875, to help reconstruct a historically accurate version of it. This is a great project, and best of luck to them.
Originally posted on San'in Monogatari:
Hello, Followers and Visitors! I’d like to ask for your help in sharing this image/request. The City of Matsue is on the hunt for early Meiji era material that will be helpful in reconstructing a historically accurate main gate (Ootemon) at Matsue Castle, and is offering a short-term financial reward. Please dust off your history books and see if you have something hiding in there, or send it to your academic communities to get some students on a hunt through the university collections to see what they can uncover. We appreciate it!
Please help us share it around Facebook (especially)!
Posted in Architecture, Reblog, Visual Culture | Tagged architecture, castle, Matsue Castle, reconstruction, reference photos, 大手門, 松江城 | Leave a Comment »
Note: this post has been updated a couple times, and while I don’t agree with all the points in arguments I’ve seen regarding xenophobia vs. racism, some have a lot of merit, and I do appreciate constructive criticism. The major updates I’ve made are marked as addenda/editorial notes throughout.
Some things to consider for those writing about the ANA commercial:
I get that if you’re looking at the commercial from the perspective of a person who lives in a country with a white majority that the commercial may appear to be turning the tables on white racism, and that white Americans certainly have a long, embarrassing history of racism, including yellow-face, black-face, and red-face. In fact, How I Met Your Mother just had a similar issue with some “kung-fu slap” “homage” to martial arts movies, and Katy Perry’s problematic AMA performance in November got a lot of well deserved condemnation.
My main beef is that the people claiming that the commercial isn’t racist is that, in Japan, a combo racism* and xenophobia against white people, Black people, non-Japanese Asian people, and multiracial people, and well, literally anyone who doesn’t appear “Japanese” enough,” is a real, institutionalized and socialized thing that actually affects people, particularly long-term workers, permanent residents, and their families, especially their children (see: Half/ハーフ: Mixed Race in Japan and “White Japanese People”).
*Addendum: I would say that, upon closer scrutiny, white “gaijin” costumes and using white people as props in commercials is a large part of the xenophobia problem because it establishes “white” as “this is what a ‘foreigner’ looks like,” which also erases the experiences of non-white-appearing non-Japanese in Japan. However, I would draw a distinction between the xenophobia that scholars, travelers, short-term workers (like JETs), and immigrants coming from a more privileged position (in terms of race, appearance, and often finances) in their home country experience and the racism experienced by people who become permanent residents, stay long-term, raise children (multiracial or otherwise), or grow up in Japan as “non-Japanese” because of legal (non-citizens and especially non-permanent residents) reasons or appearance. I would also posit that the xenophobia directed that the former impacts the racism directed at the latter more, as it feeds the ideas of what “foreign” looks like vs. who is “really” Japanese.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Advertisements, Race | Tagged advertisements, ANA, ANA commercial, foreigners, japan, multiracial, racism, skin whitening, US, whiteface, yellowface | 4 Comments »
If you need a palate-cleanser, I wrote a guest post about Welcome to Night Vale over on Have You Nerd?
Originally posted on Have You Nerd:
All Hail the Glow Cloud:
How Welcome to Night Vale Won My Heart
By: Leah Zoller
Posted in Geek Culture, Gender, Media, Race, Reblog | Tagged fantasy, geek, Jeffrey Cranor, Joseph Fink, LGBT, LGBTQIA, Night Vale, people of color, poc, podcast, queer, sci-fi, SFF, Welcome to Night Vale, WTNV | Leave a Comment »