Posts Tagged ‘japan’

In this Gender Reader: Japan and South Korea reach a “final” decision about the “comfort women” issue, Kensuke Miyazaki attempts to take parental leave, the real story behind the “can’t hide it forever” plastic surgery meme and the model whose career it destroyed, and more!


Copyright BBC. “Lee Yong-soo (centre) has taken part in protests outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul.” [Image: three protesters, including Lee Yong-soo, a former ‘comfort woman,’ protests at the Japanese embassy in Seoul]”



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Utagawa Kunimasa, “Young Woman and a Cat at a Kotatsu” Tokyo National Museum. Ukiyo-e, Nihon bijutsu zenshū, Tokugawa, (Comprehensive Collection of Japanese Art) vol. 20 (Kōdansha, 1991), p. 34. Via Japan Focus.

Utagawa Kunimasa, “Young Woman and a Cat at a Kotatsu”
Tokyo National Museum. Ukiyo-e, Nihon bijutsu zenshū, Tokugawa, (Comprehensive Collection of Japanese Art) vol. 20 (Kōdansha, 1991), p. 34. Via Japan Focus.

I ended up skipping the May reader since I was busy with the edits for the cross-dressing in anime and manga series. However, the gender issue rightfully on everyone’s mind in May was Elliot Rodger and #YesAllWomen. I don’t have much to contribute that conversation other than a link to a list of well written articles below, but I do have some more articles to share about gender in Japan.

In this gender reader: the history of beauty in Japan and China, gendered pronouns in Japanese and English, a survey of LGBT students in Japan, a collection of essential articles about Isla Vista, and more.


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I’m a few days late for Hina Matsuri (ひな祭り), celebrated on March 3, but trust me, there’s always time for dinosaur courtiers.

2014 is the third year in which the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum has commemorated Hina Matsuri with a display of dinosaurs playing the role of the Heian-period courtiers. Sources describe the dinosaurs as キモかわいい (気持ち悪い+可愛い) – grotesquely cute. The Fukuiraptor is the Emperor Doll, and the Fukuisaurus is the Empress doll. (more…)

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In this gender reader: the gendered politics of skin-whitening creams; public bathing; bad reporting on the “sex strike”; Facebook genders; and more–and I even think we can get through this without a discussion of giri-choco!

Chanel's Le Blanc (ルブラン) skin-whitening cream. Image via Chanel Japan.

Chanel’s Le Blanc (ルブラン) skin-whitening cream. Image via Chanel Japan.


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More information on screenings of Hafu/ハーフ documentary in Osaka courtesy of Japan Sociology:


Folks in the Kansai region who missed seeing the Hafu film during its run in Kobe are in luck. The film is showing at Osaka’s Nanagei Cinema , within walking distance of Juso station , until February 21. The film plays once a day, at 6:45pm until February 14, and at 8:35pm from February 15 to 21.

This blog has discussed the film and related issues regarding hafu (people of mixed Japanese ancestry) many times, and the fine folks at the Hafu Project have graced our classrooms on several occasions. This film is an important step in a movement toward a more inclusive notion of Japanese identity. Come be a part of the conversation, and see the film in Osaka before it closes on February 21.

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Related update: summer 2014: Foreign residents can’t claim welfare benefits: Supreme Court

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.

Image from Japan Probe. (Article recommended!)

“Hello Gaijin-San” costume. Image from Japan Probe. (Article recommended!)


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Via Japan Probe:

Image via Japan Probe. ACTUAL SCREENSHOT from the commercial.

Two Japanese men in ANA uniforms are discussing the new possibilities of international travel that ANA is offering. One of them says, “Let’s change the image of Japanese people.” And then we get the supposedly humorous ending. One of the Japanese guys is suddenly wearing a blonde wig and a big rubber nose.


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