Changing Impression

Now, I really feel that Visual Anthropology class gave me the chance to reconsider “what is the Japanese culture.” As for my present impression of Japanese culture, it may have many unique aspects which I never realized all the more because “I am Japanese.” I have lived in Japan for more than 21 years, that is, everything I see here should be nothing unique in that sense. Every Japanese culture such as manga, sushi, host club, onsen, etc is the invention created by Japanese. We Japanese must be familiar to these things since everyone had enormous chances to get in touch with them in any occasions. I myself have naturally accepted what I experience here without thinking it unique, but “normal.”


However, from outsiders’ perspective, everything they see here must be unique as I feel whenever I travel abroad. I mean, what I want to say is that I learned the way of thinking towards Japanese culture in outsiders’ perspective through this class.

To be honest, when I saw the images related to Japanese culture, or watched the Japanese documentary films in this class, I did not know the points on which I had to focus because the objects on the screen were mostly usual for me. Although I understood that I needed to think about them in an anthropological way, it was still difficult to find the points. Yet, as I heard the comments of exchange students, I learned what Japanese aspects they paid attention.

Moreover, as the reason why I was not so stimulated by the images shown in the class, my indifference to Japanese culture is considered. In my opinion, indeed Japanese basically know their culture better than foreigners, but their knowledge is very shallow, vague and imperfect. In spite of that, they feel like knowing everything, and the feeling leads us not to have interest in our own culture.

Over this semester, I was taught many aspects of Japanese culture by some professors, and strongly felt that, especially as to the religious practices, we are close to the ignorance. For example, once someone died, we need to practice a series of rituals including the funeral even after the departed was cremated. However, many Japanese people have no idea about how and why they are done. We seem to just follow the professionals of these practices. Though I do not know people from other countries know well about such customs of own countries, after all, I found that our lack of knowledge of ceremonial occasion is a kind of shameful thing.

Finally, with regard to this class, I think I learned more than I expected. I am going to major in anthropology in U.S.A, so this class gave me a great opportunity to practice the basic anthropological approaches like field research. For me, exploring the new world and analyzing what I experienced was really enjoyable because the process has the more crucial meaning rather than just visiting with own curiosity. Therefore, in future, whenever I have new experiences, I want to continue to do the work.


Free Choice: Zainichi Koreans in Osaka

Japan has been sometimes called homogeneous state ignoring the existence of minorities such as Ainu originated in Hokkaido region, and "zainichi" Koreans, who have the roots in South Korea, or North Korea. Recently, I have learned about the issue in some classes. "Culture and Everyday Life in Japan" class given by Professor. Hester exemplifies the one of them. I had never considered the problem well until now, but I realized that I has been in so familiar position to it. It means that I have lived in the area in which more than 20 percent of zainichi Koreans in Japan make their life. Actually, I have some friends who have Korean nationality. In this post, first I would like to look back my early school days to think how I was close to this issue.Then I will introduce "Korea Town" in Turuhashi, Ikuno ward(ku).

Generally, we can define the people who have settled in Japan over the colonial period as zainichi Koreans. Japan ruled over Korea from 1910 to 1945, so the great number of Koreans were forced to work in the tough condition. Therefore, even after the war, the majority of Koreans stayed in Japan. Most of Koreans living in Japan at the present day are Japan-born, second-, third-, and fourth generation Koreans raised up there, having Korean nationalities. I learned that the term "zainichi" is used in order to distinguish such Koreans from those who immigrated from Korea to Japan after the end of war.

I live in Ikuno ward(ku), Osaka-city, the area many zainichi Koreans live. In fact, one-fourth of students who were in the same grade as me was "zainichi Koreans" in my junior high school. We could find who was zainichi Koreans by looking at the attendance roll. If a student was zainichi Korean, the real Korean name was written next to his/her Japanese name in parentheses. At the time, I never felt it strange because I had assumed that it was very common everywhere. Yet, I knew I was wrong when I showed the graduation album to my classmates of the high school. Most of them really wondered why the two different names were written below the photographs of some students' faces. I was shocked... I did not know that a lot of students who lived in other areas of Osaka-city were completely unfamiliar to zainichi Koreans. Through the elementary school to the junior high school, although I had the bellyful of the moral education about zainichi Koreans, and the chance to play Korean game and instrument, my classmates had never taken such experience. In some ways, I had exposure to Korean culture. For example, in the moral class, I remember I learned the fully simplified history which showed the relationship between Japan and Korea in the colonial period as children could understand. Besides, I was taught we should not exclude zainichi Koreans again and again, though nobody cared the difference of ethnic background in my junior high school.

Thus, now I feel the moral education was meaningful to become aware of the exsistence of such people, and understand Japanese ethnological complexity, while it had the risk to mislead us to discriminate them. That is, I had never cared the differences between Japanese and zainichi Korean students at all until I took the moral education, but after that, I became a little conscious about the differences unnecessary. In my junior high school, zainichi Korean students were never bullied, or excluded from the circle of friendship. However, among Japanese people, the issue of zainichi Koreans is rarely discussed as if talking about it is taboo, so I cannot know how Japanese really think about it. I feel that Japanese people dare to avoid considering such a crucial problem, though some people like my high school classmates have no idea in the first place. As the person who are going to study overseas, I must have more interest to our own country...

These are the pictures of "Korean Town" located near the Turuhashi station. (map)


Folks costume "Chima jeogori"

In Japan, the Korean towns like this are seen in some regions. "Korean Town" in Turuhashi is a good example. We can access to "Korean Town" by taking Osaka loop line. It does not take much time to arrive there from Turuhashi station; Just one minutes walk after we get off the train. Except for "Korean Town,"Turuhashi is really famous for yakiniku焼肉 restaurants, so Turuhashi station always smells good, yakiniku sauce flavor. Also, I heard Korean Town is not only popular among local people but also for sightseeing.

Many shops here are run by zainichi Koreans. The shopping arcade is always crowded, and very energetic place which is similar to the markets. We can buy varieties of traditional Korean products such as kimchi, namul, chijimi, Korean norimaki(kimbap), Korean seaweed, and even chima jeogori. It is totally good for us to enjoy Korean atmosphere without visiting Korea. Hence I recommend that people who have never been there go once on their lifetime.

This time, influenced by the classes, I realized the importance of thinking about the issue familiar to me. Before I intend to consider the global issues, I may need to be the expert of our own country.


Free Choice: Annual spring event & YATAI

On the last weekend, April 17th, I visited the Japan mint at Temmabashi in Osaka to enjoy the annual spring event "Sakura no TOORINUKE"(Cherry Blossom viewing). Different from Japanese traditional event "ohanami," we cannot lazily appreciate sakura with eating and drinking there, but there is a special atmosphere only to see many varieties of sakura trees. First, I would like to mention about the event, and additionally, I refer to "yatai," small food shops, or ones for entertainment. In Japan, we find "yatai" not only at summer festivals but also at other events which invite lots of people. This time, I found many "yatai" as I expected.

This year, the festival were held from April 14th to 20th at Japan mint. On the last weekend, the day I visited there, the full bloom of sakura trees were just recorded. Because of the abnormal weather at this spring, the best time to see sakura was later than the usual year. According to the information from here, the event started in Meiji period, lasting more than 125 years. We pass through the 560meters long sakura avenue for free. 120 varieties of approximate 350 sakura trees are grown now.

Although I have lived in Osaka-city for 21 years, I joined the festival for the first time, so I was very surprised that the great number of people visited there. In fact, the number of people who came to see sakura on a day was 137,460(18p.m. on April 18th present). Moreover, I had never seen such many kinds of sakura trees till I went there. It was interesting that each sakura has unique official names such as kirin麒麟, youkihi楊貴妃, ranran蘭蘭, and every sakura tree was as different from each other as I could distinguish. You can check the data of sakura trees here.



As the impression of the event, I felt that the way of enjoying sakura completely differ from "ohanami"'s. In the case of "ohanami", we simply aim to have the good time with our company surrounded by sakura trees. Therefore, I think we are allowed to freely eat and drink sitting on the ground. However, at the sakura viewing event, it looks like we are supposed to admire the grace of sakura itself. That is, there are no objects which pay attention to us except for sakura. I felt really refleshed after I went out the sakura street. Especially, for my eyes, the sakura was the feast.

This is the picture of "this years' sakura." Every year, a specific sort of sakura is introduced, so the sakura called miyakonishiki都錦 was chosen this year.

Second, I want to mention about "yatai" a bit. At the sakura festival, I saw a lot of "yatai." Basically, they appear in the place which many people gather at once. "Yatai" are very common for Japanese, and already well-known to outsiders of Japan too, so it seems that I need not dare to note it here. However, this time, I realized that the types of food sold at "yatai" have been changing compared to the past. For example, as the typical food sold at "yatai," frankfurt, yakisoba(fried noodle), and cotton candy are raised. Indeed, we can find "yatai" of them, but besides, I think the number of "yatai" which sells unique products have increased.

This photograph shows the one of the new types of "yatai," sasebo burger佐世保バーガー. Its origin is in the "Sasebo" in Nagasaki. I heard it is not like American hamburger but it emphasizes more Japanese like handmade style. In addition to this, I discovered the "yatai" which sold mentaiko(cod ovum), kabob sandwich, and gyoza(Chinese meat dumplings). I do not know how popular these shops are, but I think they can attract people just because of its unusualness. Anyway, it was interesting for me to notice closely that Japanese culture has been changing. Thinking back to my childhood, that is more obvious.


Free choice: UDON

During the short spring break, I traveled to Kagawa prefecture in Shikoku with my friends by train, and ate its famous specialty "sanuki udon," for the first time. Totally, I went to the three udon restaurants, so I want to introduce their characteristics in this post.

First, I visited to Ueharaseimenzyo上原製麺所 in Takamastu City. (please look at this map) This restaurant has a self-service style, very common for udon restaurant in Kagawa. After we ordered the udon, we needed to bring it to our seat, and put green onion, chili pepper, and tenkasu(fried batter) as we liked. This picture shows the most popular udon called kamaage udon釜揚げうどん.

We eat the boiled udon, just being picked up from the iron pot, putting into tsuyu which is the sauce dip made from the extract of dried bonito, soy sauce, and other seasonings. Once the udon was boiled, the quality of the udon become worse soon, so the udon is normally boiled right after we order it, though it takes about 10 minutes until the udon is completed. According to the shopkeeper, sanuki udon is really popular not only among the tourist but also the local people. Therefore, it is always sold out before the closed time. (The restaurant opens at 9a.m. and closes at 5p.m.) Actually, we were the last customers on the day, even though it was still about 4 p.m when we entered. I heard most of udon restaurants make service for customers only during the daytime(11am~2pm). It means the time to taste the delicious Japanese traditional noodle is limited. In that sense, this restaurant was kind of rare, but surprisingly, there is the udon restaurant opens only for one hour. I thought it a little difficult for tourists to manage their schedule to visit there.

These are the pictures of inside the restaurant. Very simple.

Second, we went to the self-service udon restaurant near the Zentsuuji station in Zentsuuji city located in western area in Kagawa. It takes about one hour from Takamatsu city by the local train. The name of the restaurant is Kishiiudon岸井うどん(map). It had the unique style... We ate udon at the GREENHOUSE.

The entrance(http://r.tabelog.com/kagawa/A3703/A370302/37000177/dtlphotolst/P405397/?ityp=4)

This restaurant is famous for the meat udon肉うどん. The sukiyaki taste meat was put on the udon. If you order the niku kamatama udon肉釜玉うどん, you can eat udon with raw egg. The meat udon I ate was so delicious. The price was only 380yen. Attractive.

However, inside the restaurant was not so much clean and narrow that I do not recommend the person who wants to be relaxed, and enjoy the atmosphere.

380yen , Niku Udon

As a whole, I could have a good time at these restaurants, but we needed to decide what we would eat quickly, ate speedy, and leave soon after we finished eating, so I felt as if I was in the fast food restaurants like McDonald's. It made me disappointed... Probably, it is good for the office workers who do not have the enough time to have a lunch. Moreover, I cared that the workers of the restaurants were not so energetic. They did not speak so much; I did not hear they said "Iirasshaimase(Hello)" in a loud voice... though I do not know if it depends on the restaurant.

Finally, I visited the general type of restaurant, not self-serving style, called Okasenおか泉. I think this is the most famous udon restaurant of three. It located here. I ate the cold udon with shrimp tempra(ひや天おろし)as the photograph shows. It was more gorgeous than the first two udons because the tempra was bigger than I expected. Also, I realized that the cold udon was firm, so I had to chew it well...In this restaurant, it was interesting that we could see the skilled workers were making the noodle. I mean the process which some kinds of flours are mixed, and the dough made by them become the thin and long noodle. The workers had the great techniques. If I had a chance, I would try.

Comparing to three restaurants, I could find some differences. Every restaurant has the originality, and it was very interesting. This time, I was happy to visit to the new place I had never been. I deeply felt though I have lived for 21 years here Japan, there would be still lots of Japanese culture which I have never experienced. I would like to keep challenging to new things as possible during my life.

I found many Okasenおか泉videos here;http://www.okasen.com/honten/movie/


Annie Leibovitz & James Nachtwey

I have never thought deeply about the meaning each photograph has, and how it reflects the idea of the photographer until I watched the video of two talented photographers: Annie Leibovitz and James Nachtwey. Both of them are the photographers, but the types of photographs taken by them are greatly different, while they have some essential aspects of photographs in common.

First, Annie Leibovitz takes pictures seeking for creativity, entertainment, and artistic beauty. In the first place, she enrolled in the school of San Francisco to study the paintings, but later, she was fascinated by the power of photographs. During her career, she has often worked with many celebrities appear on the mass media such as Rolling Stones, John lennon, and Demi Moore. She focused on how to attract the public capturing the character of each person. Sometimes the photograph is emotional, sometimes shocking, and sometimes mysterious. I felt that the combination of the context the photographs are taken and the posing or facial and bodily expression by the actor is the key point which decides the uniqueness of her photographs. Whether she produces the attractive works for people depends on how the actor accepts her needs. Even though the artistically perfect condition like a rose garden is prepared, if she cannot make actors act as she hopes, she may not create the works deserved to be published on media. With the negotiation between her and the actors, the impressive photographs would be produced. I have believed that the person who just has the great technique of operating cameras, and the knowledge of the photographs indicates the "talented" photographer. However, after watched the video, I realized that such my thought was completely wrong.

According to the video, "Life through a lens", in 1983, she has started to work for Vanity Fair. Today, I cited the two photographs from the website of it.

Leonardo DiCaprio

This photograph is taken by Annie Leibovitz on May 2007 at the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in southeast Iceland. This photograph was used for the article about political issue of the environment. He is known as enviornmentalist, while he is the famous actor. The melting ice is symbolizing that now the environment on the earth is endangered, whereas the actor, Leonardo DiCaprio is gazing somewhere we cannot see. In my opinion, it looks showing that he is meditating on the unpredictable our future. The background matches to his character as the Eco-activist.

Miley Cyrus

It is taken by Annie Leibovitz on June 2008. She is very popular among teenagers. At the time, though she was still 15, she succeeded on the entertainment business with great hit TV series, Hannah Montana. Through the photograph, Annie Leibovitz tried to express Miley, who was being matured gradually. It is really natural, and artistic, I think.

As the whole, the photographs taken by Annie Leibovitz well represent the characters of people, while she takes advantage of the background and the stuffs as the objects to show off them.

Second, in contrast to Annie Leibovitz, James Nachtwey is the war photographer who takes the photographs to convey the truth, what happened, or is happening during the war. I learned the image of the Vietnam War impacted on his decision to be a war photographer. Actually, I have been to the Vietnam War museum in Vietnam, looking at the terrific images as I felt like covering my eyes, so his decision was very natural for me.

When I first saw that he was taking the photographs very close to the people, I really wondered if they were annoyed by him... For the victims of the war, he must be the complete stranger. I did not know how he asked permission for them. However, as the story proceeded, such my concern was no longer the big deal because I was overwhelmed by the greatness of his photographs. They are beyond my understanding... Everything he captured was shocking REALITY itself. In the video,sometimes, the images were shown through the lens, from his vision, so as if I myself saw the same scenes as he saw in the conflicts.

Additionally, I was interested in that, different from Annie Leibovitz, he keeps doing his work without much communication with people. Even though such his attitude often seems to make it difficult to know what he is thinking, I could find the series of his pictures include deep meanings. For example, when he spend for some days with the man lived in Indonesia, who lost one leg and one arm, he continued to take photographs following his action. He well described the man's daily life as it was seen. It became visible. I learned that how the man was making his life, taking care of children in such a tough condition. The technique of telling the reality without much his own emotional aspects, and opinion would not be imitated easily. Photographs taken by him themselves represented what he was feeling against the objects.

Rwanda, 1994 - Survivor of Hutu death camp.

Sudan, 1993 - Famine victim in a feeding center.

Indonesia, 1998 - A beggar washed his children in a polluted canal.

"I have been a witness, and these pictures are
my testimony. The events I have recorded should
not be forgotten and must not be repeated."
-James Nachtwey-

Last, as I mentioned before, although these two photographers create the different sorts of works, both of them includes the special meanings. Besides, what I was strongly impressed is that they are obviously doing the fieldwork. They research well about the object should be captured in their photographs, and always discover something new through the interaction with people. I did not know that people play such an important role on taking photographs. For our Japanese, it is rather hard to experience new things on the familiar environment, but I believe that if I talk with people more, and know them, that would be possible.


Annie Leibovitz photoes;

-Leonardo DiCaprio,


-Miley Cyrus,


James Nachtwey photoes and his words; http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/


Foreign people for Japanese

Today, I went to New Delhi, the curry restaurant in the front of KGU, to have a lunch for the first time. It was very famous for the students, so I have wanted to visit there. The workers are all indians. There are lots of decorations reminds me of South Asia inside the restaurant, and television which broadcasts Indian music, so customers would feel as if they are really in India... I have never been to India, but I felt like that. I learned that the owner of the restaurant had received training for getting the cooking skill for ten years not only in his country but also in Tokyo, and Kyoto, Japan. I do not have many chances to eat the real Indian dishes, I mean ones except for the curry Japanese often call curry riceカレーライス, so today's experience was precious for me. Actually, when I was about just eight years old, my older sister was working at Indian restaurant, so I have visited the restaurant once. However, the spicy food like curry, and tandoori chicken were not tasty for the young child... Now for me, almost everything people can eat is tasty.

curry with bread and rice

At the restaurant, I ordered A lunch set including soup,salad, curry with nan bread and rice, chai tea, and ice cream. They were really delicious. Besides, the price was cheap, only 700yen, despite the big meals I had. The nan bread was too large to eat completely. I feel sorry about that... This time, though I could not try to have other curries, the restaurant provides us many varieties of Indian foods.

...with my friend

I did not know how frequently the worker could speak Japanese, but when I ask him the permission to take photo, he pleasantly accept my request. I would like to go again.


Neighborhood Osaka-city

I've never moved my house to any other places since I was born, so I believe that there are few things I don't know about my neighborhood. My house stands at very accesible area to the downtown, Tennouji, Namba, and Umeda. Especially, I can go to Tennouji station within 10 minutes by bicycle. Even I visit to Namba station, it takes only 20 minutes, again by bicycle. So,I always say to the people who first came to Osaka,"ask me whenever you are in trouble in Osaka-city." Such people are often confused about the train network. It's really convenient for me, but for them, very complicated.

My home station is Teradachou station, next to Tennouji station. Everyday I use it to go to school. By the way, using the roop line“大阪環状線,” I go to Kyobashi station from Teradachou, and then transfer to the Keihan line to get to Hirakata station. (I should not be proud of this... →) Teradachou was famous for the great number of bicycles left in the front of the station. Until about a year ago, we were allowed to park the bicycles for free at the parking lot, so many people left theirs untidily. As the result, the parking area was chaos!! Like this...

Retrieved from:足高まさし市政相談事務所, ~寺田町駅自転車放置問題について~, http://ashitaka-masashi.jp/terada-jitensya.html

Threfore, Osaka-city government needed to consider this problem. You can see the bicycles making the street for cars narrow. Finally, the goverment decided to destroy the free parking instead of making new toll one. Now, already new one completed, I think the idea was not so great. In the first place, there were many people who wanted to use the parking lot, so it bacame disordered place: the goverment needed to regulate the number of users this time. During the construction, we users were told to draw the lots to get the right to park at the toll parking. I didn't like the new policy... Anyway, I follow the demand, but I missed the right because of the result of the drawing. I heard there are more than 300 people who are in the same situation as me. Can you believe it?

The parking was cleaned, but I feel that it affords to accomodate more bicycles!

If I leave my bicycle around the parking lot , the goverment collects the bicycle. In order to take back, I have to pay 2,500 yen! Actually, my bicycle has been collected more than 5 times ever since because I often illigally parked it at around the Tennouji station. The employees of Osaka-city goverment irregularly come to collect the bicycles, so I don' know when I find my bicycle disappears. It's a kind of gamble...

The reason why I frequently have to go to the Tennouji station is that my workplace is in here. I'm working at St-Mark Cafeサンマルクカフェ, self-serving style cafe started about six years ago. The job is not so hard. I mainly make drinks, bake breads, be a cashier, and wash the dishes. The cafe opens at 8 a.m., and closes at 10 p.m. I've been working for about three years, so I can be the expert about this work. When I began to work here, I was still 18, but now, I'm already 21... I often feel time passes too early.

In the Tennouji Station Building
About the history of St-Mark Cafe...
In 1999, the first shop was esablished in Ginza, Tokyo to serve the high quality coffee to customers. At the time, St-Mark restaurant was already spreaded in the suburban cities as the popular bakery restaurant, so the manager thought that if the cafe, bread is served with the excellent coffee, opened, it could be expected for more advantage. In 2005, St-Mark cafe attracted more customers, being featured on TV because "Choco cro" was produced, soon became hit item of St-Mark cafe. It is not a simple croissant, but the milk chocolate is rolled inside. Besides, as to the coffee, it's extracted from coffee beans per the order of each customer, so he can appriciate excellent flavor and taste. Still, I see sometimes on the TV shows, choco cro is introduced by famous TV talents.

These are that choco cro, and "Mil cro" which is sold as the seasonal item. Custard cream is rolled with chocolate. In addition to these products, there are many delicious breads, cakes, and drinks. Please come to taste them! If you are lucky, you can see me.

I got the information of St-Mark cafe from: