The Centre for Japanese Studies holds a series of regular seminars throughout both semesters of the academic year. In keeping with our interdisciplinary outlook, speakers are invited from a diverse range of fields and research specialisms.
Seminars are typically held Thursday evenings at 17:30 in the New Sciences Building Room 0.03. The seminars usually last around one hour and are followed by informal discussion over refreshments. The seminars are open to all and there is no need to register attendance, so come along!
To ensure that you are kept informed about the Research Seminar schedule, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our mailing list.
Castles Across Ages and Lands: An Interdisciplinary Seminar, in tandem with the School of History and Norwich Castle
Dr Oleg Benesch of University of York & Dr Ran Zwigenberg of Pennsylvania State University
Thurs 7 May NEW SCI 0.03
Join us after the Easter break for an especially interdisciplinary CJS Research Seminar, where we will be hosting Dr Oleg Benesch and Dr Ran Zwigenberg to discuss their long-running collaborative project researching the history of Japan's castles and their social function from the 19th century to the present day. For this event, a special collaboration with Norwich Castle will provide a comparative perspective for the roles that these ancient fortresses play throughout the changing times they have endured through. More information will be released shortly. You can read more about the project on Dr Benesch's website here.
Spring Semester Schedule
The full listing can be downloaded as a PDF here.
CJS Research Seminar: Extending Virtual Kyoto with Professor Keiji Yano
On 5 March, we were visited by Professor Keiji Yano of Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, who gave a talk on his long-running project 'Virtual Kyoto'.
Virtual Kyoto is a virtual time-space created on a computer for the purpose of investigating the past, present and future of the historical city of Kyoto, using the cutting-edge technologies in GIS and VR. (Yano et al., 2008). Professor Yano explained how Virtual Kyoto has evolved into various ways since 2002, adapting new technologies as well as new materials on Kyoto. This was demonstrated through stunning visuals of the street-by-street reconstructions of central Kyoto, the incredible amount of information and source material that had been used to put together such a detailed reconstruction that spanned several eras. This included not just key landmarks such as Nijo Castle and the Imperial Palace, but also the 50,000 traditional kyo-machiya houses that dot the city with meticulous accuracy as well as many industrial era Western-style buildings.
The talk also covered the various spin-off projects that had derived from Virtual Kyoto, including: an Augemented Reality smartphone app that provides a window into Virtual Kyoto as you walk the streets of Kyoto yourself; an open high-resolution database of historic maps; and high quality scans of modern buildings throughout the city.
CJS Research Seminar: Gender and National Image - Representations of figure skating in Japanese anime
On the 4 February, we were delighted to have Dr Michael Tsang visit from Newcastle University to give a talk on how, over the years, Japanese figure skating anime has reflected its real-world counterpart and the broader socio-political shifts of the time.
Such observations included the intimate relationship between multinational characters of Yuri on Ice being a means of conveying the desire of Japanese officials to cooperate internationally, as well as various references to 'bromance' as a reflection of the changing attitudes in Japan today on homosexuality. Dr Tsang also cited the fiery protagonist of Ginban Kaleidoscope as a symbol of female strength and independence, a casting off of 'Yamato Nadeshiko', the traditional Japanese concept of the kind, submissive female archetype.
A key aspect highlighted was the element of 'non-victory' whereby the protagnists failed to come out on top despite displaying superb skill. Dr Tsang associates this with a Japanese desire to appear as a non-threatening nation full of technical and artistic potential on a global stage and champion its ambition to constantly improve, although Dr Tsang acknowledged that if the protagonist wins outright then the anime is unlikely to get a sequel. The talk was then followed by an engaging Q&A where UEA Japanese Studies students fully took the opportunity to tangle with the notions put forward by Dr Tsang.
CJS Research Seminar: In Conversation with Anthony Thwaite
On the 23 January, following our MA Information Session, the first CJS Research Seminar of 2020 saw esteemed poet Anthony Thwaite join us to give readings of some of his best works to a full house. These were accompanied by Japanese translations provided by SISJAC's Ryoko Matsuba and Junzo Uchiyama, who gave powerful, evocative renditions of the classics. Anthony reminisced on his time in Japan at the University of Tokyo as the nation was rebuilding following the aftermath of the Second World War whilst in conversation with CJS Director Simon Kaner, who also got the opportunity to discuss their shared passion of archaeology. The evening was rounded off with a book signing of Anthony's new poetry compilation and platters of delicious sushi.
A bilingual English-Japanese edition of Anthony Thwaite's collection of poems can be purchased from amazon.co.jp. Copies can be bought and delivered to the UK.