nv-covers-vol-04

New Voices

Volume 4
Published January, 2011
ISSN 2204-194X
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21159/nv.04
© The Japan Foundation, Sydney, 2011

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Two mutually dependent ideologies emerged during the first few decades of the Meiji period (1868-1912): universal education and nation. Both ideologies sought to redefine existing perceptions of childhood as a period of life subordinate to status, to a unifying experience for all subjects of the nation state. This paper examines coloured woodblock prints (nishikie) of ethical themes produced by the studio of Utagawa Kuniteru and the newly formed Ministry of Education, and Inoue Yasuji between 1873 and 1887, and the new notions of children and childhood the prints espoused. The means by which these images were distributed, their subjects, and the visual and design devices that they employed contrived to identify children with education and a new repertoire of civic duties, which bound them to the state and subjected them to new kinds of disciplinary power.

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The word gaijin, typically glossed as ‘foreigner’, has been the focus of academic interest spanning across several disciplines, ranging from studies in intercultural communication, discourse analysis, and discriminatory language. These studies have perhaps logically been confined to the context of Japan, as it makes sense to study ‘foreigners’ in a context in which they are indeed ‘foreign’. It may be by an extension of this logic that the use of the word gaijin has not been studied in contexts outside of Japan at all.

This study made use of a novel methodology of focus groups and follow-up interviews to capture the use of the word gaijin by members of the Japanese speech community in Sydney, to ascertain empirically how members of the community use the word gaijin, and in what contexts such usage occurs. The article identifies the interpretations of the word of native and non-native speakers of Japanese, and discovers two models of the use of the word gaijin.

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This article outlines the legislative changes regarding Japanese working women in the 1990s, specifically the changes to the Labour Standards Law. This Law was altered in 1997 (effective 1999) by the removal of a number of provisions known as the Women’s ‘Protection’ Provisions (josei hogo kitei). These gender-specific provisions restricted Japanese women from working particular jobs and hours, and limited overtime and holiday work.

The role of these gender-specific provisions is examined through a collection of articles from four of Japan’s mainstream daily, widely-circulated newspapers: the Asahi Shinbun, the Mainichi Shinbun, the Nihon Keizai Shinbun, and the Yomiuri Shinbun. These newspapers were of the opinion that the provisions were simultaneously protective and restrictive towards women. The newspapers all supported the removal of the provisions in order to increase equality in Japan’s workforce and society. However, all presented strong concerns that Japanese society was unable to support these changes.

This article situates the law reform within the wider context of 1990s Japan, by tracing the links between labour legislation and socio-cultural issues in Japan, particularly the low fertility rate. This article closes with an evaluation of changes within Japanese society and working habits since the removal of the provisions.

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This article examines the circulation and reception of the original Japanese shōjo manga text, Hana Yori Dango, through the three sites of Taiwan, Korea and Japan to both identify similarities and to investigate also specific differences between versions and how these differences relate to both cultural distancing and to cultural proximity.

The distance-closeness binary is most informed by the historical relationship Japan has had under Western socio-politico-cultural subjugation that in turn has informed the colonial relationship both Taiwan and Korea have had with Japan. The remnant of these (ongoing) relationships has directed a subjective encoding onto versions of the text adapted in East Asia. Therefore, the appearance of similarity between versions is underscored by social, political and cultural differences contextualised locally and promoted globally as a polymorphous and multilayered plurality.

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Post-World War II, the Japanese language has experienced massive influxes of foreign words and expressions into its lexicon, known as “loanwords” or borrowings. These lexical items are commonly written in Japanese using katakana symbols. Transliterating these words into katakana accurately is a primary source of difficulty for foreign learners of Japanese. Previous studies in the field of learners’ transliteration of foreign loanwords have focused mainly on error analysis and no formal study has investigated the basis for learners’ methods of transliteration.

Using a combination of interviews and think-aloud procedures, 21 students at the University of Queensland, who were studying 1st year Japanese courses, were surveyed. The students transliterated a list of selected loanwords and expressions into katakana, while responding to inquiries about their transliterations and verbalising their mental processes. These interviews were then analysed for evidence of strategies. The students also completed a short survey on their learning background and exposure to the Japanese language outside the classroom. Strategies were subsequently identified and the answers to the surveys were analysed for evidence of correlations between students with a higher level of accuracy in transliteration and their strategies and extra-curricular exposure.

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The purpose of this article is to investigate the importance of intertextual references in the films of one of Japan’s most successful contemporary comedy filmmakers, Mitani Kōki. Since Mitani consciously makes references to other films, intertextuality works as a key element to comprehend his works. Although the recognition of the references used in his films is not too significant to influence entertaining perspectives, the absence of these detailed intertextual components would prevent the films being recognised as ‘Mitani films’.

By analysing all of his four films, this article will provide a useful example of the idea of intertextuality. In addition, this study will also focus on Japan in the 1990s, when Mitani debuted as a film director. This is an important point to be discussed, since his film-making approaches seem to be significantly related to the social background of the time.

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Social Networking Sites (SNSs) such as “Facebook” and “MySpace” have been used by many people from different countries around the world, and they have recently been applied to second language (L2) learning, both inside and outside classrooms. A number of researchers have investigated the utility of SNSs, and some language researchers have studied the use of SNSs for L2 learning in language classrooms. However, the study of the usage of SNSs for L2 learning outside the classroom has not yet been studied thoroughly, despite the fact that many communities and groups exist for users who are interested in learning L2 on such sites.

This article examines the nature and extent of SNS communities available specifically for L2 learners of Japanese, and describes the usage which is being made of these communities in particular on the SNSs, “mixi” and “Facebook”. Furthermore, the beneficial aspects of using such sites for L2 learning will be discussed.

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Shinsengumi, a group of young men recruited by the Bakufu to protect Kyoto from radical Imperial House loyalists in the tumultuous Bakumatsu period, is romanticised and idolised in Japan despite its limited place in history. This article attempts to comprehend this phenomenon by locating the closest crystallisation of popularly imagined Shinsengumi in Moeyo ken, a popular historical fiction by Shiba Ryōtarō. Antonio Gramsci explains readers are attracted to popular literature because it reflects their ‘philosophies of the age’, which may be discovered by examining popular heroes with their subsequent replications.

This article will identify why Shinsengumi is appealing by comparing Shiba’s hero in Moeyo ken with its twenty-first century reincarnation in Gintama, a popular manga series, and by discerning reader response to Moeyo ken from customer reviews on Amazon.co.jp. It will be demonstrated from these studies that a likely reason for the Japanese public’s romanticisation of Shinsengumi in recent years could be their attraction to autonomous, self-determining heroes who also appreciate the value of community.

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This article analyses the structures and implications of Japan’s contemporary street fashion cultures, primarily those of Harajuku. Using Roland Barthes’ analogy of dress and dressing it situates the radical subcultural styles within traditional Japanese aesthetics and in a wider history of fashion. Examining various motifs from kawaisa to uniforms, cross-dressing, masks and the politics of second-hand fashion, it deals with theories of authenticity, appearance and agency.