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No.8
Culture, No.8  Nov. 30, 2011

REASSESSING POST-3/11 JAPAN FROM AN AESTHETIC PERSPECTIVE

Viewing 3/11 as an intersection HAMANO Yasuki: A number of people have suggested that the Great East Japan Earthquake, or “3/11,” has provided an ideal opportunity to take a fresh look at Japan. You have summed up the issue very elegantly with the phrase “reassessing Japan from an aesthetic perspective.” What exactly did you mean by that? Hamano Yasuki HARA Kenya: I would just like to start by saying that 3/11 was a terrible disaster, so we need to make sure that we talk about it with the utmost respect. With that in mind however, I personally feel that 3/11 was a key intersection, or turning point. I’ll come back to this in more detail in a moment, but there have been other major events that have become turning points... [Read more]

No.8
Culture, No.8  Nov. 24, 2011

THOUGHTS ON YAMAMOTO SAKUBEI’S COALMINE PAINTINGS MODERNIZATION THAT DISAPPEARED AND UNESCO MEMORY OF THE WORLD

Painted records of coalmining now registered as Memory of the World The news that Yamamoto Sakubei’s painted records of coalmining were added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World (MOW) register on May 25 this year remains fresh in our minds. Accurately termed The collection of annotated paintings and diaries of Yamamoto Sakubei, this record includes 585 paintings, six diaries and 36 manuscripts among other documents at the Tagawa City Coal History Museum, together with four paintings, 59 diaries and seven manuscripts/documents donated by the Yamamoto family to Fukuoka Prefectural University (in Tagawa), for a total of 697 items. Yamamoto, who worked as... [Read more]

No.8
Culture, No.8  Oct. 4, 2011

MUSIC DOCUMENTATION AT THE NATIONAL DIET LIBRARY

We can find out about music and the history of its culture with the help of a range of resources including records, DVDs and other recordings, or audio-visual materials, musical scores, concert programs and so on. These materials about music are referred to as “music documentation”[1. In this article, music documentation is classified as follows on the basis of its content and format. Instruments are not included.The music itself: a) Recordings and audio-visual materials (documentation of actual performances of sounds or settings that have been recorded on some kind of medium such as records, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray etc.), and b) musical scores: Documentation about music, materials relating to themes and activities where music is concerned (including books and magazines on music themes, lyrics, concert pamphlets, posters etc.)] at the library. Music documentation at various institutions in Japan... [Read more]

No.7
Culture, No.7  Sept. 30, 2011

UMESAO TADAO AND 3/11

Introduction Umesao Tadao (1920-2010) was a Japanese anthropologist and ethnologist, in addition to being an intellectual who strongly influenced Japanese society in the 1970s to 1990s. His activities were not confined to ethnology but extended to social commentary and studies on civilizations around the world. In his earlier years, Umesao predicted the arrival of an information society as seen today, being endowed with foresight into future society and culture. He also had significant influence in business and political circles. He proactively supported Japan’s cultural diplomacy and contributed greatly to the establishment and operation of the Japan... [Read more]

No.7
Culture, No.7  Sept. 27, 2011

CREATING A BEAUTIFUL NIGHTSCAPE USING LESS ELECTRICITY

The anything-as-long-as-it’s-bright approach The title “lighting designer” tends to conjure up images of people installing excessive lighting and wasting electricity. That is a common misconception. As lighting designers, we have to be experts in illuminating locations as efficiently as possible, and in creating pleasant spaces that are also safe. When someone tells us exactly how much power they want to consume and how much they want to spend, we have the confidence to create the best possible lighting scheme in line with those requirements. Our job has nothing to do with needless extravagance. It is a question of providing lighting that people... [Read more]

No.7
Culture, No.7  Sept. 26, 2011

A JOURNEY ALONG THE DESTROYED OKU-NO-HOSOMICHI (NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH)

Not being able to offer even the nutrients of a slice of bread, nor the warmth of a single blanket, nor the usefulness of a single battery–this is what the words of poetry are all about. In particular, haiku poems are like fragments of words, with just 17 syllables. In the face of the overwhelming reality of the earthquake and tsunami disasters, I could not just sit there and say that a haiku poet does not need to concern himself with this. Wasn’t there something I should do too, even though all I had was 17-syllable poems? Uncertain feelings swirled around in my head. But I could not find an answer, no matter how hard I tried. I decided that I... [Read more]

No.7
Culture, No.7  Sept. 25, 2011

RECOVERY VIA STRENGTHS OF WORKERS (PART VI): TOHOKU ELECTRIC POWER

After the earthquake disaster, the first thing I wanted was light.” (Sato Shinichi, Director of General Affairs, Saito Hospital) “When the lights went on at home, I felt gratitude from the bottom of my heart.” (A woman living in the city) “The lights dispelled the anxiety that people were experiencing.” (Kimura Shin, Head of Disaster Countermeasures Office, Ishinomaki City) Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. When I came here on April 21 to research this story, I met many people who were happy that the rays of hope that light up people’s lives were making a comeback in their day-to-day lives. At the time of the disaster, a total of 4.86 million households lost power in the area under the jurisdiction of Tohoku Electric Power Company. The scale is 7 times that of the Miyagi-Oki Earthquake of 1978. In order to deliver power to users, a ... ... [Read more]

No.7
Culture, No.7  Sept. 24, 2011

RECOVERY VIA STRENGTHS OF WORKERS (PART V): CITY OF SENDAI GAS BUREAU AND THE JAPAN GAS ASSOCIATION

It was April 12, one month after the Great East Japan Earthquake. We visited Mikamine Park in Sendai’s Taihaku Ward, known as a scenic spot for cherry trees (sakura). While the trees had yet to bloom, in the park we saw a large tour bus with a Yamagata Prefecture license plate. Posted on the windshield of this bus, which appeared empty, was a paper reading “Chugoku/Shikoku Company, Squad No. 1-2.” It sounded like it came from the Japan Self-Defense Forces, but that was not the case. The passengers from this bus were employees of Hiroshima Gas and they had come to recover Sendai’s town gas system. The bus acted as a base camp on this day for the company’s Valve Opener Unit. According to Okazawa Keisuke, Manager of Public Relations at Osaka Gas who came to assist The Japan Gas Association (JGA) with public ... ... [Read more]

No.7
Culture, No.7  Sept. 23, 2011

RECOVERY VIA STRENGTHS OF WORKERS (PART IV): NTT DOCOMO • NTT EAST

How important a lifeline mobile telephones have become was brought home to many people in the recent earthquake disaster. Immediately after the earthquake struck on March 11, mobile telephones were unable to connect across a large area, including the Tokyo capital region, the reason being a concentrated and enormous volume of calls “reaching an unprecedented increase of 60 times normal levels.” (Fukushima Hironori, Director of the Disaster Countermeasures Office at NTT DOCOMO) The three mobile operators, DOCOMO, au (KDDI) and SoftBank Mobile, were forced to impose strict service restrictions of maximum 70-90%. Mobile phones were the first choice for confirming safety, a pattern of behavior completely different from the time of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. In addition, all the communications companies suffered unprecedented damage. Many communications facilities were swept away in the tsunami... [Read more]

No.7
Culture, No.7  Aug. 10, 2011

RECOVERY VIA STRENGTHS OF WORKERS (PART III): RESPONSIBILITY TO CUSTOMERS

The massive earthquake and tsunami damaged distribution channels of automakers. But cars and scooters are essential to recovery. “Even if it’s just one car, we want to make the delivery.” Honda Dream Tohoku and Sendai Toyopet Ishinomaki took action. Close to the mouth of the Kitakami River and at the northern tip of Ishinomaki City is a small village. In the Ohsashi District populated by fishermen’s households, about 200 residents were quietly forced to live as disaster victims, as if the world had forgotten them. Relief supplies from the JSDF and private volunteers finally began to steadily arrive, but the residents had one main concern. The undulating geography of the village made it difficult for the volunteer doctor to make the rounds of homes of the elderly, either by foot or bicycle. They realized they needed a scooter. Kofude Kaiji (second from left) traveled ... ... [Read more]