Newsletter Excerpts

from Newsletter No.2

Adrian James Pinnington

I graduated with a First in English Literature from the University of Sussex in 1977 and immediately went on to the same university’s graduate school, where I specialized in Renaissance English Literature, eventually writing a Ph.D. on the religious poetry of John Donne (awarded in 1982). I came to Japan in 1980 and taught English conversation while studying Japanese for one year at Sophia University. I began teaching English literature part-time at ICU in 1983 and full-time at Ferris University from 1984. In 1988 I moved to the Faculty of Law in Waseda University and in 2004 I moved to the newly established School of International Liberal Studies in the same university, where I teach mainly Japanese and Comparative Literature.

Over the years, I have continued to teach English literature and I have written articles not only on Donne, but also on Shakespeare, Dickens, Browning, Eliot, Auden and others. However, my main interest has shifted to Japanese literature. From the beginning ? and I think this reflects not only my background in English literature but also the interdisciplinary style of education I received at Sussex ? I was very interested in the interplay between Japanese and English literature, and I notice that one of my earliest publications (1985) was on Japanese versions of Hamlet (a publication that I was surprised and flattered to find reprinted in an American collection of essays on the subject in 1995.) In particular, I became interested in Arthur Waley and I wrote a number of articles on his translations of Japanese literature, especially The Tale of Genji. (Again I have been flattered, and indeed a bit taken aback, to find people interested in Waley searching out and reading these rather obscure publications.) I still hope to write a book-length study of this topic. I have also written about Pound and Yeats and Japan and also a number of articles on English translations of Japanese poetry. However, as my knowledge of Japanese language and literature has improved, I have also become increasingly interested in the impact of ‘Western’ ideas on Japanese literature and thought.

One example was the essay I wrote in 2002 titled ‘Yoshimitsu, Benedict, Endo: guilt, shame and the postwar idea of Japan,’ (Japan Forum, London) where I took up the contrast between Endo Shusaku’s strikingly liberal conception of Christianity with the far more conservative views of the European Catholic novelists that he is sometimes associated with. I argued that Yoshimitsu, Endo’s own teacher, had indeed been extremely conservative, but that the experience of defeat in World War II and Ruth Benedict’s view of Japan as a ‘shame culture’ had led Endo to a view of Christianity and indeed Japanese culture profoundly different from that of his own mentor. A more recent example of work of this kind is my essay ‘Foreign Bodies: race, gender and orientalism in Tanizaki’s “The Mermaid’s Lament”’ which will be published in Britain this year (in Japan and its Others, London.) In this essay I examine the impact of fin-de-siecle orientalism on Tanizaki; I argue that while Tanizaki did indeed try self-consciously to reproduce this in his own work, his own position as a Japanese author with a profound knowledge of Chinese literature inevitably led to an ironical distancing of orientalist themes in his works. I show how this operates in one of his ‘Decadent’ tales of China, ‘The Mermaid’s Lament’ (Ningyo no nageki). In a couple of more recent papers, I have extended this discussion to some of his later writings, emphasizing in particular the role of Burton’s translation of the Arabian Nights in Some Prefer Nettles (Tade kuu mushi). From now on, I hope to explore further the reception of English literature in Japan and the way in which it has been used by Japanese authors bent on their own purposes. (622)

from Newsletter No.3

Leith Morton (Professor at The Tokyo Institue of Technology)

Leith Morton was formerly senior lecturer in Japanese at the University of Sydney and foundation Professor of Japanese at the University of Newcastle. He now teaches English at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, where he is a full professor in the Foreign Language Research and Teaching Center and the Department of Value and Decision Science. His main research interests are modern Japanese literature, culture and aesthetics. His books include: Tales From East of the River (Melbourne: Rigmarole Press, 1982); Divided Self: A Biography of Arishima Takeo (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1988); The Fox (Tokyo: Kumon Publishing Co., Ltd, 1989) (illustrated by Murakami Yukuo); Editor (and translator with three others) Seven Stories of Modern Japan (Sydney: Wild Peony Press, 1991); (Edited and translated) Mt Fuji: Selected Poems 1943-1986 by Kusano Shinpei (Michigan: Katydid Press, 1991); (Edited and translated) An Anthology of Contemporary Japanese Poetry (New York & London: Garland Publishing 1993); The Flower Garland (Sydney: Island Press, 1993); a day at the races (Macao: English Dept., Univ. of Macao, 2003); Modern Japanese Culture: The Insider View (Melbourne: Univ. of Oxford Press, 2003); At The Hotel Zudabollo (Sydney: Island Press, 2004); Modernism in Practice: An Introduction to Postwar Japanese Poetry (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 2004); (Poetry Co-Editor and Co-Translator) The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature Volume 1: From Restoration to Occupation, 1868-1945 (New York, Columbia University Press, 2005); (Translator) Shuntaro Tanikawa: Selected Poems (Sydney: Vagabond Press, 2006); (Translator) Rin Ishigaki: Selected Poems (Sydney: Vagabond Press, 2006); (Translator) Masayo Koike: Selected Poems (Sydney: Vagabond Press, 2006); Tokyo: A Poem in Four Chapters (Sydney: Vagabond Press, 2006) and Yosano Akiko no ‘Midaregami’ o Eigo de Ajiwau (Tokyo: Chukei Shuppan, 2007).

from Newsletter No.5

Mitsuhito Tokunaga (Associate Professor at the Fukuoka Institute of Technology)

My major is modern Japanese literature and my research has been centred on the analysis of Soseki Natsume’s works. My dissertation, submitted to Osaka University, was published as ‘A Critique of Kokoro: A Novel Written by Soseki Natsume-’, by Kazamashobo in 2008. I was able to develop the research through an extensive analysis of the preceding paper through various interpretations.

Soseki is a native of Tokyo, so the language used in his works is based on the Tokyo dialect. In his novel Botchan, the main character comes from Tokyo and speaks in a Tokyo dialect, while the boys who attend a middle school in Matsuyama use dialectal accents.

It is interesting if one looks through the analyses of whether German can be translated well into foreign languages, in particular Japanese. To gain a good understanding of the difficulty of translating, one must not only translate literally dialects but also into words that are unique to the cultural background of the translated language. Keeping in mind German expressions that do not exist in translated language, one must use worldly knowledge to get the translated message across effectively.

Soseki's novels have been translated and published around the world and the extent of the research will reveal the current situation of Japanese studies around the world. Research methods in literary academia in Japan based on whether the work will be accepted in other countries or not could be very beneficial. Therefore, I presented conference papers at international conferences on Japanese Studies in countries such as China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia, Poland and Germany. In doing so, I not only visited institutions related to Japanese Studies in other countries, but was also in touch with students that were taught by the locals. At the same time, I know that former students who once studied in Japan and have graduated, hold current leadership positions in local universities and in the associations that specialize in Japanese Studies.

Japan and other Asian countries must establish friendly relations. However, tense political situations influenced by historical events deter such relations. The year 2005 was a time when relations with China deteriorated drastically, therefore Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi apologized officially at the Asia-Africa summit. I also examined the translations in Chinese and English to ensure that it expressed the intention of the Prime Minister correctly, and I presented the survey results at international conferences held in Shanghai. The Chinese word for ‘Deep remorse’ and ‘heartfelt apology’ received a response that seemed unsatisfactory. In the 21st century, it has been essential for people around the world to maintain and develop a good understanding of each others language and culture. In that sense, the duty imposed on language educators must be described as a heavy one.

I am involved in teaching Japanese to foreign students. I have also corrected master theses written by graduate students from China. In the process, I came across misinformation written by students. In order to clarify the situation, I analyzed a paper on writing material in which the students have to report on the use of an advanced second language. I also proofread the draft of appropriate textbooks for beginner, intermediate and senior students.

Now, I feel the situation is completely different from the effort required to learn Japanese by students in other countries that use Chinese characters, as in China, Taiwan and Korea. This is revealed by the fact that teachers engaged in teaching Japanese as a second language will now think seriously about that issue. Instructors must understand the background of why students misuse such expressions.

Moreover, I am in charge of the intercultural communication course at the institute. In the classroom environment it is necessary to build friendly relations between groups with different cultural backgrounds. I outlined it is essential to have an open attitude to different cultures in addition to the understanding of the language. In the matter of how we develop a positive attitude toward accepting other cultures, I believe that this task is now self-imposed.

I have been pursuing research on Japan and comparing it internationally with other countries. In the future, I hope to continue to develop international Japanese studies with various Japanese language materials.

from Newsletter No.6

Takashi Hirota (Professor at Kyoto Women’s University)

I would like to introduce my study and my new book “Photo Albums of Exported Textiles Produced by Takashimaya” which was published by Kyoto Women’s University at May 2009.

I have been studying Seiho Takeuchi, the modern Japanese style painter, who lived in Kyoto from the Meiji period to the Showa period.

At first, Seiho studied traditional Japanese style painting but he changed it from a traditional style to a modern one. He became a teacher of a modern style painting at Kyoto municipal school of art and craft. He also made Japanese style paintings for the designs of the textiles at Takashimaya.

Takashimaya was established in 1831 at Karasuma-Matsubara in Kyoto. At that time, Takashimaya was one of the mercery in Kyoto. When the foreign tourists came to Japan, almost all of them came to Takashimaya in the Meiji period. Takashimaya appeared as a famous souvenir shop in the foreign tour guide and foreigners bought embroidered silk-works and kimonos as their souvenirs. By the way, Takashimaya is presently known as a department-store.

In the Meiji period, the traditional industry, dyeing and waving, was innovated by the new chemical dyes from Germany and new designs of Japanese painters. The “velvet-Yuzen” was the combination of new chemical dyes and new designs of Japanese painters.

In 1887, Takashimaya made a trade section to export their new style embroidered silk-products works and ”Yuzen” dyed silk- products. Takashimaya exposed their large-size textiles to the world-expositions, for example Paris world-exposition 1900, Saint Louis world-exposition 1904 and Japan-British world-exhibition 1910 etc. Almost all of the textiles were designed by Seiho. Technicians of embroidery and Yusen-dyeing made textiles following Seiho’s Japanese style designs.

The real textiles overseas, exposed in the world-exposition, were exported by Takashimaya.

So the actual textiles are impossible to see. However, through the photos in this book, we can now able to see and enjoy Seiho’s legacy.

This book contains valuable documents to study the textiles-industry and designs of Meiji period in Japan. This is the first step of the study of the Takashimaya in the Meiji period.

from Newsletter No.7


(国際日本学会名誉会長 山形大学名誉教授)

夏目漱石の孫が山形に来た。漱石の長女筆子が松岡譲と結婚してその間に出来た子供である。五月十七日、十八日の二日間の山形への旅である。来られた のは、松岡陽子マックレーンさんと、漱石から一高、東大で英語を習った旧制山形高等学校教授島村盛助の四男の奥様、島村春江さん、それに松岡先生のオレゴ ン大学からの日本への留学生を十何年も引き受けてこられた伊東豊子さんの三人である。迎える山形側は、元山形銀行常務の設楽隆さんと私の二人であった。設 楽さんは前述島村夫人の亡くなった夫達彦氏と旧制山高時代の同級生とのことである。案内役を買って出られたが、その驚くべき博覧強記ぶりで二日間のガイド 役を見事にこなした。私は二日間これら四人の運転手役を務めた。松岡さんが来形されるに当たって、なぜ飯島に会いたいと声をかけて下さったのかという点に ついては、ひとつの機縁があった。1987年に、私は当時の文部省の出版助成金を得て、日本と外国の漱石研究家にそれぞれ英文で漱石論を執筆してもらい、 それを『漱石の世界』(The World of Natsume Soseki) (金星堂)と題する一冊の本にまとめて出版した。当時オレゴン大学に教鞭を執っておられた松岡氏にもその一人として寄稿していただいたのであった。二十三 年も前のこの英文著書のことはすっかり忘れかけていた折も折り、島村盛助と縁の深い山形を、その息子の嫁である島村春江さんの友人として松岡さんが来訪す る計画の中で、<山形に行くならば、あの時の英文著書の編者である飯島さんに会ってみたい>とのご要望から私に声がかかったという次第である。今は松岡氏 ひとりにしぼって、その印象を記してみたい。

松岡氏は戦後間もない昭和27年にガリオア留学生として、アメリカに渡り、オレゴン大学と大学院で学んだ後に日本語と近代日本文学を同大学で30年 教えて、現在は同大学名誉教授になっておられる。1924年生まれであるから、今年86歳になられるが、背筋がぴんと張っておられて、姿勢がすこぶる良い のが第一印象であった。それは同世代の日本の女性にはむしろ希な、自立した芯のつよい内面を垣間見させるような姿態に思われた。第一日目に山形大学のキャ ンパスに立ち寄ったとき、旧制山高創立四十周年記念の石碑を島村夫人と共に感慨深げに見入っておられた。松岡氏はどこに行っても、どんな説明を聞かれて も、通り一遍の聴取というのではなく、全身全霊を傾けて聴くという姿勢が印象的だった。山寺の芭蕉記念館には、この日松岡先生が行かれるというので、関係 者のご配慮で、一高、東大で英語を習った漱石先生から島村盛助に宛てた流麗な筆致の手紙が展示されてあった。興味深かったのは、そこで漱石、芥川、安部能 成などの関係資料を前にして、松岡氏はしばしば「漱石は、漱石は」とご自分の祖父のことを第三者として呼び捨てにしておられたことである。 それは、会っ たことがないので、文学史上、高名な作家であっても第三者として客観的に語れるとどこかに書いておられたとおりであった。まして、漱石を研究対象として研 究してこられたわけであるから、さもありなん、と思った。そのお人柄は、芯は強いけれども外に対してはあくまでもソフトで、決して偉大な祖父漱石を鼻にか けるというような素振りは微塵もなかった。そのことは「あなたは漱石の孫娘であることを少しも鼻にかけないで、誰に対しても同じように接しますね」とアメ リカの知人に言われたことがあると、その著『漱石夫妻―愛のかたち』(朝日新書)に記しておられることからも裏付けられる。そして、そのような社会的権威 によって人を区別するのではなく、誰に対しても平等に接する態度は、母筆子がそうであり、その態度は筆子の父、漱石からの親譲りの影響があったからかも知 れない、と同書に書いておられる。

松岡氏は日本が敗戦の荒廃状態からまだ立ち直っていなかったさなか、アメリカの経済援助の下に留学生活を彼の地で送り、やがてアメリカの若者たちに 日本語と日本文学を教えることによって、日米相互理解の橋渡しの役目を果たしてこられた。昼食のときに、話題がたまたま満六歳でアメリカに渡り、十年間ア メリカに学んだ津田塾創立の津田梅子のことに及んだ。私は、津田塾を卒業された松岡先生はベクトルは違うけれども、津田梅子の系譜に連なりますねと申し上 げた。片や英語とアメリカ文化を日本の子弟に教え、将来の国際人の養成に貢献し、片や日本語と漱石を始めとする日本文化を教え、アメリカ人の日本通を育成 したのだから。

やや事大主義的な言い方をすれば、日本とアメリカが戦争をし、日本が負けたから漱石の孫はアメリカに行き、異文化の国に定住し、彼の地で日本文化を 伝導してきたことになる。

日本を代表する文豪漱石先生は、自分の孫娘がアメリカ人と結婚し、彼の地に根を下ろし、その玄孫まで誕生しているというこの日米の深い絆を泉下でど のように見ておられるのだろうか。

from Newsletter No.7

Tanizaki Jun’ichiro and D.H.Lawrence

Koichi Kimura (Professor, Waseda University)

From the early years of the twentieth century, a new generation of writers in England and Japan sought within themselves an answer to the contemporary moral and philosophical crisis. It was a time of transition for them from a preoccupation with the ‘illusion of life’ espoused by the writers of naturalism to a thorough understanding of the visionary potential of symbolism. By evoking transcendental spheres in mystic and poetic images, they created psychological symbolism without deviating from narrative conventions. Prominent among these writers were Tanizaki Jun’ichiro (1886-1965) and D.H.Lawrence (1885-1930). Both were highly prolific. Tanizaki in particular remained creatively active well into the 1960s. In their writing, Tanizaki and Lawrence disassociated themselves from the traditional symbolism of aesthetes, from ‘the stream-of-consciousness’ technique that characterized psychological hyperrealism and from the parodic forms of modernists, offering instead a fairly obvious symbolic force full of sex/nature imagery. Their innovations introduced a positive element to the modern narrative and greatly influenced the course of imaginative writing in the twentieth century.

Both Tanizaki and Lawrence strongly believe in maintaining a vital connection between art and experience. They find external landscapes for their interior psychological struggles or states of mind. In their respective ways they are particularly obsessed with scenes of darkness, water and the moon. By introducing these in their narratives, both writers attempt to transcend the conventional literary world based on the stable ego of characters. Of course, the worlds they create inevitably reveal the differences at the core of their own cultures. The works of Tanizaki and Lawrence are the products not only of their creative originality, but also of the collective consciousness of their respective ethnicities and cultures. Generally speaking, Tanizaki’s world is related to the static and aesthetic element of life which has traditionally been based on the agricultural civilization of ancient Japan. On the other hand, Lawrence’s world is associated with the flowing and mobile way of life founded on the transient and primitive western community. It follows that Tanizaki’s world might well be formed by an observant and meditative attitude and Lawrence’s by a changing and transformative vision.

After the 1920s on the Japanese literary stage, some Japanese bohemians and aesthetic decadents including Tanizaki were concerned with the supreme truth hidden in the field of the subconscious and were busy searching for wonderful connotations of mystic ideas that would stand against the ugliness of the times. They were beginning to consume many experimental works of writers such as James Joyce, Aldous Huxley, Virginia Woolf and D.H.Lawrence, as well as the lost generation of American writers and French surrealistic poets. Especially, Tanizaki, with his superb English reading ability, absorbed highly advanced thoughts and skills from contemporary English novelists. Judging from the many translations of these writers at the time, it cannot be denied that Tanizaki hoped to find in such writings creative ideas appealing to his Oriental soul and satisfying his quest for the treasures of European culture.

The works of D.H.Lawrence might well have been included in the reading list of Tanizaki. However, he did not mention anything about Lawrence, and never referred to his works. Even now, this remains a great mystery. It is quite obvious that both writers also had a lot in common in their treatment of the modern sexual crisis through mystic realism. Moreover, Lady Chatterley’s Lover was published in 1928 and created a great sensation in the West and Japan. The choice of this work as the novel to be prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act was moreover a great shock to most lovers of English literature. At the same time, the immense weight of great writers’ testimonies as to the novel’s literary excellence and moral purpose was a palpable shock to the prosecution. From the literary situation of those days, Tanizaki would probably have read the original (or a pirated edition) and later must have examined the Japanese Version published in 1950. I do not believe that he would have been able to resist the intellectual temptation present in the work of Lawrence. I have tried in vain to find even the slightest sign of a reference to Lawrence.

Perhaps the only thing I can surmise here is that if Tanizaki had happened to encounter Lawrence’s works, he would certainly have read them. At a first reading, however, he would have found Lawrence’s literary world fundamentally different from his own. There might have been too much dissimilarity in their cultural and childhood backgrounds. Tanizaki, a city-dweller and an aesthete with a belief in ‘Jodo-shu’, may have felt somewhat hostile toward the puritanical miner’s son, Lawrence, with his wild and primitive spirit. Moreover, the contrasts between their respective narrative discourses and dialogues of the characters are obvious: one is decent, well-formed and educated; the other is coarse, repetitive and dialectal; the dissimilarities between the two are inevitable. This, however, may not suggest that Tanizaki could not sustain an interest in the works of Lawrence after reading them. In a sense, Tanizaki’s lack of a reference to Lawrence and his works may show the fact of his having read them with some curiosity. If so, would Lawrence’s imaginative way of writing have acted as a stimulant to his own creativity? How would the symbolic quality in Lawrence’s works have struck him? I will not dwell on these questions here for lack of space. In any case, Tanizaki and Lawrence concentrated in their writings on such subjects as sex, gender roles, the exercise of female power and nature symbolism. They intuitively worked their way into the concerns and anxieties of their contemporaries, though by doing so they also confirmed their alienation from the values of their age. In this respect, Lawrence’s idea of perverse sexuality, his bold treatment of the amorous and his narrative technique as in The Trespasser, The Rainbow, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Man Who Died, and as in his some short stories dealing with sado-masochistic impulse, would have provided great hints that may have been cleverly applied by Tanizaki in his creative process of writing. In sum, all I can suggest is that he might have used what Lawrence used from a different perspective, and adapted what he read to what he wanted to find. The discourse of Lawrence might have been less important than the process of its absorption within Tanizaki’s synthesizing and creative mind.

from Newsletter No.7

On Attention and the Translation of Literature

Daniel C. Strack (Associate Professor, The University of Kitakyushu)

Human attention is limited. I notice this every time I watch my first grade daughter doing homework. There are only a certain number of minutes she can do arithmetic problems before her mind wanders and she begins to stare vacantly around the room. As she gets older her ability to fix her concentration will undoubtedly develop but, even in adults, there are certain thresholds that limit our intellectual activities.

In my research on translation, I've noticed that attention plays a profound role in how readers of literature interpret texts. Every text has certain characteristics. Some texts are profoundly poetic, with ample permutations of alluring alliteration. Other texts focus primarily on meaning and place little emphasis on literary artifice. In some rare cases, for example Shakespeare's Sonnets or Basho's haiku, we find an exquisitely refined combination of poetic artifice and deep meaning. While a treasure to those who are able to appreciate nuances in the original language, such works present great challenges for translators. Apparently the translator's task is to detect distinctive form and meaning characteristics in the original and translate the text in such a way that both planes of expression may be detected by the reader in the translation.

Unfortunately, highlighting even one such aspect to the extent that the reader notices and appreciates it can be extremely difficult. Consider the following translation excerpts of Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem, "The Raven."

“The Raven”
by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore--
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“ 'Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door--
Only this, and nothing more.”




誰やら 部屋の戸をそっとノックする音のよう

In comparing these two translations, we notice profound differences in style and expression of meaning. Tanizaki Seij's translation, with its extensive use of alliteration, is obviously attempting to recreate the aural atmosphere of Poe's original poem in Japanese. By way of contrast, the translation used in the voice-over track from the animated television series, The Simpsons, places a premium on ease of understanding. Comparing the two, we notice a trade-off at work. To highlight a work's poetic texture, a translator tends to compromise the expression of its basic meaning. Alternatively, in securing the reader's instantaneous understanding of the poem's meaning, "poetic" aspects are entirely neglected. In both cases, the translator is making a choice concerning which part of the reader's attention he or she hopes to capture.

Is it possible to achieve high levels of similarity of both form and meaning when translating poetry? My tentative answer, an answer more fully developed in my 2007 book on the translation of literature, is…probably. Having said this, to do so will require as much or even more skill than was originally required to create the work being translated itself. Such is the completely unrealistic challenge presented to would-be translators of literary classics.

Works Cited

from Newsletter No.8

【Review】A Critique of Obedient Warriors, A Novel Written by Saburo Shiroyama, Tokyo, Soubunshashuppan 2012.

Mitsuhiro Tokunaga (Professor. Fukuoka Institute of Technology)

This is a critique, consisting of 11 chapters, on Saburo Shiroyama’s Obedient Warriors (Sunao na senshitachi; Shincho-sha, Tokyo, September 1978). A brief summary of each chapter is given below.

“Chapter One: Research Summary” gives a synopsis of the novel. In addition to presenting a perspective for reading the work, an attempt is made to validate the flow of time within the story. Moreover, an abbreviated summary of each chapter is provided.

“Chapter Two: The Reality of Planned Child-RearingAkio and Chie’s Relationship and Eiichiro’s Early Years,” which primarily covers the period up until the elementary school entrance exam and its aftermath, attempts to show that the precursors of the dead-lock and breakdown that Eiichiro experiences during adolescence are already apparent during his early childhood. Eiichiro, who grows up used to thinking in a self-centered and narrow-minded manner because he is cut off from contact with the outside world, evinces an emotional instability through a succession of incidents. The first is the viciousness that he displays toward the woman in the department store, a public venue. Eiichiro’s emotional instability later becomes apparent in his hostility toward his younger brother Kenji; his willfulness during the entrance exam for the elementary school affiliated with T National University, as well as during the interview, where we see a glimpse of the impact of his narrow home education; and in the scene at the elementary school where Eiichiro, after refusing to share a swing, throws a stone at a teacher.

“Chapter Three: Eiichiro in an Elite GroupDead-locked Gifted Education” gives a broad overview of Eiichiro’s development from the time he enters the public elementary school to the breakdown of gifted education in the Matsuzawa family, and attempts to clarify the elements that are lacking in the family’s education and to evaluate the importance of these elements. After entering the public elementary school, Eiichiro becomes known among his teachers as a difficult child with the tendency to make fun of others. However, at R Preparatory School, which he begins attending in his fifth year of elementary school, he achieves shining grades in line with his mother’s expectations, and subsequently passes the test to enter the highly selective private Z Middle School with excellent scores. Nevertheless, as he advances to the higher grades, he fails to catch up, and his grades begin to falter. As a first-year high school student, Eiichiro comes to hate his younger brother Kenji, who has surpassed him both academically and socially, and goes so far as to plan to eliminate Kenji. With the intention of pushing his brother to his death, Eiichiro takes Kenji up to the newly built condo that Chie and Akio are planning to purchase so that the brothers can live separately. However, the brothers have a scuffle and both end up falling off together. While Kenji escapes death and comes out relatively unscathed, Eiichiro falls into a coma, dashing Chie’s hopes of raising a child of “supreme freedom,” as she has the habit of saying.

“Chapter Four: The Abandoned Younger SonKenji’s Position,” discusses the younger brother Kenji, who, in contrast to the elder brother Eiichiro, is largely left to his own devices. Chie decides that Kenji, who is the result of an unplanned pregnancy, does not have the innate qualities necessary to become a prodigy, and constantly behaves as if it is only natural that Kenji should be treated as some sort of nuisance. Kenji, who grows up as an individual capable of taking action based on his own judgment, comes to harbor a fierce hostility toward his elder brother. He steadily retreats into sadness as his mother, no matter how hard he tries, continues to lavish love upon Eiichiro while treating Kenji like a pariah. Nevertheless, Kenji, instinctually sensing the enormous value that his parents place on gifted education, follows in his brother’s footsteps and goes on to attend R Preparatory School and takes the test to enter Z Middle School, and seems on the verge of overtaking Eiichiro.

“Chapter Five: Akio’s Silent VoiceAvoiding Marital Conflict” interprets the world of the novel from the perspective of Akio, who is effectively chained to Chie’s ambitions. Specifically, a psychological analysis of Akio is carried out with a focus on his negotiations with Chie, starting with their first meeting and continuing through to the incident where Eiichiro, as an elementary school student, throws sand in the face of a teacher at school. The reason why Akio goes along with gifted education for their eldest son is certainly due to the influence of Chie. Accordingly, an analysis of changes in Akio’s communication with Chie is arguably indispensable for a fundamental understanding of the novel.

“Chapter Six: Mounting DoubtsAkio’s Perspective,” a continuation of Chapter Five, primarily discusses the manner in which Akio engages with and watches over Eiichiro and Chie from the scene where the family commences full-fledged efforts to prepare for the Z Middle School entrance exam up to Eiichiro’s breakdown. During this period, Akio’s stance of complete submission to Chie, who unabashedly exhibits absolute confidence with regard to child-rearing, comes into plain view. Although Akio wholeheartedly adopts Chie’s ambition to get Eiichiro, after Z Middle School and High School, into the University of Tokyo Faculty of Law, he cannot help but harbor doubts with regard to Chie’s highhanded manner of child-rearing. Nevertheless, a pattern in which Akio reluctantly falls silenton the rationale that direct confrontation between husband and wife will cause Eiichiro to feel emotional instabilitybecomes firmly established between them.

“Chapter Seven: A Woman’s Existence and Elite TrainingChie’s Perspective” analyzes the novel from Chie’s point of view. After Eiichiro’s birth, Chie, arming herself with the latest child-rearing theories for realizing victory in the entrance-exam war, undertakes the work of child-rearing with absolute authority. Eventually, she gives up wearing makeup on the rationale that this will save money for education costs, drinks only hot water, and even rejects her sexual identity as a woman. Chie’s plan to leave a certain interval between the birth of her first and second child in order to achieve elite planned education is dashed when Akio gives himself over to a spur-of-the-moment passion and the couple make love, resulting in the conception of their younger son Kenji. This chapter takes up the questions of how Chie’s feminine and maternal aspects function, and how they slip into dysfunction.

“Chapter Eight: Clinging to Religion” considers how Chie’s fixation on helping Eiichiro pass the exam to enter Z Middle School approaches the level of religious devotion, and the painful manner in which this obsession is conveyed to Akio. It is not an exaggeration to say that the novel as a whole has a distinctly religious flavor, as Chie’s attitude constantlyfrom the time that Eiichiro as a fifth-grader commences full-fledged preparations for the middle school exam until he passes the test to enter Z Middle Schoolshows elements of a spiritual quest that cannot be completed unless Chie acts with thorough rigor and discipline. The nature of Chie’s fixation is clarified by tracing her steps and observing the manner in which her stance impacts Akio and Eiichiro. However, an argument could also be made that the reason the family is assailed after Eiichiro enters middle school is connected to the family’s disregard for religion at that point.

“Chapter Nine: Criticism from Outside the FamilySection Head Oishi” discusses those who are critical of the Matsuzawa family’s gifted education plan, focusing on section head Oishi, Akio’s boss at Q Company. By observing Oishi’s words and actions toward Akio, an attempt is made to provide a clear-headed reevaluation of the Matsuzawa family’s gifted education plan. The character of Oishi, who suffers an unfortunate career setback despite having graduated from a prestigious university, gives voice to the criticism of elite education.

“Chapter Ten: The Matsuzawa Family’s Broken Dream” conjectures about life for the family following the events described in the novel. Although Eiichiro’s life is saved, he is critically injured and does not regain consciousness. In a single instant, the plan that Chie and Akio have dedicated their lives to seeing through is demolished. Although the accident is a result of Eiichiro’s own actions, it is unlikely that Chie will be able to maintain her sanity unless she is able to justify the accident as being unpredictable and unpreventable. Instead of elite education, it is likely that Chie will end up accompanying Eiichiro to training in classes for the handicapped with the aim of providing self-reliance support, or providing continuing nursing care in the event that he remains in the hospital in a vegetative state. In the latter half of their lives, Chie and Akio will thus have to take on the new challenge of helping their mentally and physically disabled child become independent.

“Chapter Eleven: Does Gifted Education Create ‘Truly Free People’?” argues that understanding the novel as a condemnation of elite planned education makes it clear beyond any doubt that Chie’s obsessive fixation on gifted education derives from the powerful emphasis on academic performance rooted in Japanese society. Chie wants to give Eiichiro an education out of the desire to provide him with the opportunity to make limitless choices in life. By comprehensively evaluating the merits and demerits of this idea, an attempt is made to discuss the manner of education necessary to raise people of ability.

To assist readers in their understanding, a summary of the work, in both English and Japanese, has been appended to the end of this critique.

from Newsletter No.9

Copious Katakana Usage

Kaoru Tomita (Professor. Yamagata University)

IIJIMA Takehisa, a professor emeritus of Yamagata University, was generous enough to offer me, or I might be lucky to be invited to be as a member of the panel. It was November 27 in 2004, at which the symposium titled “Is heavy use of katakana in daily life all right?” (Katakana go no tayo: koredeiinoka!) organized by International Association of Japanese Studies and supported by Association for International Relations in Yamagata was held at the Central Community Center in Yamagata City. The concept of the symposium was that glorious numbers of katakana had been used in Japanese writings and it was the time to think about merits and demerits of copious katakana usage.

I was not a specialist for kana. What could be done by a layman of kana was buying New Katakana Words Dictionary published by Sanseido Co., Ltd. featured with being easy to read because of its big letters. This is a user-friendly one, especially for those whose eye sight is declining badly just like me. I have been frequently using it to make it sure whether some English words are used as Japanese katakana words. Besides buying dictionaries, what was exciting for exploring katakana world at that time was to check internet for their usage. It was the time when the internet was expanding rapidly and getting popular more and more among people of all ages. I was, however, one of typical persons who did not know how to operate new types of machines. Even now I prefer paper dictionaries to digital ones. I feel my blood pressure rises when some fatal troubles happen to my digital apparatus or proper buttons that lead me to find the items is hiding.

Anyway, after struggling to find items in some of Japanese corpora, I got several new katakana words that were popular at that time, such as depachika and gyaru and proudly introduced them at the symposium. Then there came a comment from the floor that they were not new words anymore. One of the 2012’s most popular katakana words may be “Isn’t it wild?” (Wairudo daro). Isn’t it better for the Japanese to say “Yaseiteki daro?” It is uncertain whether Yaseiteki daro would have been popular as Wairudo daro, though.

I am ashamed to say that I have not studied Japanese language very well and I am not an expert for kana yet. All I know is that katakana is one of the important language materials to study from multiple linguistic viewpoints. It is one of the Japanese loan words that have been imported from several languages, such as Portuguese, French, Russian, German and English. How these foreign words have been assimilated into Japanese is one of the essential and exciting linguistic topics. In what ways these assimilated words have been used is also a stimulating topic for researchers of Japanese usage? Effects of loanwords in Japanese on learning of English, the topic found in the book titled Japan’s Built-in Lexicon of English-based Loanwords written by Frank E. Daulton and published by Multilingual Matters LTD., happens to be one of my own interests.

Katakana is popular among university students. It is sometimes surprising to find that students in my class like to talk about katakana words including old and new ones and their effects on pronunciation of English words. Merits and demerits of katakana words in Japanese for foreign language learners have been referred to by people of several fields and the latter might have been focused on in their discussions. As for pronunciation of English words, the effects of their corresponding katakana words have been regarded to be negative ones and I have been supporting that opinion. The author of the book described previously, however, points out that there exist many anecdotal accounts of transfer errors, usually including hyperbolic condemnation of English-based loanwords. He further states that one of the chapters of this book contrasts these with the mounting empirical evidence that English-based Japanese loanwords assist the learning of their corresponding English borrowed words. How exciting this statement is! There seems to be vast areas to be exploited as for katakana world.

from Newsletter No.10 (2014)

Creating poetry with Active Listening

Tomoko Nakashima (Kobe University of Welfare), and Hiroko Nakajima (Fukuyama Heisei University)

Rebellious With Grace : The Subtle Charisma of Selected Contemporary Authors and What Japanese Women Owe to Them −The case of Setouchi Jakuchô (瀬戸内寂聴), Kirishima Yôko (桐島洋子) and Yû Miri (柳美里)−

Muriel Jolivet (Sophia University)

The Influence of American Literature on Haruki Murakami: A Reconsideration

Kenichi Sato (Tokyo University of Science)

Shoyo Tsubouchi’s Child Drama

Takeo Fujikura (Waseda University)

Rivals or allies in Japanese court poetry? Appropriation of Man’yōshū in poetry of Rokujō and Mikohidari school members

Małgorzata Karolina Citko (University of Hawaii at Mānoa)

The Receiving of Greek Culture in East Asia

Furnari Rosa Isabella (Catania’s University in Sicily- Italy)

Mushrooms in the anime forest: When atomic explosions first appeared in Japanese TV series for children

Marco Pellitteri (Kōbe University, Japan Foundation Research Fellow)

The oyatoi gaikokujin (御雇い外国人) and the scientific modernization of Japan

Giovanni Borriello (Roma Tre University, Italy)

On the Problem of Iconographical Changes in Contemporary Netsuke

Tatiana Yahiro

Meaning and work: Lives and livelihood of young artists in Osaka

Iza Kavedzija (Osaka University/University of Oxford)

Deconstructing representations of Ono no Komachi as a Japanese femme fatale in contemporary and popular culture

Karolina Slawomira Broma-Smenda (University of Warsaw)

Japanese language learners’ experiences abroad: social networks, interaction and language usage

Rikki Campbell (Monash University)

Repetitions and repair in Japanese conversations between nonnative and native speakers: A case of interaction in a homestay setting

Sae Bando (Waseda University)

School Excursion and Intellectual Exchange in Meiji Era: A Case of Beginning of Kumamoto-Okinawa Relations

Ayumi Matsunaga (Institute of Policy Research, Kumamoto City)

The Impact of Canon of Leke Dukagjini on the Rule of Law in Albania: A brief Overview

Blendi Barolli (Niigata University)

Geotourism: A New Paradigm in Nature Conservation in Contemporary Japan

Abhik Chakraborty (Izu Peninsula Geopark)

A Challenge for Rural Tourism Attraction: Case Study of Mine City, Yamaguchi Prefecture

Munehiko Asamizu (Yamaguchi University)

Adaptive Resource Management and the State of the Fisheries in Himeshima, Oita

Shamik Chakraborty