Program Highlights


MoriokaThe 2012-13 Way Lecture on May 13 featured Michiyo Morioka, whose talk was titled “Paper Bullets: Frances Blakemore’s War Propaganda Leaflets against Japan 1944–45.”  Blakemore was a UW graduate, long-time resident of Japan, and member of the Civil Information and Education Section of the General Headquarters led by General Douglas MacArthur.  Morioka explored the leaflets designed by Blakemore and their effect on the Japanese toward the end of the war.  She is an art historian based in Seattle and received her PhD from the University of Washington.

Kenneth B. Pyle presented the 2013–14 Way Lecture on November 18 and spoke on “Hiroshima and the Historians.”  His discussion probed the continuing controversy among historians on the decision to use the atomic bomb.  Pyle is the Henry M. Jackson Professor of History and Asian Studies and has explored this subject in a graduate seminar he’s offered over the last two decades.


The Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas at the Seattle Art Museum brought a variety of scholars to Seattle for the autumn 2013 Saturday University Lecture Series titled “Empires that Changed Asia.”  As part of their visits, two of the Japan scholars in this series also gave talks at the University of Washington: Mary Elizabeth Berry’s presentation on November 15 was titled “Educating the Material Girl in Edo-Period Japan,” and Louise Young’s talk on December 6 was about her new book, Beyond the Metropolis: Second Cities and Modern Life in Interwar Japan (University of California Press).  Two more participants in the SAM series will be on campus in early 2014: Tom Hare will speak on February 28, and Michiko Suzuki will give a presentation on April 11.  The Japan Studies Program is grateful for generous support from SAM for these visitors to campus.



Students in Andrea Arai’s class on “Media and Popular Culture in Japan” got an early start on the subject in spring 2013.  Through special arrangements with event organizers, students were able to participate in Sakura-con, the biggest anime convention in the Pacific Northwest.  The students’ experience began with a pre-observation meeting to discuss things to look for, how to pay careful attention, taking notes, starting conversations, what questions to ask, and how to continue conversations.  The class split into small groups for observation and interviewing, and met again several hours later to share experiences and conversations. Following the event, students reviewed their impressions and wrote up their “field notes” to post on the class discussion forum.  The observations were used as examples for the course’s final ethnographic project.

Plans for the 2014 convention include a panel participation by UW students, with presentation of student papers and discussion of their research.  In turn, convention organizers will be invited to speak in class.  Arai will expand coursework beyond the Sakura-con project to include fieldwork from Shin Okubo (the new pop culture Korea town near Shinjuku) to examine cross-national cultural spaces.  This project aims to add an anthropological lens to writing and thinking about how Japanese media and popular culture is imagined, exhibited, and participated in, outside Japan.



Keijiro Suga of Meiji University, Tokyo, will join with UW faculty Davinder Bhowmik and Ted Mack to teach a graduate seminar at UW in spring quarter 2014.  Suga is a professor in the graduate program of Digital Content Studies and is author of many books, including Columbusʼ Dog (1989), The Moon When the Wolves Run Together (2012), Coyote Reading (2003), Omniphone (2005), Honolulu, braS/Zil (2006) AgendʼArs (2010), The Water of the Island, the Fire of the Island (2011), and The Rain that Falls on the Sea (2012).  He received the Yomiuri Prize for Literature in 2011 for his travel essay Transversal Journeys (2009), and he has translated several works of fiction, including Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.


The Asian Law Center in the UW School of Law celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012–13 with a series of conferences and lectures.  From its beginnings with just one faculty member, the center has grown to become an international hub of legal thinking, with multiple generations of graduates serving as leaders in business, government, and academia.  Dongsheng Zang, associate professor of law, was recently appointed as center director, and the center launched a new Asian Law Lecture Series in autumn 2013.  (Japan-related events in the center are listed on the Japan Studies website.)