Japan Studies Talks: February 13 and 29 at JFT

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Japan Studies Talks: February 13 and 29 at JFT

Post  JF on Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:18 am

The Japan Foundation presents
Nature's Embrace: Creating a New Mortuary Ceremony in Contemporary Japan
A Talk by Professor Satsuki Kawano, University of Guelph
with commentary by Dr. John Traphagan, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Texas

Date: Monday, February 13, 6:30 pm
Location: The Japan Foundation , Toronto
Address: 131 Bloor St. W. , 2nd Floor of the Colonnade Building
Admission: Free
RSVP required: www.jftor.org/whatson/rsvp.php or (416) 966-1600 x102
Language: English

“I plan to have my cremated remains scattered on a mountain,” a seventy-four-year-old man living in Tokyo told Dr. Kawano during her field research. He described the site of ash scattering almost cheerfully; it would preferably have a view of Mt. Fuji and perhaps some delicate bellflowers. Yet, what would his son, relatives, or neighbors think?

For metropolitan residents in Japan , establishing a family grave to have their remains interred signals middle-class success and pride in family ties and continuity. What does it mean to forgo a family grave, a place that is highly valued and regularly visited across Japan to venerate the deceased loved ones? In this lecture, Dr. Kawano will explore ash scattering ceremonies conducted by the Grave-Free Promotion Society of Japan (Sôsô No Jiyû O Susumeru Kai) established in 1991. Contrary to the common assumptions that childless people usually elect ash scattering, a number of the Society’s members have adult children. By “returning to nature” and joining a benevolent force larger than their small family, such older urbanites seek self-sufficiency in their postmortem world. They choose ash scattering in part to lighten the survivors’ burden as a grave obligates their descendants to maintain it. Ash scattering reveals people’s attempts to remake their ties with their family, and serves as a window onto new patterns of generational relations in urban Japan .

About the speaker:
Satsuki Kawano is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Guelph . After receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh (U.S.), she held positions at Harvard University (Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of World Religions) and the University of Notre Dame (Assistant Professor) before joining the University of Guelph in 2004. Her research interests include ritual, death and dying, demographic shifts, aging, family, and kinship. As a Japan Foundation Fellow, Kawano conducted fieldwork for her project on Japan ’s low fertility in 2009. She is the author of Ritual Practice in Modern Japan ( University of Hawai’i Press , 2005) and Nature’s Embrace: Japan’s Aging Urbanites and New Death Rites ( University of Hawai’i Press , 2010).

The Japan Foundation presents
60 Years Later: The San Francisco Peace Treaty and the Regional Conflicts in East Asia
A Talk by Professor Kimie Hara, University of Waterloo
with commentary by Professor Nobuo Shimotomai, Faculty of Law, Hosei University ( Tokyo )

Date: Wednesday, February 29, 6:30 pm
Location:The Japan Foundation , Toronto
Address: 131 Bloor St. W. , 2nd Floor of the Colonnade Building
Admission: Free
RSVP required: www.jftor.org/whatson/rsvp.php or (416) 966-1600 x106
Language: English

In April 1952, against the background of the intensifying Cold War, the post-WWII Japanese peace treaty signed in San Francisco came into effect. The year 2012 marks the sixtieth anniversary since then. In East Asian nations, the time span of sixty years (“kanreki" in Japanese) has special meaning, signifying the end of one historical cycle and the beginning of a new spirit and a new era in time. In reality, however, the major destabilizing factors in this region are still the old lingering WWII/Cold War regional conflicts, such as the tensions in the Korean peninsula, the Taiwan Strait, and the territorial disputes between Japan and its neighbors. This presentation will focus on these unresolved problems in terms of their treatment in the San Francisco Peace Treaty, and consider their contemporary status and future trajectories in East Asia .

About the speaker:
Kimie Hara is a professor, the Renison Research Professor, and the Director of East Asian Studies, Renison University College , University of Waterloo . She specialises in modern and contemporary international relations of the Asia-Pacific region. Her books include “zaigai” nihonjin kenkyu-sha ga mita nihongaiko (Japanese Diplomacy through the Eyes of Japanese Scholars Overseas, 2009), Northern Territories, Asia-Pacific Regional Conflicts and the Åland Experience: Untying the Kurillian Knot (2009, edited with Geoffrey Jukes), Cold War Frontiers in the Asia-Pacific: Divided Territories in the San Francisco System (2007), and Japanese-Soviet/Russian Relations since 1945: A Difficult Peace (1998).

Her recent projects include examination of shifting regional orders in East Asia, as well as the major regional conflicts in East Asia and the Pacific that build on her earlier work on the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. She held visiting fellowships/professorships at the Kyoto University , the University of Tokyo , the International Institute for Asian Studies/University of Amsterdam , the East-West Center , Stockholm University , and the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Science. Professor Hara received a Japan Foundation Fellowship in 2010.


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