Research

I have a broad range of research interests in the modern culture and society of Japan, but I categorise them into four main areas (although there is some overlap between them): 1) Immaterial culture, specifically the practice and transmission of tradition, 2) Subjective well-being and alternative lifestyles in rural contemporary Japan, 3) Regional revitalization and tourism and 4) Youth culture: I have recently started an ethnographic project about the local hip hop scene in Hokkaido. A main aim of this site is to introduce my research. It also contains a completely up-to-date publications list.

Group interview with Ogatsu Hoin Kagura Preservation Group in February 2012, Tokyo National Theatre
Photo : Group interview with Ogatsu Hoin Kagura Preservation Group in February 2012, Tokyo National Theatre

 

I find it quite hard to categorise myself as an academic. Having done translation and interpreting studies, Japanese studies / area studies and international relations at BA, MA and DPhil levels respectively, my present research could be described as Japanese Studies with an anthropological focus. I conduct interdisciplinary work on a wide range of topics blending the English- and Japanese-language literatures with extensive fieldwork mostly in rural areas that is possible by being based here in Japan.

The topics of my publications, therefore, are very varied. My DPhil work and first book Rethinking Japan’s Identity and International Role – An Intercultural Perspective was an analysis of Japan’s historical and cultural evolution since the mid-19th century. I have since published on regional revitalization and contemporary art, the practice and transmission of a variety of traditions in rural Japan, mostly intangible cultural property, such as festivals, Shinto dance and theatre, bullfighting and the like. Recently, I have been examining the motives, narratives and experiences of disaster volunteers in Northeast Japan since 2011. I have fieldwork experience in Niigata, Kagawa, Tokushima, Shimane, Miyagi, Iwate Prefecture and Hokkaido.

My current research project is entitled “Moratorium migration in contemporary post-growth Japan: Lifestyle volunteers between insecurity and fulfillment” and funded by JSPS Research grants-in-aid (16K03212, FY 2016-9).

Furthermore, I have recently started research into transnational migration of Japanese lifestyle migrants in Europe. More details will be posted in due course.

Fieldwork with disaster volunteers, August 2012, Rikuzen Takata, Iwate Prefecture
Photo : Fieldwork with disaster volunteers, August 2012, Rikuzen Takata, Iwate Prefecture

Photo: Hokkaido University Sustainability Weeks 2013, Global Issues Forum for Tomorrow Talk, October 2013

Photo: Hokkaido University Sustainability Weeks 2013, Global Issues Forum for Tomorrow Talk, October 2013