Events 2006

The Donald Keene Center celebrates its 20th Anniversary in 2006!

For the past 20 years, the Keene Center has adhered to its founding mission of fostering interest in and advancing the understanding of Japan and its culture. On this notable anniversary, the Center seeks to expand its scope and pursue new directions in the study of Japan. We invite you to join us as Friends of the Center. Please read a message from our director and information on participating in our GLOBAL JAPAN: Past, Present, and Future initiative.

January 26

Marketing the Bunjin: TAKEBE Ayatari as an 18th-Century Entrepreneur of the Arts
Dr. Lawrence Marceau (Senior Lecturer in Japanese, University of Auckland)
403 Kent Hall, Columbia University (116th St. and Amsterdam Ave.)
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
In early-modern (Edo/Tokugawa period) Japan, artists, writers, and poets known as bunjin actively portrayed themselves as transcendent followers of "art for art's sake." Realities of survival for many bunjin dictated that they actively pursue wealthy patrons, informally organized groups of paying disciples, or other sources of income in order to support their "refined" pursuits. In this illustrated lecture, Dr. Marceau examines a third approach which he asserts TAKEBE Ayatari took pains to pursue: publishing. Dr. Marceau will present Ayatari as a publishing entrepreneur who used his connections in Japan's urban centers to promote his ideals in dynamically successful ways in the 1760s and 1770s.

February 2

"Korean Influences in Japanese Culture" Lecture Series
The Dual Career of 'Arirang': The Korean Resistance Anthem That Became a Japanese Pop Hit
E. Taylor Atkins (Associate Professor of History, Northern Illinois University)
403 Kent Hall, Columbia University (116th St. and Amsterdam Ave.)
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
This lecture will address the multiple cultural uses to which the "Arirang" song was put during the Japanese colonial occupation of Korea (1910-1945). The presentation will include examples of "Arirang" songs by Koreans and Japanese from this period as well.

Co-sponsored by The Weatherhead East Asian Institute and The Center for Korean Research

February 8

Lecture: Bashōfu: Japan's Folk Craft Movement and the Construction of a New Okinawa
Dr. Amanda Mayer Stinchecum (Historian)
403 Kent Hall, Columbia University (116th St. and Amsterdam Ave.)
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
From the time of his first visit to Okinawa in 1938, YANAGI Sōetsu, founder of Japan's Folk Craft (Mingei) Movement, promoted an image of bashōfu (cloth made from the fiber-banana ) as emblematic of an essentialized, idyllic and homogeneous Okinawan culture. Yanagi's view of Okinawa as a "tropical country," a southern island paradise, became the theme of the islands' tourism industry after Japan's defeat in 1945.

Since the 16th century, bashōfu has clothed the people of the Ryukyu archipelago, from Ryukyu's kings to its poorest villagers. Production and use of the cloth persists today. Through the intervention of Yanagi and his colleagues, the Mingei view of Okinawa has shaped an image of the islands that came to be held by both Okinawans and Mainland Japanese. This lecture examines bashōfu as one medium through which members of the Mingei Movement and other outsiders, and through them, Okinawans themselves, have defined Okinawan identity.

Dr. Amanda Mayer Stinchecum is an independent scholar specializing in the history of Ryukyu/Okinawa. She focuses on cultural and economic history, issues of marginalization, tourism development, and identity as viewed through the medium of textile and clothing production, technology, design, and use.


February 23

What Did a Regent Do? Regent FUJIWARA Tadahira in the 930s
Joan Piggott (Gordon L. Macdonald Professor of History, University of Southern California)
403 Kent Hall, Columbia University (116th St. and Amsterdam Ave.)
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
What did a regent do at the Heian court from the later ninth through the later eleventh centuries? In the English historiography, the regent has generally been portrayed as an autocrat whose paramount power was rooted in "marriage politics"—his control over a child monarch through the monarch's mother, in a society where uxorilocality was customary—and buttressed by his martial Minamoto "claws and fangs." As for how a regent ruled, we find mention of the idea of "household government" (mandokoro seijiron), suggesting that the regent's household chancellery itself ruled the tennô's realm in patrimonial fashion. While this idea has been rejected by experts in Japan, there is a lively debate among specialists as to how regents actually led court and realm from the later ninth through the early eleventh centuries, and the resulting shape of the monarchy and polity of their era.

As a historian keenly interested in the course of monarchy and state formation in Japan—Professor Piggott is presently writing a monograph entitled On Beyond Shômu concerning those very issues—she was initially drawn to the journal of FUJIWARA Tadahira (880-949), the Teishinkôki, in search of evidence concerning the operation and character of the early regency as it was being routinized during Tadahira's day. In this presentation, she focuses primarily on how Tadahira exercised his regental prerogatives and his relationship with other court officials, including the monarch. As will become clear, Tadahira was much less an autocrat than a chief executive who managed a team of courtier-officials and colleague-rulers, including the retired tennô, members of the Council of State, and relatives from his own family who served both inside and outside of the child tennô's residential palace. Under the regency of Tadahira, tennô-centered government and its ritsuryô process continued, but there were nonetheless adaptations in and challenges to both hallmarks of the earlier charter era.

March 2

Screening and Discussion: Original Child Bomb Linda Hoaglund (Senior Film Curator, Japan Society), Carey Schonegevel McKenzie (Director),
Greg Mitchell (Author)
304 Barnard Hall, Barnard College
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM Inspired by Thomas Merton's poem, ORIGINAL CHILD BOMB shows the human cost of nuclear weapons. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are depicted through declassified footage, photographs, drawings and testimonies of mothers, brothers and soldiers. Ordinary people gaze upon the nuclear past and its terrifying present. They expose the political rhetoric surrounding "security" and "weapons of mass destruction." The film is a wake-up call and an invitation to action.

March 9

"Korean Influences in Japanese Culture" Lecture Series
Between Life and Death: Diaspora and Koreans in Japan
Sonia Ryang (Associate Professor of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University)
403 Kent Hall, Columbia University (116th St. and Amsterdam Ave.)
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Many researchers on Koreans in Japan, especially those with political conscience and passion for justice, argue that Koreans in Japan are treated like sub-humans, second-class citizens, and are discriminated against inside Japanese society.

In this talk, Professor Ryang makes the case that, in fact, they are not discriminated against inside Japanese society, since they actually stand outside Japanese society, and that discrimination arises from the fact that they are merely and nakedly human, and not sub-human. Furthermore, Professor Ryang maintains, to suggest that they are treated like second-class citizens would be missing the point, since they are in no sense citizens of Japan in any capacity whatsoever. The talk seeks to resolve this conundrum.

Co-sponsored by The Weatherhead East Asian Institute and The Center for Korean Research

March 23

Lecture: Singing Tales of the Gishi: Naniwa-bushi and the 47 Ronin in Meiji Japan

Henry Smith (Professor of Japanese History, Columbia University)
403 Kent Hall, Columbia University (116th St. and Amsterdam Ave.)
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
The art of storytelling known as "naniwabushi" (or "rôkyoku") emerged in early years of the 20th century as the first true medium of mass entertainment in modern Japan, spreading through live performance, phonograph records, and radio. Although it hangs on by a thread today, its impact on modern Japanese popular culture was immense. This talk explores the special role of the singer TÔCHÛKEN Kumoemon and his tales of the 47 Ronin in helping to raise naniwabushi from the art of lower-class street performers to the "voice of the Japanese nation."

April 12

Special Tea Demonstration and Lecture
Dr. Genshitsu Sen
Low Memorial Library, Rotunda, Columbia University (116th Street btw. Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.)
4:00 PM - 5:10 PM
RSVP by April 7th

April 12

Awarding of the First Annual Donald Keene Prize for the Promotion of Japanese Culture
Annual Soshitsu Sen XV Distinguished Lecture on Japanese Culture by Donald Keene: "To Japan by Way of Columbia"
Low Memorial Library, Rotunda
Columbia University (116th Street btw. Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.)
5:30 PM

RSVP by April 7th

Note Regarding Passover
We regret that these events coincide with the observance of the Eve of the First Day of Passover. Whilst every consideration was made to avoid this conflict, the recipient of the Donald Keene Prize is traveling to the United States from Japan within a very limited schedule. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

In order to accommodate those who will be observing the Eve of the First Day of Passover (Candle Lighting Time is 7:13 pm on April 12), the Keene Center will hold a Special Tea Demonstration from 4:00 to 5:10 pm in the Rotunda of Low Memorial Library. The Demonstration will be given by the Former Grand Master of the Urasenke School of Tea, Dr. Genshitsu (Hôunsai) Sen. In addition, this year's Sen Lecture will begin slightly earlier than the accustomed time. We thank everyone for their gracious understanding.


April 21

Award Ceremony for the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature
Main Reading Room, C.V. Starr East Asian Library
Kent Hall, Columbia University (116th St. and Amsterdam Ave.)
6:00 PM
Damian Flanagan, for his translation of The Tower of London by NATSUME Sôseki

Yosei Sugawara, for his translation of The Gift of Numbers by OGAWA Yôko

RSVP by April 14th

The Donald Keene Center celebrates its 20th Anniversary in 2006!

For the past 20 years, the Keene Center has adhered to its founding mission of fostering interest in and advancing the understanding of Japan and its culture. On this notable anniversary, the Center seeks to expand its scope and pursue new directions in the study of Japan. We invite you to join us as Friends of the Center. Please read a message from our director and information on participating in our GLOBAL JAPAN: Past, Present, and Future initiative.


September 28th, 2006

"Spiritual Matters: Material Culture and Japanese Religion" Lecture Series:
The Sword and the Jewel: Symbols of Life and Death in Medieval Japan
Bernard Faure, Columbia University
403 Kent Hall
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

In medieval Japan, a number of Buddhist deities emerged, whose main function was to increase human life - to protect that life from the outset, during the first stages of embryonic gestation - and to transform death into a preliminary, quasi-embryological, preliminary stage toward rebirth. These deities were often connected by specific symbols, for instance the wish-fulfilling jewel (cintâmani) and the sword. This talk will focus on two such figures, Aizen and Fudô, and on their role in medieval representations of power and fecundity.


October 5th, 2006

Teaching and Learning Japanese from a Multidisciplinary Viewpoint
Wako Tawa, Amherst College
403 Kent Hall
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Discussing how best to teach Japanese as a foreign language is meaningless unless teachers of Japanese are aware of the process that students go through to learn the language. Understanding how an adult student learns a foreign language, however, is not an easy task, because it requires knowledge in more than one disciplinary field. The talk addresses this issue and discusses its implications for the teaching of Japanese as a foreign language.

October 19th, 2006

"Spiritual Matters: Material Culture and Japanese Religion" Lecture Series:
Nenbutsu: From Mantra to Manzai
Mark Blum, SUNY Albany
403 Kent Hall
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
The nenbutsu is a unique form of religious expression in Japanese cultural history. Because its verbalization was preferred over its original usage in visualization meditation, it took on a variety of liturgical forms that led to its jump into art and theatre. Below is a fourteenth-century picture of Kuamidabutsu, a disciple of Hônen, leading a performance ritual of elegantly sung nenbutsu.

October 27th-28th, 2006 (Friday – Saturday)

Twentieth Anniversary Symposium, "The Past and Future of the Book: Transition and Translation in Japanese Publishing Culture"
This symposium is made possible by the Hiroshi Nitta Fund of the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture, and is cosponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, the Medieval Japanese Studies Foundation, and the C.V. Starr East Asian Library.

October 27th, 2006

403 Kent Hall
9:00AM - 4:50PM

Academic Conference: "Texts and Contexts: Historicizing Japanese Literature in the Meiji, Taishô, and Early Shôwa Periods"

9:00AM – 12:20AM Morning Session

Kôno Kensuke (Nihon University)

* "1930-40 nendai no shuppan bunka to bungaku no keishiki: Sengo bungaku to dôjin zasshi" [English title: Postwar literature and literary coterie magazines]

Yamamoto Yoshiaki (Gakushûin University)
* "Media no naka no ‘shishôsetsu sakka’: Kasai Zenzô no ba’ai" [English title: The media and the I-novelist]

* These two papers will be delivered in Japanese.

"Seeking the Concourse of Voice and Écriture: Rethinking the Genealogy of Modern Japanese Poetry"
Tsuboi Hideto (Nagoya University)

2:00PM – 4:50PM Afternoon Session

Sari Kawana (University of Massachusetts)
"Incompetent Authors and Efficient Editors: Behind the Scenes of Modern Japanese Literature"

Ted Mack (University of Washington)
"Diasporic Imperialism: 'Colonial Literature' in São Paulo, 1908-1941"

Jonathan Zwicker (University of Michigan)
"Bakin among the Bostonians: The Japanese Novel in Nineteenth-Century America"

October 28th, 2006 (Saturday)

301 Philosophy Hall 9:00AM - 3:30PM

Professional Seminar: "Translating Japan: The Challenges of Publishing Japanese Authors Overseas"

9:30AM – 10:15AM Preliminary Talk:

Stephen Snyder (Middlebury College)
"Some Issues in Publishing Japanese Authors Today"

10:30AM – 12:30PM

"From Translation to Publication to Readership: A Workshop"

Scholars, translators, publishers, and representatives of a number of organizations that are actively involved in the enterprise of translation will be on hand to share their perspectives with the audience.

2:00PM – 2:45PM Special Lecture:

Koizumi Masashi (Kinki University)
"The History and Prospects of Textbook Publishing in Postwar Japan"

A related symposium is being held at the New York Public Library. For further information, please visit the Library's website.


October 31st, 2006

Writing in the Web of Words: An Evening with Yoko Tawada
Yoko Tawada, Author
301 Philosophy Hall
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Internationally acclaimed Japanese-German author Yoko Tawada will give a reading in English, German, and Japanese and discuss some of her works, including her 1993 Akutagawa Prize–winning novel The Bridegroom Was a Dog (Inumukoiri) and Where Europe Begins, her first volume of short stories translated from German and Japanese into English.

Presented in collaboration with the Japan Foundation, New York, and Columbia University's Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures.

November 9th, 2006

"Spiritual Matters: Material Culture and Japanese Religion" Lecture Series:
Nichiren's "Great Mandala": Practice, Community, and Lineage
Jacqueline Stone, Princeton University
403 Kent Hall
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
The "great mandala" (daimandara) devised by the Buddhist teacher Nichiren (1222-1282) depicts the assembly of the Lotus Sūtra on Sacred Vulture Peak. Inscribed entirely in characters, it is at once both sacred text and sacred object. In Nichiren's lifetime, it served not only as a personal object of worship for his followers but united them as a community; in the later Nichiren tradition, it has also played a key role in lineage transmission and as a marker of sectarian identity.

November 16th, 2006

"Spiritual Matters: Material Culture and Japanese Religion" Lecture Series:
Secular Garment, Sacred Cloth: The Four-Hundred-Year Life of a Japanese Textile
Terry Satsuki Milhaupt, Independent Scholar
403 Kent Hall
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
A set of Japanese textile fragments reveal a complex web of entangled histories. They once shared a single existence as a garment, likely worn by a high-ranking member of sixteenth-century society. Subsequently, the garment was fragmented and made into an altar cloth, crossing the border from a secular to a sacred context. By the late nineteenth through mid-twentieth century, the sacred cloth was dismembered and established separate narratives as collectible objects in the hands of individual collectors. This lecture will trace this transfiguration from garment to fragments and highlight the shifting values and functions of textiles as clothing, ritual offerings, and coveted museum objects.

November 17th, 2006

Fields in the Manyoshu: Between Nature and Culture in Early Japan
Professor OGAWA Yasuhiko, Aoyama Gakuin University
403 Kent Hall
1:00-2:30 PM
The poets of the Man'yōshū had a particular affection for nature, especially flowers, grass, birds, and animals, but this was not a primitive "love of nature." For example, their favorite plant was the bush clover, found in the cultivated fields near the Nara capital, which formed an important environmental nexus between nature and culture in early Japan.

『萬葉集』の歌人たちは、自然、特に「野」の花・草・鳥・動物を愛した。しかし、それは素朴な自然愛ではなかった。例えば、歌人たちが最も愛好した 萩は、平城京の郊外の開発によって生まれた「野」に咲く花であった。自然と文化の間に新たに創り出された「野」という環境が、日本人の自然との関わり方の 原型を形作ったのである。

This lecture will be presented in Japanese.


November 30th, 2006

Twentieth Anniversary Concert
Gagaku: An Evening of Japanese Classical Music and Dance

Ono Gagaku Society (Tokyo) and celebrants of the International Shinto Foundation (New York)

6:00 – 7:00 PM: Pre-Concert Reception
7:00 – 8:30 PM: Concert
The Riverside Theatre at Riverside Church
Entrance is at 91 Claremont Avenue, just north of 120th Street between Broadway and Riverside Drive. Map & Directions:

Paid parking is available at Claremont Avenue Garage.
Entrance is on 120th Street, between Riverside Drive and Claremont Avenue

Part I: Orchestral Works (Kangengaku)
Part II: Sacred Shrine Maiden Dance (Kagura mai)
Part III: Dance Pieces (Bugaku)

The Ono Gagaku Society, which celebrates its 120th anniversary next spring, was founded in 1887 by Ryōdo Ono, chief priest of the Ono Terusaki Shrine in Tokyo. It is the oldest public Japanese gagaku orchestra and dance group in Japan and is one of the very few public troupes of musician-dancers to be trained exclusively by retired masters of the Music Department of the Board of Ceremonies of the Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō shikibushoku gakubu). The Ono Gagaku Society, currently comprised of ninety members, performs at Shrine ceremonies and public venues throughout Japan. Since 1972, it has performed in the United States and Europe and was awarded the 1980 Grand Prix by the France Records Association for distinguished performance in the category of Non-Western Music. The Ono Gagaku Society maintains a training school for gagaku musicians in Tokyo.

This event is free and open to the public. No reservations are necessary.

This concert is presented by the Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies, Columbia University and sponsored by the International Shinto Foundation (New York) and the International Foundation for Arts and Culture (Tokyo).

December 13th, 2006

Hitomi Kanehara reading: Snakes and Earrings
Hitomi Kanehara, author
403 Kent Hall
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Internationally best-selling author Hitomi Kanehara will discuss her novel Snakes and Earrings.

Hitomi Kanehara was born in Tokyo on August 8, 1983. She stopped attending school at the age of eleven. After she left home as a teenager, she sent her stories to her literary translator father by e-mail and he helped her edit them. At the age of 21, she wrote Snakes and Earrings which won the 2004 Akutagawa Prize, a prestigious Japanese literary award. One of the judges, the celebrated writer Ryu Murakami, said her book was ‘easily the top choice, receiving the highest marks of any work since I became a member of the selection panel.’ The Japanese edition of Snakes and Earrings has sold over a million copies, topping all the bestseller lists. Her other books include Ash Baby, Amebic, and her latest work Autofiction.


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