July 20 (Wed) - Aug 5 (Fri), 2016 in Tokyo and Hida-Takayama

Profiles of Lecturers and Brief Abstracts of Lecture (2016)

Cool Japan Summer Program Coordinator
Franck Michelin

I think you will feel excitement in discovering Japan. I hope that, while taking the classes of this program, you will keep looking at Japan with fresh eyes. I am looking forward to seeing you in Tokyo.

A native from Paris (France), he owns a Ph.D. in History from Paris-Sorbonne University. He came to Japan in 1996 as a scholar of the Japanese government. He taught at the University of Tsukuba (2002-2005), has been in charge of the promotion of higher education in Japan for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2005-2009), and has been working at Meiji University as an Associate Professor since 2010, working for the development of academic relations between Japan and Europe, as well as doing research on Japanese contemporary history. He has been rewarded this year by the “Shibusawa-Claudel Prize” (a prize organized by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper) for his Ph.D. thesis.
  Renato Rivera Rusca

I am very excited to have witnessed this program grow in popularity every year, and now in its seventh year, I hope to bring the best experience of Japan to the participants that I can. It is always my pleasure to introduce aspects of Japanese culture to young minds around the world and it is a learning experience for me also, since the nature of pop culture in particular is its transience, thus every year the students have varying reactions to what they see, hear and feel. This is the type of program I wish to have had the opportunity to participate in when I was a student, and it is with that emotion that I organize the Cool Japan Summer Program. I hope you enjoy it, and that it brings you lots of memories and knowledge!
Profiles of Lecturers and Brief Abstracts of Lecture and Workshop
Date: Wednesday, July 20
Lecturer: Renato Rivera Rusca
Title of Lecture: Introduction to Cool Japan, Pop Culture
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
Modern Japanese pop culture contents currently enjoy enormous popularity all around the world -- what is it about these works that foreign cultures find so endearing and attractive, and how does this process of cultural trade work? To find out, first we must look at the history of manga and anime in Japanese society, trace them back to their roots and identify the factors which make these uniquely Japanese, yet intrinsically universal.
Date: Thursday, July 21
Title of Lecture: A brief history of Japanese Manga
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
This lecture will reveal not only the key points in history which led to the evolution of manga as a visual medium for artistic expression, as well as the development of the enormous manga industry we see today, but also it will explain the key elements that make up the characteristics of manga and its uniqueness within comic book culture around the world.
Renato Rivera Rusca, M.A. is a graduate of Japanese Studies at Stirling University in Scotland and conducted his Master and Doctorate postgraduate research on Japanese popular culture in Osaka University and Kyoto University. He has lectured at the Manga Faculty at Kyoto Seika University and has participated in many projects involving the Kyoto International Manga Museum since its inception. He teaches Manga Culture and Animation Culture at the School of Global Japanese Studies in Meiji University and coordinates the Meiji University Cool Japan Summer Program, and is also a member on the Board of Directors of the Astrosociology Research Institute in California. Recently, his writing has been featured in “Mechademia 8: Tezuka’s Manga Life” (University of Minnesota Press), “Manga Vision” (Monash University Publishing) and “Introducing Japanese Popular Culture” (Routledge).
Date: Thursday, July 21
Lecturer: Kaichiro Morikawa
Title of Lecture: The Otaku Culture and Akihabara
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
In Japan, optimism about an ever-progressing technological future ran out in the 70's. It was in the mid-80's that the term otaku was coined to signify a new personality that had emerged as a reaction to the loss of “future.” The term evokes a stereotyped image of an unfashionable computer nerd, preoccupied with games and anime even after his adolescence. The loss of “future” was also critical to Akihabara, a small area amongst the central districts of Tokyo, which is widely known by the unrivaled concentration of electronics stores. “Community of interest” has taken an urban form in Akihabara. This could be a prophetic phenomenon in which a city is simulating cyberspace, as opposed to the conventional notion of cyberspace simulating a city.
Kaichiro Morikawa, associate professor of School of Global Japanese Studies at Meiji University since 2008, was born in 1971. He received MA in Architecture at Waseda University. He served as commissioner of the Japanese pavilion at the Venice Biennale 9th International Architecture Exhibition in 2004 to produce the exhibit OTAKU: persona=space=city (2004). He is involved in establishing Tokyo International Manga Library, and operating Yoshihiro Yonezawa Memorial Museum of Manga and Subcultures at Meiji University. Publications include: The Birth of a Personapolis (Gentosha, 2003).
Date: Thursday, July 21
Lecturer: Benjamin Boas
Title of Lecture and Field Trip: Nakano Subcultures
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
Nakano Broadway may be the centre of quirkiness in Nakano Ward, but things weren’t always this way. In the first half of this session, we will cover the history of Nakano Broadway, the changing image of Nakano Ward over the past several decades, and the intersection between tourism and subculture in Japan. We will head to Nakano Broadway for the second half of the session, a guided tour of the facility.
Benjamin Boas is a researcher at the Shonan Fujisawa Campus of Keio University. He graduated from Brown University and has conducted research at Kyoto University and The University of Tokyo under Fulbright and MEXT fellowships. He was named Tourism Ambassador of Nakano, Tokyo in 2015 and a Cabinet Secretariat Cool Japan Ambassador in 2016. He is the author of “Everything I Know About Japan I Learned from Manga and Video Games”, (Japanese) (Shogakukan) and his articles on tourism have appeared in The Japan Times and Neppu, the magazine of Studio Ghibli.
Date: Friday, July 22
Lecturer: Azby Brown
Title of Lecture: Religion and Lifestyle
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
Japan is generally not regarded as a “religious” society, but many common values and social expectations can be found to have their roots in early thought systems such as Buddhism, Shinto, and Confucianism. What effects do these ways of thinking have on current Japanese lifestyles? In what aspects of daily life can they be detected? These questions will be investigated, as well as the role of more overtly religious observations and celebrations, such as Shinto wedding ceremonies and Buddhist funerals. Finally, the rise of “new religions” since the Meiji period will be looked at as well.
Title of Lecture: Japanese Craftmanship
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
Since its first exposure to the West, Japan has been renowned for its craftsmanship in fields as diverse as pottery, textiles, metalworking, carving, and lacquer. Paramount among Japanese crafts is carpentry, particularly temple building, which brings together skilled practitioners from many disciplines to create sublime architectural environments. This lecture will describe important aspects of temple carpentry, including planning, the use of materials, tools, and the philosophy which underlies building for a thousand-year useful life.
Azby Brown, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, is an artist and designer who has lived in Japan since 1985. He is the author of The Genius of Japanese Carpentry (1995), Small Spaces (1996), The Japanese Dream House (2001) and The Very Small Home (2005), and "Just Enough: Lessons in living green from traditional Japan" (2010). On the faculty of the Kanazawa Institute of Technology since 1995, he is the director of the KIT Future Design Institute in Tokyo.
Date: Monday, July 25
Lecturer: Ryusuke Hikawa
Title of Lecture: Anime
Brief Abstract of Lecture: 
In Japanese anime, "background scenery" is just as important as the character in terms of the impact to its visual image. This is why it has a connection with the phenomenon of so called "Seichi Junrei (pilgrimage to sacred places), which has become popular in the recent years. Why do we need realistic scenery in anime that illustrates an imaginary world? What does it try to convey? We will examine the history of animation, and clarify its characteristics in the Japanese culture.
Title of Lecture: Tokusatsu (Special effects movies)
Brief Abstract of Lecture: 
Japan’s famous character Godzilla was created by the usage of tokusatsu (special effects), with Eiji Tsuburaya the special effect director largely contributing to its development. Until the late 1970s, TV programs for children were generally called “TV manga” and both “animation” and “special effects” were considered in the same cultural category, also giving strong influence to each other. In this lecture we will cover the overview of tokusatsu, and its positioning in media art (e.g. anime), in order to help you understand Japanese character culture in depth.
Ryusuke Hikawa, born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1958, is a commentator and researcher on Anime and special effects. He is currently a guest professor at the Graduate School of Global Japanese Studies, Meiji University. From the mid-1970s he worked as a magazine editor, music album creator, and writer in the field of animation and special effects. After gaining 18-years of experience also as an engineer/manager at an IT company, he became fully engaged in literary work. Recently, he has taken roles as a judges in Media Art Festival organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and Mainichi Film Awards. He is also involed in international exchange acitivies through animation in China, Spain and UK.
Date: Tuesday, July 26
Lecturer: W. David Marx
Title of Lecture: Japanese Fashion and Youth Culture
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
Japanese fashion is now a global phenomenon, influencing both street style and designer apparel all around the world. But Japan started the post-war period extremely suspicious of men dressing up, women in American-style clothing, and youth outside of their uniforms. The lecture will look at the development of the fashion market in post-war Japan, how youth culture emerged hand-in-hand with clothing, and how Japan's deep interest in fashion translated into a new exportable industry for the country.
  W. David Marx is the author of Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style (Basic Books, 2015) — a cultural history of Japanese menswear. He is a long-time writer on Japanese culture as well as the co-founder and editor of néojaponisme.com. Marx holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies at Harvard College. His senior thesis on the Japanese fashion brand A Bathing Ape received the Noma-Reischauer Prize. He also holds a M.A. in Marketing and Consumer Behavior from Keio University.
Date: Tuesday, July 26
Lecturer: David Kracker
Title of Lecture: Youth Culture and Fashion
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
Youth culture from the 80s to today—what’s different, and what stayed the same? We’ll follow the evolution of Harajuku trend-setters, Akihabara nerds and Shibuya party people from the street to the far reaches of the Internet.

David Kracker graduated with a B.A. in Japanese Language and Culture from Eastern Michigan university. A JET Program alumni, he works in Tokyo as a video game producer and has written articles with a focus on subculture for Vice Japan, MTV81 and The Japan Times.
Date: Tuesday, July 26
Lecturer: Michiyo Kakami
Title of Lecture/Workshop: What is Daikagura?
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
Daikagura is known as the Japanese traditional and spiritual performance.
In the Edo era, for the people who couldn’t offer prayers to major shrines like Ise shrine or Atsuta shrine because of the distance, Daikagura troupes visited houses in Edo and gave charms and danced the ritualistic Lion dance to dispel evil spirits and perform juggling to bring in food fortune.
Within juggling, every move has an auspicious meaning.
For example, we use the umbrella to show prosperity because the open umbrella represents spreading wealth. And the movement called Gokaijawan in which the performer balances cups and bowls on his/her chin is represents the audience’s happiness piling up as things are added.
Daikagura performers no longer visit houses and give charms these days, but the spirit to pray for someone’s happiness has not changed.
  Michiyo Kakami Daikagura performer. She graduated International Christian University (Tokyo, Japan) and worked at a PR company. After her career as a corporate e mployee, she entered the training center for Japanese traditional arts at the National Theater and trained for 3 years. She learned Japanese dance and Japanese music instruments like the shamisen, drum and flute, as well as Daikagura. After graduation, she joined the Rakugo Geijutsu Kyokai (Rakugo Arts Association) as an apprentice of Bonbon Brothers, the Daikagura masters.
She started her stage career from April 2011 at Asakusa Engei Hall (entertainment hall). She performs not only on the theater stage, but also at the disaster area after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Date: Wednesday, July 27
Lecturer: Masataka Kubomura
Title of Workshop: Furoshiki
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
A Furoshiki is a square shaped cloth used to wrap items. It has long been an essential item in Japanese people’s daily life, but sad to say, it is now not so used as often as before. Even though Furoshiki is considered as a "tool used in the past" if you get to know the usage of it, you will see that it is still very convenient. Furoshiki has recently gained its attention as an eco-friendly item, since it helps reduce wrapping paper waste.
In this workshop we will first learn about the basic information of Furoshiki, and actually practice how to use it! Using Furoshiki is very simple! Once you learn it you will be able to practice it in your daily life. I hope you can learn the simplicity, convenience and the depth of the world of Furoshiki, and also wish this workshop will give you insights of Japanese culture by actually experiencing it in your own hands.
  Masataka Kubomura General manager of Planning and Development Section, Miyai Co.,Ltd. and also the executive officer of Japan Furoshiki Association.
Part-time lecturer at Kyoto University of Art and Design. Betrothal facilitator.
At the long-established Fukusa (silk wrapping cloth) and Furoshiki (square wrapping cloth) store, Miyai Co.,Ltd., he has been involved in product planning and production for many years. To spread the history and tradition of Furoshiki, he gives lectures all over Japan, plans museum exhibitions, makes TV appearances such as for the NHK program “Bi no Tsubo - Furoshiki”, and gives technical guidance in books. His books include "Kyoto Furoshiki" (Japanese) (Mitsumura Suiko Shoin Publishing) and "Japanese Manners on Ceremony" (Japanese) (PHP Institute).
Date: Wednesday, July 27
Lecturer: Yoji Kuroda
Title of Lecture: Present & Future of Robotics
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
Many Research and Development (R&D) projects of robots are carried out eagerly in the world, e.g., driverless cars, drones, humanoids. Japan too, has made a lot of R&D that is ingrained in its unique culture. In this lecture, we will look at how robots have developed, and explain the intentions and technology thereof. We will also look at the future of robotics R&D.
  Yoji Kuroda received Ph.D degree of Oceanic Engineering from the University of Tokyo, and is a Professor at Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of Science and Technology in Meiji University. His research field is Field Robotics, and has developed robots work in Underwater, Space, Volcanic mountains, and Nuclear Plants. He has been a R&D member of asteroid exploration robots on board in the spacecraft Hayabusa/Hayabusa2. He is now mainly doing research on how robots move in the crowd. He was a research scientist of RIKEN, Institute of Physical and Chemical Research from 1996 to 2006, a visiting associate professor of MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2005 to 2006. Now, he is a research scientist of the Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), the University of Tokyo, and Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), Japan Space Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Date: Thursday, July 28
Lecturer: Matt Alt
Title of Lecture: Watching Yo-Kai: A History of Japan's Yokai Monsters
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
The islands of Japan abound with tales of shape-shifting creatures, collectively known as yokai. They are superstitions with personalities, the things that go bump in Japan’s night. Today, Japan is widely hailed as a pop-cultural powerhouse, famed for its anime and manga. Characters like Totoro, Pikachu, and Godzilla are instantly recognizable icons around the world. But Japan’s public face of high-tech manufacturing and entertainment is built upon a deeply entrenched foundation of animism and polytheism. Japan’s ancient yokai are the first visible manifestations of Japan’s character creation culture.
Title of Lecture: Japanese Toys
Matt Alt, a native of Washington, D.C., has been working as a professional translator and writer since the early 1990s. His experience includes four years as an in-house technical Japanese translator for the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He currently runs AltJapan Co., Ltd., a Tokyo-based localization company that produces the English versions of video games, comic books, and other forms of entertainment. An expert in Japanese folktales and character culture, he is the co-author of numerous books, including "Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide" and the upcoming "Japandemonium Illustrated: the Yokai Encyclopedias of Toriyama Sekien".
Date: Friday, July 29
Lecturer: Ichiro Itano
Title of Lecture/Workshop: Anime Seminar
  Ichiro Itano is a world-famous animation director. Mr. Itano’s credits include key action animation for classic anime like Mobile Suit Gundam (1979), Space Runaway Ideon (1980), and series director on newer hits such as Gantz (2004) and Blassreiter (2008). He is most famous, however, for his revolutionary high-speed action sequences in Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982), creating the technique known as the “Itano Circus”. Mr. Itano has prepared a crash-course in the unique techniques behind Japanese-style animation production, giving us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn the secrets behind the scenes of anime, and experience them first-hand.
Date: Friday, July 29
Lecturer: Patrick W. Galbraith
Title of Lecture: Idol Culture in Japan
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
Spend even a day in a major Japanese city like Tokyo and you won’t be able to ignore them: “idols,” or heavily produced and promoted men and women who perform across media genres and platforms. Though central to the workings and experience of Japanese media culture, idols have received little attention in the study of Japan, which leads to naive and reactionary criticism (for example, Noel Gallagher's 2012 comment that Japan lacks talent). In this lecture, we will consider idols in social, economic and political context. Tracing the rise of Japanese popular music after WWII, we will explore how the unruly energy of rock was subdued by the establishment of "agencies," which discipline and control performers in order to sell them to advertisers and the nation. If time allows, we will discuss contemporary idol groups such as Arashi, AKB48, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Baby Metal.
  Patrick W. Galbraith received a Ph.D. in Information Studies from the University of Tokyo, and is currently pursuing a second Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. He is the author of books such as The Otaku Encyclopedia (Kodansha International, 2009), Otaku Spaces (Chin Music Press, 2012) and The Moe Manifesto (Tuttle, 2014), and co-editor of books such as Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture (Palgrave, 2012), Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan (Bloomsbury, 2014) and Media Convergence in Japan (Kinema Club, 2016).
Date: Thursday, August 4
Lecturer: Kazuhiko Tsutsumi
Title of Lecture: Promoting Cool Japan to the World
Brief Abstract of Lecture:
The NHK “Cool Japan” is a TV program that has focused in discovering cool things about Japan from foreigners’ perspective. The themes showcased in the past were pop-culture, traditional culture, cutting-edge technology, “Japanese” service, Japanese lifestyle etc. What aspects catch foreigners’ attention and makes them think it’s “cool”? This lecture will analyze the current Japanese culture through foreigners’ perspective seen in the making of these programs. Furthermore, when we look at the history of Japan, we notice that we have also continuously been learning from other countries. It can be said that the progress of civilization has become possible through people's interaction in this multi-ethnic world. The globalization and the widespread of the internet have enabled us to share more information and deepen cultural exchange. I personally hope more people in the world will get to know the “cool” side of Japanese culture, and that it help enrich their lifestyle. And I also wish the young generation will take major roles in this world's cultural exchange.
Kazuhiko Tsutsumi is a former executive producer of NHK Enterprise Inc. After graduating in 1977 (University of Tokyo, BA Faculty of Letters, major in Western history), Kazuhiko Tsutsumi entered NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), and has worked as a director/producer for politics, economy, and international information programs/news. From 2004, he became in charge of youth debate and cultural information programs in NHK Enterprise Inc.
For 9 years, he was the Chief Producer of “Cool Japan~ Discovering COOL things about Japan” which is shown on NHK Satellite channel. He has also published a book called “What makes Japan great!! Cool Japan from foreigners point of view” (2011, Takeda Random House Japan), “NHK Cool Japan~ Re-Discovering COOL things about Japan” (2013, NHK Publishing).
Field trip
Date: Friday, July 22
Tea Ceremony
  Sado - tea Ceremony, the way of tea
We will participate in an authentic tea ceremony to understand its philosophy which includes the essence of Japanese harmony.
Date: Monday, July 25
Japanese Animation Studio Tour
An in-depth tour of the animation assembly line with explanations from the professionals of each step in the process:
-Production – seisaku shinkou (production assistant), production manager, producer
-Sakuga (drawings of anime) - Genga (key frames) and Douga (in-between frames) / Digital Sakuga
-Finishing – Color settings, coloring instructions, checks, color application
-Art – design, image boards, backgrounds
-3D - modelling, animation
-Design - textures, logos, prop design
Q & A: Feel free to ask any questions related to the animation assembly line and aspects of production
  J.C.Staff founded in 1986, is an animation production company with 30 years
of experience. They work mainly in animated TV series and other various types of media from cinema, OVA, games and animation for games to commercials and PR.
The company has all the necessary steps in the animation production assembly line in-house, including a planning and production department, as well as a design department that creates the drawing, finishing, background art, 3D CG, and even handles the prop settings, visual effects, and photography.
Date: Thursday, July 28
Sushi Making
  We will visit Tsukiji, famous for its enormous fish market, and will learn how to make thin rolls and sushi with the guidance of a professional sushi master!
Date: Monday, August 1 – Wednesday, August 3
Traditional Japan in Hida-Takayama
  We will visit Hida-Takayama in Gifu prefecture for our Traditional Japan field trip! Places we will visit during the trip include Hida-Takayama Matsuri no Mori “Festival Forest”, Shirakawa-go (gassho-style houses), miso storehouse, and Matsumoto Castle (national treasure in Nagano prefecture). We will try our hand at making our own chopsticks from Hida hinoki wood as well!

>Please see here for the lecturers and the details for the lectures for 2015.
>Please see here for the lecturers and the details for the lectures for 2014.
>Please see here for the lecturers and the details for the lectures for 2013.
>Please see here for the lecturers and the details for the lectures for 2012.