September 2007 Archives

Meta: "Deaf in Japan" reviews

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Well, they finally came out .... reviews of my book Deaf in Japan: Signing and the Politics of Japan (Cornell University Press 2006). One in the Journal of Japanese Studies and the other in Social Science Japan Journal:

  1. Steven Fedorowicz writes in SSJJ (
    On the back cover of the book, Cornell University Press classifies Nakamura’s work as Asian Studies and Anthropology (rather than Deaf Studies or Sign Language Studies), and this is quite appropriate. While keeping her focus on deaf people, Nakamura also places them within the wider contexts of Japanese history, politics and society through comparisons and connections with other Japanese minorities and social movements.
  2. Carolyn Stevens writes in JJS (
    Nakamura’s methodology combines the field techniques of anthropology, archival research, and the political analysis of social movements to gather information on deaf movements in Japan in the postwar era, with the goal of understanding what it means to subscribe to “deaf identity” in Japan. She frequently includes cross-cultural perspectives from international deaf movements and language systems to contextualize the Japanese case, as well as poses thoughtful and provocative questions about personal and communal identities by comparing the Japanese deaf community to other minority groups in Japan.

Both reviewers had very insightful comments about my work ... and they didn't thrash it which is a big relief. Phew! There's another review coming up in Sign Language Studies by a noted Japanese Deaf scholar which I'm looking forward to.

Well, I'm finishing up my week in Honshu and it's back to Hokkaido on Monday morning.

I recently gave a talk at a symposium during the 4th annual meeting of the Japan Disability Studies association. It was held on September 17-18th at Kyoto's Ritsumeikan University.

There's a short article in the Kyoto News:

During my recent visit to Awaji Island, I went to the Nojima Fault Preservation Museum. The Nojima fault was the cause of the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake that killed over 6400 people in the Kobe-Awaji area.

What was unique about the Nojima area of Awaji Island was that the fault plane was clearly visible as it sheared the earth up several centimeters and laterally a meter or so. This caused roads, ditches, hedges, fences, and buildings to buckle and shear in a unique fashion. The photos below express it best. After the earthquake, an effort was made to preseve the physical evidence by building a museum over it.

This photo shows the shear line clearly. The two halves are composed of different types of soils because this area has been seismologically active for some time, causing the two halves to exhibit different properties.


I recently took a trip to Awaji Island to visit the earthquake museum there (see other blog post) among other things. It's a 200 km round trip by car from Itami City in Hyogo Prefecture (where I'm staying this week) and I decided to rent a Toyoto Prius.


The rental cost ¥10,500 for the day; the tolls were ¥7800; and (drumroll) the gasoline only cost ¥1350 for 10 liters. That works out to 20 km / liter or about 47 mpg! According to the car's computer, the average mileage was 23 km/liter or 53 mpg. I think the discrepancy is because the tank may have been a little less than full when I picked it up (and reset the odometer/drive computer). **

** The exchange rate is ¥113 to US$1 and plummeting.

In any case, let's take the average to be: 50 mpg.

This was for mixed city / highway / island / mountain driving with four passengers. Wow.

Everything I had heard about the Prius: poor acceleration, poor visibility, little luggace space, jerky braking, mileage not as high as advertised, etc. proved not to be true. The acceleration was great, visibility is fantastic (especially with the back view LCD monitor/camera), there was more space in the back than I thought, and I couldn't tell when the car was using ICE, electric motors, or regenerative braking -- it was that smooth.

I'm totally in love.

Sign me up for one when I get back.

I'm happy to report that my film Bethel successfully screened at the Disabled People's International World Assembly in Seoul, South Korea on Friday afternoon. The screening went very well and we had an extended Q&A period afterwards with myself and one of the Bethel members who had come for the opening.


Jason Romero sends me a link to a great article by Gary Voth about ditching your SLR's consumer zoom lens for a classic 50mm prime lens:

If you are like most photographers just starting out with a new 35mm SLR, chances are it came with one of those ubiquitous 28-80mm (or similar) "consumer" zooms. In the last 15 years these inexpensive lenses have all but replaced the traditional 50mm prime lens as the starter optic for 35mm photographers. The 50mm lens, once the mainstay of 35mm photography, has been all but forgotten by today's photographers. [more]

I agree but I personally prefer a wider 35mm lens (such as my handy Summicron 35mm for the Leica M system) to the 50mm that Gary recommends. I find a 50mm is just a bit too "long" and while it's good for capturing intimate portraits, it makes it harder to understand the context in which the photograph exists. A 35mm also forces you to get that much closer which is always a good thing.

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