About Me

At APU August 2014

Eleanor Yamaguchi

I have long been a fan of Japan. Ever since my childhood when my mum took me to the Chinese New Year celebrations in Liverpool, I have been hooked on Asian culture in general, but my interest in Japan started when I was 13 years old. A school friend gave me a copy of an old book about learning the Japanese language; I took myself to the library one day and discovered a number of other books about a country, which to me at the time seemed almost imaginary, it was so far away.

Initially, during my teenage years, I taught myself the Japanese language from various textbooks. My interest in Japan continued to grow and I became evermore fascinated with the country. I decided I wanted to join the JET Programme, to live and work in Japan. I realised however, that I would need a university degree, so I decided to study Japanese and applied for a place at the School of East Asian Studies at Sheffield University.

It was at Sheffield that my interest in Japanese history grew. I became increasingly interested in the nineteenth century, late Edo and Meiji periods of Japanese history, in particular. For my final dissertation, I wrote a paper called The Sakamoto Ryoma Phenomenon – Investigating the Contemporary Cult Status of a Meiji Restoration Idealist (1999). After earning a  bachelors’ degree in Japanese Studies, I finally got a place on the JET Programme as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) in Aomori City (1999-2002). After three years in Aomori, I decided I wanted to further my studies and develop my knowledge of international relations, which I had acquired an interest in through my work as a CIR in Aomori. I went on to study for a Master and then a Doctoral degree at Kyoto University Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies under international politics specialist, Dr. Nakanishi Terumasa. Since 2012, I have been working as a lecturer in Anglo-Japanese relations in the Department of British and American Studies, School of Foreign Studies at Aichi Prefectural University.

I have lived in Japan for a third of my lifespan and the place still continues to excite my imagination.


12 thoughts on “About Me

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  3. Dear Eleanor,

    Just followed the link to your blog given by Ian Ruxton.
    I note you were in Sheffield, was Fiona Harrison still at the Library when you were there ?
    I’m working on Thomas Blakiston and so interact with Ian quite frequently. I notice that you translate into and out of Japanese and wondered whether you’d come across any source of funding for translations in either direction ? It would be useful if there were!

    best wishes, Andrew

    • Dear Andrew,

      Thank you for your kind message. It was kind of Ian to link to me.
      I don’t remember a Fiona in the library at Sheffield, but then it was a long time ago and my memory is a little foggy.
      Thomas Blakiston? I only really know his name. I didn’t know about the Blakiston Line. I just had a look at the page on The Japan Society website describing your talk. It looks very interesting.
      As to translation funding, I’ve never come across any sources myself. A news article I saw on Donald Keene had him describing how many translators do the work they do simply because they love doing it. I think that’s probably very true and I for one understand the sentiment. As part of my PhD thesis I have translated Nakai Hiromu’s first travel journal in its entirety into English, but how many people will read it is another matter. I guess the situation is comparable to the artist who paints for art’s sake…

      Thank you again, and please pop by and have a look at my blog whenever you feel so inclined!

      All good wishes,


      • Dear Eleanor,

        Thank you for your reply back in March – i admit that i completely failed to find it until just now !

        You may already know that R Siddel, who you undoubtedly know from Sheffield, is now on sabbatical at Hokudai. I hope to be visiting there myself later in the year – i get withdrawal symptoms unless i visit annually !
        And i’m trying to get some support for a conference in Hakodate in 1863, the 150th anniversary of Blakiston’s arrival in the city. I want to bring together Japanese and English language researchers but worry that the divide might be too big to bridge even with simultaneous interpretation.

        I have to make time to read your work on Anglo-Japanese perceptions. Blakiston has lots to say on this aspect but whether he was typical i don’t know. Probably not typical, judging by what he said about China and about Canada when he was in those countries.

        very best, Andrew

  4. Hi Eleanor,

    I’m writing from a television production company called Nutopia. I’ve been trying to get in contact with you, but to no avail so far! Do you think you could email me with an address or phone number to reach you on please. It would be great to speak with you.

    Very best,

  5. Dear Eleanor,

    I was googling my great grandfather’s name and I found your article named a Forgotten Hero. William E Willams (Gwilym Alltwen) was my ancestor also! I am his son, Arthur V Williams grandson. Could you please contact me. I would love to learn more about you, him, and our family connection.
    Thank you,

    Nigel Vaughan Williams

  6. Hi Eleanor,

    I found a Postcard from 1994! We were colleagues at Eibsee hotel.
    You can contact me through Facebook.

    Greetings too you!


    • Hi Thomas! Thank you for finding me. What a blast from the past. I sent an email to your address. I look forward to hearing from you again. Eleanor

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