On a personal note…

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I’m happy to announce that I got married at the end of February, and hence I plan to use a different name on publications etc in future; that is, Eleanor Robinson-Yamaguchi.

It may take some time to get used to being a Mrs!

My husband and I exchanged wedding rings on the bridge in the garden of the Yokiso House.

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Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival, November 16th, 2013, in Kyoto city!

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Just a quick heads up about a very cool event I will be involved in on November 16th (this coming Saturday)!

If you are in Kyoto on that day, pop over to the city hall and Zest. There’s lots going on this year to celebrate the life of Ryoma at the Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival!

I will be chatting with fellow Bakumatsu scholars from 1pm.

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Updates, and bits and bobs

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Aichi Prefectural University,Nagakute Campus at sundown

Aichi Prefectural University,
Nagakute Campus at sundown

My first year as a lecturer at Aichi Prefectural University (APU) is coming to a close. There have been many challenges for me on the administrative side of the job, this being the first time for me to be in a faculty member position. Getting used to the system, the new classes I’m teaching, and the working styles here has been exciting and a great learning curve.
In addition, getting used to life in Nagoya and Aichi as a whole has also brought with it new challenges and lessons learned. For one thing, I’m now in the process of learning to drive! “Better late than never”, as the saying goes. Aichi is known for being home to one of Japan’s leading car manufacturers, Toyota, so this seems as good a place as any to start learning, although I hope I don’t pick up any of the nasty habits of the well-known “Nagoya-bashiri” while I’m here. I have already witnessed two accidents since I’ve been here, and on several occasions I’ve spotted some car drivers going through red traffic lights (I almost got run over by one of them!) and others not signalling when turning. Not good, Nagoya! Not good. 😦
In terms of research, I have been discovering some interesting new things. I have begun to trace the work of a man called Mutō Chōzō (武藤長蔵, 1881-1942) who wrote “A Short History of Anglo-Japanese Relations” published in 1936.
The reason for following up his work is because I have been looking for a useful basic textbook in English to use with my students at APU on the subject of UK-Japan relations. So far, I have not found one basic text that gives a brief general outline of the subject. I have therefore started to create my own for use in class.

The interesting thing for me about Mutō Chōzō was that he was born here in Aichi. He was born on June 9th, 1881 in Umibe-gun, Tsushima-chō; what is now Tsushima city in Aichi Prefecture. In 1907, Mutō became a professor of Nagasaki Higher Commercial School, which is now the Faculty of Economics at Nagasaki University. The university still houses the vast Mutō Collection, the publications, documents and other sources that Mutō used in his research, as well as some of his own personal items such as photographs, his personal seal and some letters. One of the photographs (believed to have been taken in May 1919) shows Mutō pictured with the famed Japanese novelists Akutagawa Ryūnosuke (1892-1927), Kikuchi Kan (1888-1948) and the playwright, Nagami Tokutarō (1890-1950). This picture can also be seen on a fascinating pamphlet created by the university called CHOHO.

This year, 2013, marks the 400th anniversary of trade relations between Britain and Japan, and means lots of special events will be held in both countries.  There’s a great website with a wealth of information about events that are happening throughout the year: Japan400.

Finally, the new academic year starts in April. Let’s see what new endeavours that will bring…

Lecture on Nakai Hiromu at Sokushu-in Temple

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On May 20th, 2012, I had the great honour of giving a talk in Japanese about Nakai Hiromu at the temple where he is buried; Sokushu-in, within the Tofuku-ji Temple complex in the south-east of Kyoto city.

About 20 people came to listen to the talk and I received several questions and comments afterward. One of the listeners was kind enough to send me copies of some photographs he took, and he has given me kind permission to post them here.

Speaking about Nakai at Sokushu-in

Preparing to wash the grave

It was an excellent opportunity to give a talk in Japanese. Earlier in the year, I had been given the wonderful opportunity to talk  to fellow members of the Kyoto Ryoma-kai on the subject of Nakai Hiromu. I’m hoping there will be more such opportunities in the future to introduce the important role that Nakai played in Japanese history.

Sokushu-in itself is a beautiful temple. It is not usually open to the general public, except for a brief time each year during the red leaves season. The main complex of Tofuku-ji Temple is well-known for it’s red leaves and receives thousands of visitors each year.

Sokushu-in is the Shimazu clan (Feudal Lords of Satsuma) temple in Kyoto and it has seen many illustrious guests in its time. The great ‘Saigo-don’ (Saigo Takamori, 1828-1877) is known to have been here for secret meetings. Also, there are several monuments commemorating those who were lost in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. The grave of Narahara Kizaemon (1831-1865) (famous for attacking the British merchant, Charles Lennox Richardson, in the Namamugi Incident of 1862) is also here, near to the Nakai/Yokoyama family grave compound.

The grave of Narahara Kizaemon

I enjoyed this opportunity to again wear the kimono given to me for the occasion of my doctoral graduation ceremony. Here in Aichi, unfortunately I don’t see many people wearing kimono, so coming back from Kyoto on the Shinkansen, I probably stuck out like a sore thumb (even more than I do anyway, I mean). Still, it was all good fun!

Thank you to the organizers, and the most attentive audience, at Sokushu-in. I had a lovely day; albeit a very nervous one!

JACET Chubu Forum

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I will be speaking at a workshop at the JACET Chubu Forum on June 2nd, 2012.

Pop along if you have time! My presentation is entitled:

Globalising Japanese History: The Significance of Teaching in English in Japanese Universities

ABSTRACT

 Teaching lessons on Japanese history in English to students at Japanese universities may at first seem useful only for special classes geared towards international students in Japan who are not yet familiar enough with the Japanese language to be able to sit regular Japanese classes on the subject.

However, this paper attempts to debunk this narrow concept and suggests that Japanese history lessons in English for Japanese native students are also relevant in today’s “Globalising” society. The opportunity to study Japanese history in English provides students with a new and refreshing perspective on a subject, which perhaps thus far they had found to be merely a tedious rote-learning exercise instilled during their school days.

This paper seeks to examine the relevance and benefits of Japanese history lessons in English. One key aspect of this topic is the issue of historical memory, or, historical memory loss. Why are some characters in history remembered while others are forgotten?

In addition, some Japanese history scholars of Japanese nationality are not always familiar with the English language. This is not a criticism, however; it merely notes that thus far there has often been a necessary tendency for them to focus on reading old Japanese language documents and source materials. In the past, in an in-depth examination of Japanese historical details, there has not always been the time, resources or necessity for Japanese history scholars of Japanese nationality to access English language sources or produce their own research findings in the English language. In today’s “Globalising” society, this current standard is becoming insufficient.

Therefore, this paper seeks to demonstrate the future possibilities for Japanese history education via the medium of the English language. What new nuances can the English language provide for Japanese history education?

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Latest news

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It has been a long time coming, and I have nobody to blame for that but myself, but I have finally managed to obtain my doctorate. I have finally completed my thesis, entitled, “Nakai Hiromu: Meiji Statesman and Hero of Anglo-Japanese Relations”. My next mission is working toward the publication of a book on the subject; anybody know any good publishers? 🙂

A great deal has happened since the last time I wrote a blog, which was quite a while ago. Now I live in Nagoya and have become a faculty member at Aichi Prefectural University in the Department of British and American Studies. This allows to me teach in my own field of Anglo-Japanese relations; it also means I get to talk a lot about Nakai Hiromu!

A new and exciting phase has begun…

Where to find me on SNS

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For anyone interested, just quickly:

I have started using Twitter again. I gave up on my last account because I wasn’t using it much, but having switched to a smartphone (and very smart they are too!) I figured it may become more useful. The recent earthquake in the Tohoku region has also encouraged me to make use of Twitter as it seems a good way to let people know that I’m safe in this quake-prone land.

You can find me on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/#!/eleanoracr I plan on “tweeting” in both English and Japanese.

In addition, whilst I’m on the subject of SNS, if you are a Mixi user, you can also find me here: http://mixi.jp/show_profile.pl?id=3936686

On LinkedIn I’m here:

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10430287

And on Academia I’m here:

http://kobe-wu.academia.edu/EleanorRobinson

With globalisation (or, globalization, take your pick) becoming evermore relevant to our world, the social networking sites have become an indispensable element for bringing us all together, so I look forward to connecting with you!

All the best,

Eleanor@you don’t have to be religious to say a prayer for Japan