Note that speakers and categories are subject to change. At this time we have confirmed 2 panels, 2 guest speakers, and 29 other academic presentations. Four guest speakers (3 from Japan, 1 from the US) will be addressing our group.
Guest Speakers and Panels
1. Guest Speakers/Panel: “Bioethics in Japan Today”
Moderator: Prof. G. Victor Hori, Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University
Panelists: Prof. Tsuchida Tomoaki, Nanzan University, Japan
Prof. Machida Sōhō, Tokyo University of Foreign Languages
In the 21st century, nations and cultures around the globe are faced with the same issues in bioethics (cloning, re-use of embryonic stem cells, artificial fertility, euthanasia, hospital care, etc.) but they are producing different responses. Three large sets of responses to bioethical issues have developed: the North American approach, the Asian approach and the European approach. In this panel, two leading Japanese scholars of bioethics compare the differences in the North American and the Japanese stance on bioethics.
Dr. Machida Sōhō got his MA from Harvard and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught on the faculties of Princeton University and of the National University of Singapore and is presently associate professor at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Although his original field is Zen Buddhism, his published work in English is on Hōnen, the Japanese Pure Land priest of the 12th C. He is the director of the project, "The Study of Bioethics in the Perspective of Comparative Religions," which brings together scholars in medicine, religious studies and anthropology to focus on concrete issues such as brain death, organ transplant, cloning, re-use of embryonic stem cells, artificial fertility, euthanasia, and hospital care. This project is funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.
Dr. Tsuchida Tomoaki got his PhD from Harvard and is presently associate professor at Nanzan University in Nagoya. He took his degree in Buddhist Studies, specializing in the thought of Dōgen, the founder of the Japanese Sōtō Zen sect. He is a member of the Nihon Seimei Rinri Gakkai, was a panel member at last year's "High Tech Biomedicine and Future Perspective on Bioethics" at Waseda University (also scheduled again for this year), and has a chapter in Advance Directives and Surrogate Decision Making in Health Care: United States, Germany, and Japan, edited by Hans-Martin Sass, Robert M. Veatch, and Rihito Kimura (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998).
2. Guest Speaker: William K. Cummings, George Washington University
“The Revolution in Japanese Higher Education?”
Dr. Cummings is recognized as one of world’s experts on Japan’s education system. His Harvard doctoral dissertation, written in the early 1970’s, was published as a book, “The Japanese Academic Market and University Reform” (Garland, 1992). His study of the links between society and education gave rise to another book “Education and Equality in Japan” (Princeton University Press, 1980).
3. Guest Speaker: Shin'ichi Hayashi, Yamaguchi University
“Changes in the Context of Japanese Language Teaching: Implications for Teachers and Learners”
In 2002, the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) was put in place. This exam is separate from the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) for exchange students. At many universities, rather than looking at the JLPT grades, entrance eligibility is increasingly being based on the EJU results. Furthermore, beginning in 2003, the scope of the Japanese Language Teaching Competency Test (that had been in place for 15 years) was revised and questions were set around broad categories such as "Language and Society", "Language and Psychology", "Language and Education", etc.
From 2004 national universities will become independent administrative bodies. Moreover, as a result of reevaluating Exchange Student Centres, there is a move to change their names to International Centres. Thus, Japanese Language instruction is also being reassessed on a variety of levels, analyses that are connected through the act of reexamining its content.
Professor Hayashi received his B.A. from Sophia University and a M.A. from Tsukuba University. He studied at Tsukuba's Research Institute on Education, specializing in counseling. He approaches Japanese language education from the point of view of counseling and has published extensively on counseling and Japanese language pedagogy. He is the co-author of such books as "Teaching Japanese Abroad", "Changing Classroom with Encounter". "Comprehensible Counseling for Classroom Advisors", "Structured Group-encounter", "Rational Living: Theory and Practice", and others. He co-authored "Japanese for Everyone", which has become a standard Japanese language textbook in the English-speaking world. He has also written a series -- "Learning Japanese in Groups" -- in the Gekkan Nihongo Journal, introducing the concept of cooperative learning in Japanese language education.
Starting at the National Academy in Papua New Guinea, Professor Hayashi has taught Japanese and Japanese pedagogy for nearly three decades. He is currently a professor at Yamaguchi National University and leads many workshops for Japanese language teachers in Japan. He is a member of JALT (Director of the Yamaguchi Chapter), Japan Association of Educational Counseling, and a council member of the Society for Teaching Japanese.
4. Panel: “Meeting Crises: Cases in Japanese History”
Moderator: Sonja Arntzen, University of Toronto
Panelists: Sachie Iwata, University of Toronto
Caitilin Griffiths, University of Toronto
Hidemi Shiga, University of Toronto
“A Literary Reaction to Ideological Pressure: An Incident in Imakagami”
Sachie Iwata, University of Toronto
I examined a late Heian piece called Tsukuri monogatari no yukue (The purpose of fictitious tales) in Imakagami (The New Mirror), written some time in the late 12th century as a continuation of Okagami (The Great Mirror), by Fujiwara no Tametsune, in order to discuss how women in the late Heian period had to react to the ideological pressure of Buddhism.
This interesting piece, placed at the very end of Imakagami’s long narrative, depicts the narrator’s attack on the conventional view then in circulation (known as Murasaki Shikibu Dagoku setsu) – the belief that Lady Murasaki, author of The Tale of Genji, had been doomed to suffer in the fires of hell. The conventional argument was that Murasaki was condemned to fall into hell for writing a sinful piece – sinful because its incidents are immoral, and that all fiction is lies. However, the author defends her, noting that she wrote her fictitious tales as an expedient device to encourage people to follow the teaching of Buddha – just as is recommended in chapter two and three in the Lotus Sutra, called “Expedient Devices” and “Parables” – where metaphors are applied. The narrator also refers to the Myo’on and Kan’non Bodhisattvas, hinting that Murasaki might have been the incarnation of the Bodhisattvas, who sometimes transform themselves into women to preach the Law of Buddha so as to lead people to enlightenment. It is also notable that all tsukuri monogatari are defended by the narrator against the charges commonly made against fictitious tales, including Genji, that the text is a form of Kigyo (improper remarks glossed with plausible words), and Mougo (lies), each of which is one of the ten deadly sins in Buddhism.
As the continuation of the earlier Okagami, Imakagami has various similarities to its precursor. However, in Imakagami, the narrator is a female (an old lady who claims to be a granddaughter of the male narrator of Okagami) and its narratee/s is/are female too. That is to say, although Imakagami was undoubtedly written by a male, it was consciously written in the style of narration used by a woman to a female audience (or readers).
This piece is an interesting manifestation of a late Heian reaction to one pressure resulting from the ascendancy of Buddhist ideology. Buddhism accused Murasaki of committing sins and people had to re-evaluate her already widely-popular literature in order to defend it and the deceased author, while still working within the Buddhist ideology. She probably was the reflection of women in that period who were not believed to achieve Buddhahood and who also had to defend their role in society from Buddhist pressure. It seems that Murasaki, the champion of their literature, was made representative of literate women in order to “save” themselves.
“The Jishu as a Conduit of Social Change”
Caitilin Griffiths, University of Toronto
As the aristocracy of the Heian period (794-1192) crumbled into ruin with the rise of feudalism, conflict and war swept across Japan. This social instability had an important corollary: social mobility, gekokujo, the chance for the lower to command the higher. By examining the Jishu, this paper will demonstrate how this religious order was both a haven for spiritual salvation and a conduit for professional development.
The Jishu were a prominent and influential group from the 13th to the 17th century. Following the teaching of Ippen (1239-1289), the mission of this itinerant Pure Land Amida Buddhist sect was to save all sentient beings. Their simple teachings appealed to the masses and were especially well received by the warriors. During the Kamakura (1192-1333) and Muromachi (1336-1573) periods, the Jishu were valued by their warrior patrons as spiritual healers on the battlefield; in addition the Jishu members recited poetry, provided first aid to the wounded, and conducted burial services for the dead.
As the warriors gained prominence in the social and economic stage, opportunities presented itself to those with skill and talent. However, these talents still needed to transfer between social layers. The Jishu became a conduit for this movement: offering a neutral zone for the social outcasts to present their artistic or technical skills to potential patrons. For example, during the Muromachi period, the Ashikaga shogunate sponsored the dōbōshū, the cultivators of the arts, whose membership was largely drawn from the Jishu members. Also, the field medics who called themselves Kinsoi, specializing in the treatment for battle wounds, had developed out of the Jishu’s practices of medical treatment for warriors.
It is by examining cases such as the Jishu that we can begin to understand how, in the midst of the chaos of Medieval Japan, a cultural renaissance occurred.
“Meeting Crises: Kawaraban and the Edo People.”
Hidemi Shiga, University of Toronto
On the second night of the tenth month in the second year of Ansei (1855), at approximately ten o’clock, a huge earthquake struck the city of Edo. What shattered the quiet evening was not the impact of a normal earthquake. It was a “vertical-motion” earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9. The area directly at the epicenter – shitamachi, or downtown Edo – was severely affected by both the earthquake and the ensuing fires, leaving the area surrounding Edo relatively untouched. According to the official records of the Tokugawa government (1603 - 1868), the death count was approximately 6,500; injuries were reported at 5,000; crushed or burned buildings numbered about 10,000.
In times of uncertainty conditions were reported to the masses in kawaraban, woodblock prints that were, in many ways, a precursor to the modern newspaper. These kawaraban depicted the post earthquake era in detailed articles, illustrations, lists, and dialogues. According to Japanese folklore namazu, or catfish, are responsible for earthquakes; thus, the namazu is a consistent concern throughout these kawaraban.
Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum owns one of the largest collections of original namazu prints (approximately 80). This print collection conveys the emotions of victims and witnesses. After the earthquake, Edo commoners showed feelings of horror, confusion, anger, and grief, followed by expressions of joy at the redistribution of wealth brought on by a building boom and government enforced charity. Kawaraban provided an outlet for Edo commoners and helped them to recover from the emotional shock caused by the disaster.
My presentation will illustrate the commoners’ emotional response to the earthquake by showing a sample of anonymously created namazu prints that present the views of the lower strata of Edo society.