Teaching In or About Japan
A Summer Session in Japanese Visual Culture at Temple University Japan
On-going Projects and Links


My familiarity with Japan is relatively recent. Temple University has the longest running and largest American campus in Japan (TUJ: Temple’s International Studies Office recruits Main Campus faculty to accept two-year teaching appointments in Tokyo. I had been recruited in 1981 for the Anthropology program. However the timing was not good since I had just returned from a year’s study-leave in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the family much preferred to settle back into Philadelphia rather than start off on another adventure.

Ten years later, in 1991, I had just completed Turning Leaves, a book on Japanese American family photography and had expressed interest in learning more about Japanese photographic habits. My graduate school mentor, Sol Worth, had traveled to Japan just before his premature death in 1977; he told me Japan contained an extraordinarily rich source of material for my scholarly interests in visual culture and home media, and I just had to go. In retrospect, Sol was very right; I have not yet recovered from the exposure to such a wealth of visual material.

Thus the opportunity to teach in Japan was very attractive. In addition to the excitement of teaching in a new location and with a very different student body, indirectly I was being an offered a chance to initiate a new program of fieldwork. I was especially interested in collecting comparative data through my course on Pictorial Lives and to study a version of non-Western media habits. Current plans include offering summer sessions on Japanese Visual Culture at TUJ and writing a modest volume on Japanese Home Media.

Karen and I moved to Tokyo in late August, 1993 and stayed until May, 1995; we returned for another half-year in 1999. We lived in Higashi Fuchu, Chofu and Shibaura and traveled throughout Japan. Upon returning to Philadelphia, I was invited to join the Asian Studies Program and continued to investigate connections between visual anthropology, American Studies and Asian Studies. I shall forever be grateful to Temple University for providing the opportunity to join the faculty in Japan.

Relevant sources are mentioned below.

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