Self published articles and musings about Anthropology, Pop Culture, and Japan



Thank you for visiting my wordpress account! I hope you enjoy my work and I welcome your feedback, questions, suggestions, and criticism.

With Regards to Plagarism: Professors and Educators – please email if you discover your students have unethically used portions of the texts posted here and I will be happy to share dates and references of their original submission during my undergraduate career. Also, you may find many of these works on my account.

Content of Note

Blade Runner and Urban Studies

Japan, Agriculture, Archaeology, and Identity


The summer of my second year

So my most of my colleagues graduated this spring.

Me? I’m the old man on the mountain. Because of #reasons, I chose to extend my time in the program to a third year. Honestly, this was mostly due to funding and the need for language training. While I have 2 semesters of Japanese under my belt from undergraduate study, I needed the refresher.

Logistically, my program advises you to take two semesters of language and then an intensive program between the first and second year to finish the requirement in just a little over a year. That wasn’t feasible given the distance I live from school. It didn’t hurt that 6 units counts the same as 4 units for the purposes of being classified as full-time at my school, which also affected my decision to spread out my class load.

Last year, I spent some time working on a paper for publication with a scholarly journal in the U.K. While that didn’t ended up not being fruitful, it did allow me to polish the paper and make it much stronger. It will be presented next month at the Pacific Coast Branch of American Historical Association’s annual conference. In the meantime, I’ve be revising a second paper for the Southwestern Anthropological Association and preparing PhD applications. The most important thing in my decision making process regarding the PhD is that it is an anthropology program and there are at least two strong faculty members within the department that I can work with.

There is a short list of definites, and a few I am waiting to hear back from. The faculty I’ve spoken with have all been helpful and supportive in helping me find the best program and resources available as I prepare applications. I also took the GRE! I don’t know the official results yet, but we should know in about ten days.

This Fall I look forward to a series of lectures and teaching opportunities both in Sacramento and San Francisco. I’m currently helping my advisor (who happens to be our academic director) with rebooting his own webpage. Feel free to take a look at:


Winter Break 2016-2017

So I am still not dead!

The University of San Francisco was selected to participate in the Kakehashi program sponsored by the Japanese government to tour the country for approximately one week and meet with political and business leaders to discuss Japanese issues.


For USF, we visited the Kansai region, or South-Central Japan. We spent a great deal of our time in Hyogo Prefecture, particularly in and around the city of Kobe. Kobe is a significant maritime port and blends both the countryside and urban city together – most people usually think of rice fields or downtown Tokyo when they think of Japan, but we got a little of both.




We also spent time in Tokyo and Osaka, of course, riding the shinkansen (bullet train) and visiting Daikin Global in Osaka. Many of the businesses we visited were finding new ways to grow and expand by connecting their products and policies with people.


One company, Kanetetsu, has shrank from being one of the top 3 to the seventh largest company in its industry (they sell seafood-related snacks) . They have begun reinventing their business by expanding into Southeast Asia and reaching out to schools and offering tours for students to come and see how they make their delicious offerings.


Overall, it seemed the secret to Japan’s success – and success for the Pacific Rim and the United States – is to remember that despite all the policies and products involved in our modern world, we succeed when we remember the people. By humanizing one another, we create stronger ties and act in ways that go beyond self interest, but instead aim for the greatest good. More soon, there’s a lot more I’d like to share with you! In the meantime, here’s one last picture of my “fieldwork” after hours:


(macadamia nut ice cream from the lawson’s family mart across from the Tokyo Grand Palace Hotel and Carranger on the iPad)


I’m Alive! I survived my first year of Grad School

So my first year of grad school is done, and I’m super grateful that I had such a great bunch of mentors as an undergraduate. The materials we covered in seminars weren’t nearly as hard for me as they were some of the other students given my background in Anthropology. It seemed to give me a leg up on many of the requirements and expectations of the instructors/program. Many students were intimidated or mystified by the ‘theoretical’ (some might say… dense… to put it kindly…). I also feel old. But what else can you expect being a 30 something jumping into a grad program when most of the students are in their early twenties?

Right now I’m working on a presentation for the ASPAC Conference at CSU Northridge next week. I present on Saturday, June 11th! Excited about that one. Plus I’m pleased that some great revisions are in the works for some potential future publications.

In the meantime, please enjoy this interesting article I found!

Boy abandoned in mountains of Hokkaido is found alive and safe by Japan Self-Defense Forces


Actually, he sort of found them.

On the morning of June 2, Yamato Tanooka, the seven-year-old Japanese boy who had been missing since May 28, was found, bringing to an end nearly a week of tense search efforts that had many fearing the worst had happened.

The child’s parents initially told authorities their son had become lost searching for edible mountain greens near Hokkaido’s Mt. Komagatake, before admitting that they had left him by the side of a forest road as a disciplinary measure and he had disappeared before they came back to pick him up. On June 1, the rescue efforts were expanded to include personnel from Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, but even after searching 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) in every direction from Yamato’s last known location, the search parties had been unable to find him.

But in a surprising development, Yamato was finally discovered roughly four kilometers north of where he had been abandoned, within the perimeter of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces Komagatake Training Grounds. At roughly 7:50 a.m. on June 3, a member of the JSDF came across a young boy inside one of the sleeping structures trainees use when on maneuvers. “Are you Yamato?” the JSDF member asked, to which the boy cheerfully responded “Yes, that’s me.”

The child had no visible injuries, but was hungry, so the JSDF member quickly gave him the water and onigiri (rice balls) he had on him. The boy was then airlifted to Hakodate Municipal Hospital, the nearest major medical center, where he is currently undergoing a thorough examination.

The police investigation into the exact chain of events that led to the crisis is still ongoing. For now, though, Japan is breathing a sigh of relief that Yamato is safe and sound.

Source: NHK via Jin
Top image: Japan Meteorological Agency

Boy abandoned in mountains of Hokkaido is found alive and safe by Japan Self-Defense Forces

The Power of Privilege

I haven’t really addressed the issue of race on this blog – but I thought this video was a fantastic opportunity to bring notions of privilege, agency, and the power of identity to light.  You don’t have to be the one suffering injustice to speak out – if you see something wrong happening, speak up.

“Genuine education is not a commodity, it is the awakening of a human being.” – Hunter Rawlings

Yesterday the Washington Post put up an article online about the “commoditization” of education.  Written by Hunter Rawlings (a former President of Cornell and the University of Iowa), it dissects the problem with continuing dialog in America that an education is a product or purchase sold to be passively received rather than a program requiring active learning to produce the aforementioned “education”.  As an undergraduate student, I have witnessed all sorts of peers across my journey – from those who want to be there to those struggling because of (reasons) to the students who are indignant that it isn’t “easier” or “more interesting”.  Sadly, too many students seem to think that they’re entitled to get a grade or shocked that they’re expected to generate their own ideas/engage in active participation.  But for me, college was one of the greatest opportunities of my life to challenge my assumptions and, as Rawlings writes, “awaken”.  As one of my dear friends from community college has told me on countless occasions (especially when I worry about money/the future):  ‘school is an investment in your future’.  But unlike someone who can pay a broker to make “smart investments” for them on the stock market or in a 401k, we’ve got to do the work ourselves to explore and navigate the process of this investment – and wise work generates rich rewards.  But only if we truly invest ourselves and not just money in our education.  Some people look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that my degree is an anthropology, and I can confidently tell them I did it because my education wasn’t just a commodity – it was self betterment.

Fetish or Food? In the words of the article… Just Eat.

This is an outstanding article by The Guardian that discusses how people seeking “authenticity” in their food are actually disrespecting the cultures they claim to be enjoying…. it’s one thing to truly value a culture, and it’s another to simply go around collecting people and their practices as a tchotchke to flaunt how “worldly” you are. It’s the difference between someone who recognizes other people as other people  rather than Other people. Definitely worth reading and being mindful of!

Notes from the Suggested Readings for MAPS – First Entry

Despite assertions to independent development from mainland Asia, there were multiple Korean individuals instrumental in the development of various facets of Japanese culture. Kuninaka Kimimaro was involved in the fabrication of early Buddhist artwork including the “great bronze buddha statue at Nara”, and his grandfather was a Korean ‘immigrant’ (fled from the Paekche government) in the seventh and eighth century CE. Others such as a Yamanoue Okura were renowned poets and writers, also of Korean descent.

— Page 189.

Given the mountainous nature of the Japanese archipelago, travel via boat was as efficient as overland travel, and it is suggested that immigrants to the isolated villages of the Japanese villages were as likely to remember their mainland “identities” as much as their local ones. (Remember also that personal research has shown the limited and localized nature of identity rather than a regional/feudal/national one….)

— Page 190

The cult of Amaterasu and the Ise Shrine only reached ‘maturity’ after the 7th/8th century and the majority of mainland isolation had tapered off.  Note also the Chinese pronunciation of “Shinto” as “the way of the gods” rather than the more japanese interpretation of the kanji characters as ‘kami no michi’.

— Page 197

Origins of Japanese as a creole(?) – yet another reason why learning the language is important to understanding culture!

— Page 199

“The Spirit of Japaneseness” emerged in Japanese literature after 907 CE, as a direct contrast to “The Other”…. consider how this indicates the length and amplitude of “unique” Japanese culture mindset before the rise of Orientalism in the West.

— Page 209

The Genesis of East Asia (Holcombe)

New Developments!

I’m very excited to share with you the newest development in my academic career! I’ve recently accepted an offer from the University of San Francisco to join their Asia Pacific Studies Program, and will be starting there this fall! I hope to continue to share my research and progress with you all!

Anthropologist Interrupted

Hello all,

It’s been a quiet last few months around here, and for that, I apologize.  The holidays, job changes, and other personal events have kept me away from working on my blog as much as I have wanted to.  I have some work that I want to share in the near future, especially a book review on Japan and the Shackles of the Past from R. Taggart Murphy and Oxford University Press.  It’s well worth reading, considering there are few comprehensive works in English on Japanese history coupled with more recent surveys of Japanese politics and Asia-Pacific relations.  I look forward to sharing it with you soon!

Public Policy and Science Literacy

Neil deGrasse Tyson is my absolute hero. This video is well worth watching.

“I see science and technology and creative investments in it as the most significant infusion to our economy then could possibly be conceived. The problem is that it’s not going to boost the economy next quarter; it’s got a time horizon longer than most people have the patience for and most politicians have the reelection cycle to be tolerant of. So what we need is a longer view on those investments. I don’t want NASA going hat-in-hand trying to get money to stimulate the frontier of cosmic discovery! And that frontier now involves biologists in the search for life, chemists in understanding the soils of Mars, aerospace engineers…” (and) “They transform the culture in which we live, on a time horizon that is not easy to just tell someone in a one sentence soundbyte. And what I want is a level of science and cultural literacy that will allow the public to be able to think beyond the election cycle. To think for themselves and say ‘this is a good investment’…”