Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"Japan to offer free HIV testing in annual company health checks to encourage early detection"

Photo and text borrowed from The Japan Times, Oct. 30, 2017.

In a bid to encourage more people to undergo HIV tests, the health ministry is planning to offer testing as a free option during companies’ annual health checks.

The program will start on a trial basis in fiscal 2018 in big cities like Tokyo, where the rates for HIV and AIDS tend to be higher, a ministry official said Monday.

The free HIV test will be optional at the annual health checks companies carry out on employees, and the ministry will send the results directly to the patients instead of together with all of the usual health check data, the official said.

The health ministry has requested about ¥28 million from the fiscal 2018 budget for the HIV program.

“The important things are early detection and early treatment because the development (of AIDS) can be prevented by finding and treating the infection at an early stage,” the official said. “Detection can also prevent the spread of HIV.”

In Japan, public health centers offer HIV tests for free, but they are usually offered only on weekdays, when most people are working.

According to the official, the number of people tested for HIV at public clinics has dwindled in recent years, and the ministry is working to make the test more accessible.

“We hope the program will encourage more people to take the test,” the official said.

Japan saw a steady increase in new HIV infections through 2008. Since then, the number has hovered at around 1,000, according to ministry data.

In 2016, a total of 1,011 people became infected with HIV, according to the data. Of them, 735, or 73 percent, contracted the virus through homosexual intercourse and 170, or 17 percent, through heterosexual intercourse.

According to the data, 437 people developed AIDS in the same year, many of them in their 30s. Those in the 50-or-over age group accounted for around 30 percent of people with AIDS, the data showed.


Click here to see the previous extensive coverage of HIV/AIDS in Japan at VAOJ.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Tachinomiya Halloween - and - (Pre-)Announcement: AJJ Presentation in December: "Tachinomiya: Photo Exhibition as Research Method"

Here's another post about Halloween in Japan. Again, Halloween has exploded here in the last several years in terms of celebrations, events and merchandise. Halloween has even touched the traditional tachinomiya that has been the subject of my latest research and photo exhibition. The photo above shows the Halloween decorations up now at the shop (yes, research continues - see below). The following shots are from my previous fieldwork in 2015. None of these shots have been showed before because I didn't want to deal with Halloween issues in the exhibition. So here they are for you now to enjoy. And if you can't make it to the tachinomiya to enjoy the Halloween decorations, the Christmas decorations will undoubtedly be up soon.

I have been informed that my paper presentation, "Tachinomiya: Photo Exhibition as Research Method" has been accepted for the Anthropology of Japan in Japan (AJJ) Fall Meetings in December at Doshisha University in Kyoto. As soon as the official schedule is announced I will post my formal announcement with the thesis for the presentation as well as information about the AJJ meetings. For more information about my project see the posts listed below.

And Happy Halloween from VAOJ!

Photo Exhibition and Visual Ethnography - "Tachinomiya: There Are Two Sides to Every Noren"

"Tachinomiya" Photo Exhibition and Visual Ethnography: The First Week

"Tachinomiya" - A Successful and Memorable Photo Exhibition/Event/Research Method

Monday, October 30, 2017

「31st」- A Film about Halloween in Japan

Halloween in Japan has exploded in the last 10-15 years or so. Now, Halloween merchandise and activities start in August and sometimes even continue into November. I would even make the claim that Halloween sales and celebrations rival those of Christmas in Japan. Globalization moves quickly. The recent popularity of Halloween here is hard to convey to my students, after all many of them are used to such things in their own countries. But the numerous comments and observations of old-timers and long-term residents voicing their own surprise ("Where did all this Halloween stuff come from?") justify my comments here. One of my former students noticed some differences between the celebrations in Japan and the United States and decided to make a short film about the subject. I think the film is quite good in capturing the differences as well as student attitudes towards the holiday and their use of social media. I am happy he has made it available on YouTube. Watch, enjoy and get in the trick-or-treating mood.

Monday, October 23, 2017

"Traveling Across Japan" - A New York Times Photo Story about Hiroyuki Ito

Photo and text borrowed from The New York Times, Oct. 21, 2017.

Hiroyuki Ito, a photographer who grew up in Tokyo, wanted to see more of his country. So he spent two months this summer documenting interesting moments.

Hiroyuki Ito covered a lot of ground this summer: Moji, Dazaifu, Hakata, Yanagawa and Kumamoto on Japan’s Kyushu Island; Kochi-city and Cape Ashizuri in Kochi; Atami in Shizuoka and Omiya, Saitama. 54 cities in 18 prefectures, to be exact.

He was looking to capture the way people live outside of Tokyo — the faces, architecture, even, sometimes, what he sees in a trash can.

“I like to document the small things people do on a daily basis that are not significant enough to be listed in the history books,” he said. “I would like to think that that’s part of history, too, but not in an obvious or romantic way.”

With that in mind, the Mr. Ito got in a car with three of his best friends from elementary school and drove 90 minutes from Tokyo to Atami, a kitschy seaside city that is a popular destination for family vacations. “I think that’s part of Japanese culture, too,” he said of the country’s goofier tourist attractions.

Read and see the whole story:

Thanks to E.K. for the heads up on this story.

Monday, October 9, 2017

"A mission to capture the full range of half-Japanese experience — in 192 photos"

Photo and text borrowed from The Japan Times, 10/8/17.

The son of a Japanese father and Belgian mother, photographer Tetsuro Miyazaki grew up in a multilingual and multicultural environment.

“My younger sister and I were raised in Dutch-French-bilingual Brussels, where our dad would speak Japanese to us, our mom would speak Dutch, and they would communicate in French between themselves,” says Miyazaki, now 39. Annual summer vacations spent in Japan and Saturday school helped him connect further with his father’s culture.

Reflection on his own cultural heritage was a catalyst for the “Hafu2Hafu” project, a collection of portraits of other bicultural Japanese people.

“As a half-Japanese photographer, living in Amsterdam at that time, I wanted to take on a personal project that would force me to pick up my camera and meet people,” Miyazaki says.

He began by speaking with Dutch hāfu.


After interest in his initial sessions with Dutch hāfu led to invitations to present his work at symposiums overseas, Miyazaki came up with an ambitious plan to photograph a hāfu person with one parent from every other nation in the world.

“Since there are 193 sovereign countries, there are 192 possible different combinations. The idea behind this is that I want to show how diverse being half-Japanese can be and I want to understand the different aspects of it. What influences the way we experience the ‘half-Japanese’ side of our identity?”

Miyazaki says he has been humbled by the willingness of his subjects to open up and talk about their personal feelings. While each one has a unique story, some common themes have emerged.

“One topic that always comes up is about the sense of belonging,” he notes. “What also struck me is that most hāfu people find themselves to be quite empathic. While I can’t say for sure, I believe it has a lot to do with having to interpret two different languages, the corresponding nonverbal communication, cultural backgrounds and, sometimes, religious differences.”

Miyazaki’s interviews with participants who grew up in Japan reveal the sometimes ambivalent attitudes that bicultural people may encounter in this traditionally homogenic society.

“Both those raised abroad and those raised in Japan want to ‘belong’ to Japan more than most of them do. But this is more ‘painful’ when one is living in Japan. Even if you understand the Japanese language or the customs very well, you may not be considered Japanese and often do not get treated as such,” Miyazaki points out.

“Another difference is what ‘the other half’ is. There are Western hāfu, hāfu with African heritage or a Latin parent and then Asian hāfu. They all have very different experiences, both in Japan and abroad,” he says.

Some foreign parents of bicultural Japanese kids dislike the connotation of the label “half” and advocate for such people to be called “double.” Based on his interviews so far, however, Miyazaki says that most bicultural adults do not share this view.

“Although some dislike the label half/hāfu, most of them embrace it. It has also struck me that the dislike comes from the parents, who do not want to refer to their child as ‘half.'”

Read the whole article:

Hafu2Hafu web page:

Hafu2Hafu Presentation and Workshop
Sunday, October 15 at 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
at Sophia University, Tokyo
More information: