The Japan Fan Studies Tour: Before

As some of you know, I’ve been organizing a trip to Japan for a small number of media & fan studies academics which is beginning just under three weeks, on Dec. 15. People will sometimes ask – about anything, not just this – well, how did it get started? And there are three answers:

  1. With the growing number of anime/manga/Japanese popular culture-conversant people entering popular culture and, especially, fan studies classrooms, I wanted to give those in the classroom some greater familiarity with what popular culture and fandom look like in Japan, the better to respond to those students’ needs. While it will be a short trip of only 10 days, I’m hoping that the participants will get enough of a sense of things that it will inform what they bring to their own classrooms.
  2. There’s comparatively little communication between English language Japanese popular culture specialists and English language fan studies specialists, with the effect that it’s not uncommon to see the former reinventing wheels that have been spinning along for some time already. Equally, we in English language fan studies continue to be disadvantaged by our own cultural blinders, in which ‘fandom’ means one, maybe two, very specific, and very Anglo-Americacentric versions of what fandom might look like and mean. As such, this is also intended to broaden horizons a bit, and explore where there are differences, areas of overlap, and so on.
  3. So, a group of us were blowing off panels one day during the 2017 Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, and somehow the idea that it would be so cool for a group of us to go to Japan came up. And since I’ve done this kind of educational tour planning in the past (it’s a long story), I got fired up and this is the result.

All of those are equally true reasons – that’s how stuff gets started.

As of now, we’ve got trips to the Ghibli Museum (tickets obtained by my far-more-skilled-than-me spouse!), Ikebukuro’s Otome Road, Akihabara, Nakano Broadway, Kyoto International Manga Museum, and Shimokitazawa lined up. Some of us will be hitting Disneyland/Disneysea, and most of us are also trekking out to Universal Studios Japan.

But more than that, we’re very fortunate to be able to take part in a one-day symposium hosted by the Institute for Comparative Culture at Tokyo’s Sophia University (and if you happen to be in Tokyo, it’s open to the public and free!).

So, tickets have been bought and we’re in the final run-down to departure. I’m hoping to blog about it, either here or on the tour site, and if you’re interested I want to encourage you to follow along!! The official Twitter hashtag is #jfst18