The Japanese Diaspora in Japan

What does it mean to be Nikkei, a member of the Japanese diaspora? By being simultaneously Japanese and non-Japanese, Nikkei are forcing a re-evaluation of Japanese identity.

Japanese identity is complex and often oversimplified, its nuances underappreciated. Through interviews with Nikkei—particularly those who have returned to their ancestral homeland—I hope to shine a light on their experiences as outliers of Japanese identity, find common threads, and gain a deeper insight into the edges and unspoken essence of Japaneseness—what it means to be Japanese.

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Kagami: the Resonance of Ryuichi Sakamoto

Wearing a black suit and tortoiseshell glasses, he leans over a grand piano. Spotlit, his neatly cropped silver hair shines in the distance. Coming closer, I can see freckles on his pale face. He lifts his hands, lets them fall on the glossy keys, and begins ‘Before Long,’ the first of ten solo pieces he will play tonight. I can see the hammers of the Yamaha twitch.

How is this possible? The piano was not in the theater minutes earlier. And the musician—Ryuichi Sakamoto—passed away in March of 2023. Is he real? Is he present in this room? He can’t be, of course. But what does it mean to be present? To be real? The music, the sound waves, are alive. Is his spirit encoded in these frequencies and amplitudes?

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God in Pictures

Korean shaman painting

I was baffled by her effort to pay homage to a large, framed (glass, metal) painted image of the mountain spirit (a wizened old man with a tiger and young attendant) that was up a pathway on the north side of Manisan Mountain peak, when we could actually at minimum address the spirits of the peak in front of us.

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