Informal book launch: Studying Japan: Handbook of Research Designs, Fieldwork and Methods

Since the handbook came out in December 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has been going on worldwide. Although we gave some book talks at a few universities, we could not have an onsite book launch to celebrate the handbook’s publication with our authors.

Therefore, we decided to organize an online event. As the second best option, we invited all authors to join us for a celebration via Zoom on May 18. The intercontinental celebration featured toasts and short thank you speeches, but most importantly offered authors the chance to get to know each other or meet friends during breakout sessions. While colleagues from the US had their morning coffee, authors from Asia and Australia enjoyed their after work beer.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic and the current situation with regard to vaccination in the different countries was a big topic, some authors also shared their experiences with using the handbook in class. We are looking forward to a real book launch party, hopefully in the near future.

Research project „Berlin’s Japanese foodscapes“ in 2021: now in English

The sixth season of the participatory research project/method course „Berlin’s Japanese foodscapes” is on and taught in English for the first time. In summer 2021, 10 students from FUB’s Japanese Studies MA program will conduct new and exciting projects on Japanese food in Berlin to get some experience with qualitative research methods. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there will be methodological challenges to face, but just like last year, we will be flexible and find alternative ways to make our data.

In order to get interview praxis, we collaborate with Yoko Kawamura and her students from Seikei University in Tokyo. FUB’s students will interview Seikei students online about their lives, experiences and food consumption during the pandemic and ask them about the situation of restaurants in Tokyo. After this first Japanese language interview experience, we will prepare for interviews with Japanese food entrepreneurs and food workers in Berlin.

During the Covid pandemic, many Japanese restaurants in Berlin offer delivery and take-out services. It is a nice change to the monotonous every-day life to unwrap a furoshiki and find …

Students have already formed small research teams and decided on topics to study. One project will inquire food labeling of imported Japanese food in Asian supermarkets in Berlin. Another project analyzes how Japanese restaurant owners think about Covid-19 regulations in Berlin. The third project will compare concepts of authenticity in Japanese restaurants run by food entrepreneurs with different nationalities and/or ethnic backgrounds. We are looking forward to interesting insights into Berlin’s Japanese foodscapes, exciting interviews and hopefully joint visits to restaurants once they reopen. Meanwhile we order Japanese food via delivery or make use of take-out services many Japanese restaurants in Berlin offer in order to remember the taste of Japanese food.

… a beautiful box filled with vegan chirashi sushi. This one was prepared by Akiko, we have interviewed last year (