Meiji at 150 Student Podcast

In the Meiji at 150 Student Podcast, UBC students discuss aspects of Japanese culture they research in class. Students share their research findings, thoughts, and passion for Japanese anime, manga, food, music, literature, film, sports, and other facets of Japanese society and popular culture.

Episode 1 – Karōshi (Working to Death)

In this episode, two students discuss the societal roots and impacts of karōshi, a phenomenon in which Japanese businesspeople literally “work themselves to death.”

Episode 2 – Yakyū (Baseball)

In this episode, two students discuss Japanese yakyū (baseball), comparing and contrasting the on-field and in-game experience for players and fans in Japan and North America.

Episode 3 – Americana in Japan

In this episode, a student talks about the popularity of American culture in Japan, as seen in food products, celebrities, and movies.

Episode 4 – Anime in the West

In this episode, a student shares his passion for anime and traces the influence of Japanese anime on cartoons in North America.

Episode 5 – Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)

In this episode, a student reviews the making and meaning of the Studio Ghibli film Hotaru no Haka (1988), or “Grave of the Fireflies,” directed by Takahata Isao.

Episode 6 – Japanese Whisky

In this episode, a student gives us a small taste of the recent popularity of Japanese whisky around the world, sampling the history of whisky production in Japan as well as the rapid growth of the whisky industry in general.

Episode 7 – Seichi Junrei (Anime “Holy Site” Pilgrimages)

In this episode, a student guides us on a tour of “holy sites” made popular by anime or manga, noting the commercial benefits these pilgrimages bring for local areas and the affective ties fans develop for these places.

Episode 8 – Yōshoku (Japanese-style Western Food)

In this episode, a student samples Yoshōku, or Japanese-style Western foods, like omuraisu, napolitan, and kare raisu, tracing their origins and noting their affiliation with “Japanese food,” especially overseas.

Episode 9 – Ō-to Re-su (Auto Race)

In this episode, a student steers our attention to Ō-to Re-su (Auto Race) – Japanese hi-speed motorcycle racing, encircling its background, its continuing popularity, and its unique features.

Episode 10 – Keigo (Japanese honorifics)

In this episode, a student introduces Keigo, or Japanese honorific language, charting its complex hierarchies, social uses, and impacts on interpersonal communication and relationships.

Episode 11 – Da-ku Souru (Dark Souls)

In this episode, a student walks through the Japanese “Dark Souls” RPG video game series, navigating the complex Japanese videogame market and repositioning the gaming phenomenon within larger Japanese and North American social contexts.

Episode 12 – J-Hora- (J-Horror)

In this episode, a student directs our attention to the horror movie genre in Japan, especially the films of director Miike Takashi. We discuss differences in the horror genre in Japan and North America, the moral “lessons” of horror films, and ways the horror genre reflects issues in contemporary society.

Episode 13 – Sushi

In this episode, a student presents the history of sushi in Japan, serving up the different styles of sushi preparation, and dishing out the differences in sushi between Japan and North America.

Episode 14 – Ukiyo-e (“Pictures of the Floating World”)

In this episode, two students paint a picture of Edo-Period Ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world,” tracing the works and influence of famous artists like Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige.

Episode 15 – 1960s Counterculture

In this episode, a student records the subversive music, literature, and film of the 1960s counterculture movement, featuring guerilla folk songs and avante garde films.

Episode 16 – Otaku

In this episode, a student introduces Otaku (obsessive fan) culture, discussing its increasing familiarity and popularity, describing its many forms and objects of fandom from anime and trains to Star Wars, and dispelling several misconceptions about Otaku.

Episode 17 – Juken (School Entrance Exams)

In this episode, a student sits for an assessment of Japanese school entrance exams, marking the importance of these exams, the pressures of exam-taking on students, and the resulting industry of exam-prep Juku, or cram schools, in Japan.

Episode 18 – J-Pop

In this episode, a student charts the popularity of J-Pop, or Japanese pop music, spotlighting Japanese pop idols, notable groups, and influential production companies. We also discuss differences between Japanese and Western musical styles, and the crowd-sourced Vocaloid musical act Hatsune Miku.

Episode 19 – Political Pop Music

In this episode, a student catalogues the political and propagandistic messages of popular music in prewar and postwar Japan, from prewar military marches to Occupation-era big band jazz, the 1950’s enka ballads of Misora Hibari, and the 1960s pop melodies of Sakamoto Kyū.

Episode 20 – Utagawa Hiroshige

In this episode, a student sketches the work of famous Edo-period woodblock artist Utagawa Hiroshige, focusing on the print “Fireworks at Ryōgoku Bridge” from the One Hundred Views of Edo series.

Episodes 21-22 – 1907 Vancouver Riots (Parts 1 & 2)

In these episodes, students introduce research they conducted on Japanese-owned businesses damaged in the 1907 Vancouver Anti-Asian riots.

Episode 23-24 – Tōkaidō Post Stations

In these episodes, students travel the Tōkaidō Road between Kyōto and Edo during the Tokugawa Period, stopping along the way at several towns, rest stops, and post stations.