I am a writer, researcher and award-winning teacher on Japan, based in Tokyo, and sometimes Los Angeles. I teach in the field of comparative culture at a college in Tokyo–Shirayuri College. “Comparative” means I get to teach film and lit, mostly from Japan, but in the broader contexts of “sustainability”–design, urban reality, and social movements. I also have a strong affection for contemporary American lit and writing, and am always reading some new novel.
My 2011 book on the writer Nakagami Kenji was published by the University of Minnesota Press. One scholar notes that this “marvelous book matches its object with an intensity that utterly transforms our understanding of writing and politics in Japan.” A recent review notes that it is “a pleasure to hold a printed book so gorgeously designed as this one.” Another, in the Japanese studies journal Monumenta Nipponica, describes it as a standout effort in the field. You may buy a copy of the book here.
My most recent essay on Japanese film, published in camera obscura, received Honorable Mention for the 2013 Kovacs Essay Award for film scholarship, sponsored by the flagship professional organization for film studies, the SCMS (Society for Cinema & Media Studies). You can see some previous winners and a description here.
In conjunction with my formal academic work, I am engaged with many experiential learning projects: this means “learning by doing.” I have a background in public art, have run a community garden where I taught classes on food systems, globalization and Japanese food history, and am a Master Gardener, certified by the University of California. The connector between these fields is “food justice.” I have been especially rooted in the neighborhoods of South LA and regularly worked on garden and public-space projects with Green Grounds. I write, translate and program many things about food and food systems, with a focus on food justice (access to good fresh food in an era of economic disparity) and DIY movements.
For a number of years, I taught Japanese literature, film, and food systems at USC and then UCLA, in East Asian departments, as well as Environmental Studies and Public Health. My courses use food and “foodies” as a lens for tracing social histories, debates, and stances on modernity in Japan (with a lot of connections to LA). You can see the course blog for a Japanese food and foodies class at UCLA here. To contact me about teaching, academic and media matters, please email me at email@example.com; for other matters, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.