Tuesday 30 April 2013                                              7.00 for 7.30pm

The Prince of Wales
Drury Lane
Covent Garden
London WC2B 5PF

£1 per head (payable at the door)

Booking essential (places are limited)

Oyattosaa! To mark the visit of the Japan British Society of Kagoshima, the  Japan Society pub quiz returns after three years in retirement. A popular feature of British pub culture, a pub quiz is a chance to band together with a team of friends and pit your wits against the pub’s quiz master – and of course enjoy a drink or two along the way. The unique point about the Japan Society Pub Quiz is that half the questions are in English and half in Japanese, although it is structured so that anyone can take part.

This, the fifth Japan Society Pub Quiz, is your chance to show everyone just how much you know, or simply to come and have fun with like-minded people. If you have never participated in a pub quiz, it’s time you found out what they are all about. If you are a past master, this is another chance to form a winning team. In honour of our visitors from Kagoshima, there may well be some questions with a certain Satsuma slant. But don’t worry, it is not a quiz about the history of southern Kyushu and we will try to place one of our visitors from Kagoshima in each team to help. Kibaiyanse!

All team members will be asked to pay £1 on the night. The collected takings will form the prize, which will be awarded to the winning team. The more teams and more participants, the bigger the bounty! There will also be a prize for the team with best name.

The rules are not strict, but teams will have about six members and will need to include at least one Japanese speaker. If you are interested, but haven’t got a full team, please let us know. We can match you with other people to make up a six.

If you would like to take part, gather together a team, name it and register your team with  the Japan Society office on 020 7828 6330 or email events@japansociety.org.uk.

Alternatively, submit the online booking form detailing your team and its members.




by Yamaguchi Yoshiko (山口淑子), Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 2004, 241 pages, 1600 Yen

Review by Fumiko Halloran

Yamaguchi Yoshiko was a prominent movie star and singer from the late 1930’s to 1958 when she married a Japanese diplomat and retired from a successful but controversial career. She was popular not only in Japan but in China, Hong Kong, and Hollywood.

The dramatic life she describes in this memoir illustrates the fate of a beautiful and talented girl who grew up in Manchuria when Japan established a puppet state there in 1932. Fluent in Mandarin and trained by a Russian opera singer, Yamaguchi lived a complicated life with several identities. This memoir illustrates the difficulties of living in a cross cultural environment that is exacerbated by civil turmoil and international conflict.

Born in 1920 to Japanese parents who lived in Fushun, Manchuria, her name was Yamaguchi Yoshiko according to her family’s registry in Saga Prefecture, Japan. Then, in accord with a Chinese tradition, she had two Chinese adoptive fathers, both of whom were close friends of her father, Yamaguchi Fumio. From them, she was given two Chinese names, Li Xianglan as the adopted daughter of General Li Jichun, and Pan Shuhua as politician Pan Yugui’s adopted daughter.

When she appeared in movies, she played the roles of Chinese girls or women and spoke only Mandarin. Millions of Chinese fans believed her to be Chinese until after World War II. She was put on trial by Chinese military authorities who accused her of betraying China to spy for Japan. She was found not guilty, however, after she proved that she was in fact Japanese. She escaped execution and was expelled from China.

Returning to Japan in 1946, she resumed her film career and married an internationally known artist Noguchi Isamu. Five years later they were divorced. She went to New York in 1956 to star in the Broadway musical “Shangri La” under the stage name of Shirley Yamaguchi. There she met Otaka Hiroshi, a young diplomat eight years younger, while she was performing in that musical. After they married two years later, Yamaguchi chose the name Otaka Yoshiko and retired from films and stage. Her husband later served as ambassador to Sri Lanka and Myanmar. She used her Otaka name when she ran for and was elected to the House of Councilors in 1974. She served in the parliament for eighteen years as a member of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Over the years in China, Japan, and America, she had five names with different identities. She suffered from emotional conflicts, according to this memoir, particularly as Li Xianglan, the Chinese star, which hid her true identity as a Japanese. As she rose toward stardom, Yamaguchi seemed unaware of the complicated political situation around her. She was keenly aware, however, of the Japanese military’s attitude toward the Chinese and was hurt by both Japanese mistreatment of Chinese and the hostility of the Chinese toward Japanese. When she went to Japan for the first time when she was eighteen years old, she was shocked by Japanese contempt and condescension toward Chinese even though her singing of Chinese songs was popular.

During the year Yamaguchi was born, Mao Zedong was a young man organizing a socialist youth group, the League of Nations was established, and California passed legislation that was seen as an “anti-Japan law” intended to limit Japanese immigration. In Europe, Mussolini grabbed political power in Italy and Hitler launched the first uprising in Munich, which failed.

As she grew to be a teenager in Manchuria and later Beijing, the Chinese fight against the Japanese was complicated by the civil war between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party. The Yamaguchi family’s Chinese friends were pro-Japan leaders who cooperated with the Japanese government and military while fighting the Chinese communists. Yet her best friend, a Russian girl with whom she maintained a lifelong friendship, turned out to have a father who was a Soviet Communist Party member working for Pravda and Tass, the Soviet publications.
Yamaguchi as Li Xianlang was named Japan’s Manchurian Goodwill Ambassador as she was propelled to stardom with movies including “Leaving a Good Name for Posterity” about the Opium War. It was produced in Shanghai by a joint venture between Japanese and Chinese as Japanese propaganda. The head of the production company, Kawakita Nagamasa, was a veteran in the film industry and chose themes that passed Japanese military censorship but appealed to Chinese audiences. In this movie, the Chinese understood that British colonial ambitions in China had been parallel to modern Japanese ambitions. General Lin Zexu who fought against British was a national hero. Li Xianglan appeared as a girl selling candy in the opium dens.

Yamaguchi recalls a painful press conference in Beijing shortly after the movie was released. A Chinese journalist accused her of appearing in movies like “Song of the White Orchid” “China Nights” and “Vow in the Desert” in which Chinese women were mistreated by Japanese men but then they fell in love with them. A journalist asked: “Where is your pride as a Chinese?” Yamaguchi writes that she almost confessed that she was Japanese. But the pressure on her not to disclose her true identity had been applied by different interest groups who had used her for political purposes. She apologized to the journalists and pledged not to be involved in such movies again.

She writes movingly about her visits to war zones in 1942. At that time she was working on an epic movie, “The Yellow River,” which took place near the frontline in Henan Province. Financed by the Manchurian Film Association, it was almost all a Chinese production. During the filming, the cast was in danger of being caught in the cross fire between the Japanese army and the Kuomintang or Communist Chinese forces. The theme was village life near the river in a place about to become a battlefield. When the production completed its work and left, Yamaguchi recalls that two extra train cars connected to theirs were filled with wounded Japanese soldiers covered with blood. Yamaguchi and another actress helped the medics attend to the wounded throughout the night. When the train stopped, even the dying soldiers wanted her to sing, so she jumped off the train and stood in a wheat field under the moonlight and sang old Japanese songs for the soldiers.

Having gone through pain of conflict between the Chinese and Japanese, and carrying a sense of guilt that her work as actress and singer had supported Japan’s behavior toward China, Yamaguchi watched from Tokyo the signing ceremony in Beijing establishing diplomatic relations between Japan and the Peoples Republic of China in the fall of 1972-and cried. Today she calls China her fatherland and Japan as motherland and has a simple message: “Stop war.”



Edited by Ruth Taplin and Sandra J. Lawman, Routledge: Contemporary Japan Series, June 2012, 148 pages, ISBN: 978-0-415-69068-3, £90.00

Review by Sean Curtin

This impressive multi-authored work comprehensively examines the current state of the mental health system in Japan. It furnishes an excellent overview of the present situation and the multifaceted issues facing the country. Despite having one of the world’s highest suicide rates, mental health issues are often underplayed or completely overlooked. Other major challenges confronting the country are widespread depression, institutionalisation, over sedation of patients and a relatively restrictive mental health care system. All these important topics are analysed in this work which meticulously explores the current challenges. It provides a helpful overview of the complex tapestry of the current system and discusses the latest legislation, approaches to treatment and problematic areas.

Although research indicates depression is relatively common in the country, with a significant increase since the devastating March 2011 triple catastrophe, according to Hiroto Ito, “awareness of depression is not high in Japan (page 45).” Psychiatric care is also problematic as Hajime Oketani and Hiromi Akiyama outline, “Massive doses of psychiatric drugs are administered in order to keep the patients under sedation; they are often over-sedated. Then, the treatment is considered as ‘going well.’…This is the background of megadose culture in psychiatric care in Japan, which is extremely unique; few countries in the world practise this type of mental care approach (page 83).”

To provide a comprehensive picture, there is analysis of key cultural aspects which impact on mental health. For example, the role of family structures in contributing to mental health problems is looked at as well as the wider social concepts of tatemae and honne. Ruth Taplin writes in the comprehensive introductory chapter, “Tatemae and honne are concepts essential to understanding the Japanese psyche as the former refers to how things should be and the latter refers to the reality and how things are in actuality…In Japan, the very attempt to separate the two states of mind so they do not come into conflict can cause tension, especially within the context of the family where it is more difficult to hide true feelings (page 2).”

There is analysis of various ideas and practices concerning a variety of aspects related to rehabilitation into the workforce and the community and service user groups that empower the mentally afflicted. Sandra Lawman believes, “The user movement in Japan is fragile and needs further nurturing (page 111), ” while Satoru Hashimoto observes, “At the present time, the way of creating new jobs for those with metal disorders is not generally accepted at Japanese enterprises (page 70).” The topic of the social stigma attached to mental health issues is explored by Shuntaro Ando and Graham Thornicroft (pages 113-142) with some illuminating international comparisons while a Japan-Britain analysis of the user movement is given by Sandra Lawman (pages 98-112).

Professor Graham Thornicroft, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London

On attitudes towards mental illness Shuntaro Ando and Graham Thornicroft conclude, “In Japan, knowledge about the causes of mental illness was found to be poor, and weakness of personality was preferred as the cause rather than heritability….The majority of the general public in Japan presented social distance from individuals with mental illness especially in closer relationships (page 132).” They also noted that “Japanese society’s values emphasising conformity may also be a deteriorating factor for stigma against mental illness, which deviates from the norm (page 129).”

This work is also packed with a variety of interesting case studies, I particular found the one by Yayoi Imamura on how people with mental illness can be integrated into a rural town enlightening (pages 79-82). The trial took place in the relatively remote town of Urakawa in Hokkaido and demonstrates that the countryside in Japan is not as conservative as it is generally portrayed.

It has only been in recent years that mental health issues have become a more prominent public issue of concern with demands for action. This momentum can be seen in the various laws and reforms that have been passed in the past decade. Dr Hiroto Ito, one of the book’s contributors who looks at this issue (pages 36-56), has also been closely involved with helping shape government policy. The issue of counselling those with post traumatic stress has also become a prominent issue since the devastating 11 March 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and it is hoped this should spur further improvements in the system.

While there are many challenges facing the mental health system in Japan, most contributors to this work believe the overall situation is improving. Shuntaro Ando and Graham Thornicroft recommend, “…educational programmes that focus on the adverse effect of institutionalism and offer direct social contact with people with mental illness are required in Japan, as they have been shown to be effective in the world (page 133).” Focusing on the positive Hajime Oketani and Hiromi Akiyama comment, “What we can do, from within the field of mental health, is to keep on nurturing good aspects of Japanese culture and society and contribute to build communities where people can happily live their lives (page 96).”

The book was launched on 26 June 2012 at a lively and well attended seminar entitled “Mental Health Care in Japan” which was held in the impressive surroundings of St. Dunstan’s Church, in Fleet Street, London. There were four speakers, three of the book’s contributors, Graham Thornicroft with editors Ruth Taplin and Sandra Lawman along with Yuriko Suzuki, a Japanese psychiatrist with first hand experience of treating and dealing with the victims of post traumatic shock in Japan. Koji Maruyama, First Secretary (Health and Welfare) at the Embassy of Japan in the UK also spoke about the importance of improving mental health care in Japan. All the speakers underlined the increased importance of the topic since the Great East Japan Earthquake and how this new book will help non-Japanese understand the current state of mental health care and the challenges facing Japan.

It is often difficult to find good quality analysis of these issues in English and this impressive new work fills an important void with first rate contributions and analysis from a wide range of Japanese and foreign professionals and practitioners. The editors and authors deserved to be commended for producing this insightful and cutting-edge work.

Ruth Taplin and Sandra J. Lawman, editors of Mental Health Care in Japan


The book is divided into seven sections with a postscript. These are as follows: 1. Mental Health Care in Japan – An Introduction by Ruth Taplin (pages 1-35) 2. The Mental Health Policy and Services: Where We Stand by Hiroto Ito (pages 36-56) 3. Reintegrating the Mentally Ill into Society and Work by Satoru Hashimoto (pages 57-72) 4. How Mental Hospitals Treat their Patients, and Programmes for Rehabilitation into the Community by Yayoi Imamura (pages 73-82) 5. National Federation of Families for the Mentally Ill in Japan: Historical and Future Perspectives by Hajime Oketani and Hiromi Akiyama (pages 83-97) 6. An Overview of the User Movement in Britain and Japan by Sandra Lawman (pages 98-112) 7. Attitudes to Mental Illness in Japan and Britain by Shuntaro Ando and Graham Thornicroft (pages 113-142) and Postscript by Sandra Lawman (page 143).



Wednesday 24 April 2013                                         9.00am

Elizabeth Gate Entrance (see below for directions)
Royal Botanic Gardens
Greater London TW9 3AE

£10.00 for Japan Society members and their guests
(Price includes breakfast, special tour and day pass)

Booking deadline – Wednesday 17 April
Limited places. Please book early to avoid disappointment.

Japan Society members are being offered a rare opportunity to visit Kew’s valuable collection of bonsai trees in the company of resident expert, Richard Kernick.

Assembling at the Elizabeth Gate Entrance at 9.00am (see below for directions), guests will proceed to Kew Garden’s Orangery for a private breakfast, including coffee, tea, freshly squeezed juice and pastries. An introduction to the Kew Foundation’s current projects will be given during breakfast.

Following this, guests will be divided into two groups. The first group will be led to the glass house containing the bonsai collection for a tour lasting approximately one hour. The second group will be free to roam the gardens until 11.00am, when they are asked to assemble at the glass house to begin their own tour.

All attendees will be granted complimentary guest passes allowing them access to Kew’s extensive grounds for the rest of the day.


Directions to the Elizabeth Gate Entrance to Kew Gardens can be downloaded here (PDF). Please ensure you arrive promptly – the gardens are not open to the public at this time and guests will need to be escorted to the Orangery.

9.00am All guests assemble outside the Elizabeth Gate Entrance to Kew Gardens.

9.15am Breakfast in the Orangery.

10.00am First tour group departs for the bonsai glasshouse. Other guests may wander the gardens at leisure.

11.00am Second tour group meet outside the glasshouse.

12.00 – 6.30pm Guests are free to remain at Kew and explore the gardens until closing.

Richard Kernick has now been caring for the Bonsai collection at Kew for eight years, having been employed as their first Bonsai Specialist in 2004.  Coming from a ‘hobbyist’ background, he continues to maintain his own personal collection of trees, some of which have been in his possession for almost 20 years.  Whilst working at Kew it has been his pleasure to work extensively with Nobuyuki Kajiwara, an acknowledged expert in the field of bonsai growing.

In partnership with:






We are delighted to be able to offer copies of Biographical Portraits VIII free of charge to members of the Japan Society while stocks last. Members may obtain a copy from the Japan Society office on request, either in person or by post at a cost of £5.00 (UK residents).

Non-members will be able to purchase copies at £45.00 each (excluding postage).

To receive your complimentary copy, please visit the Japan Society shop pages or contact the office on 020 7828 6330 or info@japansociety.org.uk .


By Sir Hugh Cortazzi (Ed),
Global Oriental Publishing and the Japan Society, 2013
ISBN 978-90-04-24602-7, pp 768.

This eighth edition of the Britain & Japan: Biographical Portraits series, published in 2013, contains fifty-two biographical essays from forty different contributors relating to the influential individuals in Anglo-Japanese relations from the Meiji period to the present day. Structured accordingly, this edition deals with personalities involved in fields including: Politicians and Officials; Lawyers; Artists; Art Collectors and Art Dealers; Potters and Garden Designers; Writers; Music, Sport and Media; Scholars; and Other Notable Individuals. Compiled and edited by former ambassador to Japan and former chairman of the Japan Society Hugh Cortazzi, this edition features contributors including Jason James (Director General of the Daiwa Foundation) and Norita Kubota (Professor at Otsuma Women’s University – Tokyo). In addition, this 8th volume features two appendices relating to Japanese correspondence with The Times newspaper and relevant publications from the Satow Papers.

Member’s Price: FREE (first copy only – £12.00 thereafter) plus P & P or pick-up directly from Japan Society offices.

Email info@japansociety.org.uk to reserve your copy.

Non-member’s Price: £45.00 plus P & P




On Wednesday 22 April, as spring sunshine finally filtered through London’s streets, a small band of bonsai lovers journeyed west to Kew Gardens for a chance to meet Richard Kernick, resident bonsai expert and Lord of all things green and miniature.

The core of Kew’s diverse bonsai collection originates from a generous donation of fifty trees, given by the late Ruth Stafford-Jones. Richard has been at Kew since 2004 and has been adding occasional trees, caring for his current stock, and occasionally rescuing stray bonsai he finds on his travels.

There are many pitfalls for the amateur bonsai enthusiast and after an hour of Richard’s woodsman wisdom it became clear why so many cherished twigs die before their time. Perhaps the most important rule for growing bonsai is adequate drainage. Many store-purchased bonsai come in the wrong containers, ceramic pots with limited holes that essentially drown the bonsai by swamping its roots. The golden rule of any bonsai pot is the provision of drainage holes in each corner. Once the bonsai has been watered (a process that needs to be regular and thorough) propping the pot at an angle allows excess water to drain away.

Richard also provided his attentive listeners with a demonstration of how to prune bonsai trees, both their roots and crowns. Some of the oldest trees on display exhibited great gnarled finger-width roots at their base. Removing one such example from its pot, Richard revealed that these thick surface roots are purely aesthetic, aggressively pruned beneath the soil level to allow the bonsai to spread as many fine, tendrils into the surrounded soil as possible.

An hour in Richard’s company transformed a company of eager but woefully under-equipped amateurs into a class of bonsai connoisseurs! Those who attended will look knowingly at future bonsai specimens, arrayed on garden centre shelves, disdainfully noting their failings and searching for a healthy sapling to begin their own collections.

To get bonsai tips straight from the source, follow this link to Richard Kenrick’s Kew blog, with regular updates and photos of the collection.

For more snapshots of the trees and impressions of the tour, follow this link to Fran Pickering’s blog Sequins & Cherry Blossoms.



Charles Wirgman (1835 – 1891) was one of those engaging, eccentric, polyglot personalities who adventured around the Far East in the second half of the nineteenth century. Many deserved their reputation as semi-criminals out for quick money, but Wirgman, though probably never rich, has nowhere left an image of such avariciousness. He was correspondent of the Illustrated London News in Japan in the 1860s, where he arrived in April 1861, and was a vital eye-witness observer of the opening of the country. Active in the treaty port press, he founded his own satirical review, the Japan Punch, in Yokohama in May 1862. He contributed in part to the development of Meiji oil painting by training Goseda Yoshimatsu, and Takahashi Yuichi, and indirectly contributing to that of several others….

Wirgman died in 1891, and was to be followed by his Japanese wife Kane in 1897 and their son Ichiro, himself married but childless, in 1922. However, his reputation and his importance were never eclipsed by the later and much richer growth of Japanese oil painting. His work was also exhibited in the retrospective of Japanese oil painting by members at Yuichi’s studio in 1893. There was probably an exhibition in 1904 in Yokohama, and there were other retrospectives in Tokyo in 1937 and Yokohama in 1970.

Despite its limitations, Wirgman’s work has always remained as the first significant body of drawings and paintings by a western artist in Japan and with which Japanese were in contact. He is also one of the few western artists to be buried there.

This is an extract from a biography by John Clark. The full biographies for each Portrait of the Week are contained in the Japan Society series Biographical Portraits (Vols. I – VIII). If you would like to purchase any of these volumes, they can be found online in the Japan Society Shop, with a special discount for members.


Friday 19 April 2013                                           9.00am to 4.00pm

Havering Learning and Development Centre
CEME Campus
Marsh Way
Essex RM13 8EU




Free (registration required)

Looking at Japan in the PRIMARY CLASSROOM and in secondary ART

Are you interested in using Japan in your teaching? In this course, we will look at where it fits in the curriculum and where to find useful teaching materials and supplementary resources. Practical workshops with experienced tutors provide the skills needed to incorporate new materials into your scheme of work.The day will comprise separate strands for primary school and secondary art teachers.

PRIMARY: Discover the true essence of haiku with Paul Conneally and come away with tips and techniques to allow your pupils to use this form creatively to prevent it being a mere syllable counting exercise. Be inspired by the Japanese soroban, learning new and exciting ways to engage your pupils in Numeracy lessons, with Kimie Markarian.

SECONDARY: Add a Japanese flavour to your art curriculum as you learn about various Japanese art forms, presented in a practical way by Japanese specialists. You will explore the wide range of manga styles and traditions with Chie Kutsuwada and discover the art of Japanese woodblock printing with Hiroko Imada.

To book your place, please complete and submit this form, or send an email to education@japansociety.org.uk indicating clearly whether you will attend the primary or secondary art strand and any dietary requirements.

Attendance is free (including lunch) but places are strictly limited. You will receive confirmation of your place.



Thursday 18 April 2013                                                                 6.45pm

The Swedenborg Society
20-21 Bloomsbury Way (Hall entrance on Barter St)
London WC1A 2TH

Free – booking recommended

Nearest underground station: Holborn
Light refreshments will be provided

The Japan Society is delighted to be hosting a discussion between two eminent figures in the world of Japanese translation and literature studies, Michael Emmerich and Stephen Dodd.

The evening will begin with a short presentation on Emmerich’s current book project, The Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World Literature, in which he re-examines the conventional narrative of this iconic work’s history, arguing that it became a classic outside of Japan before it was popularized domestically.

Stephen Dodd, Senior Lecturer in Japanese at the School of Oriental and African Studies, will then join Emmerich in conversation about theories of world literature and how its canon is constituted and recognised. The discussion will expand to encompass Emmerich and Dodd’s own translation work, which ranges from classical to contemporary-era Japanese fiction. The two scholars will consider wider issues surrounding work being translated today and the opportunities that remain for new translations in the field. After this discussion the audience will have a chance to engage in an extended question and answer session, with the opportunity for more informal networking over sake and light refreshments at the end of the evening.

Michael Emmerich is an assistant professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In addition to his many publications in English and Japanese on early modern, modern, and contemporary Japanese literature, he is the translator of works by writers such as Kawabata Yasunari, Yoshimoto Banana, Takahashi Gen’ichirō, Akasaka Mari, Yamada Taichi, Matsuura Rieko, and Kawakami Hiromi. Emmerich’s research has been generously supported by a number of grants, including a Fulbright Scholarship and an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies. He was also the recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University’s Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, from 2008-2009.

Stephen Dodd gained two BA degrees in Chinese (1977) and Japanese (1980) from Keble College, Oxford.  He obtained a PhD in Japanese Literature from Columbia University (1993). From 1994, he has been teaching at SOAS, University of London, where he is presently Senior Lecturer in Japanese.  He has written a wide range of articles on modern Japanese literature, including ‘The Significance of Bodies in Sôseki’s Kokoro’ (Monumenta Nipponica 53, 1998) and ‘History in the Making: Negotiations between History and Fiction in Tanizaki Jun’ichirô’s ‘A Portrait of Shunkin,’ in Japan Review 24 (Summer, 2012).  He is the author of Writing Home: Representations of the Native Place in Modern Japanese Literature (Harvard East Asian monographs, distributed by Harvard University Press, 2004).  His new book, The Youth of Things: Life and Death in the Age of Kajii Motojirô, is due to come out in spring 2014 (Hawai’i University Press).

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 7828 6330 or email events@japansociety.org.uk or submit the online booking form.

In association with:








  • Upcoming Events

    « April 2018 » loading...
    Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
  • Contact

    Email Us

    Tel: 020 7935 0475

    The Japan Society
    13/14 Cornwall Terrace
    London NW1 4QP