Nichibunken Visiting Research Scholar Fellowship 2018-2019

The International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Kyoto, Japan) is pleased to announce an opening for one or two foreign scholars to reside at the Center and participate during the Japanese academic year 2018-2019.

The International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Kyoto, Japan) is pleased to announce an opening for one or two foreign scholars to reside at the Center and participate during the Japanese academic year 2018-2019 in one of the following team research projects:


A. Popular Culture as Social Movement

Most of the genres of what is now called “popular culture”—manga, animation film, and music—that is the subject of scholarly attention today were, in the 1970s at least, referred to as “countercultures.” As if resonating with the debates we once saw online declaring, on one side, that “Politics shouldn’t be brought into music,” and countering on the other, that “Politics is where rock music started!” there is a strong tendency in scholarly research on popular culture today to avoid the subject of both political and social context. The fact that “Cool Japan” is a government sponsored cultural movement is self-evident. Popular or “mass” culture is always inseparable from all sorts of political movements, and many examples of popular culture show themselves to have been unselfconsciously political or cultural movements.
This team research project is intended to bring to the surface and evaluate various currents, and so demonstrate, for example, that aspects of popular culture such as manga and anime are not only “culture-of-resistance” type of movements from below but also “propagandist, activist” movements orchestrated from above; or again show the friction or collusion they generate; or indeed reassess popular culture as “movements” from within. What one can espy there is the dynamism of history, in which there is a split of the field into different parts which, while being a very new territory of research, is already uncertain about where it is heading.
We need to break away from the folly of attempting to study popular culture apart from politics and history.
※Questions regarding the details of the research project may be sent to Professor OTSUKA Eiji at the Center address, by e-mail at eotsuka1* * with @)

B. A Cultural History of Sound and Hearing

Sound as signal, record, science, literature, association, voice, language, expression—it has assumed tremendous diversity and great power within human cultures. The sounds emitted by nature and by humans can be solemn and moving as well as torturous and savage; they can be entertaining, and they can be a marketable commodity, an avant-garde incident or a science. This team research project will move beyond the framework of “music” in order to clarify the complex cultural workings of sound. This involves constructing a way of thinking that should start from the organs of hearing that receive sound. While the importance of the auditory sense has long been recognized, discussion of the subject has been far more limited than that for the visual sense. Recently, however, a number of works have appeared that are fundamentally changing that situation.
This team research project transcends the boundaries of established disciplines, reexamining the cultural and historic diversity of sound and the ear in a way that we hope will provide the keystone for future discussion. The sources of sound we will study range from natural sounds, imaginary sounds, and musical instrumental (implement) sounds, machine sounds, to electronic sounds, and the contexts we will examine include everything from the sounds of daily life to medical sounds, media, recording technology, film, stage, and exhibited art, “learning from the past” from the place we are today.
※Questions regarding the details of the research project may be sent to Professor HOSOKAWA Shuhei at the Center address, by e-mail at hosokawa* * with @)


⑴ Display evidence of prior research and publications directly related to the above research project.

⑵ Have a Ph.D. (or equivalent) and an academic position by the time of application.

⑶ Not more than 65 years old when the research period begins.
※We especially welcome applications from younger scholars, and also from scholars of diverse research areas. The position is open to any discipline, and not restricted to specialists of Japanese Studies.
However, discussions and presentations will be in Japanese, so knowledge of the language would be preferable.

Research Period

The scholar is expected to arrive in Kyoto someday between April 1 and October 3l, 2018; the fellowship runs from your arrival until March 31, 2019, and the term cannot be extended.
Please be sure to arrive in Japan within 1 to 7 days before the starting date of your contract period.

Terms of the scholar

⑴ The Visiting Research Scholar's salary will be determined on the basis of salary regulations and will reflect the Visiting Research Scholar's seniority. It will be paid on the appointed day each month.

⑵ Roundtrip travel expenses (economy class ticket only) will be paid.

⑶ A research allowance (including a domestic research travel expense allowance) will be disbursed to each Visiting Research Scholar.

⑷ The Center's library, computers, and other facilities, including an individual research room, will be made available for the use of the Visiting Research Scholar, in the same way as for a regular full-time employee of the Center.

⑸ Visiting Research Scholars have opportunities for presentation of research findings in seminars, public lectures, and the Nichibunken Forum held by the Center.

⑹ Housing accommodations will be available on the site of the Center. (There are charges for the use of these facilities.)


For information on how to apply, please visit the Nichibunken website at the following link:

For more info please contact:
Research Support Unit