SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

Recipients of the Meiji Jingu Japanese Studies Research Scholarships

The following students have been awarded the Meiji Jingu Scholarships.


Luba Ampleva

Luba Ampleva

Working title of the project: The Beautiful Other: Behind the Images of Russian Caucasian Fashion Models in Contemporary Japan.

Outline of the project: This PhD research is an inquiry into the phenomenon of images of Russian Caucasian fashion models that can be found in most spheres of the contemporary Japanese media.

Introduction to the research: In this research I am interested in investigating the differences between the lives of the images and the lives of the models in them. On the one hand, the images of the models are desired, admired, and move freely between the many spheres of Japanese society. On the other hand, the models’ time and bodies are strictly controlled and they often find themselves living on the margins of society.

I am adopting a two-sided approach of analysing the context of both the consumption and production of the images. From the consumption point of view, it appears that the Japanese are extremely attracted to the Caucasian look, which is conceptually closely related to notions of domination and control, transnational mobility and world culture, self-indulgence and independence.

From the production point of view, I am interested in who the models in the images are, where they come from and why. My preliminary research indicates that the majority of Caucasian models in Japan come from Eastern Europe and specifically from Russia. They enter Japan on short term visas, tend to be very young and spend most of their time going to modelling auditions and working. Subject to strict control and linguistically disadvantaged, the models find themselves in a precarious position: away from family and friends, unable to communicate with people around them and participate fully in Japanese ways of life, they are valued only to the extent of their labour.

Eric Vintner Smith

Eric Vintner Smith

Working title of the project: A World of Our Own: Contemporary Japanese Animation and the Negotiation of Individual Cosmologies

Outline of the project: This PhD research is an inquiry into the lived experiences of consumers of Japanese animation, exploring the way they use media to situate themselves within their world.

Introduction to the research: In this research I will be exploring how consumers of contemporary Japanese animation use that media to situate themselves within their world. In doing so I hope to problematize notions of the ‘fan’ and ‘otaku’, a community that is often only understood in terms of their most visible behaviors, while re-framing the classical anthropological notion of cosmology in a contemporary context.

Traditionally, the cosmologies that anthropologists have studied have been group cosmologies, describing how bounded groups situate themselves within the larger context of their world. I am interested in how these models change when they are confronted by an unbounded and media rich environment. Fans of Japanese animation often live in environments which are the epitome of unbounded and media rich.

The particular group that I will be researching only gather together online and during special events. What binds them as a group is their common and daily participation in an online forum and their love of anime. Eschewing more traditional ideas of site, I will be situating myself wherever my participants are sited. In this case this means in the digital environment of the forum, and the physical environments of London, United Kingdom; Tokyo, Japan; and Stuttgart, Germany. This diversity of sites will get me closer to understanding the way media is used to negotiate cosmologies both during outlier performative events, such as conventions and in-community communication, and during daily life. Likewise, it will allow a more complete understanding of a community who has sited itself in a non-national space.


Laurence Green

Laurence Green

Working title of the project: From score to song - The rise of the ‘star composer’ and the role of music in contemporary anime

Outline of the project: Exploring a theoretical framework through which we might examine the significance of music in relation to the medium of Japanese animation and its value as both a creative and commercial tool.

Emanuela Sala

Emanuela Sala

Working title of the project: Hermeneutical Strategies of Japanese Medieval Buddhism: The Yōtenki

Outline of the project: How did kami discourses in medieval Japan inform relationships among religious institutions? I study this by looking at sannō shintō, the discursive practices by which Tendai lineages understood their relationship to the kami of the Hie shrines.




Paul Kaletsch

Paul Kaletsch

Working title of the project: The Recent Aftermath of Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement and Tokyo's Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy

Outline of the project: This project investigates the form and political agency of recently "failed" and/or "ended" contemporary East Asian student movements.


Julia Stolyar

Julia Stolyar

Working title of the project: Proximate but Different: Television Drama Remakes between Japan and South Korea

Outline of the project: Looking at the representation of “Japaneseness” and “Koreanness” through Japanese remakes of Korean drama and vice versa.


Ai Fukunaga

Ai Fukunaga

Working title of the project: A Different Type of Tea: British collecting of ceramics for Sencha Tea Gatherings from Meiji-era Japan, focusing on the British Museum and Maidstone Museum Collections

Outline of the project: Examination of the representation and reception of the late Edo period ceramics collected in the late 19th century to the early 20th century Britain. 

Martha Tsutsui
Martha Tsutsui

Working title of the project: A Documentation and Description of Disappearing Predicates in Southern Amami-Ōshima

Outline of the project: This project will examine and document polite speech forms in the endangered Ryukyuan language Amami, spoken on Amami Island. This language is currently only spoken by elders and is no longer transmitted to children. All varieties of Amami are endangered and vary widely at all linguistic levels.


Marcello Francioni
Marcello Francioni

Working title of the project: Onee-kotoba. Language, Sexuality and Social Change in contemporary Japan

Outline of the project: An analysis of the use of the Japanese Language variety called onee-kotoba (lit. ‘big sister talk) and that of the linguistic, symbolic and relational interactions performed by its non-heterosexual Japanese male users in the Tokyo area and beyond. 


Jamie Tokuno
Jamie Tokuno

Working title of the project: Translating Ecotourism: A Descriptive Corpus-Based Analysis of How English Japanese Translators Mediate Ideological Differences in Ecotourist Texts of Japan and Anglo-Oceania

Outline of the project: My research investigates how current translation strategies negotiate the conflicting ecotourism ideologies of Japanese and English eco-tours operating in Japan, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia.



Elia Dal Corso
Mr Elia Dal Corso

Working title of the project: Study on evidential strategies in the Sakhalin dialect of Ainu and Nivkh

Outline of the project: Detailed account of the evidential strategies that can be found in the Sakhalin dialect of the Ainu language as well as in the Sakhalin dialect of Nivkh and in its variety of the Amur region too.




Michiko Suzuki
Ms Michiko Suzuki

Working Title of the Project: A History of Japanese Red Cross Society Humanitarian Relief Activities in Wartime Japan, 1934-1946

Outline of the Project: My research explores wartime humanitarian relief activities of the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS), focusing on their initial atomic bombing relief activities in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and their visit to Allied POW camps.



Anlan Chen

Anlan CHEN

Working title of the project: How should Chinese Enterprises Respond to the Contemporary Economic Transition? - A Comparative analysis between Japan and China in terms of firm strategies.

Outline of the project: My research is a comparative analysis between Japan in the late 1960s/early 1970s and China in the 2010s, at three levels - the macro-economic environment, the manufacturing industry and the firm management strategies.  


Myung Ja Kim

Myung Ja KIM

Working title of the project: Diaspora and the divided homeland

Outline of the project: My research examines how diasporic configurations like the Zainichi (Korean minority in Japan) are embedded in geopolitical relations and how that geopolitics has affected the shifts in Zainichi identity, i.e. the concept of “homeland” over time. 





Working title of the project: Translation as a Means to Promote Plurilingual and Pluricultural Competence

Outline of the project: My research will examine how translation practice going beyond the consolidation of grammar promotes plurilingual and pluricultural competence for elementary and intermediate learners of Japanese.




Working title of the project: Sustaining Linguistic Diversity and Multicultural Ethnicity in Contemporary Japan

Outline of the project: My research aims at recognizing the profound importance of minority languages in Japan by focusing on the eight endangered languages of the nation declared by UNESCO.



Alessia Costa

Alessia COSTA

Working title of the project: Body Assemblages: Bioethics and Organ Donation in Japan

Outline of the project: My research aims at investigating issues of body ownership in the light of the recent revision of the Japanese policy on organ donation. The project draws on the growing debate on bioethics and biotechnologies in anthropology and social sciences, and involves a period of ethnographic research in Tokyo starting in September 2011.  



Working title of the project: Images of alterity in the Japanese spatial imaginary of the 17th century

Outline of the project: My research aims at a reconsideration of the genesis of Genroku period art, by focusing on visual representations of alterity in popular culture. I study the role of exotic tropes in the emergence of a national visual identity formulated in terms of a Japan-centered worldview.



Working title of the project: Edo Period Theatre – Offspring of Nō? Etymology of genre.

Outline of the project: The emergence of kabuki and jōruri symbolized the new era in Japanese history, the Edo shogunate, and I would like to see to what extent these new theatrical forms were linked to the nō tradition which was the epitomy of the previous Muromachi period.

Martyn Smith
Martyn SMITH

Working title of the project:  The Discourse on the Nation in Postwar Japan 1952-1972

Outline of the project: My research examines the use of the two terms ‘kokumin’ and ‘minzoku’, and their relation to the idea of nation, at different moments in postwar Japan.  The project includes an emerging popular discourse as a means of taking into account the rapid changes in Japanese society which characterised the 1950’s and 60’s in the study of nation in postwar Japan.   


Barbara MICYK
Barbara MICYK

Working title of the project: Evil in Edo Monster Illustrated Fiction (Bake-mono kusazōshi)

Outline of the project: The purpose of my research is introducing a problem of evil in context of illustrated fiction of Edo period that stars monsters, spooks and apparitions. I will focus my work not on the great crimes or evil deeds but mostly on small, daily life evil and perception of evil in general.



Working title of the project: Secondary predicates in Japanese

Outline of the project: Secondary predicates are cross-linguistically adjectives, but those of Japanese are not only limited to adjectives but show some unique features. I aim at having the fisrt convincing explanation to the Japanese secondary predicates.


Emma Cook
Emma Cook

Working title of the project: Japanese 'Freeters': Moving Beyond the Salaryman 'Model' of Masculinity 

Outline of the project: The project explores how young male freeters ('part-time' workers who are neither students nor housewives), are constructing and negotiating their masculinities in contemporary Japan.

Taka Oshikiri

Taka Oshikiri 

Working title of the project: Gathering for tea in Meiji Japan, c1860-1910

Outline of the project: The project examines the transformation of the custom known as 'Japanese tea ceremony' in Meiji Japan.  In 2008 I will be in Japan completing field work.