Welcome to my homepage!
I am an associate professor at the Institute for Modern Japan at the Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf, Germany. I have received various awards for my research. In February 2012 my habilitation thesis “Spaces of Translation: Japanese Garden in the West” was awarded the JaDe-prize from the Foundation for the Promotion of Japanese-German Cultural and Scientific Relations.
Besides being a researcher and teacher I have a lot of experience in organizing sports mega-events. I have worked for local organizing committees at various football tournaments (three World Cups,
one Confed Cup and European Championship). In summer 2011
I accompanied the Japanese national team Nadeshiko as a Team Liaison Officer at the FIFA Women's World Cup.
My research focuses mainly on four topics: Japanese gardens in the West, aging society and welfare in Japan, Japanese communities worldwide and sports mega-events.
Currently I am researching how the aging society in Northern Japan was affected by the triple catastrophe of March 2011. Northern Japan is among the most rapidly aging regions in Japan. As a consequence civil society organizations were highly important for alleviating the damages of the earthquake and the tsunami. I have conducted participant observation and qualitative interviews in Sendai and the Iwate prefecture in autumn 2011 and will continue to assess the emergence of civil society structures in the region.
I am also very interested in Japanese gardens in the West and continue my research in this field. These gardens have been shaped through constant translations and negotiations between Japan, Europe and North America – just as their counterparts in Japan. The analysis of this process can help to understand how notions of culture arise and essentialize.
“Sport, Memory and Nationhood in Japan” did appear in June 2012. I have co-edited this book with Andreas Niehaus (Gent University). The papers ask how sport is remembered and how this memory solidifies notions of national identity in Japan. The story of the wrestler Riki D˘zan, who defeated US wrestlers in fixed bouts in the 1950s, is a typical realm of memory treated in the books. Riki D˘zan's story has been retold many times in books and other media. Though Riki's victories helped to re-establish national pride in Japan after WW II, the work of memory has been complex. Riki D˘zan's Korean descent has raised many discussions about Japanese identity and colonialism. Likewise the T˘ky˘ Olympics of 1964 have shaped the identity of a whole generation, the “Olympic generation” and are thus remembered vividly. Staging the games helped to reintegrate Japan into the international community. As a consequence, the Olympics are remembered by many as a marker for the end of the immediate post-war era in Japan.
My next upcoming papers deal with Japanese gardens in the West and the consequences of the triple catastrophe in Japan 2011 for the aging region in Northern Japan and the impact of civil society activities.
I love teaching by using challenging projects. One of these projects is “eYasukuni”: The Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is a highly controversial hotspot of Japanese history. Its history has been deeply researched. Lesser efforts have been made for the Gokoku Shrines, the local offsprings of the Yasukuni Shrine in each prefecture. In this project, seven MA students went to four Gokoku Shrines to gather more information about their role for rememberance. DŘsseldorf's MA students can go to partner universities in Japan for one year. During their stay they are normally not further monitored by the Institute of Modern Japan Studies. With eYasukuni, students got the chance to keep in touch and acquire further competences taylored to lead up to their Master's thesis.
Through e-learning sessions in virtual classrooms and e-learning modules, the students accquired knowledge about ethnographical methods such as participant observation and qualitative interviews. They put these techniques into practice in field research at local Gokoku Shrines. As a result the students have published their findings in the Institute's e-journal “DŘsseldorfer Japan-Studien”.