Writing and Writhing

Hey all,

Apologies that this entry is coming a day late. I’ve been sick the last couple of days, and I’m really not feeling up to writing right now. Having said that, I want to get the word out, so I’ll offer a brief recap on this past week’s activities:

On Monday, I started to write the fifth chapter of my dissertation. I’m due to present on that material at a conference at Nanzan University in two weeks, so I wanted to make sure that I had a solid draft to go off of. As this is not an ‘academic’ blog, I’ll keep my summary short. Basically, I explore how the installation of elements of barrier-free architecture and promotion of principles of ‘Universal Design’ has manufactured possibilities of prejudice, violence, and abuse toward persons with disabilities in Japan over the last twenty years. Incomplete or inadequate understanding of accessibility tied to an inability to engage all potential users of given spaces has created social, political, and economic tensions between persons with disabilities and their communities, resulting in conflict and calls for reformation. Trust me when I say the idea makes more sense when fully fleshed out with the 120+ articles I’ve collected for it from various newspapers, interviews, and field-sites.

On Tuesday, I got together with a longtime family friend, David Freedman. David grew up with my dad, and although they are not related by blood they share the same humor and mannerisms. David currently works as the English-language producer for a wide array of Japanese animation. He’s worked on projects for Studio Ghibli and other major entities. It was really cool chatting with him about his experiences while we grabbed some sushi from a nearby bar!

After meeting with David, I ran over to Asaka to conduct an access audit for the Olympic shooting range that will be used during the 2020 games. While the range itself was fairly accessible, the walk to it was very dimly lit, had multiple physical hazards (inclined paths with gutters and no rail, metal bars blocking toilets, nowhere to sit and rest, etc.) I hope the information that I gave them will be of use as they continue to prepare for the games!

On Wednesday, I spent most of my day working on the fifth chapter of my dissertation before heading outside to meet with a dear friend from Penn, Kristina Horn. Kristina was in Japan visiting her sister, who is currently studying abroad at TUJ. We had lots to talk about and had a great time catching up over soba. It seems like she’s really enjoying her time at Penn and is currently preparing for her Ph.D. applications. You’ve got this!

On Thursday, I took a few hours out of my morning to Skype with a former student who took my Intro to Buddhism class this past spring. That student and I spent a lot of time talking about her career path and experiences as an undergraduate student, as well as our respective philosophies of life and attitudes toward labor. It was great to have a conversation where I could freely express why I’m so happy to be doing what I’m doing and hear about another person’s way of living. Those conversations are really what being a teacher is all about in my book.

After finishing my conversation with my former student and working on my writing for a bit, I went out to meet a fellow Fulbright alumnus, Jasmine Shiokawa, and a lawyer/disability rights activist who specializes in psychosocial disabilities: Nobuo Sasaki. Sasaki-san and I spent a great deal of time talking about the state of accessibility in Japan, but as has become custom, as soon as I mentioned that I’ve also studied Buddhism, the conversation took a sharp turn. We spent a lot of time talking about Buddhist philosophy and ethics, including how they relate to disability. I suppose that I need to get used to the fact that most people I encounter in Japan will latch on to that part of my study as a topic of interest. Ah well, I suppose I’ll just have to bring it back into focus!

On Friday and Saturday, I spent most of my days in bed with an infection. I’ve been taking antibiotics and trying to keep myself conscious, but if my writing here is indication they’re not doing the trick 100%. Hopefully things will look up as time marches on!

Apologies all if today’s entry has appeared disjointed, stream of consciousness, or simply illegible (grammatically or otherwise). This is a writing of pain, an experiment in  cripistemology so that you can all get a feel for my tired condition.

I look forward to sharing more next week!


Commemorative Photo After Mapping the Shooting Range

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