Flier: 2015 Time Studies International Symposium “The Study of Time and Sleep” 時間学国際シンポジウム2015「眠りの時間学」



Here’s the poster for this year’s Time Studies International Symposium to be held at Yamaguchi University this December. It looks good! Whomever it was did a nice job.

The theme, “The Study of Time and Sleep” (nemuri no jikan gaku 眠りの時間学) might sound a bit strange. What we’ll be discussing is sleep in connection to Japanese culture and society. It sounds like the presenters will be drawing on literary and historical texts, and I think one will even be drawing on historical medical texts in which sleep is referred to.

I think that in present day Japan there are mixed views on “sleep.” My experiences seem to show me that few students from middle school and on get enough sleep. Sleeping too long, even 8 hours, is viewed as being lazy. This includes workers, too. Also, students and workers showing signs that they are tired often causes them to be viewed as “not being up to the task” or “not fit enough.” Sleeping is like a sign of defeat rather than something that is essential to improving one’s performance.

I’ll be presenting in Japanese. It’ll be 20 minutes, plus 10 minutes for Q&A. Normally I really enjoy public speaking, but for this I’ll be presenting in JAPANESE! ugh!

At Middlebury the teachers always encouraged us to write directly in Japanese, rather than write in English (or whatever the student’s mother tongue was) then translate into Japanese. I always try to do that, but this time I just can’t. So, I’ll be writing it out in English (about 2,000 words) then translating it into Japanese. I’m not sure what my characters-per-minute reading rate will be, but I’m estimating about 4,000 characters or so??

チラシ - Copy-1チラシ - Copy-2


2015 Time Studies Symposium at Yamaguchi University (2015年目時間学国際シンポジウム)

Back in the spring I was invited to participate in a symposium this December on “time studies” at Yamaguchi University. Yamaguchi University is home to the Research Institute for Time Studies (RITS, 時間学研究所), who hosted the event. I presented at another one of their symposiums back in June. It was an interdisciplinary event–I spoke about “time” as found in Muromachi era literary-performance, but other presenters spoke on a range of topics from physics to philosophy to astronomy to history. The themes of each speaker’s papers varied, too.

However, this December’s symposium is dedicated to one theme: Sleep. My favorite topic! The symposium is Friday and Saturday, December 18th & 19th. Here’s the schedule as it stands:


講演○Brigitte Steger 准教授(ケンブリッジ大学中東アジア研究所)
○Elizabeth Kenney 准教授(関西外国語大学)
○Ben Grafström 助教(秋田大学)
○Emde Franz 教授(山口大学人文学部)

Time Studies International Seminar “Time Studies and Sleep” at Yamaguchi University 時間学国際セミナー「眠りの時間学」

Friday, 18 December 2015

14:00 Check-in セミナー打ち合わせ

14:30 Seminar Opening Greeting (Prof. Morishita; Yamaguchi University) 時間学国際セミナー「眠りの時間学」開始 所長挨拶 講師紹介(森下教授)

14:40~15:20 Brigitte Steger氏 (University of Cambridge)
“Early to bed, early to rise? – Timing sleep in premodern Japan”

15:20~15:50 Elizabeth Kenney氏 (Kansai Gaidai)
“Dreams and Time in the Diaries of Yoshida Kanemi and Bonshun”

15:50~16:00 Tea Break

16:00~16:30 Ben Grafström氏 (Akita University)
“A Study of the Peasant’s Sleep Habits as depicted in Muromachi Era Kōwakamai”

16:30~17:00 Emde Franz氏 (Yamaguchi University)
「夏目漱石文学における眠り ~ 夢・感覚・無意識」

17:00~17:30 森野正弘氏 (Yamaguchi University)

Saturday, 19 December 2015

13:00 Check-in 開場 シンポジウム受付開始: 倉増 ・学生スタッフ

13:30 Opening Remarks 開会 進行:右田学長挨拶  森下教授による講師紹介
Keynote Presentation: Brigitte Steger氏(90分)

15:00 Panel Discussion
Panel Coordinator: 右田先生
Brigitte Steger氏
Elizabeth Kenney氏
Ben Grafström氏
Emde Franz(山口大学人文学部)

16:00 Closing Remarks シンポジウム閉会


Suntory’s Craft Select Series

Suntory’s Craft Select Series

As I mentioned in my Pumpkin Daze inspired post about Japanese seasonal pumpkin beer, the Japanese big beer company, Suntory, has recently kicked off a new “world beer” campaign. The campaign is called “Craft Select” and is the most ambitious undertaking in the Japanese big beer industry since the start of the industry itself.

Until now Japanese beer companies usually only offered their one flagship beer (usually a pilsner-esque/ American lager-y concoction). Companies would then release “seasonal”  beers to generate a little excitement in the market. These seasonal beers tended to be the exact same as the flagship beer, but with the slightest tweak in flavor. Basically the only remarkable difference in a company’s flagship beer and the seasonal offering would be on the packaging rather on the contents–in the spring, cans are decorated with cherry blossoms; in the fall, autumn-colored leaves. The label would change to catch the eye of shoppers, but the flavor would not.

Suntory was guilty of this same re-packaging ploy until this year when they rolled out the Craft Select campaign. To date, they have put out SEVEN completely different styles of beer, along with their regular, mainstream offerings. I’ve got to admit that they are damn tasty. And, unfortunately, cheaper and more accessible than beer from Akita’s local craft breweries.

Suntory’s Craft Select website is geared towards educating Japanese consumers about beer. The site is all in Japanese, but under the tab “What’s Beer Style?” they proceed to introduce Japanese beer drinkers to the fact that there are other types of beers in the world other than the one, uninteresting, generic “style” Japanese beer drinkers have accustomed themselves to drinking. Even the smartly designed cans have a design that includes the recommended glassware for each style which introduces Japanese to the idea that different beers go with different glassware.

Also, all of these beers are reasonably priced at about 200-yen ($2.50 USD) and come in regular sized cans. They are not overpriced and in smaller quantities like Suntory’s Master’s Dream.

From what I gather from their website, their first wave of Craft Select beers included a Brown Ale and a Pale Ale (pictured above). When they made it my local supermarket they weren’t even in the main beer aisle, but rather placed in limbo between beer and the other liqueurs and other alcohols. There was zero marketing for Craft Select at my supermarket–I only happened to chance upon it. And I’m glad that I did. I brought one each of the Brown Ale and the Pale Ale home one night, just to see what they were about and thoroughly enjoyed them. According to the website, these are SOLD OUT so if you see any lingering at your local shop–pick them up!

The next wave was the Märzen and Special Bitter (pictured below). Again, I am a huge supporter of local breweries and craft beer/ micro brews, but these were really good. And if I haven’t driven it home by now: Japanese mainstream beer is so boring and unadventurous that the release of these beers, and drinking them was a really nice change. These too are SOLD OUT–so grab ’em if you see them!

Craft Select’s third wave hit in October with The Pumpkin. Nice try, but in no way did The Pumpkin come close to the Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Special Bitter, and Märzen in terms of flavor and enjoyment.



November’s Craft Select roll-out is an Imperial Stout and a Golden Ale. Suntory is getting really adventurous now–an Imperial Stout?! This is a style that Japanese craft breweries rarely attempt to brew, to my chagrin. I put two cans of the Imperial Stout away for my February Stout Fest.

They’ll be rolling out an Amber Ale and an IPA in December.  I love a good Amber Ale–I think that’ll be really nice on a cold December night. The IPA makes me think more of summer, so I am not as excited to try that, but certainly look forward to it.

Kirin, Sapporo, and Asahi have been offering the same old stuff for decades, Sure, they put out a “new” beer once in a while, but it usually exactly like their main offerings. Suntory is the first to put out such a range of beers. So far these Craft Select beers are limited editions only–but hopefully a couple will stay with us year-round and the others will come back for a visit sometime.

Akita Japan Association for Language Teaching (Akita JALT) December 2015, Meeting

Matsuo BashōTitle and Speaker: Teaching Haiku and Haiku Composition to English Language Learners

Ben Grafström, Akita University

Summary: The presenter teaches an English immersion-style course titled “Journey to the Interior” at Akita University. This presentation introduces the two-pronged approach that he took to the planning and preparation of the course. The first approach he took was to make the English language-course content-based: the course is an in-depth study of the haiku poet Matsuo Bashō’s Oku no hosomichi. The second approach he took was to design class activities that fostered active-learning vis-à-vis a writer’s workshop.

During the presentation the presenter will introduce the course materials that he uses as well as guiding participants through some of the writing exercises that he did with his students. For educators who wish to design similar content-based courses, he will also be discussing some of the successes and obstacles that he discovered.

Bio: Ben Grafström holds a B.A. in English from Susquehanna University in central Pennsylvania and an M.A. in East Asian Language Civilizations (Japanese Literature) from the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 2009 he experienced Matsuo Bashō’s Oku no hosomichi himself by following in the haiku poet’s footsteps and travelling the “narrow road to the interior.” He has been on the faculty of Akita University since 2012.

Date: Saturday, December 12, 2015

Time: 14:00– 16:00

Place: Student Support Center, Akita University.
(秋田大学 教育推進総合センター)

Room: (Floor 2, Meeting Room)

Map: http://www.akita-u.ac.jp/honbu/info/magazine/outline/pdf/2014/40.pdf

Cost: JALT Members and students – Free; Non-members – 500 yen