Seventh Asian Studies Conference Japan
    Saturday, June 21-Sunday 22, 2003
    Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University



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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181


Session 11
Foreigners in Japan: Leisure and Identity
Organizer / Chair: Gracia Liu Farrer, University of Chicago

How do foreigners spend their leisure time in Japan? Are their consumption and leisure practices a constructive interaction with Japanese society, or are their lifestyles a self-conscious retreat from the Japanese society? These are the questions the four papers on this panel propose to discuss. Varying in nationalities and purpose of residing in Japan, the migrants, sojourners, expatriates and long-term tourists portrayed in these articles are engaged in specific types of leisure activities and consumption practices: temporary-dwelling, surfing, pub drinking, and social dance.

Bloch-Tzemach's Israeli "dwelling-tourists" positively engage the Japanese society in their individual journeys of self-fulfillment. Occhi and Davies, through researching the involvement of resident foreigners in the globalized leisure activity of surfing in a local beach, deconstruct the dichotomies of foreign/local, and insider/outsider. J. Farrer presents an Irish pub as a social space of cross-cultural interaction within which the foreign regulars seek social affirmation and the Japanese seek international experience by playing on these very dichotomies. G. Farrer, in contrast, observes a group of Chinese immigrants' retreating from Japanese society into a Chinese world of social dance.

Collectively these papers show foreigners enjoying leisure in Japan in ways that relate specifically to their positions within Japanese society. In particular, the retreat of Chinese dancers into a relatively closed social world points to a more problematic relationship to the Japanese host society. This panel thus opens up the exciting possibility of comparative work on the experiences of foreigners in Japan.

1) Dalit Bloch-Tzemach, Hebrew University. "Temporary dwelling in Japan: Novelty within Routine, Tourism without Journey"

My paper examines the experience of living voluntarily and independently abroad, for an extended period of time using, as a case study, Israelis who lived in Japan. I propose the term Dwelling- tourism, which describes a touristic act carried out through a routine of study, work, social relationships and leisure activity, while temporarily living in a foreign country. Dwelling-tourist attitudes include a willingness for inter-cultural encounters and a positive image of the host country and life there in both general and personal terms.

My paper discusses the relationship of the Israelis interviewees with Japanese society, and shows how they try to participate in society and to form direct contact with the local environment. They do it via their mode of living, their circle of friends, as well as the general attitude they develop towards the host society and it's living conditions.

Unlike other touristic experiences, dwelling-tourism does not contain dichotomous categories of change versus routine; instead, change is found within routine. Touristically oriented encounters with the host society take place in the absence of touristic travel in four major arenas: 1) bodily practices; 2). relations with Japanese people; 3) work; and 4) the Japanese language. This paper focuses on bodily practices and relations with Japanese people.

2) Debra J. Occhi, Miyazaki International College, and Stephen J. Davies, Miyazaki
International College. "Gaijin Might be Locals: The Surf Scene at Kisekihama, Japan"

This paper examines leisure practices of foreigners (gaijin) and their relation to the local Japanese nationals who surf in Miyazaki, Japan. The participant observation and interview fieldwork on which this research is based centers around the beach scene at Kisekihama, a nationally famous sandy beachbreak, and its environs. Surfers from all over Japan visit Kisekihama, particularly on holiday weekends, and surf contests are frequently held. The steady influx of visitors, and variations in local/nonlocal behavior create a milieu within which non-Japanese locals may be construed as more truly 'local' than Japanese from outside Miyazaki.

Levels of engagement by resident gaijin in the social aspects of the local scene vary widely, however. Though the typical gaijin surfer in Miyazaki is a male who teaches English and has some Japanese proficiency, this apparent similarity is outweighed by the variety found among the gaijin who participate in this community of practice. Occupation, marital and residential status, linguistic ability, and gender influence their relations to the Japanese surfers. Consumption practices also vary in their local involvement. Surfing requires equipment whose purchase entails establishment of social relationships with shops and their proprietors, who are usually surfers themselves. Participation in shop-sponsored or individually hosted events such as contests or beach cleanup activities is another barometer of involvement in the Kisekihama's surf scene. Interest in and association with gaijin surfers by Japanese locals varies as well, often dovetailing with linguistic proficiency and overseas experience. Both gaijin and locals share aspects of identity as surfers in a country where this sport is by no means indigenous.

3) James C. Farrer, Sophia University. "Cross-cultural Social Interactions in an Irish Pub in Tokyo"

Based on participant observation over two years, this paper describes social interactions among Western and Japanese customers in a busy Irish Pub in central Tokyo. Different types of customers use the physical spaces of the pub differently, both amusing themselves in interactions with strangers and cultivating long-term ties. Surrounded by Irish kitsch, Western and Japanese customers collaborate in a production of foreignness that they use for their own distinct purposes.

Customers can be distinguished by gender, nationality and regularity of attendance. Foreign regulars are a mainstay of the pub culture, many of them male English teachers who meet there with their friends. Although regulars describe the pub as an escape from Japanese society (including work, wives and girlfriends), interactions with non-regulars are a principal attraction. The bar counter is a stage where regulars verbally spar with newcomers and exchange sexual innuendoes with Japanese women, displaying verbal skills, knowledge and humor not generally recognized outside the bar, but valued inside. Japanese entering the pub for the first time describe entering a foreign milieu that many were not aware existed in Japan. While the norms of service are Japanese, the patterns of social interactions among the customers are perceived as foreign or Western. Japanese use the pub as a touristic backdrop for after-work socializing, cross-national flirtations, English practice and pursuing an international lifestyle.

The pub is thus a theater of national differences, status differences and gender differences. But by positioning themselves differently in the pub both physically and socially, customers produce and consume these differences in ways that support their own status and identity claims.

4) Gracia L. Farrer, University of Chicago. "Romance and Status in Chinese Dance Halls in Tokyo"

This paper describes the social organization, individual behaviors and interpersonal relationships in Chinese dance halls in Tokyo. It describes how participants pursue romance, sex and friendship in the dance hall, and how they display statuses and identities in these interactions. It argues that dance hall participation is a result of participants' problematic social relations with the larger Japanese society.

As part of dissertation research on the Chinese immigrants in Japan, data was gathered from participant observation and in-depth interviews of individuals in Chinese immigrant dance halls in Tokyo since January, 2002. The paper describes the demographic composition of the dancers, the styles of dress, the etiquette, the music played, the forms of dance, and the manners of socialization. It also introduces the participants' narratives of their motivations and expectations for going to the dance hall.

The Chinese immigrant dance hall is unusual in that people of different social backgrounds socialize together. Socio-economically, the regulars of the Chinese dance hall in Tokyo range from scientists with Ph.D. degrees to undocumented immigrants working at construction sites and restaurants. In a place with such a complex demographic composition, participants are clearly conscious of status differences. Status criteria include education, occupation, income, legality of residency, marital situation, youth, prettiness, and skills in dance. Many of these status definitions are produced in the particular contexts of immigrant experience in Japanese society. But some of the statuses are created in the dance hall itself. The dance hall is a market within which people utilize and exchange status resources in their pursuit of romantic and sexual adventures.


list of panels