Modern Japanese culture can best be described in one word: cute. Hello Kitty, the most important symbol of cuteness, can be found in all layers of society. Leiden Japanologists Ivo Smits and Kasia Cwiertka put together a volume of articles on this curious phenomenon.
The way in which written language is processed in the brain is a hot topic in cognitive research. Cognitive psychologist Rinus Verdonschot studied a Japanese script in which a single character can have up to three possible pronunciations. He discovered that all three are simultaneously activated in the brain. In the end, the right pronunciation is determined by the surrounding characters.
On Friday 1 April, the LUC Research Centre and the Modern East Asia Research Centre co-hosted a panel of experts to discuss recent events in Japan, with the intention of disseminating accurate, reliable information, and also to provide opportunity for coordination of some fund-raising activities.
Since the disaster in Japan, professors, staff and students of the department of Japanese Language and Culture at Leiden University have regularly been contacted by the media asking for their opinion about the events taking place there. Ivo Smits and Kasia Cwiertka, Professors of Japanese, give their thoughts on the images portrayed by the media.
Leiden University would like to express our sincere sympathy to students and staff who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. On Tuesday 22 March there is a meeting for Japanese students and staff. Mari Hosho, an exchange student from Japan, studying psychology at Leiden University, reflects on the disaster that has struck her homeland.
The catastrophic and tragic events that have been developing in Japan over the last few days have sent shockwaves around the world. The scale of the disaster is difficult to comprehend, especially at distance, and particularly through the abstractions of the international media.
‘There is no such thing as a timeless Japanese soul,’ says newly appointed Professor in Modern Japan Studies Katarzyna Cwiertka. The first month of her professorship turned out to be a crucial test: Japan was hit by a destructive earthquake and tsunami, and Cwiertka had to keep her head in the midst of intense media attention.