“Tourist Japan” course syllabus

An updated and revised version of this page is available at the new Re-Envisioning Japan.

In the fall of 2002, I began teaching a course related to this research project as a venue for working through my ideas. The course evolved as I began to think more critically about digital humanities practice and material culture, and I significantly redesigned the syllabus in Spring 2015. This is the basic template for the course as of Spring 2016. I currently teach the course as a digital humanities lab, with hands-on sessions during class on developing metadata (logistics as well as the philosophical issues that inevitably arise in their creation) and digital curation. Students use Omeka as a platform to create their own exhibits using objects from the Re-Envisioning Japan collection, at both the midpoint of the semester (divided into small groups as an introduction to the collaborative dimension of DH practice) and at the end, when they work on individual projects. In “Either/Or? Both/And? Difficult Distinctions within the Digital Humanities” (Educause Review, May-June 2014), Michael Roy points out that in digital humanities, distinctions between teaching and research are often blurred. Roy explains how students can “become co-investigators on humanities-focused questions, doing meaningful work on large, complicated research projects.” There is a productive, reciprocal relationship between my digital scholarship and my teaching. Integrating the Re-Envisioning Japan digital archive into the classroom experience has been a natural extension of the act of researching these objects and the life and times of the people who made and used them. I gain fresh perspectives from student insight and students have access to ephemeral yet deeply resonant and informative primary source material. The archive and the collection become important tools that complement secondary reading assignments and films that are both screened in class and designated as part of their weekly assignments. This hybrid model of teaching opens up opportunities for new directions in the critical analysis of these objects and the world they reflect.


TOURIST JAPAN (digital humanities lab)

Syllabus template for Spring 2016


T 2:00-4:40p

Joanne Bernardi
Associate Professor
Japanese Studies, Film and Media Studies
Department of Modern Languages and Cultures
University of Rochester

Crosslisted at UG/G level:

Japanese, Comparative Literature, Film and Media Studies, Digital Media Studies, English

Required text: Modern Japan: A Very Short Introduction. Christopher Goto-Jones (Oxford, 2009), All other readings are available as e-reserves. Photography books are on reserve in the library so you can consult the images firsthand.

WEBSITE associated with course at

Course website for metadata exercise, exhibits


Course objectives:

  • We will explore Japan’s image as a foreign destination, with a focus on the first half of the twentieth century; for the purpose of this course, “tourism” is any act involving travel both real (experiential) and virtual (as in education and/or information about Japan); NOTE: Japan’s image as a “foreign land” has been both promoted (i.e., tourist campaigns, educational films) and criticized (i.e., wartime propaganda, an important part of the history of Japan’s image abroad): we’ll study both to better understand inherent similarities and contradictions.
  • We will learn how to use material culture in historical research by studying visual and material culture—images and artifacts generated by the tourist industry and those that advertise and promote Japan more inadvertently—to construct a rich history of how Japan has defined itself and been defined by others.
  • We will build a critical awareness of the ways in which national image construction (pro or con) inevitably influences our personal, individual perceptions of Japan.

Core issues include:

  • What is (and historically has been) visual culture’s role in creating Japan’s image in the context of global tourism, promotional education, government propaganda (pro and con)?
  • How do illustrations, photography, and film reflect changing concepts of urban space, rural culture, industry, geography, and military and political authority at both the national level and beyond? (For example, what is the phenomenon of postcard culture: its origins, significance, and development?)
  • Can we identify patterns (i.e., recurrent iconography, coded images) that provide a link between the visual culture generated by tourism and/or educational,  informational, and promotional (pro and con) objects, and evolving concepts of nationalism and cultural identity?
  • In what ways is an investigation of the meaning of modern in Japan useful to a study of the continuous transformation of culture in specific contexts (e.g., the process of transitioning from early modern ukiyo-e culture to the nineteenth century “modern” phenomenon of photography; the subsequent photographic image explosion; and ultimately, the postmodern anime industry and art form.

The course acknowledges the relevance of preceding historical periods and the extent to which Japan’s past informs its present, but no prior experience in Japanese studies or Japanese language is required.


This is a problem-based course in which class and online discussions are extremely important – frequent absences (2+) and lack of participation will affect your ability to stay current and will lower your grade.

Class participation (25%):

1) Active involvement and participation in class lecture/discussions count for 25% of the final grade. More than 2 absences affect your ability to stay current and will lower your grade (each absence lowers grade by half, e.g., A to A-)

2) Includes weekly assigned presentations: each student will be responsible for one original and reflective, brief (10 min. maximum) presentation identifying key issues and questions raised by assigned readings and screenings and suggesting possible directions for class discussions.

Assignments (75% total):

1) Research and metadata group presentations: the close study of a set of objects and the development of an online exhibit featuring these objects. This will prepare you for your final project. Specifics on the type of material that we will use will be discussed in detail in class. You will focus on providing the objects with metadata that will aid in historicizing the object through a socio-cultural lens. (25%)

2) Mandatory online Blackboard discussion: responses to films, readings and class object/image analyses and discussions 25%

3) Final project: a) individual presentation of your own online exhibit of chosen objects, and written metadata and b) detailed critical analysis of the process of building your digital exhibit. 25% 

GRADUATE STUDENTS: all requirements are the same except for the substitution of a longer research paper in place of the critical analysis describing rational of online exhibit.

Syllabus subject to change depending on a change in scheduling and/or the direction of student interests and involvement.




Introduction to course


1. Choose one object and one film from the Re-Envisioning Japan digital archive and write a response to each on the Discussion Board thread.

2. Write a response to the film seen in class, Japan an Introduction Part I (1998).

3. View earlier versions of Japan an Introduction Part I (made in 1981 and 1968 and directed by Wayne Mitchell).







1. “Either/Or? Both/And? Difficult Distinction within the Digital Humanities,” Michael Roy. Educause Review (May-June 2014): 16-20.

2. “How Objects Speak,” Peter N. Miller. The Chronicle Review of Higher Education (Aug. 11, 2014): 2-16.

3. “Introduction,” Kenneth Haltman. American Artifacts: Essays in Material Culture, Jules David Prown and Kenneth Haltman, eds. (Michigan State UP, 2000): 1-10.

4. “Tracking the Dinosaur,” Harry Harootunian. History’s Disquiet: Modernity, Cultural Practice and the Question of Everyday Life (Columbia UP, 2000): 25-58.

5. “Confessions of a Specialist,” Donald Keene. Appreciations of Japanese Culture (Kodansha, 1971): 338-341.

Suggested for further Reading: “Beyond Visual Culture: Seven Statements of Support for Material Culture,” Paul E. Bolin and Doug Blandy. Studies in Art Education, Vol. 44 No. 3 (Spring 2003): 246-263.

IN CLASS DH: Introduction of Omeka as framework for cataloging metadata for physical objects, adding scanned images and creating virtual exhibits






1. “’By Other Means’: Tourism and Leisure as Politics in Pre-war Japan,” David Leheny. Social Science Japan Journal Vol. 3 no. 2 (2000): 171-186.

2.“How Japan Solicited the West: The First Hundred Years of Modern Japanese Tourism,” Roger March.

3. “The Historical Development of Japanese Tourism,” Roger March.

4. “A Traveler’s Paradise,” Frederic A. Sharf. Art & Artifice: Japanese Photographs of the Meiji Era, Dobson, Morse, Sharf (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2004).

5. Japanese Tourism: Spaces, Places and Structures, Carolin Funck (Berghan Books, 2013): pp. 1-39.

Start reading Modern Japan: A Very Short Introduction for 2/17

Suggested for further reading: “Consuming Rural Japan: The Marketing of Tradition and Nostalgia in the Japanese Travel Industry,” Millie Creighton. Ethnology, Vol. 36 no. 3 (Summer 1997): 239-254.

REQUIRED TO SEE ON YOUR OWN: World Cultural Heritage Sites in Japan. NHK International, 2008. 5 discs, 100 min. total.






1. Introduction: “Elsewhereland” pp. 1-10 and Part 1: “Landscapes and Mindscapes,” pp. 13-40. On Holiday: History of Vacationing (California Studies on Critical Human Geography), Orvar Lofgren (1999).

2. “Origins of Sightseeing,” Judith Adler. Travel Culture: Essays on What Makes Us Go, Carol T. Williams (Praeger, 1998): 1-23.

3. “18 Must-Visit Heritage Sites in Japan,” Amy Chavez. Japan Today (21 Aug. 2014).

Suggested for further reading:

“The Semiotics of Tourism,” Jonathan Culler. American Journal of Semiotics 1 (1981): 127-140.


  1. Land without Bread/Las Hurdes (Luis Bunuel, 1933, 30 min)
  2. Beautiful Japan (excerpt) dir. Benjamin Brodsky, 1918, 15 min clip on TREASURES FROM AMERICAN FILM ARCHIVES






1. Modern Japan: A Very Short Introduction. Christopher Goto-Jones (Oxford, 2009)

2. “Souvenirs of ‘Old Japan’: Meiji-era Photography and the Meisho Tradition,” Anne Nishimura Morse. Art & Artifice: Japanese Photographs of the Meiji Era (2004): 41-50

Suggested for further reading:

1. “Introduction,” Henry Smith II. Hokusai: One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji (Georges Braziller, 1988).

2. “Introduction,” Henry Smith II. Hiroshige: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (G Braziller: Brooklyn Museum, 1986): 9-16

REQUIRED TO SEE ON YOUR OWN: The Barbarian and the Geisha (John Huston, 1958, 105 min)






1. “Geopolitics, Geo-economics, the Japanese Identity, H. Befu. Japanese Identity: Cultural Analyses, ed. Peter Nosco (1997): 10-30.

2. “Complicit Exoticism: Japan and its Other,” Koichi Iwabuchi, Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media and Culture Vol. 8 No. 2 (1994): 1-25.

3. “Myths: Images and Realities of Japan,” Interpreting Japan: Approaches and Applications for the Classroom, Brian J. McVeigh (Routledge, 2014): 3-9.

4. Notes on the Preservation of the film The Dragon Painter

Suggested for further reading:

1. “Japan as Museum: Okakura Tenshin and Ernest Fenollosa,” Karatani Kojin. Scream Against the Sky: Japanese Art after 1945,” Alexandra Munroe (H.N. Abrams, 1945).

2. The Dragon Painter, Mary McNeil Fenollosa (1906). available online as free e-book http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/22884

3. “Mobilizing the Orient,” Tourism, Performance and the Everyday, Michael Haldrup and Jonas Larsen (Routledge, 2010): 75-93.

REQUIRED TO SEE ON YOUR OWN: The Dragon Painter (William Worthington, 1919, 52 min)


1. Workshop on making an online exhibit in Omeka

2. Review problems, questions on metadata entry; form groups for midterm online exhibition project (group project)







1. “’The Sole Guardians of the Art Inheritance of Asia’: Japan and China at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair,” Carol Ann Christ. Positions 8:3, 2000. 675-709.

2. “All the World a Melting Pot? Japan at American Fairs, 1876-1904,” Neill Harris. Mutual Images: Essays in American-Japanese Relations, Akira Iriye, ed. (1975): 24-54.

3. “’My Artless Japanese Way’: Japanese Villages and Absent Coolies,” Josephine Lee. The Japan of Pure Invention: Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Mikado’. (Lee, 2010): 39-64.

Suggested for further reading:

1. “Japanese Novelty Stores,” Cynthia A. Brandimarte. Winterthur Portfolio Vol. 26 No. 1 (Spring 1991): 1-25;

2. “Imagining Japan: The Victorian Perception and Acquisition of Japanese Culture,” Anna Jackson. Journal of Design History, Vol. 5 No. 4 (1992): 245-256.

REQUIRED TO SEE ON YOUR OWN: The Mikado (Victor Schertzinger, 1939, 90 min)


[SPRING BREAK no class]





Globetrotting in Japan,” pp. 3-50; “Picturing Japan,” pp. 51-88. in Christine Guth, Longfellow’s Tattoos: Tourism, Collecting, and Japan (U Washington Press, 2004).

Suggested for further reading: “19th Century Tourism in Japan,” A. Kouwenhoven,. Images of 19th century Japan: Travel and tourism, creped paper books, photograph albums (Ukiyo-e Books, 1991).

REQUIRED TO SEE ON YOUR OWN: Felice Felice . . . (Peter Delpeut, 1998) Felice Felice . . . (English language transcript on e-reserve)






Mary E. Berry, Japan in Print: Information and Nation in the Early Modern Period 1-53.

Suggested for further reading:

Benedict Anderson, selections from Imagined Communities: 1-46; 67-82; 163-207

IN CLASS DH: MIDTERM PRESENTATIONS DUE: 10 minute group presentations introducing online exhibits





Planned visit to George Eastman Museum to view c. 1855 Daguerreotype (subject of Romer article below) and late 19th c. albumen photos for export market. 


1. “Near the Temple at Yokushen . . .,” Grant Romer. Images (Journal of Photography and Motion Pictures of the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, 29:2 August 1986).

2. Selections from Souvenirs from Japan: Japanese Photography at the Turn of the Century, Margarita Winkel. (1991): 11-40

3. “Cameras, Photographs and Photography in Nineteenth-Century Japanese Prints,” Allen Hockley. Impressions 23 (2001): 42-63

4. “Packaged Tours: Photo Albums and their Implications for the Study of Early Photography,” Allen Hockley. Reflecting Truth: Japanese Photography in the Nineteenth Century (N.C. Rousmaniere, M. Hirayama, 2005): 66-85.

Suggested for further reading:

1. “Ways of Seeing, Ways of Remembering: The Photography of Prewar Japan, ” John W. Dower. A Century of Japanese Photography, Japan Photographers Association (Pantheon, 1980): 3-20.

2. Shashin: Nineteenth Century Japanese Studio Photography (2005) 6-17

3. For reference, photographs only: Terry Bennett, Early Japanese Images (Tuttle, 1996)






1. “Postcards in Japan: A Historical Sociology of a Forgotten Culture,” Kenji Sato. The International Journal of Japanese Sociology No. 11 (2002): 35-55.

2. “Introduction,” Virginia-Lee Webb, pp. 1-11; “Japonisme and American Postcard Visions of Japan.” Ellen Handy, pp. 91-113. Delivering Views: Distant Cultures in Early Postcards, Christaud M Geary and Virginia-Lee Webb (Smithsonian, 1998).

3. “Art of the Japanese Postcard,” Anne Nishimura Morse, pp.15-29; “Postcard History,” pp. 69-70, Art of the Japanese Postcard (MFA Publications, 2004).

Suggested for further reading:

“International Postcards: Their History, Production, and Distribution (Circa 1895-1915),” Howard Woody. Distant Cultures, 13-47.

REQUIRED TO SEE ON YOUR OWN: Floating Weeds, Yasujiro Ozu, 1959, 119 min) 2 disc set, see color/sound version.




1. “The Whole World Within Reach: Travel Images Without Borders,” Tom Gunning. Virtual Voyages: Cinema and Travel, Jeffrey Ruoff, ed. (Duke UP, 2006): 25-41.

2. DVD notes on Exotic Europe: Journeys into Early Cinema

Suggested for further reading:

“Tourism and the Moving Image,” Ewa Mazierska and John K. Walton. Tourist Studies, Vol. 6 No. 1 (2006): 5-11.

REQUIRED TO SEE ON YOUR OWN: Exotic Europe: Journeys into Early Cinema. Nederlands Filmmuseum, Cinema Museum: 2000)






1. “Learning about Landscapes” pp. 1-18 and “The Necessity for Ruins,” pp. 89-102 in The Necessity for Ruins and Other Topics, J.B. Jackson (U Mass Press, 1980).

2. “Teaching Godzilla: Classroom Encounters with a Cultural Icon,” J. Bernardi. In Godzilla’s Footsteps: Japanese Pop Culture Icons on the Global Stage (Palgrave, 2006): 111-125.

REQUIRED TO SEE ON YOUR OWN: Godzilla (Gojira) original Japanese language version with English subtitles. (Ishiro Honda, 1954, 96 min.)

Recommended for comparison: Godzilla King of the Monsters, 1956, 80 min. Re-edited version of the original 1954 Japanese language film dubbed in English and starring Raymond Burr.







FINAL PROJECT PRESENTATIONS-individual 10 min. max introduction to personal online exhibit


1. “Why Japan Cares What You Think,” Ian Buruma. TIMEasia.com Vol. 157 No. 17 (April 20, 2001): 1-9.

2. “Creative Japan,” 3-15. Published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), edited by the Embassy of Japan in the United Kingdom, 2007

3. “Japan’s International Challenge,” Dennis C. McCornac and Rong Zhang. The Diplomat, Oct. 12, 2014.


FINAL: CRITICAL ANALYSIS of digital curation due one week after final presentations of exhibits