Conference Report – JAWS 2019 at Aarhus University

Report Authors:

Alastair LOMAS, University of Manchester, alastair.lomas[@]

Antonia MISERKA, University of Vienna, antonia.miserka[@]

Sebastian POLAK-ROTTMANN, University of Vienna,  sebastian.polak-rottmann[@]

Pilvi POSIO, University of Turku, pilvi.posio[@]



The JAWS conference 2019 took place at Aarhus University in Denmark from 15-17 April 2019. The conference gathered together anthropologists to sunny spring Aarhus to explore the social developments and transformations of Japanese society under the themes of networking and sharing. These themes relating to spaces of sharing, reconfigured ways of interaction and were covered in the context of the Tōhoku Triple disaster as well as a wide-ranging set of other topics ranging from both developments in rural Japan and urban environment, renegotiation of shared spaces and social relations, perceptions of bodily engagement to reconsideration of anthropological representation. The panels also brought up several controversial socio-political issues in Japanese society, including drug abuse, minorities and disability. These presentations were tied together by the exploration of the efforts and experiences of reorienting and finding ways to navigate amidst both transformations and continuities of socio-political setting in Japanese society. Thanks to lively discussions enabled by this common thread, smooth organization and active participants, the conference was a delightful forum to both address topical issues in the Japanese society as well as to reflect on anthropology’s strengths to capture these lived experiences.


Monday, 15. April

 10:30 – 12:00

Giulia de Togni, UCL – University College London

Fukushima Kizuna: The Role of Social Bonds between NGOs’ Volunteers and Nuclear Victims in Building Resilience to Crisis

The first speaker was Giulia de Togni, who introduced us to the topic of her dissertation “Fukushima Kizuna: The Role of Social Bonds between NGOs’ Volunteers and Nuclear Victims in Building Resilience to Crisis”. For this project she conducted fieldwork in 2016 and 2017, volunteering with Japanese NGOs and conducting about 200 interviews. She focused on one case study of a woman, who had evacuated to Kyoto with her two children and her relationship with an NGO volunteer who helped her adjust to her new life. She stressed the importance of social bonds (kizuna) for evacuated people to adjust to their new living environment and for becoming a source of hope. She concluded that NGOs play an important role for disaster victims’ empowerment post-3.11.



Pilvi Posio, University of Turku

Sharing the secure future: Post-3.11 community resilience as the renegotiation of sociospatial security

In the second presentation of this panel, Pilvi Posio talked about community resilience post-3.11. In her study “Sharing the secure future: Post-3.11 community resilience as the renegotiation of sociospatial security”, she focused on the case of Yamamoto in Miyagi Prefecture, which was heavily hit by the tsunami in 2011. In the process of reconstruction, the town focused on branding locally grown strawberries to attract tourists and permanent new residents. In order to fulfill their vision of a secure future, they tried to activate residents to participate in projects together with actors from outside the town, thus creating shared experiences, spaces and social networks for both.


Duccio Gasparri, Oxford Brookes University

Tōhoku cannot speak?: Looking at the aftermath of 3.11 through Antonio Gramsci

The last speaker of this panel was Duccio Gasparri, who introduced his paper “Tōhoku cannot speak?: Looking at the aftermath of 3.11 through Antonio Gramsci”. In his presentation, he talked about the subalternity of Tōhoku and looked at the aftermath of 3.11 in context of history, trying to answer the questions of how the disaster is being perceived outside as well as the economy of the disaster. In a quick tour through Tōhoku’s history, he explained its journey from “famine-stricken land” to “Heartland Japan”, which allows us to better understand the recent developments in reconstruction policies. He concluded that after 3.11, the image of the area is being drawn from the outside, that the region is being stigmatised and that local voices are not heard.



Session 1

13:00 – 14:30

Alyne E Delaney, Tohoku University

From ‘spaces’ to ‘places’ and back to ‘spaces’ again: The re-adjustment of lives and lifeways in the new ‘seawall era’

The afternoon session began with an update from Alyne E Delaney on her ongoing research in the coastal community of Shichigama, Miyagi Prefecture, which focuses on ways the notion of ‘home’ is changing in response to the post-disaster reconstruction efforts. Delaney paid particular attention to how sea walls are impacting the relationship between local people and the sea. She noted that there are many conflicts about the walls as people begin to see the consequences of being cut off from the sea, which has historically played a major role in shaping livelihoods and identities in the area. As a result, it is a sensitive topic that can elicit very different views depending on people’s sense of place and their kizuna, showing how reconstruction policies are not impacting everyone equally.


 Brigitte Steger, University of Cambridge

Urgent anthropology and long-term engagement: The case of 3.11

Brigitte Steger discussed the ethical and practical challenges of conducting fieldwork in Tōhoku immediately after the 3.11 disaster. Reporting on her experiences of staying at a Buddhist temple being used as a shelter during May, June and July 2011, she expressed reservations about using limited resources and concerns about building her career on the suffering of others. However, she found that her position as an interested outsider was often cathartic for people who were trying to keep social structures together while living in close proximity in difficult circumstances. Discussions with shelter residents about mundane topics allowed her to develop an understanding about broader issues at play. This led her to draw the conclusion that there is no ‘best time’ to conduct research into disaster.


Anna Vainio, University of Sheffield/Tohoku University

Empowering methodologies: The role of long-term ethnography in improving post-disaster recovery practices

Anna Vainio presented material from her PhD research, which focuses on how ethnography can help in the process of recovery and understanding policy-level changes. She noted that most research into disasters is conducted within a two-year post-disaster window, and asks: what does it mean to do research further down the line?  In Tōhoku, she encountered an atmosphere of people excited to look to the future, an empowered sphere of activity driven by visioning and imagination that she calls the sphere of what can be. However, she acknowledged that there was also a sense of disillusionment and powerlessness of everyday survival in which many felt there was no past but no future either: the sphere of what is. Drawing on Berlant’s notion of cruel optimism (2011), Vainio suggested that the technical process of reconstruction may be an obstacle to re-establishing normal lives. In such circumstances, ethnography can be an empowering methodology that gives people the opportunity to think about things that they have not previously considered.


BERLANT, L., 2011. Cruel Optimism. Durham, USA: Duke University Press.


15:00 – 16:30 

Andrew Littlejohn, Leiden University

Museums of themselves: Becoming heritage in post-3.11 Tōhoku

 The last session of the panel “Triple disasters of recovery?: Private memory, selective memorialization and rationalized governance after ‘2011’” reflected the thematic present in all of the 3.11 papers presented on the first conference day: the question of memory, continuity and the realization of a future drawing from these. In his presentation “Museums of themselves: Becoming heritage in post-3.11 Tōhoku”, Andrew Littlejohn illustrated through discussion on heritage-making how disasters as temporal disruption make us contemplate the relation of pre- and post-disaster culture and community. Through an analysis of intangible cultural practices, tangible disaster remains and heritage regimes fueled by disasters, Littlejohn showcased how in the process of  “becoming heritage” the practices and objects are removed from their pre-disaster connections, gain new meanings and are transformed into representations of themselves to be promoted as experiences. This, in a sense, creates a new tradition of exhibitions and acts of what had been on the corpse of what has passed away. This utilization of memory in creating new heritage relies also on shared memories of those practices.


Maja Vodopivec, Leiden University

Dialectics of memory in post-3.11 Japan

Maja Vodopivec’s paper Dialectics of memory in post-3.11 Japan was read by the panel chair Mitchell W Sedgwick. It analyzed how collective memory emerges at the time of crisis. She illustrated how the politically sensitive issue of Fukushima is presented in different comic books by drawing from ways of remembering historical disasters and hardships. The continuity of representations shows how ways to relate to the present are closely connected to politically and socially sanctioned narrations of the past. Finally, the panel chair summarized the day’s discussion by emphasizing how affect, emotion, temporality and place has become increasingly central to our understanding of disasters. Eight years after the disaster, anthropologists now have the opportunity to self-reflect on researchers’ roles and responsibilities in the context of disaster and identify the historical continuities beyond the 3.11 disaster that constitute the Tōhoku area.



Session 2

13:00 – 14:30 

Manami Yasui, International Research Center for Japanese Studies

Transformation of fetal images from pre-modern to contemporary Japan; towards a multicultural understanding of the history of bodily images

The panel “Body and ritual: a multidisciplinary approach”, chaired by Manami Yasui and Melinda Papp, started after the lunch break on the first day of the conference. Yasui showed in her paper on fetal images how guidebooks in the 18th century provided clear images of fetal development and how these images have been changing. While the depictions of the fetus in the Tainai totsuki zu show a strong Buddhist influence, Yasui emphasised that after the Meiji Restoration, the German medical tradition became the new model for Japanese. Depictions of fetuses in the form of nishiki-e also became a subject of humoristic, erotic or political parodies. In 20th century female magazines, birth control and explanations on the process of impregnation were discussed. In her comparison, Yasui clearly pointed out the different usages of fetal images during the past three centuries and convincingly identified actors that exhibited influence on this process.


Melinda Papp, Eotvos Lorand University Budapest

The role and symbolism of the body in Japanese rites of passage

Melinda Papp focused on adornment and embellishment in rites of passage in Japan. She showed how intensive amounts of time are being invested in Japan to dress up for events such as shichi-go-san and seijinshiki. Papp briefly talked about the changes of the events and elaborated how taking a photo became an essential part of the ceremony. The embellishment procedures in preparation for the seijinshiki is not only an important life event for young women, who wear exclusive traditional clothes, but also for young men, some of whom use this occasion to express their own views in an extravagant way. Papp introduced various possible functions of embellishment including an elevation of the societal status, aesthetics, self-worth or the enculturation of gender roles. Together with the audience, she discussed the popularity of these events and how they might reproduce certain values within society.


Judit Zentai, Eotvos Lorand University Budapest

Rediscovering the human body in the Edo-era

Judit Eva Zentai closed the first part of the panel with her talk on “Rediscovering the human body in the Edo era”. She analysed medical books of the Edo Period and gave strong emphasis on how European medical knowledge influenced Japanese scholars. Even though performing an autopsy was not permitted during that time, more and more European works were translated into Japanese, suggesting that the prohibition of autopsies had gradually loosened. She concluded that even though European influence can be observed during the Edo Period, it became clear that even before that time, a significant amount of medical knowledge had already existed in Japan.


15:00 – 16:30

Anna Andreeva, Heidelberg University

Childbirth rituals in medieval Japan: Empowering an imperial consort’s pregnancy sash

Anna Andreeva presented material from her forthcoming second book, which attempts to reconstruct the lives of women giving birth in medieval Japan. By studying emaki (hand-painted scrolls) and other manuscripts, she pieced together the social landscape of childbirth in elite households, focusing especially on expert knowledge holders such as Buddhist monks, nuns and other ritual specialists such as miko shamans. The final trimester was viewed as a key time in childbirth, when the donning of a pregnancy sash by the pregnant woman initiated an elaborate schedule of Buddhist rituals focused on her physical wellbeing.


Zsofia Hidvegi, Eotvos Lorand University Budapest

Reclamation of the Ryukyuan culture: Reinventing hajichi, a forgotten tradition

Zsofia Hidvegi presented her work on hajichi, traditional hand tattoos worn by Ryukyuan women that were documented as early as the 3rd Century CE. She noted that despite various local and international attempts to document and interpret the tattoos in recent decades, knowledge about them is fragmented as a result of a break in tradition during the latter half of the 20th Century, when women voluntarily abandoned hachiji in order to be able to choose between their ‘Ryukyuan’ and ‘Japanese’ identities. The patterns and symbols used in hachiji have recently regained cultural importance and now frequently appear on Okinawan tourist merchandise.



Tuesday, 16. April

Session 1



Ching Wan Fan, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Meanings of a school culture—Ōendan in Japanese Universities

One common theme for session 1 on Tuesday morning was the presenters’ participatory observation, although the topics varied from school culture to listening behaviour. In her presentation “Meanings of a school culture—Ōendan in Japanese Universities” Ching Wan Fan discussed in detail the initiation of the leaders of Ōendan through dedication and physical hardships. She compared it to transformation of an irresponsible individual into a mature and responsible group member and to enactment of mainstream masculinity through her own experience as a female leader. These gendered roles and expectations were another theme shared by the presentations.


Nanase Shirota, University of Cambridge

Who is responsible for moriagaru conversations? An ethnographic investigation on hostesses’ listening and sharing behavior

Nanase Shirota had worked as a hostess during her fieldwork and introduced her observations of listening practices in her presentation “Who is responsible for moriagaru conversations? An ethnographic investigation on hostesses’ listening and sharing behavior”. Instead of passively listening, as presumed by the male customers, the female hostesses engage in active construction of the ideal merry and enlivened moriagaru discussion. Gender discussion of both presentations also raised interest in the audience inquiring, for example, why students would be willing to commit to the reinforcement of mainstream masculinity through leader practice or how the female researcher experienced acting out the role of a passive listening woman. These platforms of enacting and enforcing gender roles were attracting, for example, those who saw the leader position as a continuity to their masculinity or as a networking opportunity, whereas male customers in hostess club regarded it as a chance to impress their female counterparts or train themselves or junior workers in dominance.




Caitlin Meagher

Rethinking Community in Neoliberal Japan: Independence and kizuna in sharehouse marketing discourse

The session continued with Caitlin Meagher, who gave a talk about “Rethinking Community in Neoliberal Japan: independence and kizuna in sharehouse marketing discourse”. By sharing her fieldwork experiences in sharehouses in Japan with the audience, Meagher introduced several aspects of life in these institutions. She discussed concepts such as ibasho (“a place to be”) and kizuna (“bond”) as possible reasons for the attractiveness of sharehouses for young people, but critically referred to exclusion as a frequent aspect of life there. It is mostly younger people who find their new homes in these houses, while older or elderly people are usually not allowed to rent a room. Even though a certain sense of community is advertised, a closer examination showed that this kind of harmony can only be maintained by securing homogeneity.


Florian Purkarthofer, University of Vienna

The City behind the Screens: Digitally shared perceptions and networks of imagined taste and smell

Florian Purkarthofer took a closer look at the “The City behind the Screens: Digitally shared perceptions and networks of imagined taste and smell”. He used participant observation in the form of multisensory perception of life in the two neighbourhood districts in Meidaimae and Shimokitazawa in Tokyo to identify not only visual aspects of the region but also smell and noise. He aims to understand how space is constructed and reconstructed through social construction. While events such as the local curry festival notably change the region for a few days, the constant and widespread usage of smartphones raises the question of whether these districts can be labelled as “cities of isolation”. Purkarthofer concluded that multisensory methods might be a potential way of understanding everyday life practices by combining different ways of participant observation.


Ying Huang, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Negotiating the “Japanese Smell”: Consumption and Localization of Shōjo Manga in Contemporary China

The last talk of this session “Negotiating the ‘Japanese Smell’: Consumption and Localization of Shōjo Manga in Contemporary China“ was given by Ying Huang (Chinese University of Hong Kong). She posed the question why Chinese readers like shōjo manga and how these comics influence them. She focused on how the interest in Japanese popular culture is related to their identity as Chinese. She identified several factors that are considered important by the readers: romance, nostalgia for one’s own youth, supportive family relations and friendships as well as the stories and the fantasy setting. Readers split their positive image of Japanese popular culture from the general negative image of Japan. Further, Chinese adaptations of Japanese shōjo manga show different protagonists than their Japanese models: women seem to be more ambitious in Chinese comics.



Session 2


Andrea De Antoni, Ritsumeikan University

Everybody Hurts – Feeling “transmission,” Spirit Possession and Religious Healing in Contemporary Japan

In the first panel of the session, Andrea de Antoni introduced his research on “Everybody Hurts – Feeling  ‘transmission,’ Spirit Possession and Religious Healing in Contemporary Japan”, where he focused on the process of possession, the social life that spirits acquire and elicit, and the way they are exercised. However, most importantly, he tried to understand how spirits become agents. During his presentation, he mentioned some examples from his case study, which showed that initially people would come to a shrine not because they thought they were possessed but because they had physical symptoms their doctors could not explain or heal. After experiencing an exorcism, if they would feel better, they would start to think they may have been possessed and come back again and again. He also talked about the importance of sharing one’s own experiences and that the people who were possessed felt part of a community and helped each other.


Paul Christensen, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Managing addicted bodies: Narcotics and recovery in Tokyo

In his talk about “Managing addicted bodies: Narcotics and recovery in Tokyo”, Paul Christensen gave deep insight into Drug Addiction Rehab Centers in Japan. He explained that the Japanese facilities had taken on a lot from their American counterpart, namely the ideology that addiction is a disease, and that one is “powerless” over one‘s own addiction and can only overcome it by focusing on god. He criticized how addiction is being viewed, stating that it is not a disease, but more a symptom of life and the struggles we face in it. This initiates the taking of drugs—which are then continued in order to numb the pain. He sees trauma as possible starting point for drug addiction.


Nicolas Sternsdorff-Cisterna, Southern Methodist University

Society 5.0 and the body in Japan

In his presentation on “Society 5.0 and the body in Japan”, Nicolas Sternsdorff-Cisterna introduced us to the “super smart society”, which would be brought about by a revolution in AI technology. He showed a short video clip about the future Japan aided by technological support. This was set in the countryside and showed the AI support of both elderly and younger people, thus enhancing a vision of sustainability in spite of the current demographic situation of Japan. This “super smart society” embodies inclusivity, diversity and sustainable development goals. However, he also talked about the problems related to AI technology in cyberspace versus AI in the physical world, for instance as a health support robot, and also included questions about how to successfully code ethics into a system.



Session 1


Wolfram Manzenreiter, University of Vienna

Of Revisits and Restudies – Longitudinal Research in the Anthropology of Rural Japan

*The panel on rural amenities was led by Antonia Miserka and Sebastian Polak-Rottmann. Wolfram Manzenreiter sent his apologies.

Miserka and Polak-Rottman began by introducing the University of Vienna’s interdisciplinary research in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, before focusing on the specifics of their own projects. Polak-Rottmann noted that there are two dominant discourses of contemporary rural Japan: a dystopian view, centred on regional extinction, economic decline, and hollowing infrastructure, and a utopian view, based on nostalgic notions of furusato. Neither approach gives substantial insights into the how people living there perceive their lives, suggesting that more nuanced research is needed to understand the factors that lead to happiness in rural areas. Miserka demonstrated how this is being carried out in the University of Vienna’s current project in Aso, which is a follow up to earlier research into rural life carried out there in the late 1960s. The original method has been updated in order to gain a better understanding of social relationships, happiness and participation in an area affected by depopulation, ageing and recent natural disasters.


Antonia Miserka, University of Vienna

Rural Japan’s Appeal to Old and New Residents: A Migration Analysis of two Case Studies in the Aso Region (Kumamoto)

Miserka presented a paper based on her master’s thesis, which asked how new residents were being attracted to move to Aso. Through the use of interviews and questionnaires, she found that earthquake-damaged infrastructure, lack of future prospects and the disappearance of children were major negative characteristics associated with living in Aso; however, closeness to nature and the overall quality of life (especially decreased stress and improved connections with the community) were seen as positive characteristics. As a consequence, she discovered that newcomers and returnees to Aso found the area impractical but relaxing, offering opportunities to those with new ideas but also posing difficulties of integration. The latter will be the focus of Miserka’s ongoing PhD research.


Sebastian Polak-Rottmann, University of Vienna

Participating is Fun: Local Political Participation and Subjective Well-being in Rural Japan

Polak-Rottmann introduced material from his PhD research into local participation, which although sometimes viewed as bothersome, is also considered necessary for well-being. He discovered that community participation to solve local problems is not carried out by people who are generally unhappy, rather by people who are dissatisfied with a particular issue. They operate within complex networks of individuals and associations, which through processes of knowledge sharing and acting together can lead to improved levels of happiness and overall well-being. Nevertheless, there are as many opinions about participation as there are forms of participation.



Shiu Hong Simon Tu, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Networked Art, Networked Happiness? Ethnographic Cases from Revitalization-oriented Art Festivals in Rural Japan

In his presentation on “Networked Art, Networked Happiness? Ethnographic Cases from Revitalization-oriented Art Festivals in Rural Japan”, Shiu Hong Simon Tu talked about several case studies in rural Japan, depicting the exchange of artists and locals during an international art festival. His main question was whether the artistic practices prompted by these art festivals actually initiated new relations or networks with the aged rural population. His studies showed that, in fact, only very few locals actually help in preparing the artwork and that most of the volunteers come from other parts of Japan or outside. His conclusion was that the relational effects by process art making are often being highlighted by festival organizers, artists and the media but the actual connections are largely illusory.


Joseph Hankins, University of California, San Diego

Of Trees and Scarecrows: Global Networks in Local Places

In his presentation on “Of Trees and Scarecrows: Global Networks in Local Places” Joseph Hankins introduced us to a small hamlet in Tokushima Prefecture, a typical “dying village”, which is home to only 29 people, all of which are elderly, but has a large population of scarecrows. Due to this, the hamlet became famous, even attracting tourists from other countries. He talked about the hamlet’s history, which has slowly started to dwindle away since the 1970s. Now only a handful of people are left, one of them building scarecrows of the deceased to memorialise them. Because of a recent documentary film and subsequent news articles, this hamlet has become a symbol for villages on the edge of extinction.


Alastair Lomas, University of Manchester

The Sound of Cicadas: Differing Temporal Worlds in the Vanishing Village of Nakanami

In the last presentation of the day, Alastair Lomas showed his film “The Sound of Cicadas: Differing Temporal Worlds in the Vanishing Village of Nakanami”, which depicts the slow life of a small fishing hamlet in Toyama Prefecture. This hamlet is depopulating and its population ageing— only two children remain. This results in little activity within the village. He shows the local fishermen as they leave for their trip in the morning and accompanies them on their daily tasks. The sound of the boat’s engine and the conversations of the men stand in sharp contrast to the shots filmed within the hamlet itself, which seems abandoned and lies silent and inactive.



Session 2


Paul Hansen, Hokkaido University

Anthropology as Antidote to Abstraction: Re-Placing Space and Network

The first presentation of this session, “Anthropology as Antidote to Abstraction: Re-Placing Space and Network” by Paul Hansen, was an ode to the ethnography of lived experience. It reminded us not to get lost in abstractions, but to remain attentive to the embodied experiences and characteristics of particular places and social connections and individuals’ understandings of these. In essence, he called for balanced presentations of embodied, affective and particular micro-level and abstract, conceptual and generalized macro-level experiences. Hansen’s presentation reflected the increased interest in affective sides of lived experience and to relations between material and social. How to realize Hansen’s argument stressing the acknowledgement of both particular and general is undoubtedly a question contemplated by most anthropologists.


Ofra Goldstein-Gidoni, Tel Aviv University

“Working Fathers” in Japan: Leading a Change in Gender Relations?

Conveniently, the second presentation of the session “Working Fathers’ in Japan: Leading a Change in Gender Relations?” by Ofra Goldstein-Gidoni, sought to combine both micro and macro levels of analysis. The presentation contrasted conceptualization and promotion of fathers more involved in family life to the experiences and challenges faced when putting these role ideals into practice. Resonating with findings from previous studies, the presentation showed how altering gender roles is not enough, but it is necessary to understand more widely the influence of the corporate economic sector. Goldstein-Gidoni notes that fathering in Japan is more than the relation between father and child and the influence of corporate system structure has resulted only in slow change in gender relations.




Satsuki Kawano, University of Guelph

The politics of identity among people with dyslexia in contemporary Japan

The last session started with Satsuki Kawano’s paper on “The politics of identity among people with dyslexia in contemporary Japan” in which she examined the 2016 Asia-Pacific Dyslexia Festival in Yokohama. She stressed that this event can be understood as an opportunity for people with dyslexia to transform their own social status. Even though solidarity and identity played a major role during this occasion, other aspects of discrimination or difference could not be overcome. Although dyslexia largely remains invisible – unless one has to write – generating awareness seemed to be an important function of the Dyslexia Festival. It thus effectively challenged the notion of Japan as a country where everybody has the ability to write and read.


Yoko Demelius, University of Turku

Multiculturalism as a Political Mobilization in Japan: Perspectives of Oldcomers in the Discourses of Internationalization Process

The second talk, “Multiculturalism as Political Mobilization in Japan”, by Yoko Demelius, focused on how minority populations use their networks to hook up with a multicultural society of coexistence. She convincingly argued that generational differences exist between different groups of Korean immigrants or descendants regarding their identity. Demelius identified three main channels that these groups use to get connected: committees of multicultural events, NPO activities, and public events. Today, emphasis is given to the inclusiveness of society and an identity that is part of Japanese society. It became clear that the characteristics of political mobilization have changed over the previous decades.


David C. Lewis, University of Cambridge

Cultural Filters

The concluding talk was held by David C. Lewis on “Cultural Filters”. Citing examples of different Western rituals such as Christmas parties or Christmas trees, he argued that these rituals could be adopted in Japan easily, as similar events had already existed. However, cultural filters ultimately determine which aspects can be introduced to Japanese society and which aspects have to be omitted. What is filtered out and what is passed through this process, Lewis stresses, is dependent mainly on four different values of Japanese culture: memorialism, respect of seniors, fear of what is “out of place” or “dangerous”, as well as safety and security.