December 2009

Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Japan—Christmas in Japan is rather unique. It is not a holiday, and our twins, Maya and Tomo, have school that day, and Ryukyu Daigaku has classes that end at 9:10 p.m. on Christmas night. It is celebrated nonetheless.

There is a well-known street in Tokyo that features Christmas lights, and one can purchase decorations in the local department stores. Kentucky Fried Chicken is another Christmas tradition. I remember seeing Colonel Sanders dressed as Santa Claus when I was in Japan for the first time in 1993 and I found him again this week. The KFCs in Nishihara-cho are taking orders for Christmas: eight pieces of chicken, salad and a Christmas cake for around $40.

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The University of Washington Tacoma is hosting its first Fulbright Scholar. Dr. Noriyuki Tsunogaya, who hails from Kyushu University in Fukuoka City, Japan, began his visit to UW Tacoma’s Milgard School of Business in August 2009. Tsunogaya is one of the leading Japanese scholars studying the implications of a worldwide effort to create the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which have been accepted by more than 100 countries so far.

Read more in our news release.

Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Disney in Japan—Disney holds a unique place in Japanese culture. In the 1990s, my mentor at the University of Oregon, Janet Wasko, coordinated the Global Disney Audience Project, which examined Disney products in close to 20 different countries. One of the questions asked as part of a survey was whether Disney was “uniquely American.” Over 80 percent of the students surveyed in South Korea said yes, Disney is uniquely American, but less than 20 percent of the Japanese students gave the same answer.

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Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Manga Cafe, Japan—One of the shops in our neighborhood that has caught my eye is one with Big Bird featured on the sign outside. I have wondered what kind of store it was and today I found out. It is a “manga café” and the inside walls are covered with shelves filled with Japanese comic books. Based on the curious looks I saw when I stuck my head in the café this afternoon, I think the clientele is mostly Japanese.

Learn more about Bill’s quarter in Japan

Read all of Bill’s Postcards dispatches.

Associate Professor Sian Davies-Vollum writes from an around-the-world voyage through the Semester at Sea program.

Hong Kong—The view out of my cabin was incredible. I could see across to Hong Kong Island.

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Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Okinawa—The prominence of Nicole Richie is one of the great mysteries of our time. As I have discussed with my students at UW Tacoma, I do not follow the idea of someone being famous for being famous. Hence my surprise when I saw a magazine here in Japan, “We ♥ Nicole Richie,” devoted to her and her alone. The Simple Life was televised in Japan but, based on discussions with my students, I am not sure that is the reason for her popularity here. She is seen as something of a fashion icon and one of my students pointed out one of the connections: she is short. The average Japanese woman is around 5’ 2” and Richie is 5’ 1”, so it is plausible to dress like her. That is not the case with most Western models.

Learn more about Bill’s quarter in Japan

Read all of Bill’s Postcards dispatches.