Professor of Japanese Language and Culture
Comparative Media Studies/Writing

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Leading Japanese language innovation since 2003.

My long-term commitment to innovation in Japanese language and culture education, research and public-outreach extends from my work as an organizer, scholar, and teacher.  Today’s Japanese language students are overwhelmingly drawn to the country’s culture and langauge through popular culture, including anime, manga, music, and video games.  My research, teaching, and event organizing focuses on Japanese language innovation through popular culture by bringing native Japanese language speakers to Boston and also through my presentation of multimedia materials, from music and video translation, to creating sound installations for augmented audio reality, to hosting a Japanese music radio show.  Here is a small sampling:

Founder and Organizer, since 2006, MIT / Harvard Cool Japan research project.  This project centers around Japanese language in several senses:

  • This is the only Boston-area series that focuses on Japanese language presenters, including, for example, animation director and Academy Award nominee Mamoru Hosoda, Japanese language musicians including Zeebra and Shonen Knife, and media professionals such as the former CEO of Def Jam Japan, Riko Sakurai and CEO Itoh Hiroyuki of Crypton Future Media which invented the Vocaloid Hatsune Miku.  I do the simultaneous Japanese-to-English translation for these events.  
  • We have presented numerous Japanese language performances including by musicians Miss Monday, Shing02, and the avant-garde musical drama “Hoichi the Earless” in collaboration with Japan Foundation, NYC.  
  • Conferences and seminars have drawn over 2000 attendees over the 13 years of the project; these events have increased the number of MIT Japanese language students.  All events emphasize Japanese language materials in various formats:  sound, video, visual, writing, live performance.  

My research also centers around Japanese language materials and innovation

  • Current projects include a collaboration on innovative Japanese language technology with the largest European Japanese language program, namely, Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, Italy, with its over 2500 students of Japanese; I am hosting my collaborators, Profs. Marcella Marrioti and Toshio Miyake to speak at MIT in May 2019.  We are developing a research project aimed at European Community research funding for developing innovative teaching materials, including my multimedia projects and sound installations.  
  • Producing multimedia Japanese language materials is a central part of my contribution to Japanese studies.  From the CD-ROM created for my Ph.D. dissertation to the dozens of multimedia music and video translations of popular culture for use in classes, invited lectures, and conferences.  For example, my translation of “Sukiyaki” prompted NPR to do a feature on the song and my interpretation of it.  I share these materials with teacher training sessions in Boston (Primary Source) and New York City (Japan Society).  Most recently, I shared a translation of a 2019 feminist rap song at Harvard University in Feb. 2019 for Harvard Program on US-Japan Relations.  
  • MIT Spatial Sound Lab is a current project for creating multiperspective Japanese language sonic teaching materials to portray a range of Japanese dialects at once, among other projects in data sonification, cultural diversity, and experimental sound.  
  • I host Boston’s only Japanese language-centered radio show:  Since June 2018, I’ve been the host of “Near and Far,” which airs primarily Japanese language music, alternating Wednesdays, 6-7pm on WMBR 88.1FM and online at wmbr.org.  

Teaching and service to MIT and the profession:

  • Supervising and mentoring Japanese language instructors at MIT since 2003.
  • Annual lectures for MIT Japan program and the interns headed to Tokyo, Kyoto.
  • My classes in Japanese culture always involve multimedia translations and discussion of connections between language, culture, and history.  

In sum, throughout my career, I have centered my research and teaching around the importance of using authentic Japanese-language materials in a variety of cutting-edge multimedia, classroom, sound installation, radio, and live performance situations. 

Research Areas / Expertise: Japan, language, anthropology, popular culture, media studies, globalization

1999 Ph.D. Yale
1995 M.Phil. Yale
1987 B.A. Harvard