57 A Journey into Words: A Face to Face Chat w. Dr. Robert Campbell

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On this episode of the Japan Station podcast, Tony Vega talks to one of the world's leading scholars on Edo Period Japanese literature: Dr. Robert Campbell.

About Dr. Robert Campbell

Dr. Robert Campbell is a literary scholar specializing in the literature of Edo era Japan. Since 2017 Dr. Campbell has served as the Director-General of the National Institute of Japanese Literature (NIJL). Aside from his academic work, Dr. Campbell regularly appears on Japanese media and is the host of the NHK World show Face to Face.

Topics Discussed
  • How Dr. Campbell's interest in a certain piece of Japanese art led him to begin learning Japanese
  • Dr. Campbell's time as an undergraduate and what he studied
  • Discovering The Tale of Genji
  • The first Japanese art class Dr. Campbell took
  • Why Dr. Campbell's university professor told him that he had to study Japanese
  • Studying Japanese in college
  • Studying at the IUC (Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies) in Tokyo
  • Meeting artists and writers during Dr. Campbell's first time in Tokyo
  • Dr. Campbell's experiences as a dancer during high school
  • How it was that Dr. Campbell decided to become a specialist in Japanese literature
  • Some of Japanese literature's most notable aspects
  • How Japanese literature was meant to be read aloud for most of its history
  • The practice of voiced reading (ondoku) as opposed to silent reading (mokudoku)
  • Japanese literature's connections to classic Chinese literature
  • Dr. Campbell's experience reading the work of the poet Ihara Saikaku
  • Dr. Campbell's iconic jackets
  • The peaceful and relaxing nature of much of Japanese literature
  • The practical lessons that Japanese literature teaches
  • Dr. Campbell's interest in Japanese famine survival manuals from the 19th century
  • Edo period famine survival strategies and recipes
  • The diversity of topics and themes found within Japanese literature
  • The comical nature of much of Japanese literature
  • Dr. Campbell's recommended books for people wishing to read early modern Japanese literature
  • Looking for and buying old books in Tokyo
  • Book auctions in Japan
  • Tracing the provenence of an old Japanese book through the stamps of its previous owners
  • Japanese literature as a window into the past
  • Working in the Japanese entertainment industry
  • Working with Momoiro Clover Z on the internet show F no Idenshi
  • Getting to be the Director-General of the National Institute of Japanese Literature (NIJL)
  • And much more!
Support on Patreon

If you enjoy Japan Station and want to ensure that we're able to produce more episodes, then please consider becoming a patron on Patreon.com. For a minimum pledge of $1 a month you'll get early access to all JapanKyo podcasts, bonus content, and more. And for $3 a month, you'll get access to Japanese Plus Alpha, a podcast produced by me (Tony Vega) that focuses on the Japanese language and all of its fascinating quirks. Also, all pledges get a shout-out on the show and my undying gratitude. Thank you in advance!

Links, Videos, Etc.

You can find Dr. Robert Campbell on Twitter.

For more information about Dr. Campbell, you can visit his website.

To read the Wasabi Magazine article that was based on this interview, use the link below.

If you would like to watch F no Idenshi--the show that Dr. Campbell worked with the Japanese idol group Momoiro Clover Z--you can find it on YouTube.

You can find Face to Face--Dr. Campbell's show on NHK World--on the NHK World website.

Here is the list of books that Dr. Campbell recommended for people wishing to get into Edo period Japanese literature. The links are all Amazon affiliate links. If you use them to purchase anything on Amazon it will support the show but it won't cost you anything extra.

To listen to the episode of Japan Station featuring Crystal Kay, use the link below.

To listen to the Barry Lancet interview (Japan Station episode 18), use the link below.

And to listen to the two most recent episodes of Ichimon Japan, use th elinks below.

If you would like to check out the Kimito Designs shop, then use the link below.

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing song: Oedo Controller (大江戸コントローラー) by Yunomi featuring Toriena (Used with permission from Yunomi) To listen to more of Yunomi's music, check out his Soundcloud page or YouTube channel.

Japan Station cover art: Provided by Erik R.

Featured image: Courtesy of Donna Burke

Featured image: Courtesy of Wasabi Magazine

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