Saturday, June 15, 2013

Always one post behind...

In my experience, blogging is always better as soon as you can get ahold of a computer, if only because the human mind can only hold so much in memory. But here goes my excursion to Nagoya:

I was exhausted the morning I got into Nagoya because I kept bumping into the girl next to me on the bus when I was falling asleep (or she was bumping into me). But I had plans to meet a professor at Nanzan University in the afternoon, so it was right to work. Little did I know that we would talk for over FOUR HOURS about Kakure Kirishitan (not straight, thank goodness, but still). He was also really nice, but I felt the pressure when he said, "Welcome to the circle. We need more people to do research on the Kakure Kirshitan!" Oh god, I didn't sign up for a Ph.D. yet... But again, you could tell he was really really devoted to his research - translating this and that, writing a biography, going to conferences here and there, etc. And he gave me a lot more information on the current state of Kirishitan - apparently, there are more groups in Kurosaki in addition to the communities I already knew about on Ikitsuki and Goto. And some recent "incidents" between the local Catholic church and the Kurosaki Kirishitan, of which I will elaborate more on once I get some more research/interviews.

This was all very interesting and important to my research, but I was just plain tired - when he left his office to go teach a class for an hour, he gave me a bunch of materials to look over in his office, but after a couple pages, I passed out on his couch. Luckily, I woke up with plenty of time before he came back, studiously reading a Nagasaki newsletter. He offered to copy whatever I wanted from the materials, and we went down to the copy machine - but of course, the copy machine had a couple malfunctions, and it turned out I wasn't allowed alone there as a student, so he had to come back and copy everything for me. Again, a very nice guy.

Going through research - before I passed out...

We continued our talk about Kakure Kirishitan over dinner, and he offered several dozen angles I could take - almost to the point that my head was about to explode from the possibilities. Individual vs. community faith? How can the local Catholic church seek to understand the Kirishitan religion? And since I was female, what researching about gender issues? He gave me more articles to read at night, but I had to postpone them until the morning after a good night's sleep.

The day afterwards, he showed me around the Nanzan Institute of Religion and Culture, which publishes the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, or the "bible of religion in Japan". (Although one of the people on the publishing staff joked, "Yeah, the Bible, like no one reads it.") It also has a pretty good library of everything religion-related in Japan and abroad. The professor introduced me to other researchers at the institute, including a Korean theologian who was researching pentecostalism and shamanism in Korea. Actually, I'm very interested in that topic, but it was off to research on Kirishitan again before I could ask him more on it. Other introductions were interesting as they would ask me what university I was from, and of course I had to say the Y-word. But I think they understood I was just an undergrad, although the professor mentioned I could apply for research grants from Japanese foundations and spend a couple years at the institute. Things to mull on...

The rest of my time was spent on typing up and backing up my notes because I knew I wouldn't be able to read this chicken scratch after a couple days...

Lesson of the day - one month is NOT ENOUGH for research. It's kind of intimidating trying to reach people on all these remote areas around Nagasaki. But I'm gonna try my best!
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