Stories

A Tokyo Minute : A Professors Journey

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Professor Matt Bennett has been busy since returning from his journey to Tokyo, Japan.  He was in Tokyo to present a research paper to the Asian Studies Conference, and experience the city and its culture up close and personal.  Since returning he put together the video below, “A Tokyo Minute,” in an effort to capture and share the feeling, pace and flow of Tokyo. If you missed his first blog post, follow this link: “I’m Going to Miss the Noodles”  to read about his first impressions of the city.

When we travel, the pace of a new city is one of the first things we recognize – the density of traffic in its streets or the speed that people hustle down its sidewalks. Inevitably we compare the pace at which the city moves with the flow of things “back home” and with the tempo of other places we’ve been. Something that might take longer for us to recognize, however, is the rhythm of a city. Cities and their occupants move not just at various speeds, but they move in dynamic patterns, in stops and starts, with enormous power and with great subtlety. The more we get to know a place, the more we learn to fall in line with its rhythms.

A Tokyo Minute is a brief video work in which I attempt to capture the rhythm of my experience in that city. I found the pace of Tokyo to be just as hectic as that of any large American city, like New York or Chicago. The rhythm of Tokyo, however, was unlike anywhere else I’ve been. For me, a first-time visitor, the city unfurled in front of me like a series of episodes in a painted hand scroll. Bursts of action and excitement, like navigating the crowds of commuters at Shinjuku Station or observing the busiest intersection in the world, Shibuya Crossing, were punctuated by streaches of serene beauty, such as the grounds of the Tokyo National Museum, or by rapid, through peaceful, bullet train travel.

For students who are interested in Japan, but who have never been there, I hope you see this not as some professor’s vacation video but as an invitation to explore your world. Travel outside your comfort zone, find the pulse of a new place, and dance to its rhythms. I suggest you consider Tokyo in your future as a place to further your education. I’m excited by the possibility of taking students there sometime as part of a study abroad trip.

Years of exposure to American culture, and the period of Allied Occupation after WWII, make Tokyo a very accessible city to native English-speakers. Practice in the language would of course be helpful, but most signage around Tokyo is in both Japanese and English, and English is widely spoken in commercial establishments. Most restaurants either have plastic models of the dishes or “pointing menus” available to make ordering easy. The train system is extensive and special discounted rail passes are available to visitors, making travel easy and affordable. Museums of art, film, history, sport, and science abound, many with English-language self-guided audio tours. Tokyo and the surrounding areas are home to world-class universities, libraries, and other academic resources.

If future travel and study in Japan interest you, remember courses in nihongo (the Japanese language) and others on Japanese culture are offered here at UC Blue Ash through the Foreign Language Department.

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Professor Matt Bennett

Professor Bennett is an academic advisor and assistant professor of Electronic Media. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communication from the University of Louisville, a Bachelor of Arts in Electronic Media from Xavier University and a Master of Arts in Humanities from Xavier University. His areas of research and teaching include film genre studies, media aesthetics, narrative analysis and construction, critical theory, Asian national cinemas and visual cultures, Eastern religions, conceptual art, and gender/race/glbtq issues in visual representation.

About UC Blue Ash College

UC Blue Ash College is a regional college within the University of Cincinnati. It offers one of the best values in higher education with access to a nationally recognized UC education in nearly 50 degrees and certificates, as well as tuition that is about half of most colleges and universities. The college is located on a scenic 135-acre wooded campus in the heart of Blue Ash, Ohio.

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