2017-2018 Colloquium Series

The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to announce
Rittoro Wārudo - Little World: Too Much Authenticity for Playful Japanese Tourists

Photo caption: Japanese tourists enjoy Italian Restaurant (from Apulia)

Nelson Graburn
Professor Emeritus, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

Friday, Sept. 8, 5:00pm
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley

Note: The talk will be followed by a dinner open to everybody. A catered Japanese buffet dinner will be brought in. Audience members are encouraged to bring snacks and/or soft drinks from time to time.

Little World is one of many "foreign theme parks" (Gaikoku mura), which played an important role in the internationalization of the Japanese. After the exposure of 20 million Japanese to foreignness at Expo '70 Osaka, it was decided to create further exposure in two "national" Anthropology Museums: the National Museum of Ethnology, run by the Ministry of Education, built on the site of Expo 70, opened in 1976. "Little World" was different - a superb indoor Museum, arranged thematically, and an innovative outdoor "museum" which consists of more than twenty-five "authentic" foreign villages, compounds, hacienda etc. built along a road winding 3+ km. through the rolling countryside north of Nagoya.

Opened in 1983 it focused on assemblages of housing/compounds, run by a Foundation of the Meitetsu (Nagoya Railway) Company. The builders went to great lengths to ensure "authenticity" of designs, materials, soils, animals, and guest/performers. A number of these traditional "villages" are "inhabited" by people from their countries, lending a convincing "truth" to their co-evalness (coexistence in the present age). For instance, at the French farm complex, there are French female students (on 6-month stints from the U Strasbourg) dressed in "peasant" clothes, helping entertain the visitors by dressing them up in those clothes and posing for photographs. The Balinese nobleman's compound, with a full gamelin orchestra, is only inhabited in the summer because the Balinese claim the Japanese winter is too cold. The Tibetan Monastery was built by Tibetan priests and consecrated as one a few such monasteries in the world. Until recently it was inhabited by the priest's family, whose children are the third generation of Tibetans. The Peruvian hacienda, imported with every detail (including furniture previously imported from France to Peru) is not "inhabited" nor is its chapel consecrated, yet Catholic priests consider it so authentic that they regularly conduct marriages there. There's a joke amongst the staff that when members of the Tokyo diplomatic corps get homesick, they get on the train and in 2.5 hours they can enjoy a refreshing home atmosphere at Little World!

There are also some disadvantages. Little World is often judged "too authentic" by the visitor public - e.g. the walking distance between villages, the rural smells (Japanese are not used to seeing cows and other farm animals "in the open") and awkwardness of some exhibits, with their original small doors and rooms, and many houses cannot be entered. As a "commercial" enterprise there is an abundance of "local" i.e. foreign, gift shops and restaurants, and these are perhaps even more educational for Japanese as potential overseas tourists than the imported traditional houses; but for others visitors it is a substitute for going abroad. Some staff say that it gave up on strict authenticity in its last few acquisitions, including the Bavarian Village (which I thought pretty authentic), with its beer hall and touristic dancing. But Little World still counterposes authenticity, entertainment and "education" in a unique Japanese way.

Speaker Bio:
Nelson Graburn University of Chicago (PhD 1963). After Postdoc at Northwestern, researching Inuit-Naskapi/Cree interethnic relations (1963-64), he was hired at U C Berkeley where he has taught Anthropology for 53 years. He served as Curator in the Hearst Museum since 1972 and co-chair of Canadian Studies 1976 - 2013. He has held visiting positions in Canada, France, UK, Japan, and Brazil and has taught/lectured at thirty universities in China. He has lived in 22 Inuit communities (1959-2010) in the Canadian Arctic (and Greenland and Alaska) doing research on kinship, cultural change, art, identity and tourism. He has carried out research on domestic tourism, multiculturalism and heritage in Japan (since 1974) and China (since 1991). Among his books and edited volumes are Ethnic and Tourist Arts (1976); Japanese Domestic Tourism (1983); The Anthropology of Tourism (1983); Tourism Social Sciences (1991); Multiculturalism in the New Japan (2008); 旅游人类学论文集 [Anthropology in the Age of Tourism] (2009); Tourism and Glocalization: Perspectives in East Asian Studies (2010); Exploring Ethnicity and the State through Tourism in East Asia (2011). Tourism Imaginaries: Anthropological Approaches (2014),and Tourism Imaginaries at the Disciplinary Crossroads (2016) and Tourism in Post-Socialist Eastern Europe (2016). He serves on the editorial boards of the Annals of Tourism Research, International Journal of Tourism Cities and the Asian Journal of Tourism Research.

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