Personal and career details
I grew up in London and in Blackburn, Lancashire, and my first degree was in English at St Catherines College, Oxford. Literature and theatre remain among my great passions. Having spent only two weeks outside Britain before the age of 22, I thought it was time to broaden my horizons - this seems to have worked out, at least in the sense that I ended up spending most of the next 20 years abroad. Three years in rural Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme ignited a desire to learn more Japanese and more about Japan, which was accomplished first through returning to Oxford for a second BA in Japanese Studies (including a delightful year at Kyoto University), and then by research degrees at Oxford in Social Anthropology. My DPhil thesis was a study of the transition from primary to junior high school in Japan, and involved 18 enjoyable months in schools in the Kansai (where most of my time in Japan has been spent). Just before finishing the doctorate I was offered a lectureship in Japanese Studies at the University of Hong Kong, which gave me the opportunity to experience life in a different part of East Asia, and discover first hand that societies in East Asia are just as diverse as those in Europe. Life in Hong Kong was fascinating, though hectic; regrettably my Cantonese remains minimal after nine years ('gau chaw!'), a fact I largely blame on anything and anyone but myself. I must also thank Hong Kong for educating me in how to make (and lose) money in stocks, mutual funds, commodities, and most other financial instruments devised by humanity or the devil. While there, I became a member of the editorial board of Asian Anthropology. I have been Distinguished Visiting Associate Professor at Kyoto University (2018-19) and Visiting Lecturer at Chuo University (2000). When not attempting to illuminate myself and the world about Japan, my pursuits include reading, theatre-going, walking, political and church activities, while my main vice is trying to make money on the financial markets.
I have supervised masters and doctoral students on a variety of subjects to do with contemporary Japanese society, including employment rights, martial arts, civil society activism, delayed marriage, preschools and gender socialization, Japanese war orphans and widows returned from China, educational reform, juvenile delinquency, work among the over-sixties, popular culture, and fashion. I am particularly interested in supervising students in my own research areas, but am happy to consider supervising other topics in the field of contemporary Japanese society.
I currently teach courses on modern Japanese society and Japanese reading, and have previously also taught courses on qualitative social research methods, Japanese to English translation, business Japanese, Japanese education, and Japanese popular culture.