Report | Japanorama 2018


by Leonie Kroesslhuber

This year’s Japanorama, which took place from March 12th through 16th, started with the East-Asia-day organized by Alexandra Schiefert of the department for Korean studies and introduced by the department head of East Asian studies, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Frank. Vice-SPL Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ina Hein honored the department’s graduates before the first of three guest lectures commenced. There, Dr. Norbert Mosch discussed the topic of Taekwondo in relation to Korea’s contribution to the Olympic Games.

Five current graduates of the department then presented their MA theses:
Lena Knauder (EcoS), who compared Huawei and Samsung Electronics in terms of innovations;
Niko Nagl (KOR) took a look at regional dialects in South Korea;
Timna Michlmayr (SIN) explored the contribution of real estate in financing local debt;
Reinhard Christoph Endres (EcoS) analysis of the companies Ayala and Samsung’s business practices
and finally, Christina Gmeinbauer (JAP) discussing the “self” and the “other” in three Japanese computer games.

Subsequently, Mmag. Dieter Schwank, regional manager Far East/Oceania in foreign economics at the WKO responsible for Austrian companies in Asia and Oceania, offered a look into China’s, Korea’s and Japan’s economy as well as its relation to Austria.

To round off the East-Asia-day, Dr. Peter Mendl, general secretary of the Austrian Olympic Committee (ÖOC), after mentioning the past winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, gave a brief outlook on the summer Olympics 2020 in Tokyo as well as the ones taking place in winter 2022 in Beijing.

The East-Asia-day ended comfortably with a buffet of Asian cuisine; the Japanorama 2018 with focus on Japanese martial arts, however, had only just begun.

On Tuesday, listeners were able to attend a lecture by the president of the Austrian-Japanese Society (ÖJG), Dr. Diethard Leopold, about Kyudo - the art of traditional Japanese archery, and the therein included elements of Japanese culture as well as philosophical components. Leopold, a kyudo trainer himself and author of Shinto in der Kunst des Bogenschießens (Shinto in the art of archery), gave together with Inge Frischengruber a demonstration of the intricacies of this sport that simultaneously cleanses physical and mental imbalances.

Dr. Wolfgang Herbert, whom one might call a true pundit in the area of Japanese studies, offered a look into the history of karate which was created in China by the monk Bodhidharma, the alleged progenitor of shaolin arts. The art was carried over to Okinawa, though it found its way onto the mainland much later where it developed into a Japanese national sport. That version of karate, however, has, according to Dr. Herbert, hardly any connection to the origins from Okinawa. He concluded his historical venture with a display of various positions and techniques of traditional and modern karate.

Thursday’s focal point was Ueshiba Morihei, the creator of aikido, in Dr. Stefan Köck’s lecture. He talked about Morihei’s beginnings in martial arts, his time with the Japanese military and, ultimately, the turning point in Morihei’s life when he realized that martial arts weren’t made to kill but to prevent fighting. Morihei’s understanding of Budo thus changed completely, which was also noticeable in his teachings. The differences before and after this change in ideology were further emphasized by Dr. Köck’s demonstrations.

Friday brought another lecture about karate and Okinawa. Stanislaw Meyer from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow centered his talk around myths and, especially, invented traditions in relation to karate, since Japan selected karate as a national sport even though it was native to Okinawa. Even logos of numerous karate clubs depict symbols such as sakura or samurai which were completely unrelated to the martial art. Meyer concluded his lecture with possible theories of where these myths, e.g. the invention of ‘karate as a weaponless means of self-defense’, originated.

And with that, the Japanorama 2018 came to an end.

We want to thank all speakers and interested colleagues for attending!

Diethard Leopold, Inge Frischengruber: Kyūdō – der Weg des Bogens

Wolfgang Herbert: Aus Okinawa nach Olympia: Geschichte, Metamorphosen und Zukunft des Karate-dō

Stefan Köck: Das Ende allen Kämpfens? – Reflxionen über die Entwicklung von Ueshiba Morihei’s Verständnis von „Budō“

Stanislaw Meyer: From invented traditions to distorted history: Okinawa as portrayed in narratives of karate