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Categories

  1. Career
    1. My One and Only
    2. Interning at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
    3. S. Takata Memorial Research Library and My Research Theme
    4. Building a Career in Japan - Don't let the Japanese people beat you in linguistic skills and cultural comprehension -
    5. 67 years after World War II
    6. What is a life plan? From the National Bar Exam to becoming a painter
    7. Job-hunting experience note -Receiving a job offer from the first-choice company is not a dream-
    8. Job-hunting experience note -Self-analysis is about "Constructing one-self"-
    9. The skill-levels of world-class top talents are extremely high. That is why, in order to compete against the world, ambition and aspiration is necessary.
    10. Japan's passport did not come falling from the skies. Fight now for the respect of the future Japanese.
    11. OECD Internship Report
    12. Settling down in Waseda
    13. Be true to yourself, boldly step forward into the things that excite you!
    14. Job Hunting experience notes
    15. In Finland, as an Artist and a Researcher
    16. Using My experiences from Waseda,
    17. Waseda:An everlasting bond
    18. Recent report from Denmark
    19. Submission from WiN member (Recent Report)
    20. Memories of Waseda
    21. My experience at Waseda
    22. My time at Waseda University
    23. Teaching Position at Korea University
  1. Event Reports
    1. C21 Tokyo Challenge
    2. Enjoying a taste of South-East Asia: Vietnamese Bánh Mì Sandwiches and Milo
    3. Looking Back on the "Go Global Japan" English Presentation Contest
    4. Student Visa Day at the American Embassy
    5. 3rd Place Finish in the "Hong Kong Cup"
    6. Students' Day at the American Embassy
    7. ASIAN STUDENTS ENVIRONMENT PLATFORM 2012: Environmental field studies by students from Japan, China, and Korea
    8. Reflections on the Universitas21 Undergraduate Research Conference 2012 Part 2: Non-academic conference learning
    9. Reflections on the Universitas21 Undergraduate Research Conference 2012 Part 1: Academic conference learning
    10. The 7th Foreigner's Traditional Japanese Dance Exhibition: Waseda University student performers' questionnaire interview
    11. [Event] Universitas 21 Undergraduate Research Conference 2012 at Waseda University - ended in a great success!
  1. Gourmet
    1. What Do You Do With a Major in Ramen?
  1. Others
    1. "Ship for South East Asian and Japanese Youth Program (SSEAYP)"
    2. Exchange Students from US Reunite at Waseda after 30 years
    3. "Like" WiN on Facebook!
    4. WiN Blog starts
  1. Sports
    1. Learning How "To Think" Through Waseda University's Track & Field
    2. Participating in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships
    3. "Participating in the XXV Winter Universiade Games (2011/Erzurum)"
    4. My experience with Waseda's American Football Bukatsu
  1. Study Abroad
    1. Shifting Cultivation and the Challenge of Sustainability in Mopungchuket Village, India
    2. Building the TOMODACHI Generation
    3. Kakehashi Project Report
    4. The Double Degree Program at Peking University
    5. Camping and Snowshoeing in Canada
    6. An Encouragement of two-stages approach to study abroad
    7. Studying abroad in Brisbane, Australia
    8. A new kind of Study Abroad
    9. 14-Day Short term Study Abroad Program in Chowgule College, Goa - "What can I do? What can they do? What can you do?"
    10. From Tsugaru strait to the African highest peak Kilimanjaro
    11. PIANO LINE -Seattle Study Abroad Chronicles-
    12. In Finland, as an Artist and a Researcher
    13. What I learned about China through Shanghai Fudan University
    14. Why are those who've experienced study abroad programs a little different? -Full Japanese SILS student reveals the whole story of studying abroad -
    15. China, The Neighboring Country You Do Not Know ~ My Encounter at Peking University ~
    16. Study Abroad Experience Notes
    17. C'est la vie! This is life! Work hard, Play hard.
    18. Study abroad @ Taiwan
    19. Study abroad @ Beijing
  1. Study in Japan
    1. Visiting the Prime Minister's Residene
    2. IPS Summer School 2016: Culture Meets Culture
    3. The World is Smaller than We Think
    4. Waseda Summer 2016
    5. The Opportunity of a Lifetime
    6. Experiencing Village Life at Kijimadaira
    7. A Fantastic Opportunity
    8. A Rewarding Experience
    9. An Amazing Experience
    10. Take Me Wonder by Wonder
    11. I Couldn't Ask for More
    12. Another Kokusaibu Story
    13. SAKURA Exchange Program in Science
    14. I Want to Go Again!
    15. More than Good Sushi
    16. Immersive Experience into the Japanese Culture
    17. 40 Years of Memories in a Photo
    18. Experiencing Everything First Hand
    19. Waseda Summer Session wasn't like any other Summer Camp
    20. Looking Forward to the Past
    21. Weeding a Rice Paddy ~Field Trip to Niigata~
    22. Japan Study Students to Waseda: A message from the class of 1983-84
    23. Developing Medical and Welfare Robots ~The Challenges of Kabe Laboratory, Faculty of Human Sciences~
    24. Recollecting experiences of Exchange Programme at Waseda
    25. Kuroda Kazuo Interview: About Studying in Japan
  1. Volunteer Activity
    1. Taking the first step in volunteering
    2. "Volunteer experience in earthquake-hit area Natori"
    3. "The Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction Volunteering"
    4. How my perspective changed through volunteering
    5. Tohoku Volunteer
    6. Great East Japan Earthquake    "Fumbaro East Japan Support Project"

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Blog

Looking Forward to the Past

Name: Roman Rosenbaum
Nationality: Australian
Current Position: Honorary associate at the University of Sydney, specialises in the
Japanese literature of the postwar era as well as contemporary popular cultural studies
Awards: Inoue Yasushi Award 2008, University of Sydney
Enrollment year and status at Waseda University: PhD research student at the
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, 1997-1999


Looking forward to the past
Roman Rosenbaum
-University of Sydney

”Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by
the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade
winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

 

Bowling.jpg

Family Bowling at Round 1

Japan has become an integral part of my raison d'être and is the counterpart by which I
measure my life in Australia. I have visited Japan many times but three distinct periods are
conspicuous: my undergraduate studies at Hōsei University, my graduate studies at Waseda
and my post-doctoral research at Nichibunken.

I have been asked to write a blog for the Waseda University International Network (WiN) by a
friend and former student of mine. The request came a little unexpected since we had not seen
each other for over a decade, but it came as a nice surprise enabling me to reminisce about my
former life as a teacher cum PhD research student in Tokyo. I am currently active as an honorary
associate at the University of Sydney focusing mainly on research activities and publishing.
Like most researchers I travel to conferences all over the world and present papers on my topic
of expertise, which is a way of staying in touch with latest development in the field, meet other
colleagues and most importantly perhaps catch up with old friends. In my case this means to
stay abreast in the fields of Japanese literature in particular the postwar era and popular
cultural studies.

However this request to contribute to Waseda University International Network (WiN) as a former
international student required me to travel back in time to my research days at Waseda University,
where I lived for two years as a Monbukagakusho Scholar working on my PhD in Japanese
literature. I was enrolled at Waseda as an international research student and attended Japanese
literature classes, albeit with the purpose of completing my own doctoral dissertation upon my
return to Sydney. In short, I was on research exchange and Waseda University was kind enough
to put me up at their local international dormitory and provided library facilities for my research.
It was the perfect environment to focus on my topic, which at the time was the literature of Ȏe
Kenzaburȏ in regards to the Japanese postwar literary period. Since the money from the stipend
I received only went that far I occasionally taught English to make ends meet and this is how I
met many of my friends with whom I am still in touch today.

Studying overseas in Japan was a means to transcend the personal as well as social hegemony
of my own culture or as Chesterton put it more succinctly, ‘the whole object of travel is not to set
foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.’ Japan as the
antithesis of Western culture was the perfect destination that opened up many opportunities in my
life. The child is father of the man and my travel and experiences in the archipelago still shape my
way of life today. More than anything my experiences at Waseda awoke my love of language and
writing, which I also cherish today and which connect me to the philosophy of Ȏe Kenzaburȏ who
wrote that the ‘fundamental style of writing has been to start from my personal matters and then to
link it up with society, the state and the world.’ My stay at the Waseda dormitory for international
students provided the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded students from many other cultural
backgrounds. It provided the basis for life-long friendships with Japanese, Korean and Chinese
students as well as the multi-cultural environment to create lasting friendships. It is because of
one of these friendships that I am writing to you today.
 

BoysGirls.jpg

East is East and West is West and [ever] the twain shall meet.

Waseda also manifests a very personal part of my life. My life long partner Louise joined me in
the dormitory and we developed our relationship via our joint stay in Tokyo at Waseda University.
At that time we remained in Japan for three years and it was the longest period we spent together
in Japan. While I conducted my research, Louise taught English at a local school and living together
made life easier and shortly after returning from our long travel we got married back in Sydney
and have now spend more than twenty years living together. The new millennium also marked the
birth of twin boys for us who are now in high school. Even during our life in Australia our combined
love of Japan meant that we always search for opportunities to return to our second home. Barthes
wrote of this phenomenon in Empire of Signs where, ‘in Japan, everything changes: the nothingness
or the excess of the exotic code, to which the [Australian] at home is condemned when confronting
the foreigner is absorbed into a new dialectic of speech and language, of series and individual, of
body and race.’ (Barthes, Empire of Sign, 1982, 96). So perhaps we are forever condemned to
return and peel at the proverbial onion only to find yet another layer of meaning hidden below
the latest joyful discovery.

In 2010 my application to research a book on the author and activist Oda Makoto (小田実) was
approved and once again I transported my entire family to Japan, but this time to the outskirts of
its ancient capital Kyoto near Katsura. The Nichibunken (国際日本文化研究センター) campus high
above Kyoto was to be our home for the next year, where my twin boys would spend one year at
the local Katsura Primary School (桂小学校).  We spent a wonderful year living as a family in Kyoto,
traveling all over Japan and further engraving an essence of Japan within ourselves.  The fruit of
my research at Nichibunken resulted in several publications on Oda Makoto for instance: 小田実の
思想と文学.  Our family year in Japan ended dramatically close to March 11 with the Tōhoku
earthquake and tsunami and therefore, alas, the final monograph is still a work in progress.
 

Hakuba.jpg

Snow studies in Hakuba

Returning briefly to my time at Waseda, as an afterthought, I ponder about the legacy of Waseda
University and my own personal footprint within it? Several minutiae come to mind, perhaps
insignificant on their own; they still will remain with me for the rest of my life. The first was a forum
conducted at Waseda University on 10 November 1997, entitled:  ‘ノーベル賞受賞者を囲む『フォーラム
21世紀への創造』, Forum: Creativity toward the 21st Century with Nobel Laureat.’  It was this forum
that gave me the first opportunity to meet literary Nobel laureates like Seamus Heaney and also
my object of study Ȏe Kenzaburȏ.
 

チラシ.png


The second opportunity to ‘modestly’ contribute to the analects of Waseda University as a foreign
exchange student was by means of the literary journal Shu no kai (「繍」の会). In fact it was my
teachers and fellow students that helped me publish my first Japanese research article:

     Roman Rosenbaum ‘Nihon gendai bungaku ni okeru ‘shuen to fuhen’ – Ȏe  Kenzaburȏ no
     sakuhin wo megutte (日本現代文学における「周縁と普遍」ー 大江健三郎の作品を巡って; The
     universal and the peripheral in the contemporary Japanese literature:  the literature of Ȏe
     Kenzaburȏ),’ in Shu, Vol.10, 1998, 154-62.

     Roman Rosenbaum ‘Sengo bungaku ni okeru ‘bōmei’ to iu gainen ni tsuite: Ȏe  Kenzaburȏ
     wo chushin ni (戦後文学における「亡命」という概念についてー大江健三郎を中心に; The concept
     of ‘exile’ in postwar literature: with a focus on Ȏe  Kenzaburȏ),’ in Shu, Vol.11, 1999, 175-80.
 

Noodles.jpg

Family Japanese dinner in Sydney

Despite the fact that they are quite immature from my contemporary point of view, nevertheless
the effort is still tactile and tangible to me as if the words were written yesterday. Encapsulate
therein is a part of myself inextricably linked to the essence of Waseda University and its literary
heritage. I am proud to be a small part of this legacy. The current intellectual and scholastic
partnership between Waseda and Sydney University is strong and on a more personal level this
means that I have had the privilege to teach a Japanese course for the exchange students from
Waseda studying at the University of Sydney, who will always find a special place in my heart.
Finally there are the many extra-curricular activities I enjoyed during my time at Waseda, one of
which included climbing in the Himalayan mountains in search of Chomolungma but that is a story
for a different occasion………

Thank you kindly for your attention.

Roman Rosenbaum


Roman Rosenbaum’s latest book entitled “Visions of Precarity in Japanese Popular Culture
and Literature” will be published in November 2014 by Routledge.




 

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