CJS Hosts April Seminar “Ryokan: Mobilizing Hospitality in Rural Japan”

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On Tuesday, April 16, 2024, CJS held its second to last seminar of the Spring 2024 semester. Dr. Chris McMorran, Associate Professor of Japanese Studies at National University of Singapore, gave a talk “Ryokan: Mobilizing Hospitality in Rural Japan,” based on his book of the same name, available for sale now on the University of Hawaiʻi Press website. To an audience both in-person and online via Zoom, Dr. McMorran shared rich insights of his time spent in 2006 completing ethnographic field work, learning the ins-and-outs of living and working in a traditional ryokan in the famed Kurokawa Onsen in Kyushu, Japan.

Dr. McMorran giving a talk to an in-person and online audience

While living and working at the ryokan, Dr. McMorran performed various tasks, such as scrubbing baths, washing dishes, sweeping paths, vacuuming tatami mats, carrying luggage, and laying out bedding, engaging in the communal work of creating a comfortable and hospitable experience for guests to feel at home.

Engaging in conversations and interviews with co-workers at the ryokan, Dr. McMorran gained fascinating insights into the inner workings of a traditional family-run ryokan, knowledge that most tourists and outsiders would be unaware of.

Dr. McMorran talking about his book “Ryokan: Mobilizing Hospitality in Rural Japan” with University of Hawaiʻi Press Acquisitions Editor Stephanie Chun.

Dr. McMorran with Dr. Aya Kimura, Professor of Sociology at UH Mānoa and Center for Japanese Studies faculty member.

Thank you to Dr. McMorran sharing his presentation with us, Dr. Aya Kimura for facilitating the seminar, University of Hawaiʻi Press for co-sponsoring the seminar with us, and University of Hawaiʻi Press Acquisitions Editor Stephanie Chun and Marketing Specialist Nicole Gannet for providing copies of Dr. McMorran’s book for sale.

And thank you to everyone who attended the seminar! We enjoyed your engagement with Dr. Morran’s presentation and appreciated all of the interesting questions. We look forward to having you again in future Center for Japanese Studies seminars.