Claire Maree on visiting the NHK Archives

On a recent fieldwork trip to Japan, Dr Claire Maree obtained access to the NHK archives. Read on for a recount of her trip.

The NHK Museum of Broadcasting is situated at the top of Atagoyama in the Minato ward of central Tokyo. It houses exhibition spaces dedicated to the history of broadcasting in Japan, as well as a library and viewing booths where members of the public can watch some of the archived collections of the national broadcaster. Nestled next to the Atagoyama Shrine, the grounds of the museum are home to beautiful cherry trees, as I was to discover in April, 2017 when I spent time at the museum accessing their extensive archives of broadcasts.

I was granted access to the archives in 2017 (Round 1) as part of the NHK Archives Academic Usage Trial program. The NHK archives have been trialing access to their collection since 2010 through a competitive system of application. Details [in Japanese] for the research funded can be found on the NHK Archives Academic Usage Trial website. My project “Japanese language mobility through global media” aimed to analyze representations of dialect, gendered speech styles, youth slang across a range of variety and entertainment programs from the 1950s-2010s. This historical analysis is essential to my ARC funded Discovery Project “Writing Identity onto the Screen: Subtitles and captions in Japanese media” DP150102964 (which is the basis of this blog).

As expected, the quantity of text used in television shows from the 1970s, 80s and 90s is much less that is common to contemporary programming. What was remarkable, though, was my observation that text was never far from view; on packaging, on signs, and even on t-shirts. The shows I accessed offered not only an historical view of text inscribed onto the screen, but also of the changing linguistic landscape captured by the camera on location.

If you’d like to hear more about Claire Maree’s work, don’t forget to register to attend the Identities in Translation workshop taking place at the University of Melbourne on September 27th!