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Book Talk | Chris McMorran (NU Singapore): Ryokan - Mobilizing Hospitality in Rural Japan

Jun 23, 2022 | 02:00 PM c.t. - 04:00 PM
Ryokan Book Cover | UBC Press

Book Cover | UBC Press

Joint event by GEAS and Institute of Japanese Studies at FU Berlin.

What does it take to produce one of Japan’s most relaxing spaces: the ryokan? In this talk, I share the behind-the-scenes work required to keep a traditional Japanese inn running smoothly, from the daily tasks of cleaning, serving, and making guests feel at home, to the generational work of producing and training a suitable heir who can carry on the family business. I share insights from nearly two decades of research in and around Kurokawa Onsen (Kumamoto Prefecture), including a year spent welcoming guests, carrying luggage, scrubbing baths, cleaning rooms, washing dishes, and talking with co-workers and owners about their jobs, relationships, concerns, and aspirations. I share how Kurokawa’s ryokan mobilize hospitality to create a rural escape in contemporary Japan. I highlight the strictly gendered work found in the ryokan, and I contrast the generational work of ryokan owners from the daily embodied labor of their employees. I share the realities of ryokan work—celebrated, messy, ignored, exploitative, and liberating—and introduce the people who keep inns running by making guests feel at home.  

Chris McMorran is Associate Professor of Japanese Studies at the National University of Singapore. He is a cultural geographer of contemporary Japan who researches the geographies of home across scale, from the body to the nation. He also has published research on tourism, disasters, gendered labor, area studies, and field-based learning. He is co-editor of Teaching Japanese Popular Culture and co-producer of Home on the Dot, a podcast that explores home in Singapore through the lives of NUS students. 

Time & Location

Jun 23, 2022 | 02:00 PM c.t. - 04:00 PM

Lecture Room (010/011) Ground Floor
Graduate School Villa (former TOPOI)
Hittorfstr. 18 (old building)
14195 Berlin

Further Information

Berlin’s colleges and universities are asking students, employees, and university visitors to continue wearing FFP2 masks during the summer semester when inside buildings on campus, wherever groups of people congregate, and in high traffic areas and hallways. Please wear a mask during the lecture, so that all members can feel safe in our house.

 More information: events[at]geas.fu-berlin.de