Christopher Hood: Recent Research

My research interests primarily relate to Japan and fall into two areas. First, I am particularly interested in themes are relating to identity and symbolism. Second, I am interested in issues relating to the railways and aviation in Japan.

Mount Tanigawa

I have been continuing with some work related to my research on the flight JL123 crash. This includes a study of the novel Kuraimazu Hai ('Climber's High') by Hideo Yokoyama and its dramatization by NHK in 2005 and also the movie version by Masato Harada in 2008. This story is in part about a journalist within a local newspaper based in Gunma and how he tries to cover the news of the JL123 crash during August 1985. It is also about his attempts to climb Mount Tanigawa on a later date to remember a friend, with whom he was meant to climb the mountain in 1985 before he started covering the crash story and the friend was taken ill. As well as being a story about the events of 1985, it is also a story about how journalism works in Japan and the different values society seemingly places on different lives.

Aokigahara I have also been conducting a study of the symbolism of the suicides which take place in Aokigahara and comparing the attitudes to death and memorialization in relation to the deaths there vis-a-vis the memorialization of those who died in the JL123 crash. Aokigahara has become well known around the world as a site where many people commit suicide each year. There are no memorials. Nobody knows the time and date of when these people died. Some bodies are not found for many days, weeks or even longer. How can such a place exist in a country where memorialization has so many rituals? Why do so many go to Aokigahara to commit suicide? What of the other visitors to both Aokigahara and Osutaka-no-One, where JL123 crashed? Is this a case of ‘dark tourism’ or ‘iconic tourism’? This researchl addresses each of these questions as well as highlighting the key aspects of what I call the 'Osutaka Pilgrimage', when famlilies go to Ueno-mura and the JL123 crash site to remember the victims of the crash. This research about Aokigahara features in my book Japan: The Basics

Please contact me if you would like to know more about my research or to discuss any of it with me.

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(C) Christopher P. Hood, 2003-17.

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