Overseas mission visits schools for blind and deaf in Edo period

The overseas mission visited the US Navy.
(photo: http://www.geocities.jp/satopyon0413/kaisetsu16.htm)

The Shogunate dispatched the overseas mission seven times around the end of Edo period to inspect a Western situation in addition to diplomatic negotiations. The first mission was to the U.S.A. in 1860, and the second to Europe in 1862-1863.

There are many records of personal experiences and reports by the delegates. The information about an educational system or a school appears abundantly in those diaries and records.

First, the mission to the U.S. A. visited the school for the blind, school for the deaf, or orphanage, and the members were strongly impressed.

For example, when they visited the New York School for the Blind in 1860, they observed the students touching the Braille with the fingers and reading. Reportedly 11 of 16 teachers were blind.

The mission to Europe also visited the orphanage, the school for the blind, and the school for the deaf in 1862. In the "Western Situation," published in 1866, the author Fukuzawa Yukichi who was on the mission mentioned the education method taken at the "institute for blind", "institute for the deaf", "institute for the mental retarded children", etc. in Paris. He founded Keio Gijuku University in 1865, currently located in Tokyo.

Mori Arinori was a foreign student in Britain those days, and became the first Minister of Education later. He mentioned his visit to the institute for the blind and the deaf in the country which deeply impressed him with the result.

Japanese Journalists also published a book on what they observed abroad between the late Edo period and early Meiji period. For example, MURATA Fumio wrote about an English school for the Deaf in his book titled "A record of personal experiences in England" in 1860.

In the westernization of Japan, the education of children with disabilities in Europe and the U.S. A. greatly influenced on the Japanese concerned.

HANAWA Hokiichi, Hellen Keller's role model

Hanawa Hokiichi
Helen Keller (second from right)
(photo: http://denhichi.blog105.fc2.com/blog-entry-105.html)

HANAWA Hokiichi (1746-1821) was a Japanese classical scholar of the Edo period.

When he was 5 years old, he suffered from trouble with his eyes due to a gastroenteric disorder. His eyesight weakened gradually. He became blind at 7 years old.

Helen Keller was educated by her parents saying that she should "follow Hanawa as her role model" since the childhood.

When she visited Japan for the first time in April, 1937, she visited by touching the sedentary statue of Hanawa in the memorial hall in Shibuya, Tokyo (photo).

UTSUNOMIYA Mokurin: Deaf influential scholar for Shoin

UTSUNOMIYA Mokurin (1824-1897) was another deaf person who had a great influence on Yoshida Shoin, a famous thinker.

Utsunomiya Mokurin (1824-1897), born in Kure-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture, was a priest. He suffered from serious illness in Osaka, and lost hearing at the age of 20.

In spite of being Deaf, he studied thoroughly Japanese literature, Chinese literature, and Buddhism. He traveled around in Japan, explaining the respect for the Emperor.

In 1855, Mokurin, aged over 30, visited Hagi City in Yamaguchi Prefecture. He had read a book written by YOSHIDA Shoin in prison, and had wanted to argue with him about the book.

Shoin yet did not mean to have an idea of "overthrowing the shogunate" those days. He rather took the position of "refraining from its overthrow",  keeping the strict position as a subject to Tokugawa shogunate and his local feudal lord.

Mokurin asked for a meeting with Shoin. He was younger than Mokurin by 6 years, but declined to meet him. However, later both the men discussed through correspondences.

Then, 29-year-old Shoin was knocked down, seeing Mokurin's point and came to recite the "opening of the country, exclusion of foreigners" and "overthrowing the shogunate."

Shoin set up a plan to assassinate the senior shogunate councilor for the purpose of saving the noble-minded patriots arrested by the Ansei Purge in 1858, and was arrested by the shogunate.

He was seen off in Edo by the shogunate next year and beheaded. Mokurin got to know Shoin's unexpected death,  angered and cried hard.

TANI Sanzan: Deaf scholar in late Edo period

Tani Sanzan
There are two well-known Deaf scholars, TANI Sanzan and UTSUNOMIYA Mokurin, both who influenced Yoshida Shoin on the nature of Nation, in the late Edo period.

TANI Sanzan (1802-1868) was a Confucian scholar who  educated many students in the later half of the Edo era.

He was born as the third son to the parents who owned a wealthy sake brewery in Yamatonokuni, one of the Japanese feudal countries (now Nara Prefecture).

Sanzan was weak, easily to get sick in the childhood. His eyes and ears suffered at the age of 11. His eyes recovered, but he lost hearing and became completely deaf at the age of 14.

He strove for study of the official Japanese history book. Since he was Deaf, it was impossible for him to take lessons from a hearing teacher, either, but he studied through books by himself. It is said that he read through thousands of volumes in 20 years.

Sanzan went out to Kyoto in 1829 and studied under a Confucian scholar named IGAI Keisho.

Sanzan opened a private school and educated many students including YOSHIDA Shoin in around 1835. Later his feudal lord of the Takatori clan in Nara Prefecture ranked Sanzan as a samurai-scholar.

Sanzan lost sight completely at the age of 48 by the relapse of the eye disease, unable to do reading and the conversation. He always sat leaning against the desk, and waited for a student coming. When the student came and knocked the desk, Sanzan held the hand. The poetry verses and the sutra were written on the palm while Sanzan lectured and discussed.

From that time, Sanzan criticized the policy of the Tokugawa Shogunate severely from the idea of reverence for the Emperor and expulsion of the barbarians (foreigners). He argued with Yoshida Shoin, who had a Deaf-mute brother, and others in writing for a long time in May, 1853.

Sanzan published his idea and theory on "reverence for the Emperor and expulsion of the barbarians."

When Commandore Perry, dispatched by U.S.President, came to Japan with the warships in September, 1853, Sanzen wrote a book and argued, "It is improper definitely for Japan to accept Perry's threatening demands to open the country."

Moreover, Sanzan presented research of Siam, China, etc., and many other laborious works.

Two months after the Tokugawa shogunate was dissolved in October, 1867, Sanzan passed away at the age of 66 on on December 11.

Deaf student wins the first prize at National Deaf School Art Contest

Ikeda Yuyo with his art work (photo: http://www.ehime-np.co.jp/)

December 16, 2011

The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Prize (highest award) at the 16th National Deaf School Art Contest was awarded to IKEDA Yuyo's (14) for his work titled "The Big Tree."

Yuyo is a junior high school student of Eihime Prefecture Matsuyama School for the Deaf. To Ehime Prefecture it was the first time for the honor since 13 years ago.

The contest was sponsored by the Education and Welfare Association for the Deaf located in Tokyo.

Only one was selected from a total of 626 works submitted by the preschoolers through high school students from all over the country for the minister prize.

Yuyo's work was chosen also as the highest award of the section of junior high school and high school students (182 works in total).

He worked on the picture for about three months, an average of one hour or more every day, using watercolors of about 15 different colors and China ink to express the tree delicately and forcibly.

Yuyo received the certificate of merit from Councilor SANTO Akiko, president of the association, at the commendation ceremony in the school on December 16.

Yuyo explained, "I took pains to take out textures with a wooden fine trunk and was happy to win the highest prize."

Japanese source:

Snowboard instructor to hold event for the Deaf in January

Takamatsu Hanako calls for participation in the snowboard event with a poster in a hand.
(photo: http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/)

December 15, 2011

In order to offer Deaf people to enjoy a snowboard, TAKAMATSU Hanako (32), a snowboard instructor whose activities are based in Sapporo in Hokkaido, will hold the "2nd Deaf Smile Snowboard Camp" for the Deaf beginners in the skiing area in Hokkaido on January 7-8, 2012.

Hanako not only competes at the All Japan Technical Championship every year, but works as a Class A instructor qualified by the Japan Snow Boarding Association (JSBA).

She had met a Deaf snowboarder in 2010, and begun to study sign language, which she passed the 5th level sign language examination. Since she wanted to spread a snowboard in the Deaf community, she held the event for the first time last year.

Hanako says, "I think that we can enjoy a snowboard together by writing to cover my poor sign language skill. I would like to make more plan for Deaf people to enjoy snowboarding in future."

Japanese source:

Sugi Toshisaburo (1845-1876): Deaf-Mute brother of famous philosopher

Yoshida Shoin
Sugi Toshisaburo
SUGI Toshisaburo was born Deaf-Mute at Hagi City, Choshu Domain (currently the Yamaguchi Prefecture) in 1845 as the third son to the lower class samurai SUGI Yurinosuke.

In the childhood, Toshisaburo communicated with the parents and siblings through writing or the use of home signs. Also he learned how to write and read from one of his uncles. It is said that the Japanese characters that he copied were very good.

Toshisaburo had an elder brother YOSHIDA Shoin (1830-1859) by 15 years senior. Shoin was a Choshu feudal clan samurai, a great philosopher and educator as well as a virtually spiritual theorist of the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

Shoin was adopted by the Yoshidas, thereafter his family name was changed to Yoshida. Toshisaburo had pockmarks on the face, but he was said that his look was like Shoin.

Toshisaburo always sat quietly by his father or Shoin whenever they read a book even if they all didn't communicate verbally.

Shoin entrusted his younger sister Chiyo and his disciple KANEKO Kensuke to educate Deaf brother when he was then 10 years old. Both Chiyo and Kensuke put everything they had into teaching Deaf-Mute brother through writing and connecting a thing to the word.

On the way traveling in Kyushu, a southern island of Japan, in December, 1850, Shoin stopped at Kumamoto and prayed piously in front of the Kiyomasa* Shinto Shrine at midnight that his Deaf-mute brother would be able to speak like himself.

*KATO Kiyomasa was a warrior and feudal lord of Higonokuni (currently the Kumamoto Prefecture) during the Toyotomi reign (ca. 1580's). It is said that he hardly spoke since birth until he started speech when growing up.

Shoin has stated about his Deaf-mute brother in his paper in 1858. "My younger brother Toshisburo is 14 years old now, Deaf-mute since birth. He can copy Chinese characters, but reading and writing are impossible for him after all."

In January 1854 when Comparator Matthew Calbraith Perry stopped by in Japan for the second time with his squadrons, Shoin and his fellow planned and tried to stow away on one of the squadrons, but failed. They were imprisoned at Hagi. Shoin was confined at his parents' home in 1855.

Two years later in 1857, Shoin became a master teacher at a private school, the Matsushita Village Juku (school) which his uncle opened, and taught the students who would be prominent leaders in the Meiji Restoration, such as TAKASUGI Shinsaku (courageous Chushu samurai), ITO Hirofumi (four-time Prime Minister), YAMAGATA Aritomo (field marshal in the Imperial Japanese Army and twice Prime Minister of Japan), etc.

Shoin allowed Toshisaburo to be present during his lecture at the school. Toshisaburo was quick, not much different from a hearing person, and also very so polite and gentle that hearing people would get embarrassed.

The Tokugawa shogunate ordered Choshu clan to send Shoin to Edo [current Tokyo] in 1859 due to the purge. Shoin was admonished to go to Edo by the guards in May, 1859. It is said that he clasped Toshisaburo's hands before the separation, giving him the last message with emotion coming up, "Every patience is the first".

Shoin confessed the assassination attempt on the shogunate top officer and explained about his own ideology, which led to punish him to decapitation at the age of 29.

Aware of being Deaf-Mute himself, Toshisaburo always refrained from visiting other friends, and earned a small amount by doing needlework. After the deaths of the male members,  he faithfully kept the family tradition to holding a spiritual service of the ancestors, always making himself neat.

Toshisaburo died at the age of 32 on February 1, 1876.

YOSHIDA Shoin (English):

Singer talks about her Deaf son at event

Singer Imai Eriko and her son Raimu at the talk show in Saga Prefecture.
(photo: http://mytown.asahi.com/saga/news.php?k_id=42000001112100005)

December 11, 2011

During the Human Rights Week on December 4-10, the "Human Rights Program" (sponsored by Saga Prefecture, etc.) took place in Saga Prefecture on December 10, and about 1000 people came.

At the talk show, IMAI Eriko (28), a member of the music group "SPEED," talked about her Deaf son Raimu, signing occasionally. She spoke the difficulty and the joy of child-rearing.

Raimu (7) joined her at the event. Eriko confessed how she had felt when he was born, saying, "I thought that I would stop singing since he didn't hear even if I sang."

However, Eriko started to learn sign language and watched his growth every day. "I came to think that he feels the song by seeing even if he cannot hear."

She concluded by saying, "I want Deaf people to spend every day with smile and think they can do somehow."

Books which introduced overseas information in late Edo period

The world map titled "Konyozusiki" (坤輿図識) produced in 1847 by a Japanese geographer.

Because of the national isolation policy of the Edo Shogunate, "Dejima" (出島) in Nagasaki Prefecture was the only place where the trade with other countries was allowed. Except China, the only Western trade partner was the Netherlands.

The Dutch books were brought to Japan through the Dutch trading house in Nagasaki's Dejima, and the "Dutch studies" on the Occidental new science and culture came into existence.

Japanese books that introduced the new knowledge including information on the institutes for the poor and persons with disabilities in Europe, etc. were published.

For example, "Koumou Zatsuwa" (literally "Red Hair Topics" (『紅毛雑話』) published in 1787 was written by Morishima Churyo (森島中良 1754-1810).

He summarized the talks of his elder brother and a surgeon of of the Edo Shogunate Katsuragawa Hoshu (桂川甫周) who heard from the Dutch visitors in Edo, the talks of the Dutch-studies scholars gathering in Katsuragawa's house, etc.

Mitsukuri Shogo (箕作省吾 1821-1847), a geographer and Dutch-studies scholar, made a map titled "Konyozusiki" (坤輿図識) in 1847. This document referring to geography books, such as "Algemeene Geographie (the Dutch version)" by J. Hubner, and "Geographische Oefeningen" by P. J. Prinsen, presumably had great influence on view-of-the-world formation of the intellectuals in the end of Edo Period. This map was said to be in personal effects when Yoshida Shoin* aimed at smuggling into the U.S. at Shimoda in Japan.

*He had a Deaf-mute brother named Sugi Toshisaburo.

Both the books possibly include information on the institutes or facilities for the Deaf-Mute in Europe.

Incidentally, in order to study in Nagasaki, many young persons visited across from the whole country, and learned at the private school which well-known Dutch interpreters opened for the Dutch studies. Out of them excellently talented individuals appeared in great numbers, contributing to the foundation of Japanese modernization.

DVD on Deaf parenting experience produced

December 5, 2011

The Information and Culture Center for the Deaf, Inc. located in Tokyo produced the DVD titled "CODA: My Parents are Deaf."

While the information on Deaf parenting lacks, DVD introduces the process that both the Deaf parents and hearing children face troubles, overcome them, etc.

The production staff explains, "While preventing isolation of the Deaf parents who experience uneasiness in child-rearing, we would like to promote an understanding of society."

"Coda" means "Children Of Deaf Adults." It is said that about 90 percent of the children born to Deaf parents is hearing. They are brought up in sign language in a home, and use spoken Japanese outside the home in many cases. Some coda become a sign language interpreter after growth.

SHIBUYA Tomoko, a special researcher of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, has studied about coda. She suggested the production of DVD on the Deaf parenting problem.

Funded by Mitsubishi Foundation, DVD was produced for one and half year by the staff composed of hearing and Deaf persons, and coda.

DVD has five parts, such as the infant time, school age and adolescence, and the party concerned tells each experience. Their story shows the hint towards solution for the issues in the child's growth process.

In the part on the infant time, the Deaf mother, who is bringing up three coda, said that she was worried whether she should use sign language to her hearing children. Later she thought it over and believed that the sign language is an important language for the parent and child relationship.

The school-age part introduces a case: coda was given  the homework by the teacher to read aloud at home. He sent the copy of a textbook to the hearing grandmother by fax and got checked on reading aloud over the telephone instead of his Deaf mother.

ITO Mio (30), president of "the group for raising coda," participated in the DVD production. She says, "Many Deaf parents are worried if they bring up coda in sign language, the spoken language development will be overdue."

Japanese source:

Deaf mother files suit for city rejecting interpreting dispatch as "illegal"

December 5, 2011

The Deaf female office worker (40) of Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture applied for sign-language interpreting dispatch to the city in June in order to attend the briefing session for the guardian at the vocational school which her eldest daughter wishes to enter.

The city dismissed her application on the grounds that a dispatch place was Tokyo, etc. in July. The woman submitted the formal complaint with the city in August, which was dismissed in October.

It was learned on December 4 that the woman
was going to file suit for the city making a decision against the constitution, deviating from discretion of administrative power which is illegal.

Related organizations including the Japanese Federation of the Deaf have decided the full support to the woman, saying "This is not the problem of Takamatsu but the problem which occurred from the systemic defect."

The "group that considers sign-language interpreting dispatch of Takamatsu" just launched held the meeting in Takamatsu and appealed for cooperation to about 80 persons who gathered on the same day.

In the meeting, top-class officials from the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, National Study Association on Interpreting Issues, and Japanese Association of Certified Interpreters were present.

The lawyer in charge reported about the defense counsel will be formed by 23 persons from Takamatsu, Okayama, Tokyo, etc. and file suit by the end of February next year."

Japanese source:

Deaf dance group members from Fukushima join charity dance event in Kawasaki

December 4, 2011

"We want to tell through our dance that Fukushima is fine."

The dance group "D/FLAVOR" from Fukushima Prefecture performed at the event "D'LIVE," held in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture on December 3 which Deaf persons and others sang a song by dancing or signing.

Although the group members were unable to practice as much as before because of the accident of the first nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power in Fukushima Prefecture, they showed the powerful dance before about 600 audience.

The "D/FLAVOR" was formed in Koriyama-shi, Fukushima Prefecture in 2007. Three of six members are Deaf. They dance while feeling sound with the body or getting help from other members when to take a step in dancing.

The group members have resumed practice in mid-May. Although a life is returning to normal, they avoid practices outside due to the space dose of radiation is higher in Koriyama than any other cities in the prefecture.

The group has been more often invited to a charity event across in the country.

Japanese source:

Sugimoto Marina prepares for the exhibition.
(photo: http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/)

December 3, 2011

SUGIMOTO Marina (25), a Deaf resident of Meguro-ku, Tokyo, will open a personal exhibition on December 19-24 in Ginza, Chuo-ku. Her 3D art works dealing with the scenery and children she saw in the street corner is the focus of the event.

She has been devoted to work for one year with determination to express honestly "the exciting feeling" she felt in the town and to share the feeling with the visitor.

She attends the graduate course of the fine-arts molding vocational school in Toshima-ku, Tokyo, aiming at becoming an illustrator.

About 40 works will be exhibited this time. She made illustration drawing with the personal computer after doing the sketch with the pencil. Her works, influenced by the work of the pop artist James Rizzi of New York, are 3D and multistory art full of a feeling from the lively motion of the person, etc.

Japanese source:

Five hearing students reported to prosecutor for vicious mischiefs to Deaf person

December 2, 2011

The Fukuroi City police in Sizuoka Prefecture sent the police report of the five boys attending the same junior high school to the prosecutor in the Hamamatsu branch, the District Public Prosecutor's Office, on November 30 on suspicion of theft and damage or destruction of a building.

The boys stole a total of five fire extinguishers in Fukuroi from August through October. Two of them burned the concrete block wall of the house in which the Deaf person lives by fireworks in August.

The boys had repeated the mischief called the "runaway ring," which one sounds the door bell of a house in the city and escapes, since June.

Since the light lit up and the people came outside whenever the boys pushed the door bell of the Deaf person's house, they liked to see the reaction as interesting.

The boys said that the Deaf person could not appeal against damage, either and that he was considered not to disclose it."

They later injected the fire extinguisher in the house from the open window, put fireworks on the concrete block wall, fire lit, pushed the door bell and escaped.

Japanese source:

English article: Japanese Deaf woman as a dancer, teacher and choreographer in London

Friday, Dec. 2, 2011

Deafness no barrier for choreographer

LONDON — Despite being deaf, a Japanese woman in London is forging a successful career as a dancer, teacher and choreographer.

Visual beat: Chisato Minamimura teaches choreography to students in London in October 2010. KYODO PHOTO 
Chisato Minamimura uses her own unique methods to create works of contemporary dance that have been performed in Britain and across the world.

English source:

Interpreting coordinator faces difficulty at financial deficit

November 30, 2011

In Saga Prefecture the difficult situation to secure the full-time coordinator for interpreters continues because of lack of the funds. The prefecture budget allotment for the coordinating project entrusted to the prefecture association of the Deaf remains in a small amount.

Although the interpreting is indispensable at the lecture meeting, etc., the coordinator has been forced to be placed in an unstable status.

MINAMISATO Tomie (67), the present coordinator, works 9:00-17:00, dealing with requests for interpreter dispatch by a telephone or fax. She, who also interprets, has been supported by several members of the sign language circle. The number of dispatch in the last fiscal year amounted to 424.

According to the association of the Deaf, the basic allowance which Tomie receives is 120,000 yen per year. With other daily allowance, she earns about twenty yen in total. Her work might be likely described as a volunteer.

Because of financial difficulties, the prefecture funds only 388,000 yen, and Saga City provides also less than 1 million yen.

Tomie insists, "The working environment which can be committed by under exclusive contract as a coordinator is required when to recruit."

Japanese source:

First medical examination for the Deaf starts in Saga Prefecture

The Deaf person (left) understands the nurse's medical question through interpreting (center).
(photo: http://www.saga-s.co.jp/)

November 30, 2011

Saga City in Saga Prefecture began the medical examination for the Deaf on November 30. The city has allotted the sign language interpreters in the prefecture medical association geriatric-diseases prevention center in the city for the oral consultation and a place for the medical check, etc.

The medical examination for the Deaf is the first trial in the prefecture. The note-taking service for a hearing loss person will be provided. The medical checkup will be carried out again on December 17. Prior reservation is required.

On the day, three sign language interpreters supported five Deaf clients. The oral consultation, such as "Do you want a dental medical checkup?", "What do you keeping in mind for health maintenance?", was interpreted.

A Deaf client was unaware of being called by the doctor for his/her turn until now, but this time the interpreter told the Deaf client when called. In the stomach cancer medical checkup, the radiological technologist directed the client how to move the body by gestures.

One of the client (80) said, "I didn't understand what I was supposed to do correctly only by the paper described about the medical checkup. I was happy that the interpreter helped me understand better this time. I think the city did a good job."

Japanese source:

More Deaf people hired in customer services such as shops

Shioda Tomohiro (24), who is on the Deaf soccer national team, works at the UNIQLO store in the building next to JR Chigasaki Station (Kanagawa Prefecture). He hard of hearing, talks and lipreads well.
At the cake shop "Laporte" in Tokyo Station, the customer orders by using the touch panel as the Deaf staff looks on.

November 29, 2011

Because it is hard for the Deaf to communicate with hearing people, service trade is thought to be unsuitable for their employment. However, more Deaf people work with some consideration in shops.

Eight item of sweets is sold in the cake shop called "Laporte" in one corner of the passage on the Japan Railway Tokyo Station first basement level. When the customer orders what he/she wants to buy by inputting on the touch panel on the front counter at the shop. The Deaf staff gets the order after looking at the touch panel.

"Laporte" opened in 2003 as the JR East Japan retail network promoted to hire more Deaf persons. There are a shop in Tokyo Station and Yurakucho Station, respectively and a total of eight Deaf women work presently.

The major garments company "UNIQLO" has promoted the employment of persons with disability as its slogan, "More persons with  disability at one store." Over 90 percent of the 850 "UNIQLO" stores across the country hired persons with disability. About 30 percent of them are Deaf. Their work doesn't differ from other hearing coworkers such as  reception besides cleaning or merchandise management.

Deaf persons work also in a coffee chain "Starbucks." Moreover, other coffee shop opened by a welfare group in a region hires Deaf staff.

However, in the whole business, it is still a small number of Deaf workers. The Law Concerning Employment Promotion for Disabled Persons requires a company with 56 or more employees to employ not less than 1.8% of disabled persons.

The actual employment rate is going up every year according to the investigation of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the average of the workers with disabilities is 1.65% as of June. Many Deaf people are employed in the field such as a production process.

MIZUNO Eiko, a senior researcher of the private research institute, explained, "although it tends to assume that communication with a customer is difficult for a Deaf worker, it is desirable not to limit an occupation to those eager Deaf persons but to improve their workplace environment. It is important for not only a company but also society and consumers as a whole to deepen an understanding of the workers with disabilities. "

Japanese source:

Finnish Deaf rap artist holds free concert in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture

Signmark (central right) meets visitors after the concert.
(photo: http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2011/11/20111129t15032.htm)
November 29, 2011

Signmark (real name: Marko Vuoriheimo) of Finland, internationally known as a Deaf rap artist, held a free concert on November 28 in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture to support disaster victims including disabled persons. About 60 people participated in the event.

Europe Trade Minister Alexander Stove of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, who has visited the stricken area in Japan before the performance, greeted at the event.

He announced that there was a proposal from a Finnish corporation to contribute a Moomin Park in Sendai. Seventeen playground equipments in the form of Moomin characters will be presented.

Signmark introduced himself, saying, "Even if I was not able to hear, I had strong will to do music, and realized the dream."

He showed the message song with sign language. The participants enjoyed the music with good tempo, learning how to dance with it.

Deaf judo training camp held in Okinawa

Yamada Mitsuo (left), captain of the National Team for the Deaflympics, practices with a hearing judoist.
 (photo: http://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/storyid-184458-storytopic-2.html)

November 25, 2011

The Japanese Deaf Martial Art League which aims at being enlisted to the Deaflympic judo match is holding the training camp from November 24 in Okinawa Prefecture. Eight Deaf judoists have participated for five days.

They aims at getting higher rank advance in the Asia-Pacific Deaf sports meet (May, 2012, South Korea) and the World Deaf Martial Art Championship (August, 2012,  Venezuela) as the standard of the national team selection.

They participated in joint exercise with the Okinawa Shogaku High School judo club on November 24. YAMADA Mitsuo from Shiga Prefecture, the gold medalist in the 100 kilogram category of the Deaflympics in 2009, is the only one who has been selected to the National Team.

A hearing judoist who practiced with Mitsuo said, "He is very good. I believe he became strong because he has had great passion for judo and worked hard."

Former teacher of Deaf children works on project for Deaf university students

November 23, 2011

After retirement, TAKADA Keiichi (63), a former teacher of the Prefecture Tottori School for the Deaf in Tottori-shi, Tottori Prefecture, had learned that some of his former students led student life in disappointment. Only a few universities offer the note-taking service by the university personnel.

Keiichi did not want these Deaf students feel miserable or frustrated with study, starting a project in October, 2008 to interview and take photos of Deaf university students to find out in order to get many people interested in their actual environment.

Keiichi has already met about 50 Deaf students at 19 universities in 15 prefectures. He will visit more Deaf students at universities in the area hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake in the near future.

He said, "there are 1000 or more Deaf students attending colleges/universities in the whole country, but their serious issues are seldom known. I hope my project will help their academic environment improve."

Japanese source:

Deaf students perform first hip-hop dance in public

Students in practice

November 11, 2010

At the Hyogo Prefecture Himeji School for the Deaf located in Himeji City, 15 high school students are shedding sweat to practice the hip-hop dance.

Although they cannot fully catch music, they have learned how to dance through memorizing the every movement that the coach showed, with the full use of the the vision.

The students are enthusiastic in "heaping up the audience by fine performance" in the upcoming school cultural festival scheduled for November 19.

The high school has performed a play, the Japanese drum performance, etc. for the cultural festival every fall. The hip-hop dance as the first trial was added to the program, and the students began practice in April this year.

Prior to the cultural festival, the group of students made the public performance at the "31st Himeji welfare festival" in the park in Himeji City, making the audience excited with their dynamic performance on November 3.

Japanese source:

Consideration for Deaf person as a supplement lay judge

November 18, 2011

A Deaf person was chosen as a supplement lay judge for the first time in Naha District Court of Okinawa Prefecture for the lay judge trial held on November 15-17 in the District Court. He participated in trial through interpreting.

According to one of four interpreters concerned, since the arrangement was done in advance by the court, the public prosecutor, and the lawyer, trial and consultation progressed duly.  The Deaf lay judge also said that he could get through.

In court, proof by the crunched intelligible data and technical term was performed in trial as agreed by the prior arrangement. At the place of consultation, each lay judge was asked to speak at a time so that the interpreting might catch up, and the use of a white board and a memo, etc. were considered for the Deaf lay judge.

HIGA Tsuyoshi, a board member of the Okinawa Association of the Deaf, watched the trial and said that although it was probably based on the Deaf person's ability, it was good for him to understand by showing intelligible data at this time.

Japanese source:

"ILY" strap presented to people in stricken area

Hiroko Noritomi and the children who wrote the message on the card attached to the strap.

The home-made "ILY" strap
(photo: http://www.tokachi.co.jp/news/201111/20111116-0010999.php)
November 16, 2011

NORITOMI Hiroko (68) of Obihiro City in Hokkaido who has tackled the activity to enhance an understanding of Deaf culture. She made a "ILY (I-LOVE-YOU)" strap for mobile phones to present to the stricken area of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The strap which tucked up about 800 pieces is due to be sent before Christmas.

Her Deaf son, Hideto (42), managed a shop called the Deaf Culture Village to show Deaf arts culture and history in the city for a year since July, 2004. Hiroko was not happy about the closing of his shop and began making a stuff with the ILY sign,  a symbol of the shop,  since 2005.

She tucked up about 10,000 pieces of the "ILY" stuff until now, and had presented them to schools or facilities. Her wish was people who took the strap in their hand would become gentle.

Hiroko watched the TV program on the situation of the stricken area, and instantly thought what happened to the parents without their children, and to the children without their family. She thought that she could only present something to them. So she added a heart-shaped piece to the design of the "ILY" strap.

It takes about 4 hours to make one strap. Hiroko underwent the operation for her breast cancer in June, last year, continuing to make more pieces of the strap with care for her health condition. She says with a smile, "This is a good rehabilitation for me, as well as the source of my cheerfulness."

In order to send the strap with an encouraging message, Hiroko had the elementary school children to write a message on November 14. They wrote the message each in their own way, such like "it is OK," "Your living will be certainly recovered," etc.

Church members in Obihiro City will present the first set of straps on November 20 on her behalf when they visit the stricken area, and the second by Hiroko's friend who plans a visit on December 5.

Deaf social worker insists to assist living of Deaf persons in stricken area

November 10, 2011

YANO Koji (55), vice president of the Japanese Association of Deaf Social Workers, has engaged in disaster victim support of the Great East Japan Earthquake. He explains, "The stricken areas have so few people who sign or take a note that the Deaf disaster victims have been forced to experience inconvenience. Long-term assisted living is necessary for them."

In order to investigate the situation of the Deaf suffering the calamity and their living after the earthquake, Koji and other supporting groups interviewed 125 individuals in 11 cities and 9 towns in Miyagi Prefecture from April through June.

About the mental condition, it became clear that 28 persons had amnesia, earthquake drunkenness, and insomnia temporarily, etc. Moreover, eight persons answered that they lost the job.

When Koji visited a certain shelter, a Deaf evacuee continued signing to him for 2 hours about the occurrence of the earthquake and tsunami. Koji says, "While hearing persons discuss what they have experienced immediately, the Deaf cannot, so they feel very unstable and anxious."

About the situation at the time of suffering the calamity, some Deaf persons also answered that they were unaware of the tsunami warning since disaster radio was no accessible to them, even though they knew the earthquake hit immediately."

There is also a case which Deaf individuals cannot get along in a new community well even after they move into a makeshift house. Koji says, "Deaf people may be misunderstood easily. I would like concerned persons to know the actual condition of these Deaf disaster victims."

Research: Artificial hearing without artificial power

October 25, 2011

Kyoto University press release:

Researchers find that a battery-free cochlear implant can generate auditory responses in deaf animals. Current cochlear implants partially restore hearing in people who have inner ear hair-cell damage with a series of electronic sensors, actuators, and a battery power source.

Senior Lecturer Takayuki Nakagawa at Graduate School of Medicine in Kyoto University and colleagues built a membrane implant using a material that generates electricity in response to bending, and inserted the device in the cochlea of deafened guinea pigs.

Sound transmitted through the guinea pigs’ ear canals generated vibrations in the membrane, which created electrical pulses that varied with the sound frequency. The membrane’s sound tuning aligned similarly with tuning in the inner ear’s basal membrane, the researchers report. In other tests, the researchers artificially stimulated the implants and recorded auditory brain stem activity in electrodes placed under the animals’ skin.

The researchers suggest that the device could be described as the “technological regeneration of [inner ear] hair cells,” but caution that the device’s electrical output must be increased to stimulate auditory primary neurons in the ear like current implants. Together, the results suggest that one day deaf patients may be able to use small prosthetics that mimic natural cochlear function, without the need for a battery. The results were published in PNAS.

Link to the journal paper:
Inaoka T, Shintaku H, Nakagawa T, Kawano S, Ogita H, Sakamoto T, Hamanishi S, Wada H, Ito J. Piezoelectric materials mimic the function of the cochlear sensory epithelium. PNAS 2011 ; published ahead of print October 24, 2011, doi:10.1073/pnas.1110036108

English source:

YouTube: Asimo introduces itself in JSL

2011 Honda Unveils All new ASIMO - Sign Language Using Arms and Multi Fingered Hands


English Article: Robot Asimo helping, signing

Asimo shows a sign, "I love you."
(Credit: Honda)

Honda's humanoid robot Asimo can now run faster, hop around, autonomously avoid people, and communicate in sign language with its new hands.

In the first major update to the droid in four years, Asimo has improved AI skills, being able to operate continuously without human control, and also has better locomotion, and a remarkable 57 axes of movement.
English Source: 
Asimo does bottles, lovey-dovey hand gestures

First Deaf rugby international match held in Nagoya - Japan lost

(photo: http://www.asahi.com/sports/update/1105/NGY201111050008.html

November 5, 2011

The first Deaf rugby international match between the Japanese team "Quiet Typhoon" and the Australian team "Silent Knights" was held in the rugby field in Nagoya on November 5.

Although Deaf rugby has the same rule as general 15-person Rugby, the assistant referees with a red flag instead of a whistle stood near the goal of both sides to tell discontinuation of the play.

The Japanese team was beaten by 3-22. They challenged the opponents of large build with the low tackle, and endured the pinch near the goal repeatedly.
As soon as they took the penalty, they moved forward from the quick restart, but did not lead to a score.

Related link: 
Deaf Rugby team prepares for the first international match in Japan

Coffee shop in Osaka City open for the Deaf social exchange

 November 2, 2011

The coffee shop "Deaf Cafe Easy Sign Language" located in Osaka City, where Deaf persons visit freely for a chat, is popular. The shop is managed by a non-profit organization called "Deaf Support Osaka" which has offered services including counseling, sign-language interpreting dispatch, etc.

Twenty or more people per day at the most visit the coffee shop. Some persons come even from distant places, such as Ehime Prefecture and Tokyo.

The "Deaf Cafe" was opened in 2006. Many Deaf persons were denied by the general coffee coffee shop owner, because their signed communication often disturbed other hearing customers. 

The "Deaf Support Osaka" staff decided opening "to provide the place in which Deaf  persons exchange daily living information freely." Now, there are some persons who visit the Deaf Cafe almost every day.

Hearing persons are also welcome. When ordering some food or drink, they must use pointing on the menu list. A sign language lesson is available for 500 yen during the opening hours. Works by a Deaf customer are also exhibited for sale in the shop.

Japanese source:

Deaf persons trained as "trimmer" for dogs

October , 2011

Deaf persons are trained to become a "trimmer" for dogs in a facility that is managed by the Shiga Welfare Association of the Deaf.

Since the training was begun in April, 2007, regular customers who let their pet used for practice are increasing in number. It is said that ten dogs are groomed a day.

A trimmer not only does a cut, a shampoo, brushing, nail clippers, etc., but also  performs the healthy check of the skin, etc., and gives the customer a chart.

OGASAWARA Chizuru, who has instructed since  July, 2010, has a grooming history of 26 years. While teaching how to groom a dog, she learned sign language.

She says, "It isn't easy for Deaf trimmers  to deal with a pet that is sensitive to sound, but their work from hard training is very good."

A charge for pet grooming is abut 4000 yen depending on kinds of dog, and it has acquired popularity from the dog lovers.

Six persons are currently trained at the facility. One trainee has acquired qualification and found a job at the specialty store.

Japanese source:

Woman arrested by falsehood report using cellular texting service for the Deaf

October 31, 2011

The Osaka Prefecture Police Ikuno station arrested the 31-year-old hearing woman of Osaka City who notified a falsehood by cellular texting message on October 31.

Around 4:55 a.m. on October 14, she apparently notified that the apartment was burning, using the cellular texting service for the Deaf and blocking the operation of the Ikuno station and the Osaka Prefecture Police communication direction division.

According to the Ikuno station, the woman says that she has not reported" and denies suspicion. There were about 100 false text messages in her cellular phone since September.

Bandanna produced to support the Deaf at the time of disaster

The bandanna to be used by Deaf persons at the time of a disaster

October 28, 2011

Kumagaya-shi in Saitama Prefecture produced the bandanna for disaster relief of the Deaf.

Deaf person and those who sign show the bandanna to get support immediately from the surrounding person at the time of disasters, such as an earthquake.

The disaster radio broadcasting, etc. is not accessible to the Deaf. The disability of Deaf people is so invisible that it is hard to get help easily and their refuge may be overdue.

It is said that there was a request for a measure from the Deaf community in the city in response to an Great East Japan Earthquake.

Based on the donations from city financial institutions, the city manufactured the bandanna with cooperation of the Kumagaya Association of the Deaf and the Kumagaya sign language circle.

Japanese source:

Name "Japan" discovered in China as possibly the oldest example

Name of "JAPAN" (日本)atop in center

October 22, 2011

The paper which introduces that an epitaph found in the ancient city, Hsian, in China has Chinese characters with "Japan" (日本) was published in China.

The epitaph is a slate in which the deceased's achievements are inscribed before being buried in the grave.

It is supposed that the epitaph found was made in 678.

It has been a big mystery of Japanese ancient history that when the name of the country "Japan" came to declare oneself.

Although the view that the name was used in Taiho Codes in 701 was leading, if the epitaph is a genuine article, it will go back further.

The Japanese call their country "Nippon" in Japanese, and write "Japan" in English.

When was first Japanese Sign Language used ?

"Hokoku Festival Folding Screen"    
Men (center) use sign language? ("Hokoku Festival Folding Screen") 

We don't know when Deaf people started using sign language in Japan, only when the first school for the Blind and Deaf-mute was formed in Kyoto in 1878.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536 -1598) was a daimyo warrior, general and politician of the Sengoku period (1467-1573). He unified the political factions of Japan.

In the summer of 1604 when it was the 6th anniversary of Hideyoshi's death, a special grand festival was held for eight days at the shrine, Hokoku jinja, in Kyoto.

KANO Naizen, the retained painter of the Toyotomi family, painted the "Hokoku Festival Folding Screen", which is designated as the important cultural property.

The rows of houses of Kyoto of those days and people enjoying the festival with richly and freshly expression, etc. are drawn in the folding screen.

Okamoto Inemaru, a former teacher of Deaf children in Kyoto, pointed out that the scene of men who look at fingers each other is in the screen.

He mentioned that it seemed that they communicated in sign language saying "We will go tomorrow" if regarded as the sign language.

Aoki Mokubei: famous deafened potter in Edo period

Aoki Mokubei (1767-1833) was a potter and literati painter in the Edo period.

He was born in Kyoto and his real name was Aoki Sahei.

At an early age he studied with the great scholar and seal carver Ko Fyo (1722-1784). He later studied pottery and soon became famous for his reproductions of classic Chinese-style ceramics. 

Mokubei (木米) had judged the temperature of the kiln with a sound emitted from the fire in it. Therefore, his ears always swelled up in red.

Literati painting
Since he didn't change the technique and continued chinaware making so that there was no time for complete recovery.

He lost hearing in later years and used his new name Robei (聾米: Deaf-bei) instead of Mokubei (木米).

He also gained fame for his literati paintings. 

Teacher wins prize at invention exhibition in Yamagata Prefecture

October 21, 2011

The 46th Yamagata invention exhibition is open on October 21-23 in Sakata City, which 240 works are exhibited. It is sponsored by the prefecture chapter of the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation, the prefecture, Mainichi Newspapers Yamagata branch office, etc.

A lot of the works, such as power generation, disaster prevention, ecology goods, etc., are seemingly affected by the Great East Japan Earthquakes on many young inventors; a "seismograph" which makes sound  or shines when shaken, a "disaster prevention best" with many pockets for drinks, a towel, valuables, etc.

KAMIO Tomoharu, a teacher of the Prefecture Yamagata School for the Deaf, invented a device for the Deaf students that changes the sound of the pistol into light when it is shot at the track and field. His work won the Governor prize in the category of the school staff.

Japanese source:

"Terakoya" as place for basic education for Deaf children in 1850's (Edo period)

"Terakoya", a private school

There was a private basic school, called "Terakoya", during the Edo period, generally run by one teacher who was a monk or once a samurai before.

Among 3,090 'Terakoya' schools, 266 schools (8.6 percent) accepted the children with physical disabilities according the study by Ototake Iwazo (1929). The largest number of pupils were the Deaf-mute.

Because those who did not have the ability to perform physical labor were considered useless, the parents of children with disabilities sent their children to these private schools hoping for their children’s future independence. 

These students were educated in inclusive classrooms, and the teachers devised and modified the traditional instruction and materials according to their needs. For the Deaf children, the teacher collected daily necessaries, toys, picture books, etc., and taught them Chinese characters by connecting with a thing or a picture. 

Some of them became skilled in writing Chinese characters gradually. Moreover, the skilled Deaf pupil was able to communicate with a hearing person in writing about what he wanted to say.

It is unknown about how many Deaf children were educated exactly at Terakoya. However, each such goodwill promoted the education of Deaf children in Japan.

Lecture meeting by doctor who signs to be held in Tokyo

The Study Group of Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will hold a lecture meeting in Tokyo on November 3, 2011, 13:30-16:00.

Dr. HIRANO Koji, the lecturer, began learning sign language in his high school days, and became a certified sign language interpreter.

He graduated from the medical department, Tohoku University in 1990, and opened an otolaryngology clinic in Tokyo in April, 2004. He has been involved in medical activities for the Deaf.

He is also acting as a board member of the "Medical Network for the Deaf/HoH" (MNDH) which is a nationwide network organization of the medical staffs who study health care problems of the Deaf/Hoh.

Dr. Hirano will talk about his various experiences as a doctor, and MNDH activity, etc.

Story of three men with disabilities in Edo period

SHIBATA Kyuo (1783-1839) from the merchant class was good at mentality in the late Edo period.

He explained the right path in an intelligible way introducing the example in daily life, taking advantage of his own experience as a professional storyteller.

However, from around 1826, his eyesight declined rapidly and he became blind completely.

Notes of his lecture were taken by his son in colloquial style, and published in 1835 and afterward.

"Kyuo dowa," one of the books has a story which Kyuo discerned each disabled person's mentally aspects.

The story goes:
A long time ago, a blind man, a physically disabled man, and a Deaf man became intimate, and they drank together.

If the blind man sings, the physically disabled man takes rhythm by clapping his hands. The Deaf man stands and dance. They all enjoyed themselves.

While the three men are enjoying drinking, there was a fire in the neighborhood, and it was a big fire.

Although the blind man heard people crying, he did not know the direction to get off.

Although the physically disabled men found a blazing fire, he was already unable to stand up. The Deaf man had turned the back to the fire, and did not know what it was about at first. He was calm.

When the three men became desperate for escape, a man ran to them at this time, and had the blind man carry the coward physically disabled man on the back first, and then had the Deaf man took hold the blind man's hand.

The physically disabled man on the back pointed and taught the Deaf man where the exit was. He finally knew it was a fire, and was greatly surprised, pulling the hand of the blind man in hurry. They were able to get the fire through.

The story tells a lesson that it is important to help each other and cover a fault mutually.

Group of cochlea implant users requesting for financial support to Shiga Prefecture

October 20, 201l

NOSE Kihei, president of the Association of Persons with Cochlear Implant, and others visited the Shiga prefecture office on October 19, demanding the office to influence in the Government, etc. towards support of the purchase of the big-ticket main part of apparatus, or insurance application.

Nose and TOMIOKA Katsumi, vice president, said to the person in charge who received them in the office, "While there is support to the hearing-aid, the aid to the persons with cochlear implant is ceased if he gets serious, which is strange. We would like you to understand our actual situation." They submitted a letter of the request addressed to the governor.

According to the association, insurance for the cochlea implant is applied to required accessories, but not the main part of apparatus which costs around 1 million yen. This is a great burden for them when the apparatus is found to be a failure or updated.

It is said that there are 120-130 users in the prefecture, and that younger than 18 years old accounts for 60 percent.

The support system of the main part of apparatus is spreading in the country. There is also an example with support of the maximum of 1,100,000 yen in Kumamoto Prefecture. In the Shiga prefecture, Koka City is supporting the maximum of 200,000 yen.

Japanese source:

English article on 'Subtitle glasses'

English article reported by news media:


'Subtitle glasses' to debut at Tokyo film festival

The Yomiuri Shimbun
TOKYO - Olympus Corp. and a nonprofit organization have jointly developed special eyeglasses that project subtitles on the lenses so the hearing impaired can enjoy Japanese movies.

A type of head-mounted display (HMD), the glasses will be unveiled at the Tokyo International Film Festival that runs through Oct. 30.

The device was developed by the Tokyo-based precision equipment maker and the non-profit Media Access Support Center, based in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture.

MASC has been working to provide better access to information for people with hearing difficulties by promoting captions for films and DVDs, and is providing captions from its Web site through the iPhone to the device.

According to MASC, subtitles for the hearing impaired need to include not only dialog but also information on who is going to speak before actors deliver their lines. It also needs to explain to viewers about footsteps, honking horns and other sound effects.
As it costs at least 1 million yen per film to print these subtitles, few films provide them. Only 51 of 408 new releases in 2010 had the special subtitles.

Theaters showing these films are also limited, especially in rural areas. Since the subtitles may annoy non-impaired viewers, the films are generally shown only for about two days even in metropolitan areas.

Mitsuhiko Ogawa, 49, vice director of Tokyoto Chuto Shiccho Nanchosha Kyokai, an association for people with hearing disabilities, said films give people with hearing problems an important opportunity to relate to other people and society. "It would be great if we were able to go see a movie with anybody, anytime, anywhere," Ogawa said.

Even if the HMD comes into wide use, however, scripts for subtitles still have to be made for each film. MASC director Koji Kawano, 48, said making HMD subtitles costs less than one-fifth of usual subtitles as the HMD subtitles do not have to be printed on film. "The problem is who bears the cost," he said.

Kawano stressed films with HMD subtitles will also be good for seniors with hearing difficulties. He said demand could be increased by expanding the HMD's functions to allow the use of foreign-language subtitles.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/10/21/2465324/subtitle-glasses-to-debut-at-tokyo.html#ixzz1bUIIangM

English article on deaf woman with four languages

An English article reports on a Deaf woman who speaks four languages.

Language is no barrier for hearing-impaired woman

October 22, 2011
By AKI FUKUYAMA / Staff Writer

Kim Surim learned to speak Japanese, English and Spanish after she lost her hearing when she was only 6 years old.
Kim Surim

Today, at Credit Suisse Securities (Japan) Ltd. in Tokyo, the 39-year-old Seoul native talks with her supervisor in Japanese and communicates in English at meetings.

"I cannot hear the voice of my daughter, but I am happy if I can hear the voice of her heart," Kim said of her 3-year-old daughter, speaking in fluent Japanese.

She acquired the three non-native languages by reading people's lips. She learned how to pronounce words by imitating the movements of their mouths. "A life itself means facing up to challenges," she said.

Kim was taken care of by a relative after her parents separated when she was 2.

She came to Japan when she was 12, following her mother. However, her mother was working all day, leaving Kim to an acquaintance.

She learned Japanese while reading manga and novels to ease her loneliness. Kim thought that she might be able to do the same with other languages.

She went to Britain to study English after graduating from high school. She quit a major paper manufacturer when she was in her 20s and learned Spanish while wandering through 30 countries.

She learned how to roll her tongue to pronounce certain sounds by asking conversation partners to show her their tongues.
At one time, she collided with a wall because she was looking at someone's lips while they were walking.

Credit Suisse valued her language skills and hired her four years ago to check whether stock transactions are conducted in compliance with laws and regulations.

Her colleagues are from as many as 30 countries.

This spring, she published a book, "Mimi no Kikoenai Watashi ga Yonkakokugo Shabereru Riyu" (Reasons why I can speak four languages although I cannot hear), from Poplar Publishing Co.

She is donating part of the proceeds to a movement to promote dogs for the hearing impaired.

Temple to remember the DeafBlind child in Edo period

There is a story about the temple called Yuteiji in Osaka, established in 1755.

A boy was born to a rich merchant of Sakai, OYAMA Yakube, in the Edo period. But the baby was DeafBlind that made his parents wail.

They worried about the poor child's future, purchased land, and built magnificent residence.

Though they made the child enable to live carefree throughout life, the parents were not satisfied, thinking something missing.

They considered many things to make themselves satisfied, but there were no means to solve their trouble. So they visited Honganji Temple in Kyoto to consult.

The priest took over the child's education. He made the child grasp a Buddha statue first. Then wondering, the child stroked it with his fingers, and seemed to be happy.

After a while, the child found the mercy of Buddha for the first time, and felt joy from the bottom of his heart. Unfortunately, he passed away at the age of eight. How deep his parents' sorrow!

Getting the name "Yutei" for the child's Buddhist name, the parents prayed to Buddha for him everyday. The residence in which they lived while praying for the child's bliss became a temple.

New bus friendly to the Deaf in Yamaguchi Prefecture

Deaf group tries on the sound and the sonority condition of sound in the magnetic loop loading bus.

October 20, 2011

In order that deaf and hard of hearing passengers use the bus in comfort, Hagi City in Yamaguchi Prefecture has carried the equipment which raises the sensitivity of a hearing-aid using magnetism to two updated "Hagi loop-line buses". They will begin operation on October 21.

According to city officials and the apparatus maker, the installation of the magnetic loop system to the bus is the first in the whole country.

With the system, the sound of an announcement in the bus or a chime is collected with a microphone, and a clear sound with less noise can catch with a hearing-aid through the magnetic loop antenna constructed under the floor of the bus.

This system has been progressively introduced even in the court of a lay judge trial, a theater, a concert hall, the movie theater, and the baseball field.

At the ceremony for the delivery of the buses on October 19, six Deaf persons rode on the bus for a trial. Yuki Yamamoto (68), president of the Hagi Society of the Deaf, changed the switch of the hearing-aid, and was surprised that she was able to hear the announcement clearly. "This kind of bus would be good for people who are elder and hard of hearing."

Source (Japanese):

SUGIYAMA Sampu, Deaf haiku poet in the Edo period (1600-1868)

SUGIYAMA Sampu (1647-1732) is known as a patron of MATSUO Basho (1644-1694), one of the best haiku poets in the first half of the Edo period (1600-1868).

Sampu, who was the owner of a fish wholesale store under the Tokugawa shogunate, supported Basho's life with his economic strength.

He was Deaf and weak by birth. Though it is unknown when he followed Basho to study haiku, he was one of Basho's ten best disciples.

The "Basho's hermitage" was the guardhouse of the fish preserve possessed by Sampu who provided when Basho moved to live in 1680. Also Sampu and his fellow paid to build the home for Basho who returned to Edo from a long trip in Eastern Japan. Sampu took care of his master Basho over twenty years until Basho passed away.

Basho was sad about his favorite disciple Sampu being Deaf, and once mentioned about him: "Sampu did not use deafness-related phrases, which made himself more respected and elegant in the haiku style."

We don't know exactly how Sampu communicated with his master and fellows, but reasonably in writing for the communication.

American code of ethics for sign language teachers translated in Japanese

October 18, 2011

Code of ethics for persons engaged in sign language instruction or interpreter training never exists in Japan.

The Sign Language Teacher Center, Inc. has believed that the code of ethics is needed for Japanese sign language teachers and interpreting trainers, and has translated the "Code of Ethics of the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA)" into Japanese.

The Center is thinking to develop its original code of ethics, referring to ASLTA, etc.

ASLTA's Code of Ethics translated in Japanese:

ASLTA Code of Ethics in English:

Caption system for Japanese movies developed

October 17, 2011

The Media Access Support Center, Inc. (MASC) has been working on the Japanese caption on a movie or DVD.

MASC has developed the caption system for Japanese movies jointly with a precision machinery maker, "Olympus". The system will be used for the first time at the "Tokyo International Film Festival" which will be open from October 22.

With the small head-mounted display (HMD) used like glasses, caption emerges in the space in front of the screen.

When the caption information is on the website of MASC and HMD is connected to a cell phone unit "iPhone", caption is sent through iPhone.

According to MASC, it is necessary to put in the name of a person before he or she speaks, or to explain sound effects, such as a footstep and a horn of a car, in written form in the movie for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Because a captioned movie is very costly, such as 1 million yen or more per work, the number of captioned movies is limited. Out of 408 new Japanese films, only 51 have been captioned in 2010.

Also, especially there are few theaters in rural areas to show the captioned movie, and since caption on the screen is troublesome to the hearing audience, the captioned movie is usually shown for only two days in the metropolitan area.

Deaf beggar drawn in old picture scroll (1712)

Although we can figure what the life of a person with disability was like those days, which is easily found in the corner of an old picture scroll and genre painting, it is hard to look for the Deaf person who does not appear in these materials.

A picture of the Deaf beggar is found in the 10th volume of the "Japanese-Chinese Illustrated Assemblage of the Three components of the Universe" (Wakan sansai zue: 和漢三才図絵). Also it includes a statement that describes about deafness and muteness.

The illustrated encyclopedia was edited by Terashima Royan (dates unknown), an Osaka physician, and completed in 1712. It includes chapters covering astronomy, geography, plants, clothing, implements, and other topics.

100 years later, Kobayashi Issa wrote a haiku poem about a Deaf beggar as mentioned in the previous blog.
 (Haiku poem on mute beggar in Edo period: http://deafjapan.blogspot.com/2011/09/haiku-poem-on-mute-beggar-in-edo-period.html)

Priest Takuan Sōhō describes the communication needs of the Deaf in Edo period

Takuan Sōhō

Tokai-ji Temple
Yellow pickled Daikon radish that carries the same name, "Takuan"

Takuan Sōhō (沢庵 宗彭:1573 -1645) was a major figure in the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism.

He was the first abbot of Tokai-ji Temple in Edo (now Tokyo), which was constructed especially for the shogunate, the Tokugawa family during Edo period (1600-1868).

He has also been credited with the invention of the yellow pickled Daikon radish that carries the same name, "Takuan," which most of the Japanese love to have.

Takuan, who wrote the essays well, states that even if a person is Deaf, he can understand what is said in writing.

He has proved that writing as a communication tool for the Deaf is valid for effective communication.

He also wanted to show that the Deaf are not necessarily stupid or incompetent, as well as communications between the Deaf and hearing persons are meaningful in writing for business.

Moreover, Takuan points out that educating the Deaf should be done with the use of visual clues including a character.