Introduction: On Martial Arts Studies in Japan: A Provocation
Waseda University, JP
Michael Molasky is Professor of Asian Cultural Studies in the School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University (Tokyo). For the past dozen years, he has written primarily in Japanese and has published books about Japanese and Okinawan literature, the representation of jazz music in postwar Japanese culture, the social space of Japanese pubs (izakaya), and has published over one-hundred essays in Japanese newspapers and magazines. He is currently writing a book on the history of jazz piano.
This essay discusses the background of this current issue of Martial Arts Studies, followed by an overview and critique of the current state of Japanese-language research on martial arts. My critique is intended as a provocation and does not purport to be a balanced, dispassionate survey of the field. I argue that while much of the research published in Japanese is of the highest quality, the nation’s research on the martial arts has developed largely in isolation and, as a result, is exceedingly narrow in scope. After considering the reasons for this situation, I offer some thoughts about productive areas for future development.