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MUSINGS / March 31, 2018

The Yomiuri Shimbun The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s March 31 issue.

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He was not simply an architectural scholar. Wajiro Kon, who was a professor at Waseda University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, spent his days wearing a jacket. This style is said to have stemmed from his field research on private houses.

According to an essay by Tatsuro Dekune, the research was a precursor of what is now called the “study of street observations,” which involves such activities as observing the clothes and belongings of people walking in towns and compiles statistics on where stamps were glued on letters. The Fujinkoron magazine published by Chuo Koronsha, Inc. (currently Chuokoron-Shinsha, Inc.) focused its attention on the fascination surrounding this type of study and provided an opportunity to present it.

This year’s shinsho paperback grand prize, which was organized by Chuokoron-Shinsha, has some connection to this kind of study. The prize went to “Batta wo Taoshini Afurika he” (Went to Africa to battle locusts), a Kobunsha Co.-published nonfiction book based on fieldwork.

The author of the book is Kotaro Ould Maeno, a 38-year-old doctor of entomology. He casts off his suits and doctor’s white coat and spent three years on fieldwork. “I want to help people by wiping out locusts, which eat up farm produce after an outbreak.” The book depicts the process leading to his discovery of the ecology of locusts, as well as Maeno’s hardships that made him poverty-stricken with no income at one point.

The Japanese word “posudoku” is derived from the term postdoctoral. It is often used when explaining the bleak employment situation for people with doctoral degrees. However, the book offers an energetic and vigorous story. His wholehearted devotion to fieldwork is a pleasure to read about. Speech

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