Japanese Architect Yamamoto Riken Receives Pritzker Architecture Prize

Japanese architect Yamamoto Riken has been awarded 2024’s prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, recognized as one of the highest accolades in the field. Born in Beijing, China, in 1945, to an engineer father (part of the occupying force) Yamamoto’s early years were shaped by the aftermath of the Asia Pacific War. His family relocated to a war-torn Tokyo in 1947, where he witnessed firsthand the rebuilding process, sparking his interest in the symbiotic relationship between architecture and community.

After completing his studies at Nihon University and Tokyo University of the Arts, Yamamoto established his architectural firm, Riken Yamamoto & Field Shop, in 1973.

Among his notable works are the Yokosuka Museum of Art, situated on Tokyo Bay, and the transparent Hiroshima Nishi Fire Station. These projects reflect Yamamoto’s characteristic use of open space. He employs extensive use of glass to make the insides of buildings more visible. His buildings can be seen all over the world.

橫須賀美術館, Yokosuka Museum of Art
Hiroshima Nishi Fire Station

To explore his work, see:



For more information about his Pritzker Prize win see



To explore more about Riken Yamamoto at the University of Illinois Library see:

Häfliger, Toni, and Thomas Volstorf, eds. Riken Yamamoto: How to Make a City. Luzern: Architekturgalerie Luzern, 2013.

Main Stacks: Q. 720.952 Y145ri

How to Make a City, was published to accompany an exhibition at the Architecture Gallery Lucerne. It is a selection of projects from the office Riken Yamamoto, including The Circle at Zurich Airport. “The book focuses on Yamamoto’s long-standing engagement with the concept of ‘city’ and the modern demands of urban life, given increasing population.” (book jacket)

Klauser, Wilhelm, and Riken Yamamoto. Riken Yamamoto. Basel ; Birkhäuser, 1999.

Architecture and Art Library: Q. 720.92 Y14k:E

Architectural critic Klauser Wilhelm closely examines Yamamoto’s architecture. “In his architecture, Yamamoto is trying to account for changes in society, such as the dissolution of the basic family unit or new education programs, by developing the appropriate ground plan concepts. This publication documents Yamamoto’s manner of working and the persistent optimization of his architectural program by presenting twelve of his buildings.” (book jacket)

Yamamoto Riken, Shisutemuzu sutorakuchua no ditēru. Tōkyō-to Shinjuku-ku: Shōkokusha, 2001.

Oak Street Library: Q. NA1559.Y36 A4 2001

Shisutemuzu sutorakuchua no ditēru or Details of System Structure, by Yamamoto Riken, explores his architecture. It is an oversized artbook with detailed photos of his architecture. 

Yamamoto, Riken. Riken Yamamoto = Yamamoto Riken no kenchiku. Tōkyō-to Minato-ku: TOTO Shuppan TOTO Kabushiki Kaisha, 2012.

Architecture and Art Library: 720.952 Y145r

Yamamoto Riken no Kenchiku, or The Architecture of Riken Yamamoto is a monograph authored by Riken Yamamoto, chronicling 34 years of architectural philosophy and his outlook on the future of the field. This book showcases 29 projects, including Yamakawa Villa in Nagano, Fujii House in Kanagawa, Yamamoto Mental Clinic in Okayama, and Saitama Prefectural University amongst others. Including sketches, blueprints, and photographs, it offers an exploration of Yamamoto’s past and present architectural endeavors.

Lib Guides

Japanese Architecture and Urbanism

Architecture History

Architecture: Basic Sources

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New E-Resources in the Japanese Studies Collection

The University of Illinois Library holds one of the largest and most referenced Japanese Studies collections in North America. Recently, our collection has grown even larger with the inclusion of many online academic resources from Japan or in the Japanese language. These valuable additions were made possible through several cross-institutional digital repositories. With the rapid growth of digitized and web-published materials, academic institutions worldwide are now collaborating to build digital libraries and share data. This collaboration enables libraries to increase accessibility to electronic resources more efficiently. Here are some noteworthy additions to our collection.

The ERDB-JP Project

The ERDB-JP project, established by the Council for Promoting Collaboration between University Libraries and the National Institute of Informatics, has included 211 partner institutions across Japan to date. The digital resources shared by partner institutions mainly consist of e-journals and e-books in the Japanese language or published by entities based in Japan. Currently, all the data registered in ERDB-JP are open to the public under the CC0 1.0 Universal license. This license allows users in Japan and abroad to search, browse, and download materials.

As of October 2023, the open knowledge base has over 44,000 registered titles, and the number continues to increase significantly. In addition to searching for resources on the ERDB-JP website, UIUC users can also access e-books and e-journals through the University Library’s online catalog. Many titles from ERDB-JP are now searchable in our catalog and can be accessed in full text by clicking on “Freely Accessible Japanese Titles.”


HathiTrust is a collaborative digital library that brings together an extensive collection of books, journals, and other materials from over seventy libraries and research institutions worldwide. It plays a vital role in facilitating research, education, and providing equitable access to knowledge, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. As a partner institution of HathiTrust, the University of Illinois Library has integrated titles from HathiTrust into our online catalog, allowing affiliated users to download full texts of resources in the Public Domain or with a Creative Commons license.

Keio University, as the sole participant from Japan, has made a valuable contribution to Japanese e-resources to the digital library. These titles, along with materials from other partner institutions, have significantly expanded UIUC’s digital Japanese collection.

In addition to accessing e-books and e-journals in Japanese through the University Library’s catalog, we also recommend users explore the shared collections within the HathiTrust corpus to find more resources related to their research interests. HathiTrust allows users to organize, save, and share titles from its repertoire. To do this, UIUC users can click on the “Log in” button at the top right and select our institution. After logging in, you can access all Shared Collections by selecting “My Collections” from the top-right drop-down menu. Various Japan-related collections have already been created, including “Newspaper articles about Japanese Americans during and after WW2,” “Japanese Literature,” “The Spirit of Missions,” “Azuchi-Momoyama,” “Books in English on Japan, 1815-1945,” and more.

If you want to explore more useful functions of HathiTrust, the UIUC HathiTrust LibGuide will provide the best reference for you.


KinoDen, short for Kinokuniya Shoten gakujutsu denshi toshoka (“Kinokuniya digital library”), is an e-book service that provides access to academic Japanese books. A direct link can be found by searching “KinoDen” in the University Library’s catalog. By clicking “view full text,” users will be redirected to KinoDen’s main page where they can search for books using the toolbar.

The University Library has purchased part of KinoDen’s collection, which can be viewed in full text. For titles that are not available for UIUC users (labeled as 未所蔵), we can still access the bibliographic metadata and free samples. In addition to using the KinoDen database, users can also find purchased titles in the University Library’s catalog.

More detailed instruction on how to use KinoDen is now available in the LibGuide Using KinoDen, created by the International and Area Studies Library.

Japan Knowledge Lib

JapanKnowledge Lib is a diverse digital collection of encyclopedias, dictionaries, journals, and reference works. These resources are now searchable and accessible in full text through the University Library’s catalog. UIUC users also have the option to log in to the JapanKnowledge website to cross-search contents in the database.

Have more questions about how to use JapanKnowledge? The International and Area Studies Library has published the How to Use JapanKnowledge+ LibGuide, which provides instructions for searching and a comprehensive content list!

Meiji Japan: The Edward Sylvester Morse Collection from the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum

Last but not least, the library has an expanding collection of Japanese e-archives. Here, we would like to highlight “Meiji Japan,” a collection that encompasses Edward Sylvester Morse’s contributions to zoology, ethnology, archaeology, and Japanese art, as well as detailed records of daily life in late 19th-century Japan.

A screenshot of the Meiji Japan database

Edward Sylvester Morse (1838-1925) was an established scholar in natural history and Japanology. In the 1870s and 80s, he made multiple visits to Japan and extensively documented the lives of the Japanese people. His work captured a crucial period in Japanese history, just before Western civilization brought significant changes to the country. In 1926, 99 boxes of his personal and professional papers were donated to the Peabody Essex Museum and have since become one of North America’s most notable archives in Japanese studies.

In recent years, the Peabody Essex Museum has digitized Morse’s papers and created the online database “Meiji Japan: The Edward Sylvester Morse Collection from the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.” UIUC Users can access the database through the University Library’s website and search for individual items in the library catalog.

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Chinese Characters as Ancient “Emoji”

Studying a foreign language is not an easy task. This is especially the case when you try to learn a language of the country or region whose culture has little in common with your own. For foreign learners of Japanese, for example, a massive number of originally Chinese characters are one of the biggest challenges in developing Japanese language skills. But don’t be discouraged! Emoji (pictographs), which many of us in the modern world may find familiar, help us get a sense of what Chinese characters are and how they function.

In this age of high digital technology, many of us have seen and used various kinds of emoticons and emoji in textual communications in digital social spaces such as Facebook, Twitter, Line, etc. as a way to communicate with friends and loved ones. In daily text communications, few of us would consciously distinguish emoticons from emoji, and many seem to use the two terms in an interchangeable way. But are emoticons and emoji really the same?

According to a newspaper article in the Guardian, emoticons and emoji do not necessarily share identical attributes. Emoticons, an abbreviation of “emotion icons,” are “typographic display[s] of a facial representation, used to convey emotion in a text-only medium,” according to the article, Interestingly, emoticons are not a new invention in this digital age, and many types of emoticons have been invented throughout human history. The origins of digital emoticons reportedly lie in the “smiley faces” that computer scientist Scott Fahlman used in 1982 as markers to distinguish either jokes or serious statements online: :-), :-(.

Meanwhile, emoji were an invention of NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese communications firm, in the late 1990s. The term emoji is composed of two Japanese words, e and moji, which literally translates as “picture letter.” As the term clearly shows, emoji are pictorial representations of concepts and objects.

DoCoMo Emoji

Original pictographs created by NTT DoCoMo in the late 1990s

In addition, unlike emoticons, which exist in an environment where only basic text is available, emoji actually use digitized images. Thus, emoji are treated as non-Western letters and it is possible that some may not be shown or presented properly in a different form; this all depends on the settings and capabilities of your computer, cell phone, or tablet.

MAC Emoji

These emoji are currently available to Mac OS X users

The distinctive nature of emoji – pictorial representations of objects and concepts – helps us approach some Chinese characters that were created in a pictographic way based on objects’ shapes. The oldest Chinese characters were invented in China around 3,500 years ago, and it is said that by around 1000 BC some 3,000 kinds of Chinese characters had been created and used regularly. The primary purpose for using these Chinese characters was to record activities of fortune telling on turtles’ shells and cows’ bones. Significantly, some basic Chinese characters that were adapted into the Japanese language were created in a pictographic way just as in the case of emoji. For instance, 日(hi), which in Japanese means “sun,” is a pictorial representation of a shining sun; 木 (ki), which means “tree,” is a pictograph of the same; 山 (yama), which means “mountain,” represents a series of mountaintops; 人 (hito), which means “person,” originates in the shape of a human being as seen from the side; 鳥 (tori), which means “bird,” is a pictorial representation of a bird as seen from the side; and 月 (tsuki), which means “moon,” is a pictograph of a crescent (see the figure below). In other words, many fundamental Chinese characters are the emoji that ancient Chinese people invented and used. These concepts were then borrowed by the nearby Japanese, who adapted them to their own language, despite the many differences between the Japanese and Chinese languages in their spoken forms and written grammar.


Image: Nihon Bunka Kenkyūkai

Again, the large number of Chinese characters necessary in the process of studying Japanese might make you feel overwhelmed and even intimidated unless you are familiar with the written language system of Chinese. But looking at how some basic Chinese characters were originally invented and developed teaches us that those Chinese characters were often not created arbitrarily. Rather, they clearly show the ways in which ancient Chinese people created their own “emoji” for the purpose of keeping important records. The act of tracing the origins of Chinese characters and seeing them through the lens of emoji might help us understand what Chinese and Japanese characters are and consequently make them more accessible to foreign learners studying either of these two important world languages.

For more on this topic, check out the following articles as well as print titles from the University of Illinois Library and its affiliates:

“Don’t know the difference between emoji and emoticons? Let me explain,” The Guardian, February 6, 2015.

Satomi Sugiyama, “Kawaii meiru and Maroyaka neko: Mobile emoji for relationship maintenance and aesthetic expressions among Japanese teens,” First Monday 20, no. 10 (2015).

“Emoji,” Japan Reference, November 15, 2011.

Edoardo Fazzioli, Chinese Calligraphy: From Pictograph to Ideogram: The History of 214 Essential Chinese/Japanese Characters (New York: Abbeville Press, 1987). (Located in the Undergrad Library)

Michael Rowley, Kanji Pict-o-graphix: Over 1,000 Japanese Kanji and Kana Mnemonics (Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 1992).

Hiromi Nagashima, The Kanji (Chinese Characters) as an Image-based (Pictographic and Ideographic) System of Communication (Ph.D. dissertation, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, 2000).

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“Black Flag Boricuas: Anarchism, Antiauthoritarianism, and the Left in Puerto Rico, 1897 – 1921”


“The black flag of anarchism . . . expresses one’s solidarity with those most abused by the state, by capital, and by religion. . . . ‘Boricua’ . . . [is] more about a collective identity of resistance – in short, a distinct form of antiauthoritarianism rooted in the island people’s collective nationality against colonialism” (Shaffer, 15 &17). “Black Flag Boricuas”

When people think of anarchism, the most common generalizations consist of youth destroying private property, disregard for authority, and a world burning in chaos. Yet, in spite of these misunderstandings, the general public forgets that anarchism stemmed from the struggles of marginalized communities throughout the world.  In “Black Flag Boricuas: Anarchism, Antiauthoritarianism, and the Left in Puerto Rico, 1897 – 1921,” by Kirwin R. Shaffer, the author explores the role of anarchism in the Caribbean and its interrelationship with other Puerto Ricans and other activist groups in Cuba, Florida, and New York. This book also serves to unite readers under a black flag that evokes the humanity of people affected by authoritarian forms of government.

Spanish colonialism, U.S. invasion, poor living conditions and low wages are some of the ingredients that led to the dissemination of radical consciousness and change in Puerto Rico. Anarchist thought was facilitated by the arrival of Spanish migrant workers to the island in the late 19th century. Their message resonated with the tobacco industries of Caguas, Bayamon, and San Juan, Puerto Rico which had “most of the leading anarchist writers and activists” (Shaffer, 3). Places like Havana, Tampa, and New York were also known tobacco cities; destinations that provided Puerto Rican migrants with more opportunities for income and for networking and mobilizing with fellow comrades. In order to build solidarity with and learn from transnational anarchists, anarchists in the island began to publish newspapers and write articles for American and Cuban periodicals “which helped to internationalize the movement wherever they went and to discuss international topics” (Shaffer, 5). These are just a few of the examples of dissidence that represent Puerto Ricans’ struggle for autonomy from foreign and domestic exploitation and social injustice.

“Black Flag Boricuas” provides a breadth of information and is a good introduction to the history of anarchism in the late 19th and early 20th century Puerto Rico.

If you are interested in learning more about anarchism around the world, you can check out “Zen Anarchism: The Egalitarian Dharma of Uchiyama Gudo” from the International and Area Studies Library. It is a collection of translated essays by a Zen Buddhist priest and anarcho-socialist activist that provide an interesting insight into Buddhist history in Japan.

Also, the main library has a book titled “Anarchism & The Mexican Working Class, 1860 – 1931” which looks at the impact of anarchism on the Mexican working class. Moreover, the main library has a collection of English periodicals, “Anarchy,” that focus on issues of unemployment, racism, gender discrimination, poverty, militarization, and other related issues within Europe and beyond. For something less broad, you might also be interested in learning about anarcho-feminism from “Anarcho-Feminism: From Siren and Black Rose, Two Statements.”

Finally, another recommended book which you can check out through I-Share is “Eyes to the South: French Anarchists and Algeria,” about Algerian and French anarchists during the Algerian revolution. Furthermore, check out one of our oldest bibliographies on this subject “Bibliographie de l’anarchie” by Max Nettalu.

Happy Reading & Power to the Reader.

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The Doujin Culture and the Pheromone of User Generated Content

Doujin (sometimes spelled dojin), is a phrase of Japanese invention, referring to groups of people with a specific interest. Although it began as literary societies in the Meiji era (1868-1912), modern doujin groups (often translated as Circle in English) refer to those that produce self-published works, which doujin has become an abbreviation for the created works. Such creations can include doujinshi (magazines, comics, or books), doujin soft (software, often games), or even doujin music.

The line into Comiket 77, December 2009.

What’s interesting about the doujin market is that it exists on the grounds of unauthorized exceptions – large majority of doujin works infringes on copyrights. As demand for doujin creations continues to grow exponentially (see What is Comic Market from the official page of Comiket), there is virtually no one pursuing damages for misappropriation or unauthorized usage in Japan.

So, why is that?

As outlined in Lawrence Lessig’s book, Free Culture, it is not an unbelievable situation. The idea of content borrowing, creating a transformed derivative work feels acceptable. And, well, there’s the problem of the lack of resources to prosecute all these infringing creators.

Although many of us may not interact with creations associated with doujin groups, we can relate on another front: User-Generated Contents.

How often have you reached a Youtube video without music (or even completely removed) because of DMCA take downs? Now, the follow-up question is: how often are those new creations through remix, only found on the web? I’m guessing you have at least one or two

Screen shot of the popular Japanese video streaming site Nico Nico Douga playing a video.

in mind. For me, this mashup comes to mind; keep in mind that this creation both came from and still exists on Nico Nico Douga, the leading video streaming site in Japan.

But, there are a variety of reasons why people aren’t flocking to Nico Nico to watch videos that were taken down. There’s the idea of platform familiarity or having an extra account means more privacy concerns. The greatest influence, arguably, is that it’s not hard to imagine an infringing video being put up, time after time, attempting to fly under the radar (a practice many of us are familiar with).

Delving deeper into the remix, user generated, doujin phenomenon just gives more headaches, however. Inherently, this is a multivariate problem intersecting law, culture, internationalization, and digitization. But this copy-remix culture will continue to grow, on a widespread scale, and it will bash against legislation and litigation; it is a part of globalization, a part of connectivity.

Of course, that is not to say that we will always keep policies that doujin or user-generated creations, but it will be a long time before we’re legally used to them.

Note: I highly discourage searching for reference information regarding doujins on popular search engines as the majority of the information yielded will be pornographic. The English word doujin is colloquially used to describe drawn pornography by doujin groups. The best way to finding information regarding the culture is by searching scholarly articles or tracking relevant citations.

Related Resources:

The Anime and Manga Research Circle is a good resource to other scholars about the doujin culture.

There exist some best practices regarding fair use for user-generated content worth reading up on for these services (supported by major corporations) and video creation . There are also many resources within our library on User-Generated Content.

The Doujinshi & Manga Lexicon is a fan maintained database of modern doujinshi produced (entries includes both pornographic and non-pornographic doujinshi).

It may also be useful to read about remix and its culture. For example Remix Theory is a good place to find some focused research on remixes. Searching for remix on the University Library catelogue also yields many resources, such as examples of remix, how to create remixes, as well as analysis of remix theories and culture.

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