"Today's Modern Spirits"
The first time the woman later known to the world as micapon17 revealed her rare gift, she was only two years and ten months old. The day is also worthy of commemoration as the very first day she even held a camera. At the time, digital cameras had not come into widespread use, nor for that matter had cellphones, let alone cellphones with built-in cameras. What her parents handed her, just for the fun of it, was a thirty-six-exposure disposable camera. And since it was a film camera, the first time her parents came into contact with their daughter's frightening talent was exactly one week later, after they picked up the developed film and prints from the photo developer.
It was her father who showed up at the counter to pick them up. He noticed the developer was acting strangely as he rang up the purchase. The man seemed about to say something over and over again, biting his tongue each time. [End Page 102]
"Is anything wrong?" her father asked. The developer abruptly pressed his fingers down on the paper bag that her father had started to slide toward himself, stopping its progress across the counter, but just as soon made an aaagh sound and sprang back with his whole body. Something's not quite right with this fellow, her father thought. But these slightly-off people are to be found everywhere. Even people who panic at the thought of having to talk to others and people who can't help but act suspiciously have to leave their houses and work somewhere. Her father decided that in these situations the best thing for both parties was not to get drawn in. He picked up the paper bag as though nothing had happened, and swiftly turned around and walked out. It was only after he arrived home that he realized the developer hadn't been a weirdo after all. Her father understood exactly what the man had wanted to say. And why the man hadn't quite found a way to put it into words.
Her father himself had no words for it. Nor did her mother. Her mother was holding micapon17. micapon17 stretched out her arms and furiously tried to grab at the photos that her father was holding. Her mother adjusted her grip on micapon17 over and over again to keep her at a distance from the photos, even while she herself couldn't stop staring at them. micapon17 ended up in tears. "Those Mika's!" she said as she sobbed convulsively.
"They are not Mika's . . . they are not Mika's!" her mother, alarmed, shouted at her.
This was a lie. Of course, these were photos that micapon17 had taken, two of the thirty-six exposures. The disposable camera was one that the family of three had used when they took a trip to a nature park that was somewhat far from their home; the other thirty-four exposures had been snapped by either her mother or her father. These photos showed micapon17 in the hat her parents had put on her, micapon17 slurping on a strawberry from her lunch box, micapon17 running across the grass, micapon17 in high spirits on her father's lap extending her hands skyward, micapon17 running away from the camera and her mother bent over chasing her . . . to us, at first, they were without any particular value, the documentation of a family ordinary in every way. And yet, today, it is impossible for us to apprehend the figure of the girl in these thirty-four exposures—a girl who seems to hold no particular charm other than that of being a little girl—without being overcome by deep emotions. After all, this is where it all started.
The negatives of the photos taken that day, including the truly important two, have made their way through certain avenues to those of us who would preserve them. As a precaution against the degradations of time, we have digitized them and even have a solid backup system in place. Considering the fact that on that day her father crumpled up those two prints and buried them in the kitchen garbage, it is nothing short of a miracle that over twenty years later the images have seen the light of day again. But, of course, people who have so little interest in photography and cameras that they won't even buy a relatively [End Page 103] inexpensive compact camera, let alone a single-lens reflex camera, wouldn't have the foresight to find the two offending negatives on the strip, cut them out, and throw them away. The parents of micapon17 placed the thirty-four prints of their beloved daughter into one of the simple albums that photo developers give away for free (the kind that aren't designed for long-term storage, due to the fact that the clear film that constitutes the pocket into which one slides the photos wrinkles at the slightest hint of moisture), and filed the negatives away in an empty candy box with the rest of their negatives, still in the developer's paper envelope. We are grateful for the general ignorance of the parents of micapon17.
Now, as for the two photos in question, the two photos that are the stuff of legend to us. At the age of two years and ten months, micapon17 was unable to look through the finder properly; she simply pressed the camera to the middle of her forehead and pressed the shutter with her chubby little fingers. One of the photos is a portrait shot of her parents' smiling faces taken from a low angle, and the other is of a butterfly she was chasing—captured with the fixed-focus lens of a disposable camera, the butterfly resembles nothing so much as a blob in mid-air. The frame would probably be filled with mostly sky, had it been anyone other than micapon17 who took the photo.
The first photo is a grainy composition, and the parents' faces and torsos are backlit and extremely dark; they don't resemble humans so much as sand sculptures. The figure that isn't an actual human being is behind them. As though it were timed, it fills up the space between the heads of the two parents in which the sky would otherwise be seen. There, appearing to glance our way as it sails through the air, is the severed head of a middle-aged man, hemorrhaging from its nostrils, the left eye dangling from its eye socket, magnificently captured looking directly into the camera. The head is front-lit, so it stands out much more clearly than do the figures of the alive-and-well parents.
The other photo, as we have previously stated, is of the sky and a butterfly. The sky fills the frame, and the butterfly, just about at the center of the shot, looks for all the world like a speck of dirt that has landed on the print and that one could conceivably just brush away. In the lower right-hand corner, the top of the straw hat her mother was wearing makes a blurry appearance. In this photo, the not-really-human figure has entered the frame at a diagonal from the upper left-hand corner. This one is a woman with long hair, falling our way from the sky head first. Her entire body is in the shot, and here again the figure is captured looking directly at the camera and in perfect focus. The rich details of the depiction are, in a word, splendid: the detail in her black, tangled hair, the puffy blue circles under her eyes, the fingertips from which the nails have been torn off.
In these two juvenilia, all of the hallmarks of micapon17's artistic style are already in place. To be sure, even today, as an adult, as a mother of two, micapon17 does not [End Page 104] demonstrate what we would call a mastery of the craft of photography in any conventional sense of the term. The subjects of her photos are often blurry in a way that she didn't intend, and she pays scant attention to lighting. Despite this, the other-than-humans, although part of the same shot, are always photographed exquisitely—so distinctly, in fact, that it is as though a completely different shutter speed and a completely different lighting source were used on them alone.
Well. We should stop dancing around the issue and cut to the chase. Everything under the sun needs a name, and that name should be something that people feel is familiar, one that arouses their interest. And so: micapon17 is the single most fascinating—and only—spirit photographer in the world. In every single photo she takes, at least one spirit inevitably appears. Inevitably. We have been known to point to the multiple subjects in one of her photos and joke among ourselves that we can't tell which of them is the spirit, but this is just another way of praising the photographic techniques of micapon17.
We don't wish to be misunderstood, so we should state for the record at this point that we are not necessarily acknowledging the existence of spirits. We are not a group that was originally brought together out of a shared love of spirits. What connected us was photography. For those who love photography, what is needed is flesh. Ghosts that may or may not exist aren't exactly proper subjects for photography. Now, dead bodies, on the other hand, are just fine—they reflect light properly. We have no interest in discussing here logic or common sense or social propriety. Yes, these days it is considered taboo to indiscriminately photograph dead bodies, but once upon a time photography and death were intimately related. The reason for this is simple. The daguerreotype, a photographic technology invented in the nineteenth century and the first in the world to be put to practical use, unlike the cameras we use today, required a long exposure time. Naturally, corpses, able to remain perfectly motionless for long periods of time, were a perfect fit for the new technology. In fact, in certain parts of America and Europe, when a beloved family member passed away, before burying him, they would take a photo of his earthly remains, place the photo in an expensive glass case, and keep it where they could see it.
We can divide this kind of photo into two main groups: photos in which the deceased is photographed alone, and photos in which the deceased is photographed together with the living. If you only see a photo in the former category, you may not even realize that the subject is dead; you may be tempted to chalk up any incongruousness to the creepiness of old photos in general. If you see one of the latter, however, the difference between the dead and the living is patently obvious. To wit, while the dead, no longer breathing or moving, is recorded with great fidelity, in serene harmony with the furniture and personal effects around him, the living, forced to endure the long exposure time, are blurry. Indeed, [End Page 105] the living appear as complete outsiders intruding on a realm of perfection. We can get some sense from this of how intimate an association with death photography had at the dawn of the technology.
Nearly two hundred years have passed since then. If we were to study the history of photography, it might become clear when and where around the world the notion of spirit photography originated, how it caught on and circulated, and how it evolved to become what it is today. And we might suss out what individuals and society have sought out in spirit photography. That said, we are not specialists; we are nothing more than a gathering of interested parties. We will leave it to future scholars to determine the true significance of both our efforts and the various works of micapon17. For now, we simply want to explain the rationale our amateur society has used in labeling micapon17's work as "spirit photography."
We do not have the slightest interest in spirits. Each of us has taken tens of thousands of photographs, and no one has ever come rushing back to the group with news of successfully capturing a spirit on film; we hope it continues this way for the foreseeable future. The reason that, despite all this, we call micapon17 a spirit photographer—and the reason that we strive to defend her work—is that her photographs recall for us the all-but-forgotten relationship between photography and the dead. An investigation has made clear that neither of the figures that can be seen in her two earliest works—the man's decapitated head with the eyeball dangling from it, the woman plummeting to earth head first from the stratosphere—were observed by anyone in the park at the time the photos were taken. From their appearances and physical circumstances, one could not possibly mistake them for ordinary human beings. At this point, the word "spirits" would seem to apply to them. To repeat what we stated earlier, however, this is not to imply that we are acknowledging the existence of spirits. We are using the word "spirits" to indicate those subjects that appear in the photographic works of micapon17 that did not exist in the sense of having been in a form that would have been visible to us at the time the photo was taken. Furthermore, these "spirits" are always badly physically injured, or have the appearance of being human even while appearing at angles not in accordance with the laws of natural science; they thus correspond to the general image of spirits that circulates in the world. For this reason, we have designated micapon17's work as "spirit photography."
But parsing terminology isn't going to convey a sense of what draws us to micapon17's photography, let alone give you a sense of the charm of her oeuvre. What we regard as most important, what strike us to the quick more than anything else, are the formal similarities between the aforementioned daguerreotype portraits of the dead and micapon17's snapshots. Yes, without knowing anything of the history of photography, [End Page 106] micapon17 has been destined to be the inheritor of that most distinctive characteristic of images taken at the dawn of the photographic era: the quaking of living subjects, and the fixity of the dead. We find this very thrilling indeed.
We would like you to think about the photos of spirits that are the subject of so much speculation these days on television and in books on the occult, or on the Internet. Every one of the spirits that have supposedly been caught on film, every last one of them, is blurred, yes? Even those things dreadful for how clearly they have been photographed—are they ever more distinct than living humans? More to the point, have they ever been laid bare more clearly than they are in the photos micapon17 spends her days taking? Compared to the vividness of life, death is an enigma, beyond our grasp. And yet, once it is captured on film, death becomes the more brightly reflected part, and life nothing more than the long shadow that death casts upon the earth. For us, in thrall to the development of photographic technology, micapon17 is bravely charging directly toward the very essence of photography.
It is regretful in the extreme that micapon17's parents did not grasp the value of their daughter's particular genius. After that first incident, photography became anathema to the family. Every time they were handed a photo of their daughter at nursery school, every time they were asked to smile for someone who wanted to take a shot of them as a family, her parents were beside themselves with dread. Obviously, none of these were photos that micapon17 herself had taken; they were nothing more than the interminably boring photographs that amateurs everywhere take. Her parents breathed a sigh of relief every time they saw there was nothing amiss with the photographs, but until the birth of micapon17's younger brother two years later, a disposable camera didn't cross the threshold of their home.
micapon17 at last got her hands on a camera again after a gap of two years, but her native talents had not diminished in the interval. micapon17 took a photo of her mother nursing her newborn brother, and the lower half of a body of a female spirit, visibly sliced off at the waist, standing motionless next to them. (This negative, too, has come into our safekeeping through, you will understand, certain connections.) This time, her parents banned cameras from the house once and for all. The documenting of the young micapon17 and her brother was entrusted in toto to sources extrafamilial: the grandparents who knew nothing of the situation, various friends in the area who were connected to the family in one way or another, preschool, elementary school.
micapon17's first encounter with cameras beyond the watchful eyes of her parents happened during junior high school. The incident happened in the spring of her second year there. Pursuant to her participation in a certain school event, micapon17, together with a group of her friends, purchased a disposable camera with their allowance money [End Page 107] and merrily blitzed around taking photos.
When micapon17 went to pick up the developed negatives and prints, she had the same feeling that something was off that her father had felt so long ago. Nevertheless, she paid it no attention and brought the photos home to her room, where she examined them one by one. She even made a list in a notebook as to how many copies she would need of each photo, and to whom she intended to give them. The shocking truth about micapon17 becomes clear from this: for whatever reason, micapon17 is not able to discern those-that-are-not-human when they appear in the photos she herself takes.
The following day, she arrived at school with grand expectations, photos in hand, and gathered her friends around her desk. It isn't hard to imagine what happened next. In an instant, the air was rife with screaming, and the room was full of the curled-up sobbing that is the domain of susceptible junior-high-school girls everywhere, a few of them even vomiting. Even the boys, who swooped in from all directions in sheer delight at this break from their everyday tedium, let up a howl and went wobbly, and among the faculty who came running to the scene, there were those who would subsequently miss work from an onset of depression. And how did micapon17 respond, caught in the midst of this raging pandemonium? We cannot help but here express our profound admiration for her survival instincts. For micapon17 summoned the will to burst into tears, to scream for someone to help her, to collapse out of her chair, and to clutch at the girls closest at hand and sob together with them, just as her classmates and teachers were doing all around her in all directions.
Of everyone crying and screaming, micapon17 alone had no idea what the cause was. She alone cried and screamed without any knowledge of why she was crying and screaming. She had no time to think. She simply gave herself over to the panic that erupted in the moment. But she managed to protect herself as a result of that decision. To add to her good fortune, one teacher gathered all of the photos together, snatched up the negatives, and flung the entire wad into the school's incinerator; when members of the panicking throng were later questioned one by one about what the cause of the scene had been, there was no photographic evidence remaining. Moreover, because what was pictured in the photographs crossed all boundaries of what are commonly thought of as "photos of ghosts" and was simply impossible to believe in general, nearly all of them clammed up, and were able to convey nothing further than a murky "Something about the photos was just totally scary." Among those testifying to this effect? micapon17. Now, micapon17 didn't harbor any suspicions about her own culpability. One does not need a reason to be afraid. Fear is nothing more than a feeling, and micapon17 believed only in the fear that she had felt at the time. Everyone else had been scared by the photographs, so micapon17 had also been scared. That was all—nothing less, nothing more. A number of those present gave more concrete statements, but their interrogators did not take their [End Page 108] testimony seriously, and those making such claims were considered to have suffered from a more extreme level of panic than the rest. The case was summarily written off as a textbook example of mass hysteria.
We consider it a tragedy that those thirty-six irreplaceable negatives of photos taken by micapon17 were forever lost to us, for the simple reason that those photos were the very last that micapon17 would ever shoot on conventional film.
After this incident, micapon17 kept her distance from photography. The classmates of micapon17 did the same. Because micapon17 proceeded together with most of her junior-high classmates to the high school designated for their area, the school faced an abrupt influx of delicate boys and girls who despised photographs. This kind of sensitivity circulates rather easily among adolescent girls. The school was swamped by a flash flood of girls with a neurotic loathing of photographs and cameras; it seemed as though sensitivity itself was all the rage. Thanks to this, the high school was spared any disturbances. That said, at that point in history, it came to pass that girls no longer saw any use for film cameras. This, of course, was owing to the explosive spread of those magical machines perfectly designed to allow one to check one's appearance and be completely satisfied with the composition of the shot before it is taken—the group photo booths that go by the name Print Club. According to our investigations, micapon17 appears to have enjoyed as much as any other high-school girl the pleasures of Print Club, on a good number of occasions. To be precise, she seems to have enjoyed it all the more for having removed herself from contact with ordinary cameras. No particular incident seems to have emerged from these outings, despite the fact that Print Club lends itself to group photos, and that the entire point of it is to exchange photos among one's group of friends. From this, it is clear that the Print Club photos of micapon17 did not become Spirit Club photos. It beggars belief that micapon17 would never once have been the one to push the button that takes the photo. But, after one pushes the button on a Print Club machine, a countdown starts, and in the end it is the machine itself that presses the shutter button. Perhaps it was owing to that process that Print Club did not meet the necessary conditions for micapon17 photography and the spirits did not emerge.
We certainly do not mean to dismiss the Print Club experiences of micapon17 as unworthy of our attention. On the contrary, this was a crucial turning point in the formation of the artist we know as micapon17.
During the time that micapon17 was in college, cellphones with built-in cameras became widespread, and the price of digital cameras dropped to the point that they became ordinary mass merchandise. micapon17, as before, was not very interested in touching a camera, but occasionally consented to being photographed with her friends.
The real watershed came when her college years came to an end, and she took a job [End Page 109] in an area quite distant from where she grew up. Living far from her family and friends, micapon17 started a blog to distract her from her loneliness. At first, it was wall-to-wall text, but then she had the idea of posting photos taken with her cellphone to accompany the text. Her user name was micapon17. Thus was born the great spirit photographer.
The first photos micapon17 uploaded to her blog were, for the most part, of meals she had made herself or things she had ordered in restaurants, flowers she passed by, the complexion of the sky. They were small, low-resolution photos, but the spirits were clearly captured by them. They even appeared in the photos that were close-ups on food—not in their entirety, of course, but as bluish severed fingers or hands here, as half a face trying to writhe its way into the shot there. It started out as a blog with an extremely small readership, but it didn't take long to go viral. The comments section filled with abusive criticism of micapon17. micapon17 didn't understand what was happening. –You need to stop it with the weird photoshopping. –This is in poor taste. –Looks like you're cursed, bitch! –Reporting this. Why was she getting all of these comments? The day after we became aware of the commotion, micapon17 shut down her blog.
We successfully obtained all of the data from the blog and analyzed it; we determined that micapon17 had not done anything to alter the images, and thus realized their real value. We prayed fervently that micapon17 would appear again on the Internet. Six years later, micapon17 answered those prayers. She had gotten married, and was pregnant with her first child. What she had started was another blog to record the clothes she wore each day. The title of the blog was "What Micapon Is Wearing Today." Her profile read:
User name: micapon17
Just because I'm a mom doesn't mean I don't want to be fashionable. My hubby doesn't need to know about this blog. Women need to have some secrets, don't you think?
micapon17 took full-body shots of herself in the full-length mirror at home or in the large mirrors in train station and department store bathrooms using her cellphone and uploaded these to her blog. Of course, behind her, and sometimes in front of her, one or more spirits were always lurking. The spirits had various expressions on their faces, everything from smiles to deep-seated resentfulness, but they were nearly always turned toward the camera, clearly aware that they were being photographed. A dreary shadow always fell across the figure of micapon17, who occupied the center of the frame, and each photograph as a whole was slightly blurry to the point that even an amateur photographer would have been embarrassed by it, but the spirits were beautiful. The very cross-sections of sliced blood vessels peeping out of a gaping wound were clear as day.
To our dismay, this blog, as well, lit up pretty quickly. We had no way of stopping [End Page 110] it, and stood at risk of losing micapon17 again. Without any means of succor, we simply stared at our computer screens, blankfaced.
Thankfully, however, micapon17 had steeled her nerves in the interim. She deleted the blog, but shortly thereafter created another one. The title and her user name were exactly the same. We were overjoyed. We saluted the determination of micapon17 to show her fashion sense to the world no matter the consequences. But we could no longer stand idly by. No matter where micapon17 started up a blog, she was sure to be set upon by her critics. We needed to create an environment in which we could protect micapon17 from those who did not understand art, and in which she would feel safe continuing her photographic activities and posting her work publicly. It was at this time that social media sites started to come into widespread usage. We, too, in order to better communicate with our fellows around the world, had already organized our own private social network. This network aimed to support micapon17.
First, we deployed "blogger friends" to the vicinity of micapon17's blog. The blogger friends were women who had blogs of the same nature as micapon17, who had become friends with her online through commenting on one another's posts. These embedded women were able to launch a fusillade of messages the moment micapon17's blog began to amass views, all of them saying the same kinds of things under their various names: Yikes, kind of scary with all these strange people here. This is why lately everyone has been moving toward social media. Micapon, we should create a closed group!
In this way, we succeeded in guiding micapon17 in our direction. Now, micapon17 works diligently under our auspices, creating spirit photos on a daily basis. After the birth of her first child, in addition to "What Micapon Is Wearing Today" entries, she also began to post photos of her little one scrabbling around. It's hard to get good shots of a baby in perpetual motion, even for experienced photographers. For someone of micapon17's modest abilities, it is even harder. Her child, its chin glistening with drool, shaking some toy at us, together with a spirit (an axe slammed into the crown of its skull), its own chin glistening with blood, reaching its hand out toward us. The child, attempting to crawl off with micapon17's cellphone, a freshly severed head rolling into its path, detached arms and legs all around it. micapon17, taking a photo of herself for "What Micapon Is Wearing Today," and her child clinging to her calf, and, crouched over the child's tiny shoulders, a cadaverous old hag flashing a nasty smile. Photographs such as these in particular overjoy us, painting as they do such a clear contrast between life and death. They plumb the meaning of life with their profound questions, and compel us to be silent in the face of them. [End Page 111]
The notion of photography as a marker of death has always existed, from the early days of photography down to the present. Corey Creekmur (1996, 75) has suggested that perhaps photography of the dead came to an end because "their testifying to the death of their subjects was too brutally convincing": "Photographs of the living, preserved and viewed after their deaths by survivors, are more easily accepted as evidence of animate life (through their recognizable gestures or expressions), and therefore potential hedges against reality's continual demonstration of the lost loved one's absence." Even so, Creekmur (1996, 75) sees the modern consumption of photos as continuing the mediumistic role of the early "spirit photography" referenced in the story's title, "bridging reality and fantasy, the living and the dead, and history and fiction." For Susan Sontag (1977, 15), a photograph is always a memento mori, capturing a moment in time that has already passed by the time the image is viewed: "To take a photograph is to participate in another person's (or thing's) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time's relentless melt."
As noted in the story, in early long-exposure photography, what was captured was not a single moment, as Sontag would have it, but rather an accumulation of moments, such that the dead were shown in pristine condition while the (literally) quick around them were blurred. Fujino approaches the concept from a different angle in her story "The Trials of the Hyperrealist Pointillists" (Haipāriarizumu tenbyō gaha no chōsen, in Fujino 2017). The painters of the near future are attempting to paint something that resembles photography, in the manner of Chuck Close and other Photorealist painters of our own time. In that story, however, the painters spend their entire lives working on a single painting, dying while it is still in progress, bringing to the fore the question of what it means to spend an extended period of time attempting to fabricate a supposedly "realistic" depiction of that single moment. Only the dead offer clarity, Fujino seems to suggest, while the living cannot help but muddy the waters.
In "Today's Modern Spirits," the protagonist's simple attempts to record her family's private moments are overlaid with records of deaths—we do not know whether these happened in the same space at some point in the past or future, or whether they happened at all. Is it a commentary on the social violence of modernity that resulted in micapon17's isolation from family and friends? For Sontag (1977, 9), the rise of photography is not unrelated to the rise of the nuclear family: "Those ghostly traces, photographs, supply the token presence of the dispersed relatives. A family's photograph album is generally about the extended family—and, often, is all that remains of it." Or could it be a commentary on the hubris of our modern belief that it is possible to preserve a moment by photographing it? Like humans, photographic technologies, too—film cameras, "Print Club" photo [End Page 112] booths, cellphone cameras, blogs—change and die over the timeframe of the story. The supposed permanence of photography is shown to be anything but. The spate of images of the triple disaster that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, showing family photographs scattered across the wreckage of port towns hit by a massive tsunami may have been on early readers' minds.
The curatorial instinct at work in many Fujino stories is here voiced by the collective narrator. They are hardly sympathetic to micapon17's plight, and it is hard not to see them as fetishists, creating a private space online where micapon17 will unwittingly continue to provide them with the images of spirits that they claim to find so historically, if not artistically, significant. (The fact that micapon17 is always referred to by her user name in Roman letters running sideways down the page in the original Japanese, denoted in the translation by the use of a different font, serves to further dehumanize her.)
In this sense, the story is a commentary on the rise of social media and the decentering of not only social engagement but also artistic production and access to audiences. micapon17 is perfectly willing to commodify herself—she simply thinks she is doing it with regard to the clothes that she is wearing. Her self-promoting blog title, "What Micapon Is Wearing Today," appears to want to imitate fashion-magazine copy, and this story's title mimics it in part. A literal translation might be "Today's Spirits," which in English carries connotations of a slightly pretentious drink menu at a bar. I have opted for a slight variation that I believe better captures the anodyne commercialism that the title merrily seeks to make gruesome. New technologies have vastly expanded the ability of people to garner attention and develop followings, but they are not always in control of how their efforts will be received by their markets. As a public figure whose image regularly appears in magazines and other media, Fujino is surely acutely aware of this: although she is an active user of Instagram and other social media, Fujino almost never posts images in which she herself appears. [End Page 113]
Fujino Kaori has lived in Kyoto her entire life. She won the Akutagawa Prize in 2013 for her novella Nails and Eyes (Tsume to me). Her most recent collection of short stories is Dress (Doresu, 2017). In the fall of 2017, she was a participant in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.
Kendall Heitzman is an assistant professor of modern Japanese literature and culture at the University of Iowa. His book Enduring Postwar: Yasuoka Shōtarō and Literary Memory in Japan is forthcoming from Vanderbilt University Press. His articles include "The Rise of Women Writers, the Heisei I-novel, and the Contemporary Bundan" (in the Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature, 2016), and "The World Too Much With Us in Japanese Travel Television" (in Introducing Japanese Popular Culture, 2017). His article "Shibasaki Tomoka's Literature of Location" and translation of Shibasaki's 3/11 story "Right Here, Right Here" appeared in USJWJ 51 (2017).