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Grad Students

Ryoko Nishijima

Contact Information

Email    ryokon@ucla.edu
Office  Not Available
Ryoko is a doctoral student in Sociocultural Anthropology with topical interests in travel and imagination.

Although her main field site is Japan, she is most interested in its transnational encounters with what are broadly referred to as “Asia” and the “West.” Her research concerns the ways in which “imagined Japan” is constructed through online media, especially focusing on tourists as the particular agents who participate in the circulation of these images. Her current project looks at online travel blogs and photo albums as the main platforms where tourists upload bits and pieces of Japan in the form of text and images, thus allowing certain memories of Japan to be archived and discovered. These are significant loci to observe practices that contribute to perpetuating “imagined Japan” within the cyberspace.


Hailing from Fukuoka, Japan, Ryoko graduated from Shuyukan high school and attended Stanford University where she developed a strong interest in Chinese; she studied for a summer at Princeton in Beijing, a quarter at Peking University, and participated in various cultural programs in Taiwan. She received her B.A. (’08), double majoring in Cultural and Social Anthropology with honors, and Film Studies. After graduation, she taught English in Surin, Thailand. She holds an M.A. (’12) in Anthropology from UCLA; her master’s thesis discussed the dilemma tourists often face in rejecting the derogatory connotation of a “tourist” as consumerist dupes, and striving instead to become a true “traveler” as noble, erudite, and adventurous explorer.

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Fields of Study

Sociocultural Anthropology


Travel; Orientalism; imagination; transnational media; cyberspace; Japan-Asia; China/Taiwan; Japan-West

Grants and Awards

Conference Travel Grant       

Department of Anthropology, UCLA 2014


The George and Sakaye Aratani Field Experience Scholarship   

Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, UCLA. 2013-2014


St. Gallen Wings of Excellence Award  Top 56 Contribution   

St. Gallen Symposium. 2013


Aratani Fellowship                  

Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, UCLA. 2012-2013 


Sasakawa Fellowship               

Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, UCLA. 2010-2012


St. Gallen Wings of Excellence Award Top 50 Contribution   

St. Gallen Symposium. 2011


Departmental Fellowship                      

Department of Anthropology, UCLA. 2010


Major Grant Undergraduate Research Program                       

Stanford University. 2007


Language Study Fellowship                  

Stanford Center of East Asian Studies. 2006

Conference Presentations

Association for Asian Studies 2015 Annual Conference 

Chicago, IL  March 26-29, 2015 

Japan’s Encounters with the Discourse of Civilization and Imperialism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Paper: Omotenashi in Late Meiji and Taishō Japan: From the “Welcome Society” to “Japan Tourist Bureau”


113th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association: “Producing Anthropology.”

Washington, D.C.  December 3-7th, 2014

Producing Anthropology in/of the “New Globe”: Transnational Human and Cultural Mobility in Japan and Beyond

Paper: Visiting ‘Riben’ (Japan): Disjunction and Bifurcation of ‘Chinese Tourists’ in Tokyo


IUAES 2014 with JASCA: The Future with/of Anthropologies 

Chiba, Japan.  May 15-18th, 2014

Global cities: digital urbanisation in the 21st century

Paper: Lost in Transmission: Searching Bits of Japan across (Cyber)Space 


Japan Studies Graduate Conference@UCLA
"Critical Frameworks of Transmission in Japan and East Asia" 

UC Los Angeles, CA. October 2012 
"Lost in Transmission: Searching Bits of Japan across (Cyber)Space" 

UCSB-Japan Foundation Summer Institute, 
"Modes of Japanese Multiculturalism: Coexistence and Marginality" 

UC Santa Barbara, CA. June 2012 
"Comfortable Outsiders: "Western" and "Chinese" Tourist Consumption and Digital Imagining of Japan as Other" 

St. Gallen Symposium, "Just Power" 
University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. May 2011 
Wings of Excellence Award Top 50 Contribution 
"Disenchanting the Multicultural Utopia" 








Mariko Tamanoi (chair)
Kyeyoung Park
Lieba Faier


M.A. Anthropology, UCLA (2012)
B.A. Anthropology and Film Studies, Stanford University (2008)