Accepted paper:

The return of the object: nature, escapism and happiness in Mei & Satsuki's house on EXPO 2005's site

Author:

Maria Grajdian (Nagasaki University)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation points out the relation between nature, escapism and happiness in the process of reconstructing the past, as reflected in the life-large sized replica of the family house from the anime movie My Neighbor Totoro (1988) included among the international pavilions on the EXPO 2005 site.

Paper long abstract:

The inclusion of an identical, life-large sized replica of the family house from the anime movie My Neighbor Totoro (1988) among the international pavilions on the EXPO 2005 site resulted in the creation of an absolute highlight-sightseeing, running booked-off months in advance during the EXPO; after the EXPO, the whole site eventually became a huge sanctuary for the preservation of nature with Mei & Satsuki's house as a pilgrimage space in the center, in the midst of emerging housing projects suffocating and gradually eliminating the natural habitat; Mei & Satsuki's house attracts tourists and locals in ten-thousands every year (holiday and weekend always booked-off weeks in advance, working days running in average to 97% capacity). Based on extensive fieldwork - interviews & participatory observation over several years - as well as in-depth literature research, this presentation's goal is to point out the intricate relation between nature, escapism and happiness as main parameters in the process of reconstructing the past as a repository of emotional energy and socio-cultural role-models, beyond economic-political compulsions, transgressing the limits of time and space. Thus, it becomes obvious that the "imaginary" and the dynamization of its interaction with the "symbolical" and the "real" (in Julia Kristeva's conceptualization, 1974) play fundamental roles in the creative re-evaluation of "happiness" as an individual choice in late-modern Japan.

panel P144
Back to the future: discursive practices on identity, remembrance and resistance in late-modern anthropology