Brief Encounters in Research

Over the past couple of days I have been reflecting upon the way I do some of my research. The starting point for this was a webinar delivered by Prof Joy Hendry, called ‘An Affair With A Village’. Details about the event can be found on the RAI website, and there is also a YouTube…

Remembering the Flight JL123 Crash (2): Irei-no-Sono

Further to my post about Osutaka-no-One, in this post I will write about Irei-no-Sono (慰霊の園), the memorial to the victims of the JL123 crash, which is located in central Ueno-mura (and not at the foot of the mountain where the plane crashed, as I have seen it described sometimes). Let us start with how to…

Remembering the Flight JL123 Crash (1): Osutaka-no-One

Although I have written a few posts about the JL123 crash (for example, a summary of the crash, the isho (last messages), about the significance of the isho; also follow this link for a list of posts related to my research on JL123), and have written in articles and books about the memorialisation of the…

Blurring the boundaries between research and fiction: Aokigahara

For many years I had been aware of the English-language media’s seeming obsession with Aokigahara – often referred to as Japan’s ‘suicide forest’. I’d not seen the same level of interest in the Japanese media. After having spent many years researching the JAL flight JL123 plane crash and particularly the memorialisation of those who died…

The JL123 Isho

One of the most well known aspects of JL123 are the isho (‘last notes’, ‘last memo’, ‘will’, or ‘final letters’) written by some of the passengers. Below are my translations of the isho. They are based on the translations on display at the JAL Safety Promotion Center, but I have made a few alterations to try to preserve…

Reporting of the World’s Biggest Single Plane Crash

On 12 August 1985, Japan Air Lines (JAL) flight JL123 crashed in mountains north-west of Tōkyō. When search and rescue teams reached the site, some 15 hours later, all but four of the 524 on board the Boeing 747 jumbo jet were dead. A media frenzy followed the crash, and a media helicopter had even…

Visualisation of Death in Japan: The Case of the Flight JL123 Crash

We are surrounded by death. But most of the time death is out of sight. For many it is a source of fear. Even though most, at least in technologically and medically advanced nations, will die relatively peacefully, the questions over death and what happens after death cause uneasiness. The possibility of dying in a…

Disaster and Death in Japan: Responses to the Flight JL123 Crash

Whilst death itself is inevitable, some will die ‘untimely’ deaths in accidents or disasters, for example. This chapter discusses Japanese attitudes to death and religion in relation to one such tragedy – the JAL flight JL123 crash on 12 August 1985 in which 520 people died in what is arguably Japan’s and the aviation world’s…