Christopher Drake Barnewolt

Christopher is an International Relations major, with a strong interest in history.  Born in California and raised in Massachusetts, he came to William and Mary seeking some famous Southern hospitality, and likes what he sees.  Christopher began studying Uechi-Ryu Karate, an Okinawan martial art, when he was six years old and holds the rank of a First-Degree Black Belt, or shodan.



Growing up, Christopher initially resisted the Pokemon craze that swept through his peers like wildfire through tall grass, but was ultimately sucked in through peer pressure.  Later in high school Christopher and his friends took part in a memorable viewing of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, an aesthetically breathtaking film he remembers one of his friends appropriately describing as “stoner-ific.”  Simultaneously intrigued by and wary of modern Japanese pop-culture, Christopher kept his distance from most of its manifestations until being blessed with a quirky college girlfriend with a love for anime.  Through her, Christopher was reintroduced to the works of Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, and Satoshi Kon.

These new interests were eventually integrated into Christopher’s love of history.  While taking a class on Modern Japanese History, Christopher became more aware of the unique cultural position of Japan, it’s long and varied history, and the ongoing identity crisis Japan has been experiencing since Commodore Perry forced her to accommodate the Western powers.  Christopher is particularly interested in the transformation of Japanese society since Japan’s defeat in the Second World War, and how activists on both the left and right have attempted to re-shape Japan’s modern identity in their own image.  He is especially interested in the sociopolitical messages of the great anime master Hayao Miyazaki and the semiotics present in his work, and sees him as emblematic of post-war Japanese pacifism, which may be on the decline.

Rachel Pick

soot crop

Rachel is an English major, but wishes she could minor in the Internet. In terms of Japanese cultural export, she especially likes San-X characters (Afro Ken, anyone?), the films of Miyazaki and Ozu, Boris, and Boredoms. She loves the absurdities of pop culture from every country, but thinks the Japanese have a unique aesthetic sensibility and an often superior imagination. Her fascination with Japanese pop culture and all things kawaii began when she started working at a toy store her freshman year of high school. With an entire section devoted to Sanrio and San-X, she soon found herself the owner of Hello Kitty stationery made to look like toast, several plush incarnations of San-X characters, an army of metal wind-up robots, and an inconceivable amount of stickers. She once saw someone else carrying the same Hello Kitty handbag she had, but that person was a five year-old girl.

She would also like to share these two links:

Beautiful hand-painted photos of 19th century Japan

Pokemon collector breaks world record with more than 13,000 pieces of memorabilia

Like Kogepan, Rachel is usually disgruntled.

Ingrid Heiberg


My name is Ingrid Heiberg, and I am a junior majoring in French and Literary and Cultural Studies (film track) here at William and Mary. So what is a French major doing in a class about Japanese culture? Aside from my true love for Hello Kitty and all things Sanrio, I have always been fascinated by Japanese culture, and I am excited to learn why. I have studied Japanese at William and Mary since freshman year, and I also had the opportunity to work with Japanese students from Keio University in Tokyo when they came to visit the U.S. and complete a cultural studies project comparing Japan and America. Working with these students really solidified my love for Japanese culture: Japan is no longer a cool, faraway place to me, but rather home to several of my friends. Because I am also a cultural studies major, I am excited to see how cultural studies applies to one of my favorite places to study!

Jessica Wang

doraemonAn unbroken string of obsessions–the GNC abridged version.

Born in Taiwan. Watched countless Xiao Ding Dang (better known as Doraemon) episodes.

Moved to South Carolina at 5 years old. Watched Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro–the unsubbed, undubbed, original Japanese version–at age 6 and thought, “what are they saying?” over and over again. Discovered the beauty of anime (okay, Sailor Moon) in 2nd grade. Anime obsession peaked in 5th grade with Digimon.

Moved to Virginia Beach, VA in 8th grade. Began to truly appreciate Japanese Pop in 10th grade. Started viewing Japanese Dramas during the summer between 10th and 11th grade. Drama fever settled in after viewing the still popular Hana Yori Dango two-part drama with a film finale–though at the time, only part one was released. Drama fever led to Arashi fever and the rest, as they say, is history

Will Gautney

School has let out, students have all gone home, and  the neighborhood boys are running around in their various groups ignoring homework as well as their mothers.  One group stands in an empty suburban lot, two boys facing off at a time with giant sticks pretending to be not army men, not European knights, but samurai warriors avenging their friend’s “death” by bonking with a stick not three minutes before.

While most of the other boys grew out of this interest and fascination of Japan, Will Gautney did not.  A senior at the college of William and Mary majoring in Global studies with a special focus on East Asian Studies, he has been a consumer of Japanese goods, wither it be imported or localized, for as far as his memory can reach, being raised with easy access to not only the typical video games and anime, but also samurai movies and zen texts.

Sara Caudill

Spirited Away

In 2002, Sara cut class on Halloween, got stuck in DC’s very typical, round-the-clock gridlock traffic, and showed up forty-five minutes late for the last showing of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away in some dingy art house theater.

She went into the theater thinking it was going to be pretty, weird, and different.  She came out of the theater thinking all the same things; plus, she wanted to learn more about this ‘Japan’ country that made the phenomenal film.

That experience brings Sara to where she is today—an East Asian Studies major with hopes of studying abroad in Japan next year.  She still loves Miyazaki, and she still wants to learn everything she can about Japan.

Shannon Grunewald

hellomykittyland1Shannon Grunewald is obsessed wih Hello Kitty. Most of the objects she uses in her everyday life involve Hello Kitty in some way, and she’s collected everything from Hello Kitty toilet paper to daimond jewlery. Why does she love Hello Kitty so much? “Hello Kitty is SO cute it allows me to embrace the part of me that refuses to grow up.”


Shannon loves the cute culture produced by Japan’s post-bubble society, and is planning a trip there soon where she will spend most of her time and money in the Harajuku District purchasing lots of tiny plastic objects covered in glitter.

Pam Kennedy

I’m Pam Kennedy, TA for “Japan’s Gross National Cool.” In fall 2008, I took Professor DiNitto’s class “Nationalism and Pop Culture in Japan,” in which we explored the intersections between new trends of Japanese nationalism and contemporary pop culture. That class solidified my interest in contemporary Japanese culture and society.

In summer 2009 I conducted research on young novelist Kanehara Hitomi and her books “Snakes and Earrings” and “Autofiction,” which display the Japan in which my generation matured — a recession-era Japan characterized by a contrast of excesses and minimalism.


Kanehara Hitomi.

I am also interested in kawaisa (cuteness). Like many Japanese and non-Japanese girls of my generation, I am drawn to that quintessentially kawaii cat Hello Kitty, and her entourage of adorable Sanrio friends. My favorite is Charmmy Kitty.


The best Sanrio character ever.

Chris Bubb

English | Japanese

Hello all,

My name is Chris Bubb, and I’m a senior majoring in East Asian Studies at the College of William and Mary.  At the time I entered this grand institution, I had no idea that Japanese would have such an impact on my life, but I began at the beginning of the Japanese language curriculum.

As time went on, my interest in all things Japanese grew, and I decided to study abroad in Osaka, Japan, where I studied at Momoyama Gakuin University, in the tiny little town of Izumi, Osaka, Japan, during the summer of 2009.  I had all sorts of wonderful experiences, and ever since I’ve returned to the States, I’ve been longing to make a return trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.