The Author

The author, Karen Nakamura, is a visual and cultural anthropologist and disability studies scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on disability, sexuality, and minority social movements in contemporary Japan. Her first book, Deaf in Japan, was on sign language, identity, and deaf social movements. Her second book is on schizophrenia and mental illness in Japan and is titled, A Disability of the Soul. For the past year, she's been working on a third project which explores the intersections of disability, gender, and sexuality. Her academic home page is located here.

Visiting Bethel

Bethel welcomes visitors but the town of Urakawa is (as the book mentions) quite far off the beaten path and unfortunately few of the Bethel staff or members speak English. If you want to visit Bethel, it’s best to go with a Japanese-speaking friend who can serve as your interpreter and help make arrangements. The first thing to do is to contact Bethel through their home page: (general home page in Japanese) (English overview) (information on their disaster prep activities; English)

There are plenty of local hotels of varying price ranges (my favorite is the Urakawa Inn). The best time to visit Bethel is during the summer when the weather is very pleasant in Hokkaido. The annual Bethel Festival is held over a weekend in August, check their website for the exact date.

Further Reading

The bibliography of A Disability of the Soul is a good place to start if you want to read more about mental illness in Japan. One book in particular that I think can be read as the companion volume to my book is Junko Kitanaka’s Depression in Japan.