Ian McArthur

BA, University of Queensland; Diploma of Education, University of Queensland; PhD., University of Sydney
Honorary Associate

Ian McArthur is a former Tokyo correspondent for the Herald and Weekly Times group of newspapers. In 2002, he completed a PhD in Asian Studies at The University of Sydney. He has taught in the Japanese language, Japanese Studies, and Asian Studies programs at universities in the Sydney area. He has also taught in Media in Asia programs at Macquarie University and at the Sydney international campus of Central Queensland University. He works as a translator, editor, and writer. In 2009, he was a recipient of the third Inoue Yasushi Award presented annually to a researcher in Australia for Outstanding Research in Japanese Literature in Australia. The award was for his paper, Narrating the Law in Japan – Rakugo in the Meiji Law Reform Debate, in the Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies. See: www.japanesestudies.org.uk/articles/2008/McArthur.html

Research areas

  • Adaptations by oral storytellers (rakugoka), playwrights and newspapers of popular European detective fiction as mediums for the transmission to Japan of nineteenth-century European notions of modernity.
  • The use of media, particularly the print media, in cross-cultural interchange between the West and Japan.
  • The role of Japan’s reporters’ clubs (kisha kurabu) as filters of information.

Current projects

  • Ian is writing a work of historical fiction about Henry Black and is also researching a paper analysing adaptations of works by nineteenth-century British sensation fiction author Mary Braddon for the theatre and as serialized newspaper novels in Meiji-era Japan.

Selected publications


  • 2013 Henry Black: On Stage in Meiji Japan. Monash University Publishing. A biography of Australian-born professional storyteller (rakugoka) Henry Kairakutei Black, who was active in Japan in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book deals with Black's contribution to the Meiji-era reform debate through participation in the Freedom and People's Rights Movement and his narrated and printed adaptations of nineteenth-century European sensation fiction authors. Publisher's website.
  • 2005 Australia-Japan Connections. A bilingual book published by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the Australia-Japan relationship.
  • 1994 Reading Japanese Signs – Making Sense of Japan, Kôdansha International. A bilingual book about signs and forms in Japan.
  • 1992 Kairakutei Burakku – Wasurerareta Nihon Saikô no Gaijin Tarento, Kôdansha International. A Japanese-language account of the life of Henry Black (1858-1923), an Australian-born story teller in Japan.
  • 1986 Eigo Nante A Piece of Cake, Kôdansha International, Tokyo. A bilingual book about English language colloquialisms.
  • 1985 Eigo de Chôsen: Fushigi Nihongo, Kôdansha International, Tokyo. A bilingual book about Japanese-language colloquialisms.

Book chapters

  • 2006 “Henry Black: Consummate Meiji Man,” in Michael Ackland and Pam Oliver (eds.), Unexpected Encounters – Neglected Histories Behind the Australia-Japan Relationship, Monash Asia Institute, Clayton, Vic., pp. 1-28.

Refereed journal articles

Book reviews

  • 2009 Of Yasuko Claremont’s The Novels of Ōe Kenzaburō, in The Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia, Vol. 41.
  • 2004 Of Brian J. McVeigh’s Nationalisms of Japan, in Japanese Studies, Vol. 24.
  • 2002 Of Laurie Anne Freeman’s Closing the Shop: Information Cartels and Japan’s Mass Media, in Japanese Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3.

Other professional contributions

Ian has served on the executive of the Japanese Studies Association of Australia (JSAA). He helped prepare and run the association’s conferences and worked to build links between JSAA and similar organisations in other countries. Ian has edited papers for refereed journals, including Japanese Studies and the Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia (JOSA) where he is associate editor. He coordinated the 2010 lecture series Living Histories for the Japan Foundation’s Sydney branch, and has spoken about Japanese art at the Seasons exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2003. In 2006, he coordinated a visit to Australia by members of the Japan Professional Narrators Association for performances at The University of New South Wales, Australian National University and Monash University. Ian has been a media consultant to the Embassy of Japan, advising the embassy on trends in the Australian media and on Japanese Studies at Australian universities. He is co-author with Professor Kent Anderson (director of the Faculty of Asian Studies in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific) of “The Importance of Understanding Japan” on the JSAA website.