Cynthia Neri Zayas is an experienced anthropologist currently focused on Japan and the Philippines. She has been acknowledged as the Philippines’ leading maritime anthropologist and foremost Japanologist by the Japanese Government given her knowledge and contribution to the field. She has acquired her Masteral and Doctoral Degrees in Japan which may have influenced her interest and field of expertise. Her internationally recognized works such as The Cultures of Disasters and Free Women Divers, or “ama”, have reinforced further understanding of Japanese society. Similarly, she has enabled the introduction of the Japanese traditional performing arts in the Philippines through her continuous study. Accordingly, she was granted by the Government of Japan the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette recognizing her contribution to promoting Japanese Culture. Moreover, she was granted a visiting professorship at Kagoshima University, and the University of Malaya, and even served as a visiting researcher at Kobe Gakuen University, The International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, and Academia Sinica in Taiwan.
Nonetheless, her specializations are mainly in cultural anthropology, maritime anthropological studies of Asia, and cultures of disaster. For instance, she has published articles that discussed the Maritime and the Visayan customary life experiences. In particular, she published the book entitled, “Fishers of the Visayas: A Study of Visayan Maritime Communities” in 1994 and the book entitled, “Bisayan Knowledge, Movement & Identity: Visayas Maritime Anthropological Studies III” in 2000. Furthermore, she has involved herself with Philippine ethnography discussing its ideological and even political perspective through her book entitled, “Photographic Images in Early Philippine Ethnography and their Ideological and Political Implications.” These contributions have established her field of expertise and showed her regard for the Philippines. However, she has an evident interest in the Japanese culture and develops them in the Philippine community as her recent works revolved around the said society.