The clock strikes 2pm at a local art museum in the well-off Tokyo neighbrohood of Shirokanedai, and the floors seem to fill with more and more people. The museum's eclectic collection of a permanent exhibition on the history of art deco in Japan and a special exhibition on French children's books is drawing what seem to be a highly varied but equally enthusiastic audience. College students carefully reading the descriptions bump shoulders with housewives snapping photos and middle-aged men in suits. From the looks of the crowds, it just does not look like a weekday afternoon in any way.
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Saturday, May 5, 2018
at 6:01 PM
Indians are justifiably proud of their cooking. Scrumptious curries result from ingenious combinations of dozens of spices, discovered through centuries of trials and errors. The delicious results are admired and adopted throughout the world. The West, especially, has greatly supplemented its simplistic condiments of the past with the riches of Indian curries, resulting in what some Indians would refer to as an "upgrade" of "tasteless" Western cuisines.
Sunday, April 8, 2018
at 11:49 AM
The previous post pointed out that foreign cultures that seem "cool" can an enthusiastic following among foreign audience partially because the negative social contexts that the "cool" culture are not transplanted in foreign countries. There is the example of Chicanos, an inner-city Latino culture in the US often associated with gang violence and poverty, scrubbed clean of all the negatives in Japan, where followers, short of trying to become Chicanos themselves, attempt to channel the supposed central values of honor, respect, love, and family.
Friday, March 30, 2018
at 12:12 PM
As part of the author's Japanese to English translation freelance work, he is currently working on transcribing some Japanese interviews into English. Interestingly, the contents are not of business or mainstream entertainment, as market demand would usually expect, but stories of a niche community of Japanese interested in aspects of the Chicano culture. For people who do not know, Chicano refers to inner-city Mexican-American culture, a distinct immigrant culture that straddles the supposedly "pure" Mexican and "pure" American cultures of the two countries' cultural mainstream.
Saturday, December 23, 2017
at 12:14 PM
The main Koreatown of Shin-Okubo in Tokyo has, unsurprisingly, a neon-washed main street. Shops advertising the latest hip new trends from the world of Kpop, combined with seemingly endless lineup of Korean street foods and restaurants, draw in customers from across the metropolis to experience "cool Korea." Yet, just a few steps away from the neighborhood's brightly colored main drag lies a completely different side. Dark little alleys, home to hundreds of mundane residences, extend away from the main street, at the first sight no different from any other residential area in the Japanese capital city.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
at 5:26 PM
When the author was traveling in the Middle East, one of the characteristics that stood out most for him was just how aggressive people communicate with one another to get anything done. When there is any sort of conflict, often there is a shouting match between the opposing parties, with little care for the noisy ruckus they are creating in the immediate surroundings. Interestingly, the passerby usually do not even bat an eye at the conflicts that are happening right next to them, happily ignoring the anger on the streets as they go about their daily business as if it is all peaceful and quiet.
Friday, September 1, 2017
at 3:48 PM
It is probably global public knowledge by now that Japan is probably the least immigration-friendly developed country in the world. The number of skilled workers, not to mention unskilled ones or refugees, is puny compared to those taken in by Europe and America in the past decades. And part of the reason that anti-immigration policies persist in the country despite labor shortages is overwhelming support for anti-immigration policies among the general public. And the popular support, unlike in the West, extend to the very top, among the wealthiest and most educated of Japanese citizens.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
at 5:08 AM
The continuing protests in Charlottesville, where two groups of opposing protesters slug it out over issues on race, should concern all minorities in America on exactly what their places are in America. If sometimes violent protests by white supremacists become political norms backed by supposed freedoms of assembly and political expression, minorities in the country will face more and more legitimate political opposition from such fringe groups when fighting for equal rights. There is no doubt that political rights of white extremist groups must be restricted in order to secure peace among minorities in the country.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
at 4:03 AM
In the previous post, this blog argued that nationalism, in the form of openly supporting people from a particular nation at the expense of often negatively stereotyped foreigners can be a huge obstacle for true globalization where people can freely move, work, and live across national borders. Unfortunately, the fact remains that most people (never mind state governments), educated in a context of patriotism, cannot simply become open to the idea of rendering nationality as irrelevant in order to achieve freedom of movement. The concept of nation, and the state-level polity, associated with it, remains far too strong today to alter.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
at 4:54 AM
One of the staples of Hollywood blockbusters is disaster movies. In these high-expense, high-action,-high-computer graphics films, disasters strike our planet, in the form of natural disaster, alien invasion, or unstoppable epidemics, leading to global humanitarian crises of scales unimaginable to modern human society. In most of these films, Hollywood unequivocally uses US assets, whether it be the military, political leadership, or individual heroism, to defend the planet from the disaster, ultimately achieving victory for the world (and for America) after great sacrifices and prudent actions.
Saturday, July 29, 2017
Why Decoupling Asian and Asian-American Issues are Disadvantageous for Social Standing of Asian-Americans
at 3:16 AM
There are plenty of groups in America that fights for rights and recognition of ethnic issues in this country. They admirably devote great energy in ensuring that the general non-Asian public in America become more aware of the unjust treatments individual Asians and the Asian community as a whole receive in this country. By publicizing issues such as United Airlines' ill-treatment of Dr David Dao, these groups have slowly and gradually changed the misconception among non-Asians (especially whites) in this country that Asians tend to face less racism problems than other peoples of color.
Monday, June 26, 2017
at 5:59 AM
There are certain areas of San Diego one can go to feel completely Asian. Beside the palm tree-lined boulevards, Asian supermarkets, restaurants, and living goods stores completely fill malls and shopping centers, with only the ubiquitous American fast-food chains (which are also ubiquitous in major Asian cities these days) the only non-Asian physical presence. Signs in Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean predominate, with English signs in much smaller fonts as translations for the Asian language signs. Asian cars carrying Asian families stream in and out of the parking lots.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
at 4:45 PM
The incident involving police brutality against Dr David Dao, an Vietnamese-American passenger in the United Airlines flight in Chicago has sparked widespread outrage among the general public in the US. The Asian-American community has especially been up in arms about the fact that the passenger in question may have been selected and roughed off because he is of Asian descent. Media outlets both in the US and across the world has been quick to cover the story, with several videos emerging out of the incident to evidence the level of what is perceived as unnecessary force by the police throughout the incident.
Saturday, February 11, 2017
at 6:14 PM
An immigrant leaves his/her homeland for a reason. For some, different political and religious beliefs opposed by the ruling establishment force them to seek more tolerant host societies. For others, familial ties and international romance must be maintained through physical relocation. But for the vast majority, migration is about economic opportunities, a chance to escape relative poverty by heading toward destinations that offer better-paying jobs and a safer, more orderly, and more entrepreneurial environment to realize unfulfilled dreams of individual prosperity.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
at 9:13 PM
Having foreign foods for the very first time can be a scary thing. With foreign ingredients and condiments cooked in completely unfamiliar ways, their strange visual presentations is more than just a matter of curiosity. When put in the stomach that is just as unfamiliar with digesting them as the eyes that see them, it could seriously do some serious bodily harm in matter of hours. And as far as foreign foods go, Indian foods can be especially hard for first time introduction. Their heavy use of exotic spices rarely seen in other cuisines are bound to make some react rather negatively after they hit the stomach.
Friday, June 10, 2016
Saturday, June 4, 2016
at 7:05 PM
This blog has been quite persistent in posts remembering the June 4 pro-democracy protests in China every year, and this year is no different. It is only unfortunate that with each passing year, the memories of the events fade, with a younger generation, both in China and abroad, too preoccupied with contemporary issues to be mindful of the sacrifices made by idealists of 20-odd years ago (as they continue to do so, quietly, today). It is not surprising that this is the case considering China of today is a much more different place, with a twisted civic society that imbue new, darker issues.
Saturday, May 28, 2016
at 8:09 PM
As a crazy traveler himself, the author is quite fond of trading travel stories with fellow travelers met anywhere, for short-term or long-term. Talking about travel stories is especially exciting when the person or people being spoken to has been to the same destinations as the author. But asking them about their impressions of the same places, the author can gain whole new perspectives that he did not acquire firsthand during his own travels to those places, while giving himself another, second opportunities to savor the beauty and greatness of those destinations, days, months, and even years after the actual travels happened.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
at 11:45 PM
It is a common sight among all tropical countries with distinct rain seasons. When the monsoon is in town, a moment of completely unhindered sunshine is followed by draining downpour, with consistent, rapidly falling water drops better than anything created with the finest of man-made shower heads. Streets turn into rivers after minutes, and visibility becomes no more than a curtain of watery white. People quickly run under the nearest roofs, into their houses, deserting the busy streets of the central market, that, moments ago, was bustling with street-side vendors and pedestrians.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
at 6:41 PM
In all non-urban areas in the world, police enforcement tends to be sparse. Farming communities, separated by acres of fields, evidently cannot be conducive to constant patrolling presence of uniformed officers. In fact, police presence can be so distant that when crimes and disputes occur, reporting to the police may not even bring officers to the scenes of conflict in time for fruitful resolution. In the case of crimes by stealth, it is highly likely that by the time the police can assess the situation, neither the victim nor the victimizer will be there for questioning.