3 months ago
3 months ago
A nice little cafe I spotted in Shimokitazawa.

A nice little cafe I spotted in Shimokitazawa.

5 months ago 6 months ago
7 months ago
Strange Weather in Tokyo - Hiromi Kawakami paints perfectly the lightness and delicacy of modern Tokyo, delivering a love story that breaks hearts in all the right and wrong places. But like Japan itself, reveals a whole lot of unexpected situations along the way.

Strange Weather in Tokyo - Hiromi Kawakami paints perfectly the lightness and delicacy of modern Tokyo, delivering a love story that breaks hearts in all the right and wrong places. But like Japan itself, reveals a whole lot of unexpected situations along the way.

8 months ago
South Korean fans hang a banner Sunday reading ‘There is no future for a race oblivious to history’ at the East Asian Cup finale against Japan in Seoul.
This week, Japan and South Korea have been reopening old wounds. It started off on Sunday at a football match in Seoul, when fans unfurled a banner accusing Japan of being “oblivious to history”.
The next day, a Busan court ordered a Japanese company to pay up for forced-labour practices in the past. A day later, Glendale, a city in southern California, unveiled a memorial for Asian women and girls held as sex slaves by Japanese soldiers more than a half century ago.
Three days, three news stories with a common theme: Japan’s brutal invasion and occupation of Asia in the early 20th century. In Seoul and Tokyo, government officials initially showed restraint. For once it seemed the two sides wouldn’t get drawn into their familiar tit-for-tat.
Too bad it didn’t last long. Soon Japan’s minister for education, culture, sports, science and technology, Hakubun Shimomura, was calling Sunday’s mix of politics and football “regrettable” and saying, “It calls into question the nature of the people in the country.” South Korea fired back, saying it was “deeply regrettable” that a senior Japanese official would insult South Koreans over a sporting event. The Korean Football Association accused Japanese supporters at the game of provoking action by waving a Rising Sun flag, which once fluttered above the decks of Japan’s wartime naval fleet. It remains a potent symbol for many South Koreans of Japanese militarism and 35 years of colonial rule.
History has a way of whipping up nationalist sentiments on both sides. Officials in Tokyo and Seoul can’t help but weigh in. The results are predictable – finger-pointing, hurt feelings. This has brought about a stalemate of sorts: South Korea demands Japan shows more contrition for a militaristic past and Japan defends itself by saying that past wrongs were settled decades ago.
Rarely do they deviate from the script. Tokyo’s fallback position is to invoke the 1965 treaty that established diplomatic relations with South Korea and settled old grievances and it also reminds Seoul of compensation provided to South Koreans through a private fund. Seoul views this as a way for the Japanese to shirk responsibility for their past. For South Koreans there are other signs of this, such as textbooks that gloss over Japan’s wartime atrocities, lawmakers who visit a Tokyo war shrine and bureaucrats who demand that Seoul hand over control of a group of islets in the Sea of Japan.
The most extreme views on both sides tend to taint the relationship. Pessimists say it’s only a matter of time before something aggravates things further. But what they forget is how economically dependent on each other these two countries have become. Japan is South Korea’s second-largest trading partner; South Korea ranks among the top five for Japan. Commerce between the two exceeds $100bn (€75.5bn). You’ll find South Korean tourists loaded down with shopping bags at fashion retailers in Harajuku and gushing over Japanese anime and Japanese tourists tucking into bulgogi at restaurants in Hongdae and dancing to the latest K-pop tunes.
There’s a strange disconnect between the tense diplomatic ties and commercial cosiness. It’s a love-hate relationship with so much emotional baggage that it defies a straightforward solution. For now expect the blame game to continue. (via Monocle)

South Korean fans hang a banner Sunday reading ‘There is no future for a race oblivious to history’ at the East Asian Cup finale against Japan in Seoul.

This week, Japan and South Korea have been reopening old wounds. It started off on Sunday at a football match in Seoul, when fans unfurled a banner accusing Japan of being “oblivious to history”.

The next day, a Busan court ordered a Japanese company to pay up for forced-labour practices in the past. A day later, Glendale, a city in southern California, unveiled a memorial for Asian women and girls held as sex slaves by Japanese soldiers more than a half century ago.

Three days, three news stories with a common theme: Japan’s brutal invasion and occupation of Asia in the early 20th century. In Seoul and Tokyo, government officials initially showed restraint. For once it seemed the two sides wouldn’t get drawn into their familiar tit-for-tat.

Too bad it didn’t last long. Soon Japan’s minister for education, culture, sports, science and technology, Hakubun Shimomura, was calling Sunday’s mix of politics and football “regrettable” and saying, “It calls into question the nature of the people in the country.” South Korea fired back, saying it was “deeply regrettable” that a senior Japanese official would insult South Koreans over a sporting event. The Korean Football Association accused Japanese supporters at the game of provoking action by waving a Rising Sun flag, which once fluttered above the decks of Japan’s wartime naval fleet. It remains a potent symbol for many South Koreans of Japanese militarism and 35 years of colonial rule.

History has a way of whipping up nationalist sentiments on both sides. Officials in Tokyo and Seoul can’t help but weigh in. The results are predictable – finger-pointing, hurt feelings. This has brought about a stalemate of sorts: South Korea demands Japan shows more contrition for a militaristic past and Japan defends itself by saying that past wrongs were settled decades ago.

Rarely do they deviate from the script. Tokyo’s fallback position is to invoke the 1965 treaty that established diplomatic relations with South Korea and settled old grievances and it also reminds Seoul of compensation provided to South Koreans through a private fund. Seoul views this as a way for the Japanese to shirk responsibility for their past. For South Koreans there are other signs of this, such as textbooks that gloss over Japan’s wartime atrocities, lawmakers who visit a Tokyo war shrine and bureaucrats who demand that Seoul hand over control of a group of islets in the Sea of Japan.

The most extreme views on both sides tend to taint the relationship. Pessimists say it’s only a matter of time before something aggravates things further. But what they forget is how economically dependent on each other these two countries have become. Japan is South Korea’s second-largest trading partner; South Korea ranks among the top five for Japan. Commerce between the two exceeds $100bn (€75.5bn). You’ll find South Korean tourists loaded down with shopping bags at fashion retailers in Harajuku and gushing over Japanese anime and Japanese tourists tucking into bulgogi at restaurants in Hongdae and dancing to the latest K-pop tunes.

There’s a strange disconnect between the tense diplomatic ties and commercial cosiness. It’s a love-hate relationship with so much emotional baggage that it defies a straightforward solution. For now expect the blame game to continue. (via Monocle)

10 months ago

“Tokyo Dreams” by Nicholas Barker

10 months ago
1 year ago
By: A Bright Wall in a Dark Room
I saw Lost in Translation once, years ago, and really loved it. Loved it in the quiet, deep sort of way you love books you only read once. at a very particular time in your life. and don’t really think or speak of much ever again.
Re-watching it now, though, I find myself less forgiving of it, at least initially. Irritated that Charlotte and Bob need this dalliance, which is far less innocent than I remembered it being. What I had once cataloged in my memory as nuanced, wanting looks that went forever unacted upon were. in actuality. elevator kisses and sultry karaoke songs sung to each other, with pointed meaning and drunken swaying hips.
But then again, it isn’t much more than that—not much more than a teenage caper formed to pass a few echoey days in an electric city one million miles from home. And so I forgive them, Bob and Charlotte. I forgive them again this time and then already again for the next time I watch it, in another decade or so. Because we have been there too.
What I mostly loved about Lost in Translation the first time around, I think, was the gaps. It is a movie defined by what is missing. The quiet spaces and the unspoken words and even the now-classic final scene. The whispered farewell between Bob and Charlotte that we’re not asked or allowed to hear.
Do you remember this? There are entire websites devoted to analyzing and breaking down what Bob says to Charlotte in the film’s final moments, his aging cheek pressed to hers – soft and taut and flawless as a whole lifetime left before you.
I really love that Sofia Coppola never told us. I want something in all this to remain pure. If it must be a secret, then so be it.
And that’s the beauty of the entire movie, really – its sort of Japanese elegance. What it invites and never forces. The line that it toes.
I am a person who could never not say what is in my guts, my overactive mind, my thumping chest. And here is this whole entire poised world. This Asian fairy tale told in elaborate gift-giving greetings and techno club dances, the subtleties of marital jousting and the choreography of old black-and-white movies amidst an insomniac’s midnight panic. The drunk-making mystery of friendship with just slightly too much more.
Give in to where you are. This might be my best travel advice and my greatest travel challenge. There is so much for a human being to fear. Not in hiking through Malian outback alone, not in forging the medinas and the subways and the canals. It’s the connection. Understanding how to insert yourself into the stream of human connection when there is so much potential for misstep. The rapids you misunderstand and the pace to which you are unaccustomed. The depth for which you are unprepared. And ultimately, the possibility that you will be rejected – heaved back out upon the shore.
Approaching a stranger on a train or online is not just that thing; It is everything. It is risking it all – gambling against rejection, wagering love that may spend itself down to the loneliest fibers. Risking that despite it all, knowing we may end up alone.
And that’s why you can forgive Bob and Charlotte.
Because in a wild city that doesn’t belong to you, a million literal or figurative miles from your partner, you might change. It might take something different than you think to keep on keeping on. And even if you, like Charlotte and Bob, hold on to your promises and moral fiber, you still might need to surrender to the moment. Find someone’s hand to hold and run the streets with them until you forget everything. Until you can make yourself go home again.
Just like travel, we often enter into love for far different reasons than we choose to remain in that country. We change, they change. What we want changes. We learn them too well, the illusion burns off, they stop needing us, we let them down.
Somehow, we drift apart and there is an incredible loneliness in the indecision over whether we’ll choose to paddle after each other or not.
Sometimes it takes work to love a country. Most times, it’s never what you thought it would be and you have to decide if you can just let it be what it is, and love it fiercely anyway.

By: A Bright Wall in a Dark Room

I saw Lost in Translation once, years ago, and really loved it. Loved it in the quiet, deep sort of way you love books you only read once. at a very particular time in your life. and don’t really think or speak of much ever again.

Re-watching it now, though, I find myself less forgiving of it, at least initially. Irritated that Charlotte and Bob need this dalliance, which is far less innocent than I remembered it being. What I had once cataloged in my memory as nuanced, wanting looks that went forever unacted upon were. in actuality. elevator kisses and sultry karaoke songs sung to each other, with pointed meaning and drunken swaying hips.

But then again, it isn’t much more than that—not much more than a teenage caper formed to pass a few echoey days in an electric city one million miles from home. And so I forgive them, Bob and Charlotte. I forgive them again this time and then already again for the next time I watch it, in another decade or so. Because we have been there too.

What I mostly loved about Lost in Translation the first time around, I think, was the gaps. It is a movie defined by what is missing. The quiet spaces and the unspoken words and even the now-classic final scene. The whispered farewell between Bob and Charlotte that we’re not asked or allowed to hear.

Do you remember this? There are entire websites devoted to analyzing and breaking down what Bob says to Charlotte in the film’s final moments, his aging cheek pressed to hers – soft and taut and flawless as a whole lifetime left before you.

I really love that Sofia Coppola never told us. I want something in all this to remain pure. If it must be a secret, then so be it.

And that’s the beauty of the entire movie, really – its sort of Japanese elegance. What it invites and never forces. The line that it toes.

I am a person who could never not say what is in my guts, my overactive mind, my thumping chest. And here is this whole entire poised world. This Asian fairy tale told in elaborate gift-giving greetings and techno club dances, the subtleties of marital jousting and the choreography of old black-and-white movies amidst an insomniac’s midnight panic. The drunk-making mystery of friendship with just slightly too much more.

Give in to where you are. This might be my best travel advice and my greatest travel challenge. There is so much for a human being to fear. Not in hiking through Malian outback alone, not in forging the medinas and the subways and the canals. It’s the connection. Understanding how to insert yourself into the stream of human connection when there is so much potential for misstep. The rapids you misunderstand and the pace to which you are unaccustomed. The depth for which you are unprepared. And ultimately, the possibility that you will be rejected – heaved back out upon the shore.

Approaching a stranger on a train or online is not just that thing; It is everything. It is risking it all – gambling against rejection, wagering love that may spend itself down to the loneliest fibers. Risking that despite it all, knowing we may end up alone.

And that’s why you can forgive Bob and Charlotte.

Because in a wild city that doesn’t belong to you, a million literal or figurative miles from your partner, you might change. It might take something different than you think to keep on keeping on. And even if you, like Charlotte and Bob, hold on to your promises and moral fiber, you still might need to surrender to the moment. Find someone’s hand to hold and run the streets with them until you forget everything. Until you can make yourself go home again.

Just like travel, we often enter into love for far different reasons than we choose to remain in that country. We change, they change. What we want changes. We learn them too well, the illusion burns off, they stop needing us, we let them down.

Somehow, we drift apart and there is an incredible loneliness in the indecision over whether we’ll choose to paddle after each other or not.

Sometimes it takes work to love a country. Most times, it’s never what you thought it would be and you have to decide if you can just let it be what it is, and love it fiercely anyway.

1 year ago
Contest to kill 100 people using a sword
In 1937, the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun and its sister newspaper the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun covered a “contest” between two Japanese officers, Toshiaki Mukai (向井敏明) and Tsuyoshi Noda (野田毅), both from Island troops, the Japanese 16th Division, in which the two men were described as vying with one another to be the first to kill 100 people with a sword before the capture of Nanking. From Jurong to Tangshan (two cities in Jiangshu Province, China), Toshiaki Mukai had killed 89 people while Tsuyoshi Noda had killed 78 people. The contest continued because neither of them had killed 100 people. When they got to Zijin Mountain, Tsuyoshi Noda had killed 105 people while Toshiaki Mukai killed 106 people. Both officers supposedly surpassed their goal during the heat of battle, making it impossible to determine which officer had actually won the contest. Therefore (according to the journalists Asami Kazuo and Suzuki Jiro, writing in the Tokyo Nichi-Nichi Shimbun of December 13), they decided to begin another contest, with the aim being 150 kills. The Nichi Nichi headline of the story of December 13 read “‘Incredible Record’ [in the Contest to] Behead 100 People—Mukai 106 – 105 Noda—Both 2nd Lieutenants Go Into Extra Innings”.

Contest to kill 100 people using a sword

In 1937, the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun and its sister newspaper the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun covered a “contest” between two Japanese officers, Toshiaki Mukai (向井敏明) and Tsuyoshi Noda (野田毅), both from Island troops, the Japanese 16th Division, in which the two men were described as vying with one another to be the first to kill 100 people with a sword before the capture of Nanking. From Jurong to Tangshan (two cities in Jiangshu Province, China), Toshiaki Mukai had killed 89 people while Tsuyoshi Noda had killed 78 people. The contest continued because neither of them had killed 100 people. When they got to Zijin Mountain, Tsuyoshi Noda had killed 105 people while Toshiaki Mukai killed 106 people. Both officers supposedly surpassed their goal during the heat of battle, making it impossible to determine which officer had actually won the contest. Therefore (according to the journalists Asami Kazuo and Suzuki Jiro, writing in the Tokyo Nichi-Nichi Shimbun of December 13), they decided to begin another contest, with the aim being 150 kills. The Nichi Nichi headline of the story of December 13 read “‘Incredible Record’ [in the Contest to] Behead 100 People—Mukai 106 – 105 Noda—Both 2nd Lieutenants Go Into Extra Innings”.