BADER ZAINAL WRITES — Like many countries around the world, Japan has suffered significant negative impacts to its tourism industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, but signs of travel restrictions easing bring hope for recovery. The beauty and mystique of Japan have long enticed visitors from international locales, with tourism soaring…Full Article JAPAN: WILL GLOBAL TRAVELERS GET TO SEE THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS THIS YEAR?
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES — Is it possible that some relationships teeter on the edge of societal acceptance while others are too tame? Ranging from cosplay sex with an older, married woman to a couple that rarely touch each other, Misumi Kubo’s new novel explores five deeply intimate and intertwined stories…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: SO WE LOOK TO THE SKY BY MISUMI KUBO (2021)
BRIEYA MOORBERG WRITES —The deer in Japan’s famed tourist destination, Nara Park, located in Nara Prefecture, have been dying. This year alone, 1,000 deer died after consuming plastic bags left behind by tourists. Now, to the rescue: A local Japanese entrepreneur, Hidetoshi Matsukawa, a souvenir wholesale agent who has invented…Full Article JAPAN: TOO MANY DEER HAVE BEEN EATING THEMSELVES TO DEATH
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES – “We can’t know what happens behind closed doors” is a frustrating and insidious phrase that is too often weaponized to reduce instances of sexual assault to minor misunderstandings. In Japan, if a sexual assault occurs in a space without any witnesses, the case becomes a “black…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: BLACK BOX (2021) BY SHIORI ITO – THE MEMOIR THAT SPARKED JAPAN’S #METOO MOVEMENT
DEREK GARCIA WRITES — Star Wars’ ‘Visions’ was a great TV series that pushed the boundaries of the ‘Star Wars’ franchise and animation, but why didn’t it get more buzz? Well, Disney severely hurt and possibly killed its potential due to its method of release management. Let’s begin with what,…Full Article ANIME: DISNEY’S NEW ‘STAR WARS’ SERIES HAS CRASHED ON EARTH
LAUREN CRAVEN WRITES — In the US, we have Halloween. Then there is the Day of the Dead, which originated in Mexico. In Japan every year, the Obon festival is celebrated in most regions from the 13th to the 15th day of August. It’s an incredibly popular event in Japan,…Full Article JAPAN: WHO NEEDS HALLOWEEN WHEN YOU HAVE OBAKE?
MILES WHITTINGHAM WRITES — Prior to the 2021 MLB season, Angels fans just wanted to see their star Shohei Ohtani stay healthy and produce what he could. But no one expected him to do what hadn’t been done in centuries. The Angels’ highly regarded two-way player has been the subject…Full Article SHOHEI OHTANI: A ONE-TIME LONGSHOT PLAYER MAKES HISTORY
CLAIRE GUTE WRITES — Almost anyone who has seen the 2009 documentary The Cove has been struck by the graphic footage of dolphins being captured or killed in Taiji, Japan. Taiji is a small town on the east coast of the Kii Peninsula with a population of 3,500 people, as…Full Article JAPAN: SAVE THE DOLPHINS
LAUREN CRAVEN WRITES — Kawaii, a term meaning “cute” in Japanese, has morphed into an entire culture that can be seen in the everyday experiences of Japanese natives, tourists, and even in the lives of those outside of Japan. In the 1970s and 80s, the Kawaii aesthetic started as a…Full Article JAPAN: DOES KAWAII CULTURE INFANTILIZE WOMEN?
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES – Consider, for a moment, that food is not simply fuel, but rather each component to a meal contains a piece of living-giving energy. “Each grain [of rice]”, as author and translator Winifred Bird describes, “was thought to have a soul, and for many centuries people believed…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: EATING WILD JAPAN: TRACKING THE CULTURE OF FORAGED FOODS WITH A GUIDE TO PLANTS AND RECIPES (2021) BY WINIFRED BIRD
ANDREA PLATE WRITES — Forget about Naomi Osaka, for a moment. For all the whining-and-dining out by the press on the tennis superstar’s mental health struggles, and her difficulty facing their not-so-friendly post-game fire, she is, after all, just one international superstar. One. Forget, too, about Britney Spears, if you…Full Article JAPAN, KOREA, AMERICA: CAN YOUNG SUPERSTARS THE WORLD OVER EVER BE HAPPY?
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES (latest in her review series of new Japanese novels) — Loneliness, a newly standardized leitmotif in Japanese literature, is the driving force behind much of modern Japan’s social dilemmas and Natsuko Imamura’s unnerving novel. Beyond that, the fear over taking risks and forging new relationships frames the narrative…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: THE WOMAN IN THE PURPLE SKIRT (2021) BY NATSUKO IMAMURA
AIDAN SMITH-FAGAN WRITES — Japan’s Defense and Deputy Prime Ministers have both recently affirmed their government’s willingness to defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion from the Chinese mainland. Those statements also coincided with a recent report from the Financial Times detailing joint US-Japanese military exercises in the hotly…Full Article DIRE STRAITS: JAPAN, THE U.S. AND THE FUTURE OF TAIWAN
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES (latest in her review series of new Japanese novels) – People often dwell on the existential concept of death and what it means to die. But what does it mean to be born? To be alive? For the beautiful, talented, and wealthy, life would seem to be a cornucopia of joyous excitement and…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: HEAVEN (2021) BY MIEKO KAWAKAMI
TOM PLATE WRITES — There are always concerns about Japan, with its background of not only brilliant accomplishments but also unforgettable aggressions; but now that Japan is in the foreground again, if with cheerless Olympics, historic debt and China rise, who can be sure what’s next? Recall that the geopolitically…Full Article JAPAN: WHY IT SHOULD PLACE PRIORITY ON MAKING FRIENDS AND MONEY
ELLA KELLEHER WRITES (latest in her review series of new Japanese books) – Are you feeling disillusioned with the relentless hustle and colorless monotony of metropolis living? Do you feel like another cog in the capitalist machine? Do you crave a simpler life? Consider adopting and adhering to the daily…Full Article BOOK REVIEW: THE EASY LIFE IN KAMUSARI (2021) BY SHION MIURA