Barbara Greene: “The Transition From Policy To Pop Culture”

Barbara Greene on agrarian nationalism in Japanese manga in the latest issue of the electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies:

Like Moyashimon, Gin no Saji is set at an agricultural school, although in Arakawa’s series it is a specialised prep school located in Hokkaido. Like the university in Moyashimon, the agricultural students are dedicated to becoming specialists in their field and demonstrate a wide breadth of technical knowledge. Agriculture, rather than a staid and unchanging industry and lifestyle, is again shown as dynamic and high-tech. Unlike Moyashimon, Gin no Saji has a lead character that can serve as the point-of-view perspective for readers who are unfamiliar with agriculture. The lead characters in Moyashimon are both the scions of long-standing sake and miso producers, but the lead in Gin no Saji is a first-generation agricultural student who had burned out of a traditional, elite prep school in Sapporo. This allows her to provide more exposition on the differences between daily life in rural and urban Japan that is glossed over in Moyashimon. But, both series strongly emphasise the emotional reward of this industry, particularly in an era where the tangible outcomes of labour are alienated from the worker.

Buzzfeed: “$1 Sushi Vs. $133 Sushi”

I had a good friend at Georgetown who would use Buzzfeed as her main source of news, and I used to make fun of her for doing so. But then Buzzfeed started to use the cash it earned from hosting quizzes on whether you were the mental age of a fat middle-aged man or a schoolgirl into paying writers (hopefully at a fair rate) for excellent opinion articles on Taylor Swift’s fake romantic drama and excellent reporting in general. And I stopped making fun of my friend and duly downloaded the Buzzfeed News app on my phone.

So you know your company has made it when, in the process of making a video comparing junk food sushi that will make Jiro Ono’s mentors turn in their grave and three Michelin-starred sushi from Kyubey in Ginza, that the PR representative from Kura Sushi comes out and explains how his company’s robots knead rice on a massive scale in their kitchens, and Mr. Yosuke Imada decides to open Kyubey up during the day just to explain to two American men and a Japanese woman his humble and fiery life philosophy.

The result is a very thoughtful but accessible video on the different ways of how sushi is consumed and produced in modern Japanese life, and I think it’s definitely worth the twenty minutes of your time.

Vice: “‘Chomp’ Magazine Offers a Queer Look at Japanese Street Culture”

Kaitlin Chan, a great friend of mine and the author of this very blog’s beautiful banners and icons, and Beatrix Pang have created Queer Reads Library, a reading space for people to browse its collection of books and independently published zines which focus on queer narratives from all around the world.

Last weekend, at Queer Reads Library’s booth at CultureFest in Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong, I purchased the latest issue of a Japanese scene called Chomp, a super fun zine from Japan.

It’s difficult to explain what amused me so much about Chomp when I was browsing through Queer Reads Library, but this 2016 Vice interview with its creator, Mitsu Sucks, is a helpful guide:

As a gay guy, I always had trouble identifying with the mainstream gay scene in Japan. And I could never find a publication that spoke to me. Gay themes in Japan are very one-note and tend to fall into one of two categories: They’re either full-on porn or fashion-related. They also take themselves very seriously. I wanted to create something different and definitely more lighthearted.

By the way: if you’re in Hong Kong this weekend, check out Queer Reads Library’s Queer Reads Picnic at Tai Kwun on Friday night and say hello to Kaitlin and Beatrix!

Nagoya is not a very attractive city

And this was confirmed by its own city government in a survey released in the late summer which collated the responses of over 400 hundred aged 20 to 64 from eight major metropolitan areas in Japan.

The following graph shows Nagoya City’s sad situation:

Screenshot 2018-10-14 at 12.46.57 AM

But come to think of it, tourists like me mainly exploit Chubu International Airport in Nagoya not to go to Nagoya, but to go to other more exciting places like Shirakawago and Ise Jingu in Mie Prefecture.

If New Jersey is the Armpit of America, is Nagoya the Singapore of Japan?

Japan Times: “Startup takes stress out of fed-up workers’ exit plans”

Alex Martin on a promising new startup called Exit:

Niino and Okazaki [the founders] says [sic] they have worked for clients who felt cornered to the point of considering taking their own lives. For them, Exit provided a life-saving solution.

Once an online request is accepted and the fee is deposited, Exit contacts the employer and notifies them of the client’s intention to resign and how, in most cases, they will no longer be coming in to work. Exit will relay other requests the client may have, including using up any paid leave, but steers clear of anything that requires a lawyer to handle, such as negotiating severance packages.

The Q&A section on Exit’s website is quite interesting:

Q4. 親にバレずに退職できますか?

Q4. Can I quit without my parents knowing?
We ask companies to refrain from contacting your parents, as we ask them to refrain from contacting you. Most companies adhere to our request. However, we cannot guarantee that they will not contact your parents.

Prices start at 50,000 yen for full-time employees.

Tokyo MX: how college students really feel about volunteering for the Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo MX did an unscientific survey of 100 people around college towns to find out whether anyone they met wanted to volunteer for the Olympics. Unsurprisingly, as this blog has mentioned, a majority of them do not.

It also asks whether Meiji University students understand why their school has already decided to change their 2020 examination schedules to accommodate the Olympics. Should a school prioritize studies and research, or should it bow down unapologetically to national demands? Or is should it follow, like most things, a nebulous standard?

This YouTube comment is also interesting:


Students from other prefectures will volunteer at the Olympics. There is no place for them to stay. They have no money. They know no one in Tokyo. How on earth will they volunteer at all?

You should ask the same question for everyone coming from outside Japan!