thoughts on japan from a former japanese language student

Tales from Tabata is an unending examination about human relationships, work, and cross-cultural negotiations, thinly disguised as casual dispatches on contemporary Japanese life from the perspective of an American-educated, Hong Kong-born quadrilingual millennial.

Kenneth Lee

I write Tales from Tabata.

I studied at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where I posed for photos in front of cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., learned about mochi-making rice cookers, and hung out in the Georgetown Voice‘s closet long enough for the editors to let me write, among other things, an online column about anime and manga.

My senior dissertation, “Alienating Ethnic Kin: Assessing Immigration Integration Policies for the Brazilian Nikkeijin in Japan and Joseonjok Marriage Migrants in South Korea“, is published in the Cornell International Relations Review and won the Donald S. Macdonald Prize in Korean Studies, the John W. Witek, S.J. Prize in Japanese Studies, and the Joseph S. Sebes, S.J. Medal in Asian Studies at Georgetown University.

In junior year of college, my roommates decided to run against each other for student body president, so I escaped to Waseda University, where I spent four months working at the FamilyMart in Building No. 11 instead of going to class.

As a Waseda student, I lived in Tabata, in Kita-ku, Tokyo.

I’m currently based in Hong Kong.


Tabata (田端) is a suburb in Kita-ku, Tokyo. It is one of the stops on the Yamanote Line, a major commuter line in Tokyo. Tabata Station’s claim to fame is that the Keihin-Tohoku Line’s rapid train service stops at Tabata.

In February 2016, Tabata was voted the 4th lamest Yamanote Line station in a ranking (山手線で最もダサいと思う駅ランキング) by the variety program Monday Late Show (月曜から夜ふかし).

Even more reading

Everything I write on Tales from Tabata is based on personal experience and research using Japanese, English, and Chinese-language resources. If you want to read what I read about Japan, check out these news sources.


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Thanks to Kaitlin Chan, Katria Inoue, and Jade Mallabone who assisted with the set-up of Tales from Tabata in August 2018.

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