Naomi Osaka released this commercial with Nike Japan that perfectly captures (I think) the oscillations of her being Japanese when it’s convenient, and her being not Japanese when she’s not (at least according to a former chairman of Twitter I met at a private dinner in Hong Kong earlier this year).
“I am so proud of you and I am truly sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself. But I had no idea the media would pit us against each other. I would love the chance to live that moment over again. I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you. I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete. I can’t wait for your future, and believe me I will always be watching as a big fan! I wish you only success today and in the future. Once again, I am so proud of you. All my love and your fan, Serena.”
A new station is to open on the Yamanote Line next year. In June 2018, JR East held a naming competition on what to call the station. Coming at 130th place in the competition was “高輪ゲートウェイ (Takanawa Gateway)”, a corporatist combination of Japanese-influenced English and manufactured marketing hype for the Tokyo Olympics with a dash of regret to come when people look back at the decision in 20 years.
The historical background of the district is that it has been home to a major highway since ancient times, once prospered as the entrance to Edo, and was a historic area in the Meiji period where railways that connected to different areas in Japan began. The new developments around the station aim to form an international exchange hub where advanced corporations and human resources gather from all over the world, and the new station will continue this district’s history and serve as an exchange hub in the future. The new station serves as a gateway to the past and future, Japan and the world, as well as between people, and so we chose this name to reflect how the station will contribute to the new developments in the district.
I’m not sure if Takanawa Gateway would be able to replace Roppongi’s clubs, though, if that’s what JR East is aiming for.
Thankfully, the name also gave birth to the most nightmarish cosplay I’ve ever seen at Comic Market.
The ending song to My Hero Academia‘s fourth season, which aired in Japan this fall, could have been just another anisong. A high-tempo, catchy, emotional, and vaguely lyrical monologue from a J-pop artist, interviews with music magazines on what the song means for the TV show, a “TV version” cut down to size for broadcast, and CD singles for sale at your nearest Tower Records. Rinse, and repeat.
But The Stand News reported from Hong Kong that the full version of ‘About a Voyage’ had disappeared from Sayuri’s YouTube account, and from a streaming site popular in Mainland China called bilibili, one day after the music video was released. Apparently, the music video’s incessant motifs of uniformed students wearing gas masks and piling up classroom furniture to create makeshift barricades against prominent yellow backgrounds was a little too much for China’s keyboard warriors to handle.
Every attempt to censor something generates more publicity for it. So the Streisand effect also applied to ‘About a Voyage’—at least in Hong Kong. The “TV version” of the music video remains (which also contains the allegedly offending motifs) with a sneaky link to the full song on Spotify or Apple Music. And it doesn’t seem like people in Japan cared that much. A search for酸欠少女さユり MV削除事件 reveals one article by Bunshun Onlinewhich subsumes Sony Music’s decision to remove the video as one incident in a long history of body corporates deciding whether to kowtow to China:
Apart from having Chinese people bash on Sayuri, who doesn’t have yet have a large market in China, there could be boycotts of and disruptions to concerts in China for all Sony Music artists from all over the world, and popular artists from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan signed up to Sony could, having the Chinese market in their minds, move to other record labels in an act of ‘nationalistic’ appeal. This would become an unbearable situation for a company. It was a situation where Sony would put out the fire quickly.
In the global economy, large corporations have to consider whether what they publish, from a single company treat to Sayuri’s music video, is considered ‘politically correct’ to the standards of China, which has a market of 1.4 billion people. It could be said that even J-pop, which comes from Japan, is now in a time where they have to self-censor anything that would anger China.
By noon on October 12, Japan was preparing for the arrival of Hagibis, the most powerful typhoon to hit the country in decades. Public transport had been halted and commercial flights grounded, while evacuation orders blared from mobile phones as the risk of floods, landslides and deadly winds mounted.
As the danger grew, social media catalogued the complaints of workers who had been forced by their employers to brave nature’s fury and turn up for work. Many of the businesses identified — coffee shops, estate agents, sushi restaurants — were not essential services. But the testimonies rang true.
Two weeks earlier, the government had published a white paper on Japan’s overwork crisis that suggested progress on eliminating one of the country’s most notorious workplace problems was slow.
According to an (unreviewed) annotation on Genius.com, the chorus of this song is deep:
This section of the song slow down the pace of the piece, incorporating more minor chords and the use of the words “motherfucker” and “oh” to reduce the intensity of the song. The theme of exasperation is still not lost but is achieved through a more morose method, albeit still satirical. Furthermore, the repetitive use of the word “oh” shows a bit of desperation, an emotion closely related to exasperation. The back up vocals represent the other rejects of society as there are few of them that quietly “back up” the opinion of the vocalist who is depicted as a pariah for the trans-human and transsexual [sic] communities.
In all seriousness though, Netflix helped distribute this masterpiece internationally, which I appreciate. I hope Netflix invests my subscription money into brave animation projects like these, instead of burning big bucks to get Neon Genesis Evangelion, which, to the best of my knowledge, no one outside North America really cares about at this point.
I stumbled upon Dogen’s criminally underrated Japanese language videos this year on the YouTube algorithms.
Also known in real life as Kevin O’Donnell, Dogen teaches Japanese phonetics on Patreon and makes bite-sized memes that will trigger anyone who has learned Japanese and lived in Japan for more than a month. I recommend all of his mildly button-pushing videos.
Ryo Muranaka said he sold everything to travel 6,000 miles from Japan to Cleveland’s east side. He did it dreaming of meeting and performing with his hip-hop heroes: Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. But he caught the attention of activists when they found him alone, broke and even robbed of his luggage.
We spoke to him using an interpreter function on his phone. We asked why he came to Cleveland, and he answered, simply, “Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.” A super fan, but he also admitted coming here the way he did was super risky.
“I thought I could get in the US in exchange for my CD,” Muranaka said. “No. No plan. One-way ticket.”
“Now that his face has been on the news, no one would dare do anything to him ‘cause there will be a whole city trying to find them,” said Bibbs [Kwas Bibbs, who, according to the article has connections to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and has been helping Muranaka]. “Even though there’s a cultural difference and he can be a handful, at the end of the day, everyone can see his heart. I’m not talking about ‘I’m tough and I’m here and I’ve got big balls.’ I’m talking about his heart.”
For his part, Muranaka has sent many letters to President Donald Trump to try to receive support for getting an artist visa.