Guest Posts · Pop Culture and Japan

Guest Post: Japanese Baseball: Fun, Modern, Sacred

One evening not too long, my daughter surprised me an unlikely question about, of all things, Japanese baseball.  I am keenly interested in Japan and always enjoyed attending baseball games during my many visits to that country, but still the question came out of left field.  

“What is baseball to the Japanese?” she asked, explaining that “during the Second World War, Japan’s military government suppressed all things American, even the English language, but the Japanese continued to play baseball, even professionally.”  She then added, almost innocently:  “Didn’t they know it was an American game?” 

I assured her that Japanese people knew the game’s origins well.  Other than that simple fact, I had nothing specific to offer her.  In the back of my mind, I sensed that the answer somehow connected to a broader mystery about the Japanese – how they can so readily adopt so much from abroad and never for a moment lose their sense of self or their commitment to steward Japan’s unique culture and values.  Americans, when they adopt something foreign, often feel a tension between their identity and the new practice as if somehow indulging it makes them less American.  Not so the Japanese. 

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Pop Culture and Japan

Japanese Bass Player Yusuke Morita Selected To Play At World’s Largest Flamenco Festival And Contest

The Cante de las Minas Festival’s contests have launched the career of many flamenco artists through its 61 years of history in the disciplines of singing, dancing, guitar and other instrumental playing

Flamenco bass player Yusuke Morita (Nishinomiya, 1988) has been selected to play on August 4th at the semifinals of the Cante de las Minas International Festival, the world’s largest flamenco event that takes place in the Spanish town of La Unión.

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Shochu Reviews

Takara Towari Soba Shochu Is A Mind-Blowing, Shape-Shifting Sort Of Spirit

Takara towari soba shochu is mind-blowing and awesome.

Shochu is one of my favourite spirits and the amount of ingredients that can be used to make it is one of its main appeals. On my shochu journey I’ve tried sweet potato, rice, barley, kokuto (brown sugar) and a category that’s blown my mind recently is soba (buckwheat).

Specifically, Takara towari soba shochu blew my mind because of how good it tastes and here are my thoughts.

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The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Sam Boulton

Over the years, the sake scene in the UK has got stronger, with most activity concentrated in London. This progress is gradually expanding out from the capital and Sam Boulton is one of the key movers.

The owner of Birmingham sake bar, Shibuya Underground, Boulton is keen to bring more awareness to nihonshu, shochu and awamori to UK consumers. He’s also a man after my own heart by being interested in a variety of obscure drinks that deserve more recognition.

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The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Johnny Pawlik

As an industry, marketing is huge in the west and is the foundation for which popular culture and products are built on. I’ve always been curious how it’s perceived in Japan and it was great to have all my questions answered by Johnny Pawlik.

Co-founder of Mantra Media, Pawlik have worked on many international marketing campaigns centred on Japan and infuses Japanese philosophy into his view of marketing. 

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Pop Culture and Japan

Walking On The Wild Side Of Sake With The Miyoshikiku Brewery

The world of sake is made up of interesting folks who’ve dedicated themselves to keeping the rich history of Japan’s native drink alive. Folks who’re leaving their own unique mark and something very special is going on at the Miyoshikiku brewery in Tokushima Prefecture.

Meet Mamiya Ryōichirō, the 5th generation head of the Miyoshikiku brewery. A born RocknRolla with a taste for out of the box sake and a man I had the pleasure of interviewing alongside Kyoko Nagano.

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The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Kyoko Nagano

The sake industry is filled with people who’re passionate about keeping Japan’s native drink alive domestically and overseas. Kyoko Nagano is one of those champions and works with small sake breweries all over Japan to spread the good word of nihonshu.

It was a pleasure to speak to Kyoko about her sake experiences and she’s got a lot of great information to share.

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Guest Posts

Guest Post: A Bowl Of Heart: A Film About More Than Just Ramen

If it takes time to become acquainted with a person in any meaningful way, then a bowl of noodles needs to be raised for John Daschbach. After spending an entire year filming a master ramen chef, the Tokyo-based filmmaker’s latest film Come Back Anytime beautifully captures the feeling of finally getting to know someone.

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Guest Posts

Guest Post: Drive My Car Movie Review

You’ve probably heard by now of Drive My Car, the Ryusuke Hamaguchi film based on three stories from the Haruki Murkami short story collection Men Without Women, and the fact that it has made history as the first Japanese film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. But if you’ve yet to find the three hours necessary to see it, you may be wondering what’s so special about this film. 

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Pop Culture and Japan

Sake, Shochu And Drinks Galore: Launching The Drink To That Newsletter

Being in a bar or a restaurant is transformative. Venues like that are an intersection of new cultures, communication, excitement and storytelling. Drinks play a vital role in creating these experiences, with Japanese drinks like sake and shochu elevating nights out, intimate lunches and conversations with friends.

Sake is one of my favourite drinks. But it’s not the only thing that floats my boat. I’m pleased to announce the launch of Drink To That, a newsletter for imbibing knowledge, celebrating the hospitality industry and providing content marketing tips for drink brands.

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