The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Scott Haas

People feel connected to Japan in different ways and in the case of Scott Haas it started when he was thirteen years old. From there, his passion grew and he went on to write about his appreciation for Japanese culture for audiences across the world.

Having recently published a new book called Why Be Happy?, Scott has explored psychology and acceptance through the lens of Japanese culture. Learn more about the book, his backstory and what he’s got planned for the future. 

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Book Reviews

Why Be Happy? Review: A Resonant Book That Delves Into The Concept Of Acceptance In Japan

Why Be Happy? by Scott Haas.

What do we mean by acceptance? Is it the avoidance of conflict? The understanding that some events are simply beyond our control? Is it the resignation that certain things won’t change? These kinds of questions are asked everyday all over the world and every culture has their own take on what acceptance means.

In Japan, ukeireru is a type of acceptance that the Japanese embrace and Scott Haas is interested in peering behind the curtain to see what exactly it means. In Why Be Happy?The Japanese Way of Acceptance, Haas explores the concept of ukeireru, what it truly means to accept something and how the power of acceptance can help to build a happier and healthier life. 

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Oubaitori Life · Pop Culture and Japan

Oubaitori Life: Johnny Silverhand

Learning about Japanese philosophy is a great way to discover new life lessons and apply them to daily routines. Oubaitori Life examines the Japanese concepts that fictional characters apply to their routines and an interesting character to focus on is Johnny Silverhand from the Cyberpunk franchise.

A soldier turned anti-establishment rockstar and freedom fighter, Silverhand surrounded himself with Japanese concepts on a regular basis. 

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Poetry

Can I?

Can I?

I ask myself this everyday

Can I?

Be someone proud

Can I?

Be someone who goes to Japan

A dream within a dream

Living outside

An existential crisis

Can I?

Live with being me

A contradiction 

Up and down

Travel or no

Paralysed

Frozen inbetween

Can I?

Be a father

A man to lead generations

Children who look up

To the guy who was meant to lead the way

I don’t know

I’m drowning

In indecision

I’m shattered

Pick myself back together

Can I?

Survive the pandemic

Living alone

It’s scary

I feel the weight

Unknown shadows

On my shoulders

Can I?

Be the man

Inside my mind

Samurai 

Connection to culture

Can I?

Keep moving

Uncertainty

I cry

Can I?

Breathe

I’m suffocating

Can I?

Live with myself

Can I?

Not be drunk

Making excuses

Can I?

Listen to myself

Find the answer

Can I?

Bear the pain

Move beyond suicide

Can I?

Explore Hokkaido

Eat ramen in an izakaya

Drink sake in a brewery

Be the gaijn in Roppongi

Dance awkwardly to K-pop

Dive into Kyushu

Drinking shochu

Can I?

Lie on a beach in Okinawa

Speak of the habushu myth

In bars with old men

Still trying to get it up

Can I?

Sip awamori

See kame

Melded before me

Can I?

Accept the things

That can’t be controlled

I don’t know

I’m trying

Forgive me

I will

One day

I see the dawn

Rising

Can I?

I can

Completed

A dream

Reality

The life I’m living

At last

I’m here

Peace

I’m living

A feeling

Without fear

Amazing

Clear eyes

Blue skies

The future is bright 

Guest Posts

Guest Post: Hikikomori During A Pandemic

The great lockdown of 2020 shocked the world, and will forever leave a mark on those living through this iconic time. The rate at which COVID-19 spread, caused many people around the world to live under social restrictions to avoid unnecessary human interactions. An almost impossible task, while living in the 21st century, but not for everyone.

Japan’s hikikomori are those who shut away from the normalities of life such as work, school, friends, hobbies, and socialising in general. It translates to ‘pulling inward’ and often referred to as ‘modern-day hermits.’

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Book Reviews

Forest Bathing: The Rejuvenating Practice Of Shinrin Yoku Review: Forging A Positive Mental Health Routine With Nature

Forest Bathing book.

Having a connection to nature is a feeling that’s as old as the human race. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors lived in harmony with the land and relied on it for food, shelter and warmth. But as we’ve built more cities and created new technology, our connection to nature is no longer what it used to be.

Rediscovering that bond is a therapeutic practice, as presented in Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles’ Forest Bathing: The Rejuvenating Practice of Shinrin Yoku. This book delves into the Japanese concept of forest bathing, providing helpful tips on how to embrace the natural world and building it into a positive mental health routine.

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Book Reviews

Men Without Women Review: Haunting, Beautiful, Playful And Relatable

Haruki Murakami is arguably the most well-known Japanese author for western audiences. With a writing career that spans over forty years, Murakami has been delighting readers for decades with his signature surrealist humour and bittersweet reflection on the transience of life. 

While Murakami has written some wonderful novels, I’ve found myself gravitating towards his short stories lately. One of his most memorable collections is Men Without Women, a poignant series of short stories that delves into the concept of loneliness and what it means for different people. 

In the absence of female company, all of the men in this collection have lost something. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s obvious. The reader feels it in every word and that is Murakami’s talent on full display.

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