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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In terms of ingredients, shochu may well be the most diverse spirit on the planet. Japan’s best kept secret can be made from lots of unusual substances. I’ve gravitated to more niche varieties of shochu and Tantakatan shiso comfortably sits in that camp.
A shochu with a fishy tale behind it, there’s a lot to enjoy about this delightful drink.