Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | asian american
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MakoMakoto Iwamatsu died on Friday at the age of 72, of esophageal cancer. It's a huge loss to Asian Americans. If you know him at all, you probably know him better as simply Mako, the Japanese actor, who played countless character roles and supporting parts in television shows and movies starting in the early 1960s.

Seabrook's bon odori danceWow, it feels weird, but I've finally written a new Nikkeiview column, the first in a year and a half. I've just been too busy (I know, it's a lame excuse), but by writing these Nikkei Blog posts, I've been inspired to finally sit down and write a longer column. It helps that I went last weekend to southern New Jersey with a JA group to Seabrook's annual Bon Odori dance. Read the column here, and let me know what you think.

Here's a story published June 20 from the Toledo Blade in Ohio about a Tower 98.3 DJ "apologizing" for an on-air stunt that sparked protests from Asian Americans. Lucas, a night-time DJ, made a series of mocking calls to Asian-owned businesses while on the air, including a Japanese restaurant where he reportedly told the person at the restaurant, who had an accent, “me love you long time,” “ching, chong chung,” and “Me speakee no English.” He also called a Chinese Restaurant in May, and when the person on the other end spoke perfect English, made comments on the air that a white person must be working in the restaurant.

Ask a NinjaIs it just me? I really think "Ask a Ninja," a free video podcast that consistently ranks among the top-5 popular video podcasts on Apple's super-influential iTunes store, is dumb. Really dumb.

Sudoku on the WebOK, I can't stand it anymore. I'm not much of a puzzle person -- crosswords can't catch my attention, and jigsaws don't call out to me. I'm not much of a numbers person either -- hence, I work with words (journalism), not numbers (engineering). So, Sudoku hasn't exactly lit me on fire even though it's apparently the hottest thing in the puzzles and games world. I see Sudoku everywhere, from supermarket magazine racks to fancy bookstores, and electronic games to lots and lots of sites on the Web.

Yellowface afootI know, I know, I'm painting all of the radio industry with an awful broad brush. But let's face it, no one's doing this kind of stuff on TV. A year and a half ago, I wrote my (embarrassingly, most recent) Nikkei View column about Hot 97, a station in NYC, which broadcast a tasteless and racist satire making fun of dead Asians after the tsunami. But similar incidents continue, even up to this month.

Post / Gil Asakawa
Real sushi, from the source: a bento box at a sushi restaurant in Sapporo.
I'm in the middle of a two-week trip to Japan, and it's been a fascinating visit. I was born here in Tokyo (an Army brat -- my dad, a Nisei from Hawaii, was stationed here and met my mom during the Korean war) and moved to the states when I was 8. But as an adult, I've only been in Japan twice -- in 1994 and 1995. This time it's for a family trip, and I'm traveling with my mom. Here are some observations:

11:00 a.m. Here I sit in my rental car, mere yards from the water. I'm waiting for the Bainbridge Island Ferry in Seattle -- I missed the last one by just seconds and the next one leaves in an hour. Bainbridge Island is the place captured poetically in the book and movie, "Snow Falling on Cedars" (which means, come to think of it, that it snows in Seattle, at least sometimes).