Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | pop culture
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My most recent Denver ramen was at the original Osaka Ramen location in the RiNo district. I had the special Miso Ramen of the day with an order of kara age fried chicken. I grew up in Japan when I was a kid, and have vivid memories of bowls of ramen and soba noodles stacked high in bowls or boxes, being...

When the Japanese Canadian newspaper Nikkei Voice asked me to write about my favorite recent books related to Japan, I realized that I've read some books in the past year that I never got around to writing about, and was also finishing an innovative new book, or to be precise, a new ebook. In any case, I tend to read many...

I gave a recent reading to a full house at the Japanese American Museum in San Jose's lovely Japantown, and had a blast. During a recent trip to San Francisco to attend the annual conference of the Asian American Journalists Association, I squeezed in two readings from the new revised edition of my book, “Being Japanese American.” The two events reminded...

There’s a new ABC sitcom being aired starting in February that I can hardly wait to see. I’m hoping “Fresh Off the Boat” will finally be a show where I can see people like me acting the way my family acts, with funny American situations but filtered through an Asian cultural perspective. I expect it’ll be a moment of critical...

Japanese American friends: Help me make the revised edition of "Being Japanese American" the best book it can be! I'm looking for photographs of the Japanese American experience, to include in the revised 2015 edition of my book, "Being Japanese American." Not just portraits but photos that capture our lives as JAs. Here are some examples of things I'm looking for:...

rosie-sandra Earlier this year, Sandra Oh made a graceful exit from the hit television series "Grey's Anatomy" after 10 seasons as the talented, loyal, driven and mercurial surgeon Cristina Yang. In the final episode of the 10th season, Oh's character left the Seattle hospital where the drama takes place, and took a job at a clinic in Switzerland, of all places. The new season began without her this fall. Oh hasn't been slacking off since her departure from one of the most celebrated ensemble casts in Hollywood, though. She immediately took to the stage in Chicago, for Argentinian-Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman's drama "Death and the Maiden," in the lead role that was played by Glenn Close on Broadway and by Sigourney Weaver in a film adaptation by director Roman Polanski. Oh also appeared in a small part in Melissa McCarthy's comedy, "Tammy" this year. And now, she's trying a new role, as executive producer of an animated film, "Window Horses," and trying to raise money through a crowdfunding campaign for the project on Indiegogo. The film tells a multicultural story of a mixed-race Asian Canadian young woman, Rosie Ming, who is half Chinese and half Persian, who's invited to Iran to participate in a poetry festival and finds herself on a journey to discover her roots, find her identity and learn the truth about her father.

mudra-gyaan "Gyaan" is not your typical showcase of energetic classical and contemporary Indian dance, which Mudra Dance Studio has become known for. It is, but it's much more too. The stage at the Lakewood Cultural Center, where Mudra has hosted many of its elaborate, every-other-year professionally-produced shows in the past decade, is partially filled with a backdrop of boxed-in platforms that serve as bandstands for the musicians. The boxes are white before the show, but once the house lights dim, they become three-dimensional screens for a complex visual interplay of videos that help tell the story that's primarily told through dance in the front part of the stage. This 3D multimedia richness is just one of the factors that sets "Gyaan" apart from a typical community dance recital, and even a level higher than Mudra's typically impressive Indian showcases. It was so expensive to produce that the group launched a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for the production (it was only for a small fraction of the cost). With "Gyaan" -- Sanskrit for "knowledge through experience" -- Mudra founder Namita Khanna Nariani has a message she wants the audience to absorb: that in today's world of violence and tragedy, people have to come together and support each other. It seems trite to say it, but this show is about how love and community and art can save us all.

[caption id="attachment_5601" align="aligncenter" width="520"]Homemade kimchee, homemade takuan and natto. Homemade kimchee, homemade takuan and natto.[/caption] I’m a foodie. Everyone knows this. I write about food, I take photos of food everywhere I dine, I love to cook, and I love food from everywhere. One of my personal rules has always been, if someone somewhere in the world eats something, I’m willing to try it… at least once. So I’ve had chocolate covered ants. Fried grubs. The meat of some strange animals that you wouldn’t think humans ought to eat, like rattlesnake brats. In a way, I was prepared for this gastronomic open-mindedness (open-stomachnes?) by growing up Japanese. I was raised in Japan until I was 8, but even lifelong Japanese Americans know what I mean when I say that Japanese cuisine -- although hailed today as the epitome of high culture and is accepted as mainstream with commonplace dishes like sushi, ramen, tempura, sukiyaki and teriyaki – can feature some nasty stuff. Foul-smelling, slimy and icky-textured. Food that’s best swallowed quickly, without chewing or thinking about. No savoring the flavor, just pop it in and send it down the chute. A lot of people probably would disagree with me, but I feel that way about oysters. I think they’re gross. Keeping my personal rule in mind, I’ll eat them if I’m at a nice restaurant in a town like Boston, where oysters are de rigeur. But I won’t seek them out and suggest an oyster bar for a night out. It’s ironic, then, that people who would slurp down an oyster at a moment’s notice would probably themselves grossed out at some things I love: Raw eggs mixed with soy sauce and drizzled on hot rice; natto (fermented soy beans) mixed with soy sauce and mixed with hot rice; crunchy takuan; oden, an odiferous winter stew.