Today is Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. I have been home discussing the topic with my children, and remembering the plight of the survivors and those that never came home. So I will not write a full preamble to this month’s newsletter. I hope my fellow Canadians are reflecting on our shared history. For those abroad, maybe take a moment to look into Canada’s past. But remember that this is part of a global story. Today the Asia Watch newlsetter from the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada featured Indigenous issues from around Asia. The chart below comes from that post, and gives you an idea of the size of indigenous populations are there, many without a proportional voice. It is about time we listened up.
My year on Ikijima, a remote Japanese island
Big wrap-up piece. I try to capture a year living on Iki, and all the emotion, in a mere 3000 words 🙃
Interviewing Superintendent Kubota
I wrote a story for UnseenJapan.com and this is a little more background on one of the subjects I interviewed for that story, an inspirational educator named Kubota Yoshikazu who used to bring fruit to my house on random Sundays.
Continuing a Japanese porcelain legacy — Review of The Art of Emptiness
The story of Japanese pottery, which gave birth to many famous traditions such as Kakiemon ware, the subject of a book review I did for Books on Asia.
Unseen Japan: My piece on how schools on remote Japanese islands are fighting depopulation. Link →
Books on Asia: My review of The Art of Emptiness. Link →
Cory Doctorow pays homage to David Graeber by weaving together a debate between Piketty and Hudson, with two large dollops of China and technopolitics on top. Must read. Link →
Some lovely post-typhoon drone footage of Saruiwa. Link →
“To engage Hawai‘i at anything close to a serious level is to ask what it means even to come.” Link →
(Also see my reflections on travelling to Hawai‘i from 2018 Link →)
Why did Japanese peasant revolutionaries sign their demand documents in a circle? Link →
The Shogun’s Last Samurai Corps: The Bloody Battles and Intrigues of the Shinsengumi by Romulus Hillsborough
Through various manga, anime, and television specials the Shinsengumi have been turned into both a 19th century boy band and also bannermen for Japanese nationalism. Listening to the exploits of these psychopaths, it is unbeleivable how they have become such idols in contemporary Japanese culture. Shades of modern day tiki torch-bearing incels. Hillsborough tries to show the unvarnished truth, but he is a bit deluded by the legend of bushidō. Curious to see how he wraps this up at the end.