Tag Archives: america

Book Review & Giveaway 25: Beyond The Tiger Mom

30 Jan

I have received another book from Tuttle Books!
And, as always, they have agreed to give (given) one free copy to a random visitor to my blog!

The book I’m reviewing today is titled “Beyond The Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age” by Maya Thiagarajan.

tiger-mom

“Beyond The Tiger Mom”

I will put the details of the free drawing for this book at the end of this post.

Ms. Thiagarajan was born in India and then moved to America after she graduated from high school. She went to college in America and, afterwards, became a school teacher there.  Eventually, she moved to Singapore with her husband and their children and she became a teacher there.

From this, she has become familiar with the American way, the Indian way and the Chinese way of parenting and teaching children.

With her knowledge and experience of what works and what doesn’t work best for children’s education, she has written this extensive, easy-to-read guide.

Beyond The Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age” can be purchased through Amazon here.

But, as I said above, Tuttle Books has agreed to give (given) one random visitor to my blog a free copy of this book.

***** Updated February 14th, 2016 *****

This special promo ended on 2016 February 14th. One random winner was selected and contacted directly by Tuttle Publishers (via email) with the details about the free book.

Thank you to all who entered, but only the winner was contacted.
*****

 

2015 in review

22 Dec

In ten days, this year will be over.  Time flies!
Google have compiled the biggest news stories for each of the past twelve months by country, according to the most popular internet searches in each country.

All links below are to related posts that I’ve written. By all means, click the links and read (and comment on) my posts!

The Biggest News Stories of 2015 in Japan:

  1. (December 2015) – Star Wars
  2. (November 2015) – Paris attack
  3. (October 2015) – Rugby World Cup / Water on Mars
  4. (September 2015) – Volkswagen emissions scandal
  5. (August 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
  6. (July 2015) – Women’s Soccer World Cup
  7. (June 2015) – Japan’s Constitution change
  8. (May 2015) – Respiratory Syndrome that started in South Korea and killed 36
  9. (April 2015) – Nepal earthquake
  10. (March 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
  11. (February 2015) – “The dress”
  12. (January 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
"The dress"

“The dress”

The Biggest News Stories of 2015 in America:

  1. (December 2015) – Star Wars
  2. (November 2015) – Paris attack / The Royals won the baseball World Series
  3. (October 2015) – Water on Mars
  4. (September 2015) – The Pope visited the U.S. / Volkswagen emissions scandal
  5. (August 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
  6. (July 2015) – Women’s Soccer World Cup / Cecil the lion / Iran nuclear deal
  7. (June 2015) – Caitlyn Jenner
  8. (May 2015) – Mayweather vs Pacquiao boxing match
  9. (April 2015) – Nepal earthquake / Same-gender weddings legalized
  10. (March 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
  11. (February 2015) – “The dress” / The Oscars awards show
  12. (January 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)

Women’s World Cup

6 Jul

The final match of the 2015 Women’s Soccer World Cup was played today.

It was Japan vs USA.

The USA won, so they are the 2015 Women’s World Cup champions!
Japan got silver (2nd place), and England won third place!

2015 Womens World Cup medal standings

おめでとうございます!(Congratulations!)

Coincidentally, in the previous Women’s World Cup (in 2011), the final match was played between Japan and America then too. Japan won that time.

America has a strong women’s soccer team. They currently hold the record for the most World Cup champions (three times), and they’re the only team that have been in the top three in every World Cup since the first one in 1991!

Only-in-America

10 Dec

I’ve lived in Japan for most of my life now, and I have only been back to visit America a few times. In fact, my most recent visit there was over ten years ago ( Click here to read about the reverse-culture-shock I experienced on that trip.)

I was thinking about some things that seem normal to most Americans…but are actually unique to America and kinda odd to people who don’t live there.

1. Flags everywhere / “Pledge of Allegiance”
Every country flies their national colors. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the American flag is flown everywhere, everyday in the U.S. Even car dealerships and in school classrooms.
Speaking of school classrooms, American children stand with their hand on their heart, facing the flag in the classroom, and recite and pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag.
A bit like North Korea.

pledge

2. “Sales tax” –
By this I mean, the price shown on the products in stores in America is the pre-sales tax price.
To be honest though, it was the same way in Japan when I first arrived here. At that time, sales tax here was 3% and the after-tax price wasn’t listed on the price-tags. (Just before I came to Japan, there was no sales tax here at all!)
But in 1997, the law was changed that all stores in Japan must show the after-tax price on their products (the sales tax went up to 5% that year too. (Currently, it’s 8%)).

3. “Toilet stalls” –
When people from other countries visit America, the public restrooms are quite a culture shock! The doors are too small! It’s disturbing when you’re using a public toilet but don’t feel like you have privacy.

public-bathroom

4. “Tipping” –
There is no tipping in Japan. When I visited America, I was never sure who to tip or how much! I had to check my guidebook. Waitresses, taxi drivers, hotel staff, bartenders, et al. It felt like, no matter how mediocre the service, I had to tip everyone! And after tips were factored in, the cost for many things in America were actually higher than in Japan.

5. “Guns” –
Besides the police and military, there are virtually no gun owners in Japan.
All of the gun-related violence in America that is reported in the news is sad and shocking.

6. “Alcohol rules” –
In America, beer can’t be enjoyed outdoors in public. And there are hours (and even certain days) that stores don’t sell alcohol.
Why?

There are beer vending machines in Japan.

I’m not putting America down.
I’m just pointing out some peculiarities about the culture of the country of my birth. Every country has them…and sometimes it takes stepping outside the country and experiencing a different culture to see them.

What are some unique cultural peculiarities about America, Japan or any other country that you’ve noticed?

Interview with Matt Alt

16 Sep

Matt Alt is, like me, an American with a Japanese wife who lives in Tokyo.

Also, like me, he is interested in 妖怪 (Japanese monsters).

His wife and he have written a few books, including “Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide” which I reviewed (Click here to read my review and to enter (by 2014 September 27th) for a chance to win a copy of the book).

yokai

Matt Alt has kindly agreed to do an interview with me.

– My questions and comments are in red. Matt Alt’s answers are in black.

1. Could you give us a short self-introduction (that covers info not answered in the questions below) ?

I’m Matt Alt. I co-authored Yokai Attack!, Ninja Attack!, and Yurei Attack! with Hiroko Yoda.
When we aren’t tracking down yokai, ninja, and ghost stories, we live in Tokyo where we run a translation company.

2. Where are you from? When / why did you come to Japan?

I was born and raised in Maryland, just a normal suburban kid.

There is very little in my family’s background to suggest any underlying interest in Japan. I was obsessed with robots, though, and that coincided with the first wave of Japanese robot toys hitting the American marketplace – Micronauts, Shogun Warriors, and then Robotech and Voltron and the Transformers and the whole Eighties toy boom.

This being the Eighties Japan was getting a lot of attention as the next economic superpower, and as a result my school system set up a Japanese program at my high school. It was one of the first at a public school in the US.   Both there, and in university where I majored in Japanese, the vast majority of students were studying the language for business reasons. I and a few friends were the only ones studying because we loved manga and anime. I’ve heard that proportion has totally flipped in recent years.

3. How did you become interested in yokai (Japanese monsters) ?

I owe my interest in yokai to Hiroko, my wife and co-author of our books. I’d known about them through pop culture sources like Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro, but Hiroko really pounded it home to me that these weren’t anime characters, that they were folklore with a great deal of history in Japan. As she introduced me to old woodblock prints, stories, and art, I got more and more excited — and shocked that there was so little information available about them in English.

4. I’m also interested in Japanese yokai…but don’t know nearly as much detailed information about them as you do! How did you learn so much about them?

Besides my “living database” of Hiroko, there is a great deal of scholarship about yokai in Japanese. There are a huge number of books and magazines on the topic ranging from stuff for kids to pure entertainment to scholarly treatises. Besides the usual art books you can often find abroad, the writings of people like Kazuhiko Komatsu, Katsumi Tada, and Murakami Kenji offer a lot of insight into Japanese yokai culture. Being able to read Japanese is key. We rely heavily and almost exclusively on Japanese resources when we write our books.

5. What did you imagine Japan would be like before you first came here?

An otaku paradise! That was the naiveté born of a robot-obsessed fifteen year old. But it wasn’t, not at all, and I realized I actually preferred the reality all the more.

6. What type of culture shock did you experience here? Do you visit your home country often? Experience reverse-culture shock there?

Business takes me back to the States semi-regularly and I always try to go back for the holidays. Without question it’s tough to live so far from family and old friends. But I have a lot of new family and friends here in Japan too. I don’t really get homesick or culture shock, but it is often shocking to me, with the speed of modern travel, that I can be having breakfast in Tokyo one morning and dinner in Maryland that evening. That plane flight feels long when you’re on it, but by historical standards it’s the blink of an eye.

(As for me, I rarely travel outside Japan. It’s so expensive. My most recent trip to Japan was in 2004. And I experienced a lot of “reverse culture shock”! (Click here to read my post about it.  — Tokyo Five))

7. What is you favorite yokai ? Favorite “non-Japanese” monster?

With so many yokai it’s hard to choose from. I love what you might call the weaker ones, the less malevolent ones, most of all. Tofu Kozo is one. The idea of this tofu-carrying kid being a supernatural creature. Or Aka-Name, the yokai whose idea of haunting is licking out dirty bathtubs. Those sorts of creatures are the most interesting to me, because nearly every culture has a folklore tradition of scary monsters. Annoying or silly ones, not as much.

8. What do you think of manga / anime such as “Ge-Ge-Ge-No-Kitaro” ?

As I wrote in the preface to Drawn and Quarterly’s English translation of “Kitaro,” which came out earlier this year, Shigeru Mizuki is a genius at his craft and responsible more than anyone else in the 20th century for popularizing yokai among the public at large. I’m a big fan of Miyazaki’s work as well – he weaves yokai, or yokai-like, creatures into his work very subtly and deftly. I love the mix of the historical and supernatural of “Mononoke Hime,” for example. And I really like what I’ve seen and played of “Yokai Watch.” The way it sort of remixes rather than simply parrots old yokai lore is really charming, and the way kids are reacting to it reminds me of how kids used to react to Kitaro.

9. What question are you never asked in an interview that you should be asked (and what’s the answer) ?

A lot of people interview us about yokai, but very few ask about their impact on modern culture – I’m not talking recent iterations of yokai shows like “Yokai Watch” but Japanese character and culture in general. They are very much the key to understanding the question of why Japan is so great at creating mascots and characters in general. They represent an intersection of folklore, craftsmanship (illustration), and storytelling that forms the fabric of modern Japanese pop culture.

10. Any final words? Links? Plugs?

Thanks for reading our books! If people enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them, that makes us really happy. Even though writing is sort of a side business for us (our main one being localizing Japanese games and manga and other content into English and European languages) we have many other book projects simmering on the back burners even as we speak. Stay tuned!

Thanks again to Matt Alt.

Man on the moon

20 Jul

Today (2014 July 20th) is the forty-fifth anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969 by American astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin.

30th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Mission

Click here to read a Huffington Post article about this anniversary and to see a video of the Apollo 11 rocket that carried the first men to the moon.

World Cup 2014

13 Jun

The FIFA soccer championship World Cup matches are currently being played in Brazil.

The first game was yesterday.  Home team Brazil beat Croatia, 3-1.

This is the first World Cup with any Japanese referees. Three Japanese referees officiated yesterday’s Brazil – Croatia game.

The games that Japan and the games that America are scheduled to play are here:

fifa

Dates / times shown are Brazil time (Japan Standard Time is twelve hours later)

Do you watch the World Cup?

I’ve never been very interested in soccer. I watched a few World Cup games when Japan co-hosted the games with Korea in 2002. I think I’ll give it another try, and watch some of the games that Japan and America play. Maybe I’ll become a soccer fan. 😉