Mid-year Round-up: Favourite Encounters So Far

It’s definitely heating up for summer right now (I AM MELTING as I write this) and I’m so excited to spend my time in the sun crossing titles off my summer reading list. Before that, though, here’s a quick round-up of some of the books which I’ve really enjoyed reading in 2018 so far. Continue reading “Mid-year Round-up: Favourite Encounters So Far”

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Featured on Halu Halo

Apologies for the radio silence – uni life has been chaotically consuming recently, but I’m glad to be back! I was recently interviewed by Halu Halo, an awesome project on Instagram which aims to act as a platform for mixed race people’s experiences and voices to be heard. Check out my feature below and then give them a follow! (Credits: @halu_halo and @thenomadiclondoner) Continue reading “Featured on Halu Halo”

Reasons to be Graeae on a Sunny Day in May

I first encountered the theatre company Graeae when they came to talk to the KCL Cultural Institute last Autumn, so I was extremely excited to receive this beautiful copy in the post, very kindly sent to me by Oberon Books. We’ve had gorgeously warm weather recently, and I have loved soaking up the Graeae rays in the sunshine.

Graeae is a force for change in world-class theatre, boldly placing D/deaf and disabled actors centre stage and challenging preconceptions.

(Source)

Reasons to be Graeae is a collection of stories which track the history of the company (established in 1980) as well as offering insight into what makes them tick. It’s a tribute to the fact that their passion for diversity, access, and representation has been hugely influential to the theatre industry. The company’s unusual name has a memorable story behind it – pronounced ‘grey-eye’, it is from the Ancient Greek myth of the three sisters who shared one eye and one tooth between them. As a result, they are extra entrepreneurial and clever. They’re said to have inspired Shakespeare’s three witches of Macbeth, so it has theatrical roots, too!

I’ve always been interested in dramaturgy and I knew that I was going to really enjoy Reasons to be Graeae because I had already heard about how cool they are as a company, but I was not prepared for how moved I would be by this fascinating and dense collection of stories. Warning: this is not dry, boringly academic dramaturgy. This is stuff that will make you feel teary on the tube and laugh in the library. It was a real joy to read. Continue readingReasons to be Graeae on a Sunny Day in May”

I Wish I Had Seen Wendy Kweh Play Calpurnia When I Was a Kid

I was a member of the ‘mob’ audience of Nicholas Hytner’s stunning production of Julius Caesar (2018) at the Bridge Theatre, and aside from being completely blown away by the production itself and the incredible level of talent from Ben Whishaw, Michelle Farly, and the whole cast, there was one person whom I found so personally inspiring.

When Wendy Kweh graced the stage in all her elegance, I paused for breath. In that space, seeing an incredibly talented actor of Asian ethnicity onstage as a distraught Calpurnia, a realisation hit me like a wave: in all my years of growing up and going to the theatre, as far as I can recall, I had never seen an Asian actor in a professional Shakespeare play in the UK before. Moreover, I had not even realised this fact until I saw Kweh onstage, standing in front of me. I had subconsciously accepted that it did not happen – even to the extent that I had not consciously thought about it at all. Continue reading “I Wish I Had Seen Wendy Kweh Play Calpurnia When I Was a Kid”

From Shoreditch to Shanghai: Loop of Jade by Sarah Howe

During the week of International Women’s Day, I took a trip to Shoreditch to visit Penguin’s ‘Like a Woman’ pop-up bookshop, which was stocked with women authors to celebrate #IWD2018.

Like a Woman

Whilst perusing the beautifully curated bookshelves, I came across a true gem, Loop of Jade (2015) by Sarah Howe. I’ve been reading a lot of novels recently, and I was in need of a poetry-fix, so this wonderful collection really caught my eye. As a winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2015, I knew that I was in for a treat. Added to that, all of my favourite things were mentioned on the blurb: ‘an enthralling exploration of self and place, migration and inheritance’. It did not disappoint, and I’ll take you through some of my favourite moments in the collection here.

Continue reading “From Shoreditch to Shanghai: Loop of Jade by Sarah Howe”

London’s Answer to Okonomiyaki: Abeno? AbeYES

Warning: This post is not for the empty-stomached.

For long-time followers, you’ll know that I adore okonomiyaki. That’s right, the Japanese omelette, savoury pancake, and grilled parcel of joy, covered in mayo and Bulldog sauce (like BBQ/HB sauce but better). MmmMMmmm.

This low-key obsession began three years ago, when I experienced the best meal that I’ve ever had in my whole life. In Osaka, my friends and I stepped off our shinkansen journey in the greatest city of food for just one meal. And boy, was it the lunch of dreams. Continue reading “London’s Answer to Okonomiyaki: Abeno? AbeYES”

Because We Are Taught Not to Complain

In response to actual YouTube “make-up tutorial” videos: Being hafu is NOT a make-up look which you can wipe off at the end of the day. It is your skin.

It’s hard to be a woman. Everyone has their own story. I’ve been socialised not to complain, but actually, I’d like to take some time and space to acknowledge that sometimes it can be hard to be hafu (half-Japanese, half-“other”). In a global context, we’re a relatively small ethnic category with fairly specific cultural issues and barriers. But so many people have identity crises and doubts about “belonging”, so perhaps others will be able to relate in some way as well. I feel that it’s important for other hafu or biracial women out there to know that it’s ok to feel that it can be hard sometimes. It’s ok to feel. I’m in no way pretending that my life is one of terrible struggles or that my life is awful, but I do have a story. It’s called:

Just Because I’m Biracial, Why Do I Have to Balance Two Patriarchal Ideals of Beauty?

Continue reading “Because We Are Taught Not to Complain”

International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! Women and people of all genders in the world, let’s keep fighting the good fight for feminism, anti-racism, LGTBQ+ rights, and all things intersectional and good. I’ll keep it brief and refer you onto a short #girlpower list which I’ve written, featuring a few of my favourite artist-slash-activists to follow on Instagram (in no particular order!). Let me know whom else I should follow!

1. Naomi Shimada (model/storyteller)

Firstly, we share the same name – which obviously means that I love her. Secondly, Naomi often speaks about really important social issues like body image/sizeism in both the UK and Japan. As a self-identified storyteller, she clearly has a zest for life and expresses this by tossing all of the Insta rules out of the window (expect nine posts per day when she’s travelling and up to fun adventures). Her fashion style and Insta feed are brighter than Blue Ivy Carter’s future and she certainly brings sunshine to my day, which is why I love following her.

🍔 WE LOVIN IT🍟

A post shared by 𝕟𝕒𝕠𝕞𝕚 𝕤𝕙𝕚𝕞𝕒𝕕𝕒 (@naomishimada) on

Continue reading “International Women’s Day”

New Digs: Snow Place Like London

Hey there, it’s been a while! 久しぶりです!

Apologies for my long absence, I was busy doing Finals exams, graduating, and then settling into a new course and University (King’s College London – I’m studying for a Contemporary Literature, Culture and Theory MA). I’m loving it but it’s been a huge whirlwind so far! I have finally settled down and have time to spend writing for my blog again. I’ve missed you!

We had Artic weather in London last week – lots of snow and temperatures so low that my phone battery was constantly non-existent. If you’re reading this from continental Europe then you probably experienced the ‘Beast from the East’ too. Of course, Canadians, Finns, and anyone from anywhere else further North in the world found the British chaos rather hilarious, which I can understand given that it was only -4˚, but nevertheless it was a memorable week in 2018’s tapestry of this city. London certainly looked beautiful, despite the drama of it all, and I felt very lucky to be studying here.

Coming up next: Food adventures, books exploring biculturalism, travel journaling, hints & tips for London life, food, food, and more food.

Stay tuned! またね!

Naomi | 直美

Photo: Westminster in the snow

Blue skies and blossom

Spring is here and Oxford is in full bloom. We’ve had ridiculously blue skies for the past few days. I thought I’d post some shots which I took around the city, and in particular, of Magdalen College when I went there last weekend.

St Michaels 1

It’s the Easter holidays and revision for Finals is underway. Studying is definitely easier when every street is beautifully washed with golden sunshine and blossom in bloom. The pastel colours and sandstone of the buildings are glowing in the sun. This photo was captured along St Michael’s Street. Continue reading “Blue skies and blossom”