Before Winter finally settles, I’m keen to remember summer one last time. (At least the memories will keep me warm!) My strongest association with a Japanese summer is the matsuri festivals. On summer evenings, in the humidity of a thirty-degree-heat, communities gather, dressed in yukata, and enjoy the festival. It usually consists of a procession and a gathering in a local square. Crowds form around the taiko drums which are often on a stage in the centre of the square and they dance, encircling the taiko drummers. Young children who dance for the first time are taught by their parents and grandparents, who push them along gently if they forget to keep moving round. The dancing is entrancing. The beat of the taiko drums is something which still enraptures me and raises the hair on my arms with excitement.
Not to mention the food! The smokey yakitori with the most delicious sauce, the ice-cold, bright, blue kakigori which gives you brain-freeze, the warming takoyaki. I was having bubble tea at matsuri festivals way before it was hipster and cool. These memories of the sounds and smells of my childhood nourish me when I am feeling homesick. Continue reading “Remembering Summer: London Matsuri”
One of my pet hates is when books/plays written by BAME writers are perceived or labelled as culturally ‘niche’. Why do people say that? It’s a way of othering and distancing works by writers of colour for being ‘different’. It’s alienating for BAME writers and readers/audience members when it’s difficult for minority writers to get a platform and challenge the status quo in the first place. I think that it’s necessary to deconstruct this idea that we are ‘niche’, and with that in mind, here are two products of the British East Asian theatrical community which I have really enjoyed reading recently. Foreign Goods really got me thinking: why is this the first British East Asian collection of theatrical writing? Because it’s SO good. I hope that there’s another! Continue reading “British East Asian Theatre: “I’m not a graceful lotus flower.””
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”
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”
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
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.
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”
Before Autumn is officially over, I thought that I had better post this! A couple of weeks ago, I made a casserole for me and my friends which turned out to be delicious. It really warmed us up on a chilly evening. It was very simple and included potatoes, carrots, onion, and chicken breasts. I wanted the natural juices of the veggies and chicken to flavour the casserole really, so I only added vegetable stock and ‘mixed herbs’. I sweated the onions slightly so that they were a little caramelised, which added a subtle, sweet flavour to the dish. I could have thickened the soupy sauce with some cornflower, but instead I decided that a richer, thinner juice was more appropriate for an autumn evening.
Continue reading “An Autumnal Casserole”
Konnichiwa, Thinking Japlish readers. Today I have an exciting gem of a blog post: an interview with another fellow Eurasian and dear friend of mine who is half Chinese, half British. I hope that you enjoy the interview below, when we asked our guest all about her experiences of biculturalism.
Continue reading “Halfie Hour: Alexandra Luo”
This is where I live: Oxford. It’s really very lovely.
Continue reading “A glimpse at life in Oxford”
At last, the Christmas season has drawn to a close and we hope that everyone who is celebrating has had an enjoyable holiday. After an enormous amount of mince pies, I finally feel satisfied. Here’s a little something poetical which I’ve written to record and celebrate the quirky spirit of the ‘English Christmas’.
Continue reading “‘A Recipe for an English Christmas’”