KCET: How senior fashion is turning heads in San Francisco’s Chinatown

You Tian Wu 82, about his fashion philosophy: “When you’re young you don’t have to care about fashion. But when you’re old, you have to.”

(Photo: Andria Lo/Chinatown Pretty)

Gaijin Tips: “Eat all your rice in Japan”

Check out this Gaijin Tip from video/blogger kanadajin3, who is actually named Mira and is “a girl who moved from Toronto, Canada to Tokyo, Japan.”

Eat all your rice in Japan. Leaving food behind is rude esp if it is rice bits. When you scrape food off your rice cooker, you need to take everything, leaving little bits is ruder than leaving a lot. If you just can’t finish your food that you got at a restaurant then you can leave some behind, but try to finish everything at home and at your friends house.


Think your week was hard? Tokyo salary man’s insane work diary goes viral


QUARTZ/Global Voices (by Nevin Thompson): 

A recent video uploaded by prolific YouTube vlogger Stu in Tokyo has gone viral, so far reaching more than half a million views.

 The topic of video? A week in the life of a Tokyosalary man,” the common name in Japan for a salaried office worker.

Stu works for a British financial services company in Tokyo, he explains in the video. Typically the months of January, February and March are “crunch time,” requiring long hours. 

So, Stu decided to keep a video diary of just how much he works each day, and what he actually has time to do after he gets off work. It doesn’t turn out to be much of anything at all.

But that’s okay, says Stu. “There are definitely people in Tokyo who do this all year round in order to support their families. I couldn’t imagine having to do this if I had those kinds of responsibilities as well.”

There are signs this cornerstone of Japanese working corner is in the process of changing. Although current Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has floated the idea of eliminating regulations that limit daily working hours entirely, the government has in fact introduced plans to require Japanese salaried workers to take five days of paid vacation every year.

Until now, while many Japanese salaried employees receive paid vacation time as part of their compensation package, very few workers actually make use of it. Due to workplace culture, Japanese workers are reluctant to book vacation time on their own, leaving coworkers behind to pick up the slack. Instead, if Japanese workers do take a day off, they typically take one during one of Japan’s national holidays.

Japan currently has 16 nationally legislated holidays, the most of any G20 country (the UK has only 8 national holiday, and the US 10). The abundance of national holidays in Japan may compensate for long working hours and peer pressure that frowns on taking a day off for personal reasons.

However, when everyone in a nation of 126 million people goes on vacation at the same time on a national holiday, the result can be clogged rail lines, monster traffic jams, and long lines at airports. 

The new vacation labor regulations are an attempt at addressing this problem. There is also the hope that mandatory paid leave, combined with the large number of national holidays will spur tourism and in turn encourage consumer demand, stimulating Japan’s sluggish economy.

Who’s the Angriest Asian? Trademark feud leaves community torn


A legal dispute has emerged between two of Asian America‘s leading blogging figures, one that has confused and saddened portions of the Asian-American community, and has highlighted the growing clout and economic interests such properties wield in the digital age.

Lela Lee created the “Angry Little Asian Girlcomic strip in the early days of the Asian-American blogging scene, tapping into a nascent emotional tone that resonated amongst Asian-American activists and artists across the internet. Lee claims that Phil Yu, the man behind the popular Angry Asian Man blog, has encroached on her intellectual property with his expanding media efforts and the monetization of his blog.

While the legal wrangling continues, the impact on the Asian-American media scene has been immediate. On her blog, writer Jenn Fang crafted a lengthy analysis of the case Lee has against Yu, ending with a somber note. “What saddens me,” she wrote, “is that two titans of Asian America have come to blows over who has exclusive rights to call themselves an ‘Angry Asian.‘”

Culture critic Jeff Yang (and father of Hudson Yang, star of the ABC hit show “Fresh off the Boat“) took to Medium to express his concern about how the dispute might affect strides made by Asian Americans in media, calling the disagreement, “deeply damaging…to the larger, deeply interconnected community to which we belong.

The dispute is ongoing, and blog posts previously posted by both sides have been deleted as negotiations continue.

Adrianne Ho’s Instagram pictures gets warped by artist Ryder Ripps

New York-based painter Ryder Ripps takes a jab at the curation of self- and public perception with his latest exhibition, Ho, on display at Postmasters Gallery in TriBeCa. As the name might infer, Ripps’ most recent works consider internet model and creative Adrianne Ho‘s Instagram profile, which the artist asserts is a particular case of created or ‘warped’ identity.

Accordingly, Ripps deconstructs and morphs images of the publicly doted model, who is notably supported by brands like Nike and Supreme for her subtle form of ‘lifestyle’ advertising. VICE caught up with Ripps in a new interview, which can be read in its entirety here.

Enjoy a key excerpt below and head to Postmasters if in the New York City area.

Adrianne Ho's Instagram Pictures Gets Warped by Artist Ryder Ripps

So Adrianne Ho, she triggered this idea for you?
Yes, she’s like the quintessence of corny-core. There are lots of other examples of people who represent this idea, but nothing as consistent as Adrianne Ho. She’s a very succinct and focused example of this one particular mode of creation of self-representation online.

Also, I like her connections to streetwear, and I like the idea that she’s mediating herself and her identity, who she really is—Adrianne Ho, that’s her name, it’s not fake—and is willing to bend herself around brands. What’s interesting to me about that is the aspect of how we can alter or create realism for other people—curate personas.

If you asked me to sponsor your brand and be real, it would be really interesting to see how I’d do that. My own idea of who I am and how to achieve realness as a paid gig is the most honest thing, because the actual branded thing would ultimately be a lie, an imagination. It’s a constructed farce of reality. And it’s also a projected farce because it’s how you perceive a client would want you to be. It’s your imagined self for another person. It’s when you put your own head in someone else’s head and then think about yourself.

Get to Know Dis/orient/ed Comedy’s Jenny Yang

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Audrey Magazine:

The first time Jenny Yang performed a standup routine at an open mic, it felt like time had come to a standstill. Her set at the Tuesday Night Café in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo lasted only about four minutes. “But it felt like forever,” says Yang, laughing. “I almost barfed, but I didn’t.”

Instead, she became physically ill afterwards, for about a month. “I got sick because I’d worked myself up into such a frenzy,” Yang says. “But part of me also knew that pursuing something so scary, so challenging, meant that I could really grow from it.”

Fast forward to 2014, five years from that fateful night Yang first stepped up to that microphone. And over that time, the Taiwan-born, California-raised writer and comic has been winning over audiences in clubs and college campuses across the country with her socially conscious humor and exuberant style of delivery. Her material infuses new life into territories often tread by comics of color — the lack of diversity in mainstream media, the pitfalls of dating outside of your race — with a refreshing mix of well-placed sarcasm and self-deprecating candor. Her writing and commentary has been featured on National Public Radio, BBC News, Bitch Magazine, Colorlines and others. Last summer, a Buzzfeed video she starred in and helped to write, “If Asians Said the Stuff White People Say,” hit viral status, with over 6.7 million views to date.

But she realizes she still has much more to learn in her chosen field. “I’m still considered a newbie,” Yang demurs. “People say that between seven to 10 years is when you get to a point when you’re better.” She admits, however, that she feels much more confident on stage these days. When asked if she’s ever “bombed,” Yang pauses a few seconds to think, then answers matter-of-factly: “When you start doing standup, you get used to varying degrees of jokes working or not working. It’s a lot more gray than just, oh my god, I was going to kill myself out there.”

In person, Yang is friendly and warm, and indeed, she’s funny — though not in the set-up and punch line manner of her stage act, nor with the unbridled silliness conveyed in 140 characters or less on Twitter. (An example: “At the market, read ‘Organic’ vegetables sign as ‘Orgasmic.’ Calling therapist now.”) Perhaps because she sometimes tweets in shouted all-caps and easily embraces the abbreviated shorthand of the Internet generation, I expected to meet someone more cavalier, a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of gal. Rather, Yang seems to give serious thought to every answer, at times interrupting herself to clarify a point.

There are moments she borders on pensive, such as when discussing her opinions on where Asian Americans fit within the racial and social structures of the U.S. “We’re still very black and white in America,” she says. “Even considering the Latino community is a start. In some ways, the public discourse has recognized Latinos, like, ‘Look at them, they’ve emerged!’” Yang rolls her eyes. “Well, actually, they’ve always been here.”

As for Asian Americans, she believes that “mainstream media is still very undereducated on how to talk about us in a way that honors the community, as people worthy of respect.”

She mentions Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese American NBA star, whose image was juxtaposed with a fortune cookie by the press during the height of the Linsanity blitz two years ago. “Who does that?” she asks, exasperated. “How would anyone think that would be OK?” She adds, “Because he’s Asian, they play up stereotypes. To me, that’s just where we’re at, sadly.”

Yang says that she grapples daily with the myriad ways that her Asian American identity intersects with other facets of her life, and she hopes to translate her observations into jokes that will make people laugh, all the while creating a more nuanced dialogue on race, gender and politics. “That’s really important to me,” she says. “Because I’m on a public platform, how do I explain myself and the people I care about?”

One such means is her involvement with the blog I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault, an online safe space where women share powerful and heartbreaking stories of harassment and sexual assault, in the form of letters written to a younger sister. Yang contributed a post that poignantly detailed a childhood experience with an older white boy who sexually bullied her, and the injury further compounded when Yang’s own mother readily dismissed the abuse.

In the time since she began pursuing an entertainment career, Yang has come to the definitive conclusion that “we need more Asian American artists.”

In this spirit, Yang founded Dis/orient/ed Comedy, a standup tour that features an all-Asian American, predominantly female cast. The show premiered at the David Henry Hwang Theater, the 240-seat space that is also a part of the Union Center of the Arts, along with the courtyard where Yang first took up the mic at the Tuesday Night Cafe years ago. Dis/orient/ed Comedy is actively touring the country now, with at least one show a month.

She’s also running a monthly story-telling project called Family Reunion, launched this past August at Echoes Under Sunset, in L.A.’s Echo Park neighborhood. At a recent show, attendees were treated to a surprise appearance by legendary comic Margaret Cho, whom Yang calls her “comedy fairy godmother.” The series takes place on the last Thursday of each month. Yang promises that future Family Reunions will feature cameos by seasoned performers like Cho, while retaining a commitment to showcasing emerging acts.

Asian Americans are complicated,” says Yang. “We need more artists and writers, more people to tell our stories.”

She grins and adds, “We have enough East Asian ophthalmologists.” Then she bursts into laughter.

Visit jennyyang.tv for Dis/orient/ed Comedy tour dates.

Photo by Daren Mooko
This story was originally published in Audrey Magazine’s Winter 2014-15 issue. Get your copy here.

What you need to know before arguing with Japanese people…



Gaijin Pot: 


One of the problems that some foreigners encounter when living in Japan is how to discuss political and ethical subjects with Japanese people. Exchanging smalltalk and simple ideas usually will not be taxing (aside from any language barrier) or pose a problem, but once the speaker graduates from basic conversation to challenge more difficult topics, the possibility of conflict arises.

Take for example the internationally hot topic of dolphin or whale hunting. An ethically interesting and pertinent subject to tackle, but one that beckons conflict with both hands. As foreigners living in Japan, one of our first inclinations is to stop and ask those around us their opinion on the topic. After all, in many overseas media outlets, the issue is framed as a Japanese problem, bringing the whole race unfairly into question.


Why not go to the source directly and ask: What do the Japanese really think of this issue?


Naturally not everyone will want to discuss such topics, and being a politically and ethically sensitive issue, it is bound to ignite a more animated discussion than smalltalk about the weather. However, it seems fair game. After all, it’s in the news. It’s shocking. It’s simple enough that everyone can have an opinion on. Why not talk about it, right?

But already we’re unwittingly walking a precarious line. Broaching a topic such as this, while admittedly not your average dinnertime conversational piece even back home, is considerably easier among groups of likeminded westerners. Political and ethical issues are among those that are not easily discussed in Japan.

Of course, that’s not to say that Japanese people do not speak of them! Quite to the contrary, locals can be quite vocal about political issues affecting them and are not shy to rise up and let the government know with demonstrations.

But among coworkers and casual friends – the sort of people that we meet regularly but do not maintain a close level of intimacy with – these issues are altogether best avoided in the first place. Perhaps even with those Japanese people we are intimately close to these issues are best left unspoken.

Unlike many western countries where a casual pub debate would end at the bottom of a glass, fiery topics in Japan can leave lasting and unwelcome impressions on the Japanese participants. What seemingly should just be a free exchange of ideas, opinions and facts with the aim of perhaps going home a little smarter and more informed has a tendency to act as a catalyst for not speaking or socializing again.

Why is this?

In part the problem is caused by the way westerners are brought up to discuss such topics and, in turn, with the way Japanese people are used to discussing them. Many westerners are used to debates and free exchange of ideas, even to the point of talking over colleagues and making their opinions and supporting reasons clearly known. The goal is often to prove themselves right and win a discourse, or perhaps in a more noble light, to see the absolute facts prevail.

Such is the free nature of this sort of exchange that, sometimes, the person with the most commanding voice or assertive nature is known to dominate, quite irrespective of whether or not his or her ideas are well thought out.

In contrast, in Japanese ‘debate’, emphasis is placed on maintaining a level of harmony with the other person. Rarely is a person’s opinion directly challenged or refuted. To avoid discord, what often happens is that the listener will tend to agree with the speaker’s points, sometimes in such a roundabout and acquiescent manner that a third party might mistake them for actually agreeing with the speaker!

After softening the blow however the listener will then proceed to give their own opinion, often while noting similarities between their position and the speaker’s, and advance a slightly different viewpoint. To which the speaker will perform the same sort of dance, yielding while simultaneously disagreeing.

This ebb and flow of ideas serves to save face and build consensus wherever possible between participants. There are of course situations where an impasse is reached and neither person can advance their opinion without disagreeing outright with the other. Such scenarios usually end in a deflation rather than an explosion (as we might see with two westerners clashing in the heat of debate), leading to a rather unresolved situation that trails off, hopefully to be replaced by a safer topic.

It is however important to remember that not everyone is going to fit these vast generalisations. There are Japanese people who will happily engage in debates, and in turn there are foreigners who crumble when challenged directly. Notably, the general use of the word ‘westerner’ here encompasses so many different countries and cultures that it cannot possibly hope to represent the entirety of foreigners here in Japan. Nevertheless, understanding the observed patterns here will help us to avoid the worst possible scenario where we inadvertently offend and alienate our Japanese friends and colleagues.

On such a topic as arguing in Japanese, it difficult to recommend any specific phrases or speech patterns a foreigner in Japan can learn to avoid such an outcome. Rather, it is the entire mindset towards having such a conversation that must be grasped.

The first rule of thumb would be to avoid talking about such heated topics wherever possible or unless you are absolutely sure the other person is open to discussing it with you.

The second would be to approach any ‘argument’ as a way to bridge ground with the other person. They are not your ‘opponent’ in a debate, but rather your ‘partner’ in a discussion. What are the similarities between your own opinion and theirs? What points did they make that are deserving of merit? Could it be that you actually share the same opinion but are just approaching the issue from different angles? And so on.

Thirdly, when disagreeing, be sure to verbally note where you partner succeeds, in some cases complimenting them on their insight, before gently introducing an opposing viewpoint. Even here, ‘opposing’ would be too strong and the most effective method would be to offer an alternative way of looking at things.


Angry Asian Man blog: Just another “ASIAN GUY” getting coffee at the Atlanta airport…

Angry Asian Man: 

Got this passed along to me from a reader named Joseph, who became the most recent recipient of a racial receipt. What the heck is that? Oh, it’s more common than you might realize.

You know when you go to a fast food or coffee joint like Starbucks, and they take your name to identify your order? Sometimes, your servers get lazy with the name-taking, and take it upon themselves to rename you with terms like Ching” and “Chong.” Or maybe they get creative, and bestow a title like “Lady Chinky Eyes.” We’ve seen it happen enough that we can give it a name. The Racial Receipt.

In this case, the cashier working in the early morning hours at Goldberg’s Bagel & Deli Company at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport couldn’t be bothered with taking Joseph’s name, instead going for a much simpler identifier: Asian Guy.” Joseph explains:

I took a red-eye from L.A. last night and arrived for a layover early this morning at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Barely functioning and wanting a cup of coffee, I walked over to Goldberg’s Bagel & Deli Company. While the cashier taking orders asked the people before and after me for their names, she didn’t ask for mine. I was actually in the middle of wondering to myself how they were going to distinguish my order from those of all the other people waiting around when the employee distributing the orders (by calling out customers’ names) looked at me, kind of laughed, and gave me my coffee. Walking back to the gate, I wondered if maybe they didn’t bother with my name because I had only ordered coffee, which is a pretty fast order to get out. Then I looked at the receipt and found the all-caps “ASIAN-GUY” written out at the top. Needless to say, it was shocking and quite disheartening to realize what had taken place.

Joseph says he considered raising the issue at the counter, but he had a flight to catch. Sure, it’s maybe not as bad as “CHINX” or a freaking drawing of slanted eyes — Joseph is, indeed, an Asian guy — but I’m going to assume that Goldberg’s doesn’t label all of its orders with racial identifiers. Black Guy. White Guy. Latino Guy. (I don’t know, maybe it does.) So why the exception with Joseph the Asian Guy?

Not even trying to raise hell here. Just pointing out that sometimes you can’t go about your regular business and be John or Jimmy or Joseph or Junghwan. To some folks, you’re just plain going to be “Asian Guy.”

Check out this link:

Angry Asian Man blog: Just another “ASIAN GUY” getting coffee at the Atlanta airport…


Street Style: Eriko Nakao in Carhartt, Blackmeans and Chrome Hearts


Check out the punk aesthetic of Japanese model and blogger Eriko Nakao. Known for her wild fashion sensibilities, here she is seen in Blackmeans leather pants, Wesco leather boots and a Norwegian black metal band Enslaved T-shirt over a plaid flannel shirt. A Carhartt beanie and Chrome Hearts sunglasses finish off the look alongside Eriko’s statement neon yellow hair.

Check out this link:

Street Style: Eriko Nakao in Carhartt, Blackmeans and Chrome Hearts

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