First Hello Kitty ‘pop-up’ cafe opens in Irvine

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OC Register (by Nancy Luna):
Sanrio will open the first Hello Kitty Cafe Pop-Up Container in the U.S. at the Irvine Spectrum Center on Friday. Housed within a metal shipping container, the pop-up cafe sells an assortment of baked goods, pastries, cookies and espresso drinks featuring Portola Coffee Lab coffee.NANCY LUNA, STAFF
About the cafe:

The Hello Kitty Cafe Pop-Up is having its grand opening this weekend at the Irvine Spectrum, in the Giant Wheel Court.

Its hours are:

Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Friday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sunday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

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The temporary cafe, initially expected to debut over the holidays, opened at 11 a.m. today. It was so popular, drawing a line of about 200 people, the store temporarily shuttered. It was expected to reopen later in the day, according to a representative at Spectrum Center.

The cafe is housed in a bedazzled steel shipping container — refurbished with pink and white Hello Kitty hues. The menu features a limited assortment of cookies, pastries and pint-sized cakes, as well as hot and cold beverages.

Signature drinks include strawberry mint lemonade, peach iced tea and passion fruit tea. Espresso drinks feature coffee sourced from award-winning local roaster Portola Coffee Lab. Menu prices range from $4 to $11.50 for desserts, and $3 to $5.50 for beverages. (Note: Coffee comes only in a 16 oz. size. Sorry skim fans, but only whole milk is served here.)

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Every item on the menu pays homage to the pop icon, first introduced to the world 42 years ago. Pastries are topped with Hello Kitty-shaped shortbread cookies, or bows. Plastic water bottles ($3) are bow-shaped. Hello Kitty’s face is stenciled with cocoa powder on the milk foam of latte drinks.

Allan Tea, managing partner of the cafe, said the container will stay at the Irvine mall for a year before moving on to its next location. Tea and Sanrio marketing representative David Marchi said Sanrio and the Irvine Co. are in negotiations to bring the first U.S.-based brick and mortar Hello Kitty Cafe to Irvine.

Sanrio has other themed cafes in other countries. But there’s no brick and mortar cafe dedicated exclusively to Hello Kitty in the United States, Marchi said. “This (pop-up) is the first of its kind,” he said.

Over the last 12 months, the Hello Kitty food truck has parked at the center twice, triggering throngs of shoppers. The turnout prompted Sanrio to choose the Spectrum as home base for its first Hello Kitty pop-up cafe.

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We know we have a huge fan base here,” Marchi said.

The cafe does not sell savory dishes — only desserts. Some merchandise such as ceramic mugs and T-shirts also will be sold at the cafe, located at the Giant Wheel Court at the mall.

The first 50 customers each day through Sunday will get a limited edition key chain.

Toyota will finally resurrect the Supra in 2018

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HYPEBEAST/DesignBoom (by T.S. Fox):

Originally released as a Celica offshoot with 2000GT roots back in 1978, the Supra grew to become one of Toyota’s most beloved vehicles before it was unceremoniously discontinued back in 2002. Thankfully, Toyota righted that wrong in 2014, taking to the Detroit Auto Show to showcase the FT-1 — a Calty Design Research-crafted spiritual successor of sorts to the old fastback coupe and one that fans hoped signaled a sign of things to come for the much loved front-engine, rear-wheel drive setup. Now it looks like those Supra hopes may become a reality: Toyota has confirmed that it’s resurrecting the car for a return in just a few short years.

Said to build upon the aforementioned FT-1, the brand new Supra will be positioned above the 86 in the manufacturer’s lineup and will likely be decidedly more complex, powerful and high-tech than the rebadged Scion FR-S. And if the FT-1′s design language is any indication, the new and improved Supra will come with an aggressive, track-inspired exterior marked by airflow management systems and aerodynamic curves; it may even employ the FT-1′s sleek retractable rear wing for added downforce.

Stay tuned for updates on the Supra’s welcome return and mark your calendars: the fan-favorite Toyota returns to the road in 2018.

Asian-American athletes to watch at the 2016 Rio Olympics

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This August, Team USA will be headed to the 2016 Rio Olympics with over 500 athletes across 42 Olympic sport disciplines. Of these athletes, over 30, competing in a variety of sports including swimming, fencing, table tennis, and volleyball, identify as Asian American. Below are 10 Asian-American athletes to watch during the Rio Olympics. Keep their names in mind, as there’s a good chance that some of them will be leaving Rio with new medals.

Alexander Massialas

Born to a Greek father and a Taiwanese mother, San Francisco native Alexander Massialas is poised to win a medal at the Rio Olympics this year. Currently ranked the number one male foil fencer in the world, Massialas was also the youngest male member of the 2012 U.S. Olympics team.

He comes from an accomplished fencing family — his father Greg was a three-time Olympic fencer and his younger sister Sabrina was the first U.S. fencer to ever win a Youth Olympic Games gold medal. Massialas is currently a student at Stanford University and majors in mechanical engineering. He can speak Mandarin and attended the Chinese American International School as a child.

Gerek Meinhardt

Like Massialas, Gerek Meindhart is also a Taiwanese-American fencer. The two are good friends since Meinhardt’s mother Jane was primary school classmates with Massialas’ mom Vivian, and it was Vivian’s suggestion to have Meinhardt join the fencing club. While both of Meinhardt’s parents were architects and not fencers, Massialas helped coach Meinhardt for competition.

In the past, Meinhardt also played basketball. His sister Katie played the sport at Boston University (BU) and still holds the BU record for most points in a game. Meinhardt recently received an MBA from Notre Dame and works as a Deloitte consultant when he isn’t competing in the games.

Lee Kiefer

Filipino-American fencer Lee Kiefer is currently ranked third in women’s foil and was the first athlete to ever win seven consecutive individual titles at the Pan American Championships. Fencing also runs in the family — she is the daughter of a former Duke University fencing captain and has a sister Alex and brother Axel who also compete.

Kiefer is currently a senior pre-med major at the University of Notre Dame. Her father Steve is a neurosurgeon, her mother Teresa is a psychiatrist, and her older sister Alex is a Harvard pre-med student.

Nathan Adrian

This three-time Olympic swimming gold medalist will be back in 2016. In this year’s Olympics, Adrian will compete in the 50 meter and 100 meter freestyle events. Adrian is in a good position to defend his Olympic gold medal in the 100m, as he finished first place in that event at the U.S. Olympic Trials. This Bremerton-born athlete is half-Chinese and was honored at the Robert Chinn Foundation‘s Asian Hall of Fame. Adrian majored in public health and graduated with honors from UC Berkeley in Spring 2012. After he retires from competitive swimming, Adrian has expressed interest in becoming a doctor.

Paige McPherson

Paige McPherson is an Olympic taekwondo competitor of Filipino and African-American descent. McPherson, who won a bronze medal in the women’s 67 kilogram taekwondo event in 2012, will return to compete in Rio. While McPherson grew up in Sturgis, South Dakota, she comes from what she likes to call a “rainbow family.” McPherson is one of five adopted kids in her family — she has a Korean brother, a St. Lucian little sister, and two Native American siblings. McPherson attended Miami-Dade College and continues to train primarily in Miami. After the 2015 Pan Am Games Team Trials, McPherson got the chance to meet her biological brother. Once the Rio Olympic Games come to a close, McPherson hopes to meet more members of her biological family.

Lia Neal

Olympic swimmer Lia Neal identifies as both African American and Chinese American. Neal celebrates all Chinese holidays, and went to a Chinese pre-school program — which is why she speaks Cantonese and has studied Mandarin for years. This Brooklyn native won a bronze medal at the London Games in the 4 by 100-meter freestyle relay with Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, and Allison Schmitt. This year, Neal came in fourth during the 4 by 100 freestyle Olympic trials, allowing her the fourth spot in the 4 by 100-meter freestyle relay team. Neal is currently a Stanford University student, and her classmate Simone Manuel also made it onto the Olympic swimming team. This makes it the first time two Black female swimmers will swim simultaneously on the U.S. Olympic team.

Jay Litherland

Jay Litherland is an Olympic swimmer majoring in business at the University of Georgia. He’s also a triplet – and has triple citizenship in the U.S., Japan, and New Zealand. He can speak Japanese and started swimming at the age of 8. At this year’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials, he managed to finish second in the 400 meter individual medley. Litherland won the second of two U.S. Olympic spots in the event, eking out the defending Olympic gold medalist, Ryan Lochte, by approximately a second. This will be the first time he will be attending the Olympics. He previously competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2012.

Micah Christenson, Kawika Shoji, and Erik Shoji

These three athletes will be representing the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team at the Rio Olympics. Micah Christenson comes from a tall family – his father played basketball at the University of Hawaii-Hilo and his mother won three national volleyball championships at the same university. Anderson currently plays for Italian club team Cucine Lube Civitanova but won a gold medal with the USA team in the 2015 Men’s World Cup. Christenson graduated from the University of Southern California and will be a setter for the men’s national team. His full name is Micah Makanamaikalani Christenson, and his middle name means “gift from heaven.”

Erik and Kawika Shoji are brothers — and both will be at the Rio Olympics in the U.S. Men’s volleyball team. The Honolulu-born pair both attended Stanford University and played on the volleyball team when they were there. Their father Dave has coached women’s volleyball at the University of Hawaii for more than 40 years, while their mother Mary played basketball at the same university. Kawika is currently a member of Turkish club Arkas Izmir, while Erik Shoji plays for German club Berlin Recycling Volleys.

14 Ninja weapons that were actually in use

14 Super Kakkoii Ninja Weapons That Were Actually in Use

 Goin’ Japanesque:

Each of the tools that ninjas were actually using back at the time had unique features and often served a multiple purposes. That was because ninjas had to not only combat enemies but also take on various other missions such as infiltrating enemy territories and collecting information. So they carried special tools suitable for the purposes of various missions. Here we have focused on such practical tools, particularly on the weapons of ninjas.

1. Shuriken [手裏剣]

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Shuriken or throwing stars is almost synonymous with ninja. From windmill types to stick types, they were varied in shape. Ninjas sometimes poisoned the tips of the blades to make this weapon more deadly.

[Kashaken (火車剣): a variation of shuriken made explosive with gun powder]

2. Shinobigatana (Ninja Sword) [忍刀]

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Ninjas were using their own kind of swords. Unlike longer and more curved samurai swords, ninja swords were straight and relatively short. They featured a large tsuba (hand guard) and ninjas sometimes stood their swords against the wall and used the tsuba part as a step when going over the wall. A string was attached to the scabbard so the sword could be collected from above the wall. These swords were also matte finished so they would not reflect light in the darkness.

3. Kunai (Dagger) [くない]

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This double bladed tool was used not only as a weapon but also as a shovel, knife and a step ladder for wall climbing. It is versatile as the modern-day “survival knife”. When used as a throwing knife, it was collected with a string attached to it.

4. Makibishi (Caltrop) [撒菱]

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Makibishi was scattered on the ground to wound and stop pursuers. Nails of a caltrop are arranged so one of its sharp nails always points upward however you throw it. It is believed that the plant seeds of water caltrops had been used originally for the same purpose.

5. Tekko-Kagi (Claw Dagger) [手甲鉤]

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Tekko-kagi is worn on the hands to scratch enemy with its nails. It can also be used defensively against sword attacks and for various other purposes such as digging a hole in the ground and driving the nails into the wall when climbing.

6. Kusarigama (Sickle and Chain) [鎖鎌]

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Kusarigama is a chained sickle with a balancing weight on the other end. Without the chain, it can be disguised as an ordinary farming tool. The weight part can be thrown at the enemy while the chain can be used to suppress the enemy before attacking with the sickle. But it requires a very high skill to use this weapon at will.

7. Fukiya (Blow Dart) [吹き矢]

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Ninjas were using blow darts poisoned on the tips to assassin enemies remotely. The blowpipes were often disguised as a flute and carried along.

8. Metsubushi (Eye Blinder) [目潰し]

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An easily broken bag or hollowed-out egg filled with pepper or chalk powder was thrown at enemies. It was used as an offensive weapon for its eye blinding effect, as well as to distract enemies when running away from them.

9. Shikomizue (Prepared Cane) [仕込み杖]

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A sword blade plunges out suddenly from a cane which would never be suspected as a weapon. A ninja disguised as an old man could carry this weapon without alarming anyone.

10. Kakushi (Finger Brass Knuckles) [角指]

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This is a kind of brass knuckles for ninjas. But unlike brass knuckles, ninjas wore kakushi with the sharp nails on the palm side and grab the arm or neck of an enemy tightly from behind to deliver a lethal attack. This weapon was perfect for assassination because it was compact to carry.

11. Toribiho (Flame Gun) [捕火方]

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Toribiho on the right

This weapon was used to project flames by igniting gunpowder and iron sand filled in the barrel. The technology at the time did not allow flames to reach very far, but it must have been stunning enough for enemies.

12. Tetsumari (Iron Ball) [鉄毬]

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Tetsumari is a round weapon with spikes sticking out in all directions. When thrown at enemies, it could deliver a more lethal attack than shuriken due to its penetrative power. But the relatively large size was not ideal for carrying.

13. Nekote (Claw Dagger) [猫手]

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This weapon was used by kunoichis, female ninjas. Kunoichis put them on their hands to scratch enemies with the sharp nails. The name “nekote,” literally meaning “cat hand,” comes from its shape like cat’s claws.

14. Shinobi Kumade [忍び熊手]

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The long tool seen in the left lower part of the photo is Shinobi Kumade

Shinobi Kumade is a kind of iron rake with collapsible pipe sections making grips. The string threaded through the pipes can be pulled tight to make a long spear-like weapon while loosening it will make this weapon like a nunchaku.

This guy quit his job to travel the world catching Pokémon

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VICE:

Sure, Pokémon Go may be kind of boring and riddled with bugs, but who cares? How else are you going to venture into the world, catch 500 Weedle, and then go home to drop a lucky egg and just evolve like crazy to gain XP to become a master trainer?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find the time to commit to a serious Pokémon regimen, what with the jobs and responsibilities and laundry or whatever. That’s why one brave soul in New Zealand has done what so many around the world don’t have the guts to do: He quit his job to travel around, playing Pokémon Go full-time.

I have been working for six years, and I was desperate for a break,” 24-year-old Tom Currie told the Guardian. “Pokémon gave me the chance to live that dream.”

The Guardian reports that Currie has already hit six towns in New Zealand, and has bus tickets to keep going for the foreseeable future.

Tom is a very spur-of-the-moment, independent kid, he always has been,” Currie’s mother told the Guardian. “His nana and I don’t understand the game, but I remember him loving it in his childhood. I am just glad he is out enjoying his life and seeing so much of New Zealand.

Currie has been on the road for a week now and already bagged 90 of the original 151 Pokémon. That means that if you are holding a gym somewhere in New Zealand right now with just a lame-ass 500 CP Pinsir, Currie is probably on his way to give you a very rude awakening.

Molecule in soy sauce may help HIV patients

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Japanese Culture:

You may know the soy sauce is very good for our health, but do you know that it is a potential effect on HIV for soy sauce?

An amazing research result was revealed by the study of the University of Missouri in their paper. According to their paper, the soy sauce used in Japanese food is likely to contain a strong molecule “EFdA” which can be 70 times more potent than Tenofovir (the major anti-HIV viral drug).

Stefan Sarafianos, one of the researchers at University of Missouri School of Medicine, said “EFdA, the molecule we are studying, is less likely to cause resistance in HIV patients because it is more readily activated and is less quickly broken down by the body as similar existing drugs.” Sarafianos and his team of researchers recreated the exact structure and configuration of the molecule, which is now being tested by the pharmaceutical company Merck.

I’m looking forward to further research reports as one of the drug developers and also that of Japanese who love soy sauce.

Eerie images inside Fukushima’s exclusion zone five years after the nuclear disaster

Malaysian-born Loong said: 'The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn't even pack or take anything valuable with them' 

Daily Mail UK:

More than five years after the devastating tsunami and the 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck north-eastern Japan, causing the explosion of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, the Japanese town remains abandoned.

Since April 22, 2011, an area within 20km (12.4miles) radius of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant has been cordoned off from the public and listed as the red exclusion zone.

But now, Malaysian photographer Keow Wee Loong has entered into the exclusion zone to capture these eerie images.

Malaysian-born Loong said: ‘The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn’t even pack or take anything valuable with them

 Wearing a gas mask but no other protective clothing, Loong, 27, visited four of the evacuated towns in Fukushima

Wearing a gas mask but no other protective clothing, Loong, 27, visited four of the evacuated towns in Fukushima

There was also an empty DVD shop, full of discs dating back to 2011 - a reminder of the 150,000 people were forced to leave There was also an empty DVD shop, full of discs dating back to 2011 – a reminder of the 150,000 people were forced to leave.

Among the locations Loong explored during his time inside Fukushima, there was an empty supermarket full of merchandise dating back to 2011

The urban explorers wore masks as they entered abandoned houses, like this one in Futaba, that's untouched since the disaster in 2011
The urban explorers wore masks as they entered abandoned houses, like this one in Futaba, that’s untouched since the disaster in 2011

Clean laundry left half in washing machines show the panic that followed the disaster
 Clean laundry left half in washing machines show the panic that followed the disaster and there were plenty of valuables left untouched.
Loong explored various shops where valuables were left untouched

Wearing a gas mask but no other protective clothing, Loong, 27, visited four of the evacuated towns in Fukushima – Tomioka, Okuma, Namie and Futaba – in June this year with friends Sherena Ng and Koji Hori.

They were evacuated after the disaster on March 11, 2011, when a 50ft wave swamped the sea wall at the nuclear power plant, sparking equipment failures and allowing radioactive materials to escape.

It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and the towns have been completely untouched by humanity since then.

Loong’s images give an eerie insight into the panic that followed the disaster and show a city stuck in time as calendars remain on the same date, families’ clean washing is partially-removed from dryers and newspapers forever remain unsold.

Malaysian-born Loong said: ‘The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn’t even pack or take anything valuable with them.

‘If you visit any boutique or shopping mall in these towns, you will see the merchandise exactly where it was since 2011, nothing has been changed or moved.’

For urban explorer Loong, the abandoned sites were most disturbing as traffic lights were still working but there were no cars on the roads
The city of Fukushima was evacuated suddenly after the east coast of Japan was devastated by a massive earthquake followed by a huge tsunami
The packaged goods left on the shelf

The urban explorers entered the so-called ‘red zone’ – the site of maximum radiation – in the middle of the night to avoid being caught by the police.

Among the locations Loong explored during his time there was an empty shopping centre with shops full of merchandise, including newspapers and magazines, dating back to 2011

Among the locations Loong explored during his time there was an empty shopping centre with shops full of merchandise, including newspapers and magazines, dating back to 2011

Loong added: ‘I even found money laying around the pachinko parlour, books dating back to 2011, gold and other valuables all still in place.

Due to the high level of radiation, the adventurers only had a limited amount of time to explore all four towns and had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the contaminated air.

Loong explained: ‘The radiation level in the red zone could go as high as 4.8mSv – 6.5 mSv according to the reading on the electronic signboard on the road.

‘Upon arrival in the red zone, I could smell chemicals and felt a burning sensation in my eyes.’

The urban explorers entered the so-called ‘red zone’ – the site of maximum radiation – in the middle of the night to avoid being caught by the police.

He said: ‘Due to the high level of radiation, the town was filled with police so we had a limited amount of time to explore everything in all four towns. We entered the red exclusion zone in the dark around 1am, to avoid attention from the cops.’

Due to the high level of radiation, the adventurers only had a limited amount of time to explore all four towns and had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the contaminated air 

Due to the high level of radiation, the adventurers only had a limited amount of time to explore all four towns and had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the contaminated air.

Loong visited four towns - Tomioka, Okuma, Namie and Futaba - in June this year with friends Sherena Ng and Koji Hori 

Loong said: 'When I walked into the mall I felt an eerie silence, like time had frozen. The mall was completely empty with no people in it but all the merchandise in place and I could explore anywhere I wanted'

Loong said: ‘When I walked into the mall I felt an eerie silence, like time had frozen. The mall was completely empty with no people in it but all the merchandise in place and I could explore anywhere I wanted’

The urban explorers walked along an abandoned train station in Futaba, Fukushima, which was eerily devoid of life

The urban explorers walked along an abandoned train station in Futaba, Fukushima, which was eerily devoid of life. Among the locations Loong explored during his time there was an empty shopping centre with outlets full of merchandise dating back to 2011 – a reminder of the 150,000 people that were forced to leave the area following the disaster.

He said: ‘When I walked into the mall I felt an eerie silence, like time had frozen. The mall was completely empty with no people in it but all the merchandise in place and I could explore anywhere I wanted.

‘I always had a childhood dream of going into a mall alone when it is empty, so my dream came true, it was like deja vu, everything is exactly the way it is since 2011, the books marked with 2011, DVD movies of 2011.

‘This was one of the creepiest things I have ever seen, I have been to many places, but nothing like Fukushima, the traffic lights are still operating but there are no cars around.

‘It all reminded me of the movie I Am Legend, like stepping foot into a post-apocalyptic city.

Announcing the Yuri Kochiyama Fellowship

Medium.com (by Anoop Prasad):

Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus is excited to announce a new fellowship for formerly incarcerated Asian Pacific Islanders. Too often, the movements against prisons and deportation are out of sync and ignore the intersectional experiences of people in both systems. Advocates often make decisions without inviting formerly incarcerated people into the conversation and without consulting people who are locked up. Through the Yuri Kochiyama Fellowship, we hope to begin changing that. By centering and building leadership among directly impacted people, we hope to support a movement led by incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.

Over the next several months, the first two Yuri Kochiyama Fellows will be using their experiences to advocate for changes to America’s incarceration and deportation systems. As people who have spent years in prison and immigration detention, their voices and leadership are sorely needed in the movement.

We chose to name the fellowship after Yuri Kochiyama. She was a tireless political activist who dedicated her life to social justice and human rights for almost five decades. Yuri spent two years as a young adult in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans in Arkansas during World War II. Later in life, she worked with Malcolm X, the Harlem Parents Committee, the Black Panthers, the Young Lords and other groups. Throughout her life, she supported people in prison by exchanging letters, advocating for their release, and organizing support committees.

Our first two Fellows will carry on Yuri’s legacy by using their experiences in prison and immigration detention to advocate for those still locked up. Their first advocacy project will be in support of a ballot measure that limits the ability of District Attorneys to charge children as adults. The reforms will keep thousands of children from being sent to prison for decades and from facing deportation for those crimes.

Rajeshree Roy, a 2016 Yuri Kochiyama Fellow, was arrested at the age of fifteen for a robbery. Rather than receiving services as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who was homeless, she was tried as an adult and sent to prison for fifteen years. She would later spend a year in immigration detention.

Aelam Khensamphanh, a 2016 Yuri Kochiyama Fellow, fled war in Laos and came to the United States as a refugee when he was eight-years-old. His family was resettled in Modesto, a poor community plagued with violence. Unable to speak English and without language services, he struggled in school as a child. Attempting to fit in, he joined a gang at fifteen. After a shootout with a rival gang, he was sent to prison for life at the age of seventeen. While in prison, Aelam worked with the Squires Program to intervene with at-risk youth. After serving twenty-two years in prison, he spent months in immigration detention before being released earlier this year.

Aelam and Rajeshree will be working to make sure that future generations of children will not go through the same cycle of trauma, incarceration, and deportation that they did.

George Takei reacts to gay Sulu news: “I think it’s really unfortunate…”

George Takei on Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry: “He was a strong supporter of LGBT equality,” recalls Takei, now 79. “But he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope — and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air.” 

The Hollwyood Reporter (by Seth Abramovitch):

Star Trek has lived long and prospered for studio home Paramount, spawning six TV series and 13 feature films. True to its title, the latest big-screen outing, Star Trek Beyond, has gone where none have gone before: Star John Cho — who assumes the Sulu mantle for the third time in the reboots — has told Australia’s Herald Sun that the character is revealed to be gay.

The idea came from Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the new films and penned the Beyond screenplay, and director Justin Lin, both of whom wanted to pay homage to Takei’s legacy as both a sci-fi icon and beloved LGBT activist.

And so a scene was written into the new film, very matter-of-fact, in which Sulu is pictured with a male spouse raising their infant child. Pegg and Lin assumed, reasonably, that Takei would be overjoyed at the development — a manifestation of that conversation with Roddenberry in his swimming pool so many years ago.

Except Takei wasn’t overjoyed. He had never asked for Sulu to be gay. In fact, he’d much prefer that he stay straight. “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”

Takei explains that Roddenberry was exhaustive in conceiving his Star Trek characters. (The name Sulu, for example, was based on the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philippines, so as to render his Asian nationality indeterminate.) And Roddenberry had always envisioned Sulu as heterosexual.

Proving that is not so simple a matter, however. Sulu never had an onscreen love interest duringStar Trek‘s initial three-season run. He did mention a daughter, Demora, who appeared in 1994’s Star Trek Generations, the seventh film in the series (she was played by Jacqueline Kim).

But the only reference to how Demora was conceived appears in a secondary canonical source: the 1995 Star Trek novel The Captain’s Daughter. “It was, to put it crudely, a one-night stand with a glamazon,” Takei explains. “A very athletic, powerful and stunningly gorgeous woman. That’s Demora’s mother.”

Takei first learned of Sulu’s recent same-sex leanings last year, when Cho called him to reveal the big news. Takei tried to convince him to make a new character gay instead. “I told him, ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted.’” (Takei had enough negative experiences inside the Hollywood closet, he says, and strongly feels a character who came of age in the 23rd century would never find his way inside one.)

His timeline logic, however, is enough to befuddle even the most diehard of Trek enthusiasts, as the rebooted trilogy takes place before the action of the original series. In other words, assuming canon orthodoxy, this storyline suggest Sulu would have had to have first been gay and married, only to then go into the closet years later.

Not long after Cho’s bombshell call came another, this one from Lin, again informing him that Sulu was indeed to be gay in Star Trek Beyond. Takei remained steadfastly opposed to the decision.

I said, ‘This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character. I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen,” Takei says.

After that, all was quiet from Beyond until a few months ago, when Takei received an email from Pegg “praising me for my advocacy for the LGBT movement and for my pride in Star Trek,” he says. “And I thought to myself, ‘How wonderful! It’s a fan letter from Simon Pegg. Justin had talked to him!’” Takei was certain the creative team had rethought their decision to make Sulu gay.

That is until one month ago, when he received an email from Cho informing him that the actor was about to embark on an international media tour for Beyond. Cho said it was bound to come out that his character was gay, and “what should he do?” A disappointed Takei told Cho to go about his promotional duties, but that he was “not going to change” his mind on the matter.

I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed,” Takei says. “I thought after that conversation with Justin that was going to happen. Months later, when I got that email from Simon Pegg, I was kind of confused. He thinks I’m a great guy? Wonderful. But what was the point of that letter? I interpreted that as my words having been heard.”

Takei for his part is hoping to take Sulu in new directions as well, potentially on CBS’ upcomingStar Trek series, slated to premiere in January and co-run by Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller, who is openly gay.

 

Japan Archives: New website looks back on 150 years of modern Japanese history

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RocketNews 24 (by Cara Clegg):

A new website looks back on 150 years of modern Japanese history in visual format.

Japan Archives went live on June 30th and contains a treasure trove of information on modern Japanese history from the Bakumatsu through the Meiji and Taisho eras and up to the present day, covering everything from politics and economics to sport, nature, and the everyday life of the people.

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Who even needs museums anymore when you can now experience the most important events in the country’s history through photographs, posters, postcards, woodblock prints, and other visual media from the comfort of your own home.

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While only available in Japanese, the site is conveniently organized by time period and genre, making it user-friendly and easy to browse.

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There’s a wealth of historical media to sift through, and even if you can’t read the Japanese captions you can still enjoy the nostalgic images which bring the samurai and geisha of the past to vibrant life on your screen. And best of all, it’s all freely accessible!

Follow this link to see more.