Ruminating on belonging in a Kyoto coffeeshop

The past two weeks in Kyoto have been pretty hectic. I have yet to meet anyone other than family, for obvious reasons. With the kids not in school, we have been going on walks around the neighbourhood so I can get them off of YouTube and TikTok. Other than those short explorations we have beenContinue reading “Ruminating on belonging in a Kyoto coffeeshop”

Unzen – Where foreigners go to hell to cool off

From a tiny speck on the horizon, the volcano slow grew as I crossed first the mud flats of Kumamoto and then the shallow waters of the Ariake Sea. Now, at the foot of the volcano, looming over the small city of Shimabara, there was only one way to go: up! Unzen, the central volcanoContinue reading “Unzen – Where foreigners go to hell to cool off”

Living “with volcano” — a trip to Shimabara

The Shimabara Peninsula, a peninsula of a peninsula in Nagasaki prefecture, is just one of the fascinating places I travelled to in Kyushu, looking for “Kyushu Firsts.” This is where the “black samurai” Yasuke first landed in Japan in 1579 and is the location of Japan’s first printing press. The peninsula hosted many Portuguese JesuitsContinue reading “Living “with volcano” — a trip to Shimabara”

Signing for more expressiveness in group video chat

Recently my kids have been exploring the differences between American Sign Language (ASL) and Japanese Sign Language (JSL). For them it is another way to explore their own bilingualism, and understand how language is tied to cultural context. I recently read this short manga COVID-33 which describes a future world where talking outside is prohibited,Continue reading “Signing for more expressiveness in group video chat”

Continuing a Japanese porcelain legacy — Review of The Art of Emptiness

In the mid-seventeenth century the nobles of Europe were thrown into an addiction crisis. With the fall of the Ming Dynasty, and the chaos that ensued, where were they to get fine porcelain to decorate their palaces? As luck would have it, a new source of kaolinite — the key mineral in the manufacture ofContinue reading “Continuing a Japanese porcelain legacy — Review of The Art of Emptiness”