Everyone's favorite Japanese Kaiju (monster) Godzilla turns 65 this year. That makes him eligible for social security. To celebrate we're having a birthday bash for him during the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. Come to the Japanese Garden and wish Godzilla Happy Birthday. We'll be celebrating with food, beer, live music by the Digital Lizards of Doom, Godzilla Movies and if you're lucky you'll see Godzilla walking around the garden and you can take a selfie with him.
The San Diego Kimono Club did a flash mob dance at the Anniversary Party at Cloak & Petal in Little Italy
I had the pleasure to see Jake Shimabukuro live in person at Humphrey's by the Sea, a terrific intimate outdoor setting. If you've heard Jake on records it pales to seeing and hearing him live. It's really incredible how much sound he generates from his Ukulele. He played many songs from his new album, which I hardily recommend that you download immediately. I can't wait until he comes back to San Diego next year.
Well I qualify for two out of the three words. No respectable Asian arts and culture blog is complete without a comment on the widely anticipated summer blockbuster movie based on Kevin Kwan's book series of the same name. I went to see the movie and thought the story was cute and relevant to most Asians in America. At it's heart its a story about family and acceptance. I recently went through the wedding of my own daughter so I could relate to how ritualistic and symbolic weddings are to Asian families. It also showcases Singapore and the many facets of Singapore and especially the importance that food plays in Singaporean (and Asian societies as a whole) culture. I've also included the cover of the Chinese cover of Coldplay's "Yellow" which was important for Kevin Kwan to get into the soundtrack. The meaning of the song was completely lost on all of the non American Asian audiences, but Kwan wanted it included. Many of us in the U.S. are more banana that we would like to admit, but with CRA we now have a modern blockbuster movie that shows Asians are ready to take on more leading roles and maybe we can "YellowWash" some movie roles and replace caucasian character with asian faces.
A new arrangement of a classic Japanese pop song know as "Sukiyaki" here in America but it's called "Look to the Sky" in Japan-have no idea how it became known as Sukiyaki
In the tradition of classic jazz, Yuko Mabuchi follows in the footsteps of Japanese Jazz musicians like Keiko Matsui with straight forward virtuoso stylings of traditional Jazz standards. If you're in the Southern California area please go and check her out many of her concerts are free to the public like this one was at Descanso Gardens.
These DIY candy kits from Japan let kids make realistic looking candy meals. We know Japan is a very food oriented culture with more Michelin starred restaurants than France. It starts early with kids learning how to make traditional dishes through play. By the way these are available from Daiso.
These are the most popular selling T-shirts at the Great Wall. They should also sell the Chin Chin Lychee Juice to go with these BJ T-shirts (for those of you have have your minds in the gutter). I don't know many people who don't love BJ (Beijing) once they visit.
This is a classic case of not doing enough research before coming up with a brand name. This Lychee Juice drink is delicious, but it will need some re-branding if they should ever decide to sell it in Japan. Chin Chin is slang in Japanese for Penis. Perhaps they're smarter than I think and they are already selling this in Japan, it would be a great hit with the Love Motel crowd.
Today, January 16th is the third Tuesday of the month and that means admission to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park, is free today for San Diego residents. If you haven't been there take the opportunity to visit. The garden winds down a canyon in Balboa park to a pavilion and beautiful koi pond.
Qoobo bills itself as a therapy robot, but it's really just a soft, furry cushion the just happens to have a tail that moves as you interact with it. It's the best part of having a cat without having to feed it and change litter boxes. I had the chance to play with one at CES 2018 and I want one. The Japanese have been working on these types of robotic companions for the elderly for many years. This one might find its way in more houses than you think.
Not to be outdone by NHK's East meets West musical mash ups, here are some pop tunes played with traditional Chinese instruments