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Sunday, 22 January 2012

Charlie Brooker on Japan

I love Brooker. All that cynicism and abject resignation that life is truly terrible. He's written a charming article for The Guardian on how baffling he is finding Japan. Although I do wonder as to the level of real insight he has gained so far into Japanese culture, as his time in the country appears to have been spent contemplating toilets and cable television (actually quite typical of Brooker in general, the two areas often converge). Humorous nonetheless:  

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Politics of Pandas

Here is another enlightening radio show from the BBC investigating the more nuanced aspects of international relations that Edinburgh's recently acquired pandas signify:

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Ken Hom

Who doesn't love Ken Hom? He's one of the first chefs to popularise authentic Chinese food in Britain, in honour of Chinese New Year The Guardian has published firstly a live chat with the chef and a few of his recipes including ones for chilli pork spare ribs and fish in hot sauce. Haochi!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Witness: The death of Emperor Hirohito

An insightful radio documentary by the BBC on the passing of such an enigmatic player in twentieth century Japanese history and how the Japanese people responded to it:

Friday, 13 January 2012

Man Asian Literary Prize

I'm going to challenge myself to read all seven of the shortlisted books over the year. The world is far too small to not know more about other cultures.
  • Amitav Ghosh- River of Smoke
  • Banana Yoshimoto- The Lake
  • Jahnavi Barua- Rebirth
  • Jamil Ahmed- The Wandering Falcon
  • Yan Lianke- Dream of Ding Village
  • Rahul Bhattacharya- The Sly Company of People Who Care
  • Kyung-Sook Shin- Please Look After Mom  


On such a cold January evening as tonight, what greater pleasure is there than a decent book or a television drama? But how awful that it's unfinished! I cannot be the only one watching The Mystery of Edwin Drood on the BBC.

Unfinished is a wonderful documentary exploring our fascination with English Literature's incomplete masterpieces from Dickens, to Austen and Coleridge.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A new Guggenheim Museum for Helsinki?

The Guggenheim maybe expanding in Helsinki. How exciting! I've had the pleasure of going to the New York Guggenheim but never to either the Bilbao- what an invigorating building- or Venice site.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Sunday, 8 January 2012


Yesterday I popped into the rather busy Chihuly show at the Halycon Gallery on New Bond Street. When I think of Dale Chihuly's work I almost always think first of all of the Chandeliers at the V & A. The V & A of course being the world's premier museum of decorative art, it would only be natural to have a work by Chihuly - who has done so much to bring blown glass to the attention of the art world- in their foyer. To me it looks like an organic organism, that if I were to turn around one of those slender green tentacles might, in true cartoon style, tap a rather bewildered me on the shoulder. 

This feeling of life, light and transparency, is what really struck about the Halcyon exhibition. Many of the sculptures were reminiscent of scenes from a nature documentary on bio-luminescent sea creatures. Whilst others reminded me of some strange fantasy garden that you might come across in a Tim Burton film.

Thursday, 5 January 2012


Kawaii is the Japanese word for cute, although it goes far beyond the English comprehension of the term as it could be considered an aesthetic in its own right. The most obvious scion of kawaii embedded in pop culture -world over- is Hello Kitty. The extent to which kawaii pervades Japanese culture is so extensively mainstream; from everyday items to youth tribes i.e. Gothic Lolita . One can not help but observe it to be the predominant aesthetic of goods imported from the country and its popularity in Britain is for all to see on the high street, which is adorned with anthropomorphic pieces of cake (the cute cupcake phenomenon).  From a feminist point of view I find kawaisa and its adoption by grown women slightly peculiar, yet it is fascinating.

Takashi Murakami, about who it is near impossible not to draw comparisons with Andy Warhol for his awareness of pop culture whilst contributing to it significantly, is obviously influenced by the kawaii aesthetic. Commercially the first example that springs to my mind is Murakami's collaboration with Louis Vuitton. Here is the Superflat First Love video, which celebrates this union:

Here also is a video clip from Adam and Joe Go Tokyo, where the pair discuss kawaii and have quite a typically British reaction to it:

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Ronald Searle

I was sad to hear that the illustrator Ronald Searle, of St. Trinian's fame, has  passed away. I do very much love his witty work, it's so terribly British to be scared of school girls.