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The Ryukyu Islands, Japan.

My Lowy Post: Relax (again), Japan is Not ‘Re-Militarizing’


If there is any one trope in Korean and Chinese international relations writing I don’t like, it is the causal, constant, angry insistence on reading Japan as always ‘remilitarizing.’ In just about everything I read by Korean and Chinese authors on northeast Asia this is repeated relentlessly, as a truism, and usually in the worst possible normative light: not only is Japan ‘remilitarizing,’ it also apparently has neo-imperial designs on Asia.

The Weekend Warrior’s Guide to… Tokyo

Tokyo: a neon wonderland of might skyscrapers, solemn Shinto shrines, and serene parks. The samurai, sumo, robots, videogames, capsule hotels, anime, sushi and everything a Japanophile could ever want are right here in the capital. For the weekend warrior with only 48 precious hours to ramble through the world’s most populated city, time is of the essence. This guide will see you through.

A Weekend Warrior: A person who holds a regular job during the week which restricts their ability to party / go on trips / partake in awesome activities, and thus plans epic weekend adventures to compensate.” – Urban Dictionary

My Lowy Post on Japan’s Pointless, Self-Indulgent WTH? Review of the Kono Statement

This is a re-print of a post for the Lowy Institute on the recent Japanese review of the Kono statement on Imperial military sexual service during the war. (That’s Kono in the picture.)

My Lowy Post on Japan’s Pointless, Self-Indulgent WTH? Review of the Kono Statement

This is a re-print of a post for the Lowy Institute on the recent Japanese review of the Kono statement on Imperial military sexual service during the war. (That’s Kono in the picture.)

Marathoning Japan – Four Cities in Five Days


On the journey back to my tiny apartment home in Daegu, my eyelids were leaden, various leg muscles were pulled, and I lethargically guessed what subway line to take to get back. Five days in Japan had chewed me up and spat me out. But with a pocketful of strange coins, and many warm, beautiful memories, despite my weariness I looked up into the sky over Korea spiritually satiated. My gaze has become a little more wizened from my travels further east. So take some time to tie your shoelaces a little tighter, I’ll take you on my sprint through Japan one more time.


(Japan) U-en Guesthouse Osaka

When I was in Osaka, I stayed in the perfect guesthouse. It's location was not the best, a 5mins walk from Fukushima Station, but it was reasonably convenient to major places like Tennoji, Namba. I had done many comparisons before hand and found their rates to be very affordable. I'd paid a total of ¥6,200 for one night in a 4-bed girl's dorm and one night in a private double room. 

I love how they reply emails promptly and their guesthouse staff were all friendly, have good knowledge of Osaka places & travel recommendations, very helpful and very very pretty. 

The place has a very interesting past and most of its interior and architecture are preserved. It's facilities are very modern though. Definitely worth a visit and I will be back for sure. 

Highlights of Osaka

I went to Osaka for a short trip to do a visa run. Ended up spending more than expected. 

So this time, instead of taking a ferry, I took Peach Airlines from Incheon to Osaka (Kansai). I had been sourcing for cheap tickets before that and finally bought it at ₩180,700 round-trip without check in baggages. Their services are better than any other budget airlines that I know. Legroom was sufficient (I am only 155cm) but the seats were too upright. The only thing that made my experience unpleasant was the three hour delay for the return flight back to Seoul. We were only notified via email about 2 hours before departure.

The following pictures are some of the highlights of my trip. 

Travel: Busan to Fukuoka

You can easily take a ferry from Busan to Fukuoka, Japan. From Korea, you can look for packages that provide two way ferry tickets and hotels. It will probably cost about ₩200-300,000 for a 4 day 3 night package. We bought ours from Hana Tour.

Last Christmas, we decided to take a ferry to Japan . It was a really bumpy ferry ride but we slept through it after taking motion sickness pills. Japan is really expensive, compared to Singapore or Korea. A meal (noodles or rice dishes) can easily cost 15sgd or slightly less than ₩15,000. But everything in the shops look so cute and pretty, somehow you will end up spending more than expected.

Here are 15 photos to sum up the trip:

My Lowy Post on Obama’s Asia Trip – Watch Every Interest Group Instrumentalize it for its Own Purposes

PHOTO: Barack Obama waves as he walks down the stairs from Air Force One at Fiumicino Airport on March 28, 2014 in Rome, Italy.

So Obama is off to Asia this week for a quick trip that is inevitably being over-hyped by every Asia analyst on the planet as some major turning point in the US relationship with Asia. It’s not: below is re-printed my original, ‘watch-elites-manipulate-the-Obama-trip’ comment for the Lowy Institute. The spin will be over-the-top as every Asia pundit races for media exposure. Presidential trips are a great opportunity for the analyst community to posture and hyperventilate about how Obama ‘must’ do this, ‘has’ to do that.


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