Skip to Content

Japan

When I first moved to Korea in 2010, I ate Lotteria several...







When I first moved to Korea in 2010, I ate Lotteria several times admittedly for the mere novelty of it (e.g. lady burger and red & white burger). In Korea, Lotteria is seen as a mediocre fast food at best. With McDonald’s and Burger King in every neighborhood, it’s hard to compete. It is an entirely different story in Japan.


Documenting Dokdo: 10 Questions with Matthew Koshmrl

Do you know Dokdo?

If you’ve ever spoken to one of the locals in South Korea, chances are you will have been asked that very question. In case you don’t know what Dokdo is I’ll explain it very briefly: It’s an island that both Japan and South Korea lay claim to. It floats about in the Sea of Japan, which Korea would like to be called the ‘East Sea’. Technically the uninhabited island is Korean territory, but the Japanese – who called it Takeshima – occasionally reassert it has always belonged to them even before the colonisation of Korea.


Northeast Asia 2015 Predictions: Another Year of the Repetitive, Uninspiring Status Quo


My Top 5 List for 2014: 5 Biggest Foreign Policy Events for the US in Asia

empire-in-asia-e1377199333368

I love these hoky, end-of-the-year lists. But I don’t know much about genuinely interesting or cool stuff, like the top 5 classical music pieces or architectural masterpieces of the year. So before you read another list about the Kardashians’ top 5 lip glosses, or the 5 most repetitive comic movies of the year, here is an uber-wonky one that’s basically about the sustainability of the pivot.


Blatant Pimping: The Worst Motorcycle in Laos

We usually don’t demean the fair cyber pages of this blog by something as base as promotion, but screw it, I’ll shed my secret identity and let the cat out of the bag: I, Chris Tharp, aka “Mr. Motgol,” got a new book out YOU should stop what you’re doing right now, click on the link below, and buy it. Hey, it can’t be that bad. After all, these guys had some nice things to say about it:

“In The Worst Motorcycle in Laos, Tharp takes us on a wild ride from the neon streets of Tokyo to the dirt tracks of Indochina. The essays are insightful, humorous and unflinching. A great read for the active and armchair traveler alike.”

- Michael Breen, author of The Koreans


12 Things to Do in Osaka, Japan

One of the great benefits of teaching abroad is the ability to travel more. Not only is there more free time, but you are also closer to countries that you would otherwise never get a chance to visit unless for a unique circumstance.

Japan is always a common destination for travelers. I’ve been to Tokyo, but there are so many other cities to see. During one of my vacations I took a trip to Osaka. A common travel plan is to visit Kyoto while in Osaka because you’re just a short 20-45 minute train ride away depending on the type of train you choose.

I realized within the first day or two, however, that seeing what I wanted to see in Osaka would not allow me the time to get away to see Kyoto as well.  I visited for 5 days.

I decided to make this compilation video of my time in Osaka. There are some popular destinations in it, but also some that the general public would not think of to visit.  I hope you enjoy the ride.


On Dodko (for the U of N’s Blog Symposium on Asian Territorial Disputes)


Kiri-no-Sato Takahara Hotel: A Refuge on Japan's Kumano Kodo

This is my fourth trip to Japan, but something is different about this visit. I've bypassed the major cities and tourist hot-spots and ventured off the beaten path to Takahara, a small mountain village located in the heart of Wakayama Prefecture, about two hours south of Osaka.

I sit in my modest but comfortable room on an aromatic tatami mat that smells of herbs. I sip hot tea as I peer out my window into the motionless countryside. I listen. I hear only the quiet chirping of crickets.



The Ryukyu Islands, Japan.


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

images

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

10348770_10202776457475999_6149033927542325371_o

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.

Yawn.


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.

Yawn.


My Diplomat Essay for April: Unintended Consequences of US Alliances in Asia


My Diplomat Essay for April: Unintended Consequences of US Alliances in Asia


My March Essay for the Diplomat: 3 Hypotheses for Korea’s ‘Japanobia’ – 1. Genuine; 2. Post-Colonial Score-Settling; 3. RoK Legitimating Ideology

This, I hope, is my last piece on Japan-Korea relations for awhile. I think everyone is getting burned out by this topic. And I am sick of the hate-mail. But at least Obama got Abe and Park into the same room last week. Park look pretty furious, but at least the meeting was progress.


3 Hypotheses for Korea’s ‘Japanobia’

 

This, I hope, is my last piece on Japan-Korea relations for awhile. I think everyone is getting burned out by this topic. And I am sick of the hate-mail. But at least Obama got Abe and Park into the same room last week. Park look pretty furious, but at least the meeting was progress.

 


Japanese Right Wing Group Suspected of Vandalizing Anne Frank Books

Anne Frank Vandalized Japan


By Larry Lawrence

This just in from the What in the Holy Hell Were You Effin’ Thinking Department. Fingers are pointing at elements of Japan’s right wing for responsibility in vandalizing The Diary of a Young Girl and other books related to Anne Frank.

Yes, you read that right and yes, this is Sweet Pickles & Corn, not The Onion.


On “2.5 Oyajis” with YouTube’s Japan Vlogging King, Gimmeaflakeman

If you are interested in traveling and teaching in either Korea or Japan, your search will ultimately lead you to Gimmeaflakeman.  Victor is possibly the most recognizable figure in J-vlogging, so it was a pleasant surprise and honor to be asked to be part of his show “2.5 Oyajis”.

Along with Hikosaemon, also of Japan, the two lead a periodic show where they interview characters who live abroad as they do. They share stories and insights and provide for an entertaining but highly informational show. It was great to chew the cud for an hour with them covering topics such as South Korea’s relationship with Japan, my North Korean heritage, and North Korea in general.


My Expanded Lowy Post on Moral Hazard in US Alliances: Explaining Japan-Korea (and Greece-Turkey?)

domhSo this post is a bleg to those of you who know more about alliances than me. I am considering writing up this for an article, so I thought I would ‘crowd-source’ early comments on this. I also wonder if someone elsewhere has already suggested this idea in the vast alliance literature, so please let me know.


Strays

Cats: The internet is full of them. So, in a vain attempt to pull more traffic to Monkeyboy Goes, I’ve finally stooped to this….

DSCN5792

Through the course of my monkeying around in Asia, I have come across many a stray cat and dog. Whenever I see one I can’t help but whip the camera out.

DSC_1046

For those with a keen eye, you’ll notice that some of the furry creatures captured here are far from stray…. Whatever, I needed a title.


My December Newsweek Japan Essay: Japan as a Unique Bulwark to Chinese Hegemony in Asia

5766_p

I recently joined Newsweek Japan in a more official capacity as a regular contributor. I am pleased to do so, as I increasingly think that Japan is the primary bulwark to Chinese hegemony in Asia. So more and more, my research interest is drifting toward the Sino-Japanese competition as weightier than the inter-Korean competition.


My December Diplomat Essay: US Alliance with Japan Sparks a Korean Grand Strategy Debate


hmmm...

I've been wanting to blog for some quite some time, but I just can't do it... I feel like I'm being watched... you know?? (I'm talking to you Stalker out there!)

Anyway, we are back in Japan, actually, we've been in Japan for a week now, I miss Korea A LOT, and more than the land itself, I miss all the friends we made there :(

I guess I'll blog more about the last couple of weeks later since its almost 3am and I don't think my roommates will like my typing lol.

Meanwhile...here are some pics!

Syndicate content

Koreabridge - RSS Feeds
Features @koreabridge     Blogs  @koreablogs
Jobs @koreabridgejobs  Classifieds @kb_classifieds

Koreabridge - Facebook Group

Koreabridge - Googe+ Group