THE HEART OF KANJI: The Patient Heart of a Ninja

The kanji character 忍 (nin or shinobu) means “patience.” This character is made of two parts. The top is  刃 (yaiba), which means “sword or knife.” The bottom is 心 (kokoro), which means “spiritual or physical heart.” Nin is when someone attacks you with a sword and almost kills you by missing your heart, but you remain patient […]

THE GOCHISO GOURMET: The Spice of Life

No, it’s not the waitress (or waiter) that you’ve been eyeing at the local diner. It’s not a group of Brits singing pop songs on the radio. Nor is it a metaphor for any other indulgence (illicit or otherwise) that you’re engaging in. Real spice’s:  The stuff that flavors food. And I’ll be liberal in […]

THE KAERU KID: Having a Ball in the Baltics, Part 2

Note: The first part of this article ran in the April 1 issue. I am taking the bus from Tallinn, Estonia on the way to Vilnius, Lithuania, but make a stop at the city of Siauliai, Lithuania to view the Hill of Crosses. Teutonic knights occupied the city after its founding in 1236 during the […]

THE GOCHISO GOURMET: Distilled Wine … and Other Distillates

Distilled wine? Is that like distilled water? Like wine in its purest form without any minerals? Well, not exactly. It’s more like brandy… well, it is brandy. Or if it’s produced in the Cognac region of France, it’s Cognac. You mean the French distill perfectly good wine just to make brandy? Well, actually the initial […]

PARTING SHOTS: Unlearned Lesson of 4.29: The English Voice: The Key to Urban Survival

“Round up the usual suspects,” the corrupt Vichy French captain Renault tells his men at Rick’s gambling joint in the classic romantic drama “Casablanca.” With the 18th anniversary of 4.29 (Sa-I-Gu) just around the corner, I can’t help but hearing his mocking order reverberated during the fiery siege of LA Koreatown in which Korean Americans […]

THE KAERU KID: Having a Ball in the Baltics, Part 1

During my younger days I once traveled through Europe with a group from Canada, Great Britain, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand on Kon-Tiki Tours staying in campgrounds. It was an economical way to travel, but I didn’t like it because the campgrounds were not near city centers. The main value was meeting people from […]

THE GOCHISO GOURMET: Bitter Melon: Is This Edible?

Many moons ago, I felt the same way. In fact, I’ve only acquired a taste for it in the past several months. After that first taste many years ago, with that bracing bitterness that lingered on the palate, I kept my distance. It didn’t help that it looked like a cucumber or squash with a […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Feminist Writer Ishigaki Made Waves

In the decade surrounding World War II, the Japanese-born feminist and activist Ayako Ishigaki lived in the United States, where she distinguished herself as a radical intellectual and outspoken opponent of Japan’s military occupation of Manchuria and China. She joined dockside protests aimed at preventing Japanese ships from landing and transporting cargoes and barnstormed the […]

PARTING SHOTS: A Native Angelino’s Gift: The Young Oak Kim Academy in Los Angeles

A native Angelino who came home a hero with crippling wounds from two wars to stir hopes among the struggling newcomers has returned “home” from the Big Sky, this time as a living legacy to the inner-city children of tomorrow. In September of 2008, the newly built middle school at Sixth Street and Shatto Place […]

THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Oyabe’s Adventures

Jenichiro Oyabe (1867-1941) was among the first people of Japanese ancestry to write about his life in the United States. His memoir “A Japanese Robinson Crusoe,” first published in 1898, offers a picturesque account of the author’s experiences. It is also a fascinating example of the dark side of “Americanization” — how immigrants seeking liberty […]

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