New We Are All Radioactive episode features Joi Ito and a humble government official

We Are All Radioactive – Chapter 5: Measurements from Lisa Katayama on Vimeo.

In Chapter 5, a team of hackers in Tokyo and Boston take radiation monitoring into their own hands, mapping the measurement levels across the entire country of Japan. Greenpeace and a blogging organic farmer join them in this civilian effort, and a government official admits that they need help.

Chapter 4: Radiation of We Are All Radioactive

Episode 4 of We Are All Radioactive is live!! And it’s super important: in this longer (9 minute) special episode, we go deeper with the characters we’ve gotten to know from Motoyoshi, AND we also meet nuclear experts from the US and Japan who help us make sense of the complex web of information out there concerning the threat of radiation in post-earthquake Japan. As you know, this week, Japan returned to nuclear power after a two-month break, and the parliament released an investigative report about the Fukushima disaster pointing out major human flaws in the handling of the disaster. 

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Controversial comfort women photo exhibit is currently on show in Shinjuku

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Since the 1990s, photographer Ahn Sehong has spent a lot of his time and attention shooting images of comfort women &mdash Korean women forced into sexual slavery in Japan during World War II who now live in China. He was slated to display his work in Shinjuku at the Nikon Salon from two days ago through July 9, but a few days before opening, Nikon said they were going to cancel the exhibition because it was too controversial.

Havoc ensued, and a court ruled that Nikon would have to allow the exhibit to go on. Nikon’s still trying to appeal to the court to shut down the show, and their web site claims that the show is *not* on display, but according to the LA Times the show is still alive and well. If you’re in Tokyo, please go see it and show your support for this photographer’s work!

Several months ago, I blogged about my high school friend Hiro Fujita, who is living with ALS in Japan. Next Wednesday, he's going to be giving a public talk at McCann Erickson Japan &mdash the ad agency he works at &mdash together with rapper Verbal and father-of-Harajuku Hiroshi Fujiwara. Through a candid conversation, the trio will be providing much-needed information about ALS to the Japanese public. Live tickets are limited, but it will also be streamed in real time on Kaikai Kiki's UStream channel if you want to watch online. More details here.

Ashima Shiraishi is the cutest most bad-ass rock climber ever

Ashima Shiraishi is a 4-foot-5 Japanese-American 11-year old girl who can kick anyone’s ass rock climbing. She grew up climbing boulders in Central Park when she was 6 – her parents came to the US from Japan in 1978 – and for the past couple of years has been dominating some of the hardest climbs in the world including the Crown of Aragorn, a V13 (do you know how hard that is??) near El Paso that most adult professional climbers can’t flash. Yes, she does have the advantage of being tiny. But that doesn’t make her any less badass.

Here’s a recent story about her in the NY Times.

(Thanks, Jeremy!)

Vintage 70s Yamamotoyama seaweed commercial

At the fantabulous wedding of a childhood friend last night, the topic at one point turned to a vintage Japanese commercial about a 300+ year old seaweed + tea manufacturer called Yamamotoyama. Do any of you remember this commercial?

It’s from the 70s. Below, an updated one from the 90s.

The catchy phrase that you hear in both is their tag line, which translates as: read it from the top and it’s Yamamotoyama. Read it from the bottom and it’s Yamamotoyama.

It’s a palindrome!

Today is A&PI HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

You guys — take a moment today to think about all Asian and Pacific Islanders living with or who have died of HIV/AIDS. In addition to the physical effects of the disease, our communities deal with a lot of stigma, which often includes the inability to even mention it to our closest friends and family. Of course, that is counterproductive to the fight against the issue.

This post is a shout out to the A&PI Wellness Center, an amazing Bay area organization dedicated to this cause, and its Banyan Tree Project. The above video is part of Taking Root, a national digital storytelling advocacy initiative.


In Chapter 2, a fisherman takes us on a journey around the world on his blue fin tuna boat, and a veteran surfer tells us how his uncle saved his entire family from being swept away by the tsunami.

WE ARE ALL RADIOACTIVE is a brand new crowdfunded online documentary film project created by me and TED film director Jason Wishnow. It’s about surfers rebuilding northern Japan after the earthquake and tsunami on 3.11.2011. New episodes are released only as they are funded.


Join the conversation on our Facebook fan page.


Since 3/11, I’ve been really busy with the making of my first ever film project. It’s called We Are All Radioactive, and it’s an online episodic crowdfunded documentary about a community of Japanese surfers and fishermen who are trying to rebuild their community after the tsunami.

Episodes 1-3 are out already, and for some reason I have completely neglected to post them on TokyoMango until right now. Here’s Episode 1!! You can watch 2 and 3 on our Vimeo channel, or you can wait until I post them here over the next couple of days!

48 different kinds of ojisan


The most entertaining thing I saw on Japanese TV while I was back last week was a special that had the subtitle: The 48 different kinds of ojisan: What one do you like best? Apparently it’s trending right now to study the ojisan zukan (old man almanac). If you’ve lived in Japan, it’s hilarious because you know you’ve all met these old men before. Maybe he was sitting next to you on the subway. Maybe he is your dad, or your husband.


Help me crowdfund our documentary about surfers rebuilding Japan

We Are All Radioactive IndieGoGo campaign video

Hey guys – just a quick reminder to visit We Are All Radioactive’s crowdfunding campaign page, when you have a sec. As you know, this is an episodic documentary film that I’m making with TED director Jason Wishnow, and the *only* way you get to see new episodes is if you help us fund them!

Right now, we’re just a couple thousand bucks away from funding Episode 3. Episode 2 is in its final stages of post-production before it goes out to the world this Wednesday!! So get excited, and join us. We have some great perks lined up for those of you who do – special shout outs, signed copies of Jason’s amazing short film starring a potato and a tomato, and the ability to influence future episodes.


The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, a short documentary about the spring after 311

I just watched The Tsunami and The Cherry Blossom, a beautiful Oscar-nominated short by director Lucy Walker. It’s a beautiful film that begins with some of the saddest raw footage of the tsunami I’ve seen yet . Walker interviews several survivors shortly after the disaster, juxtaposing their resilience against the power and flexibility of the sakura trees that survived and, despite being drowned in sea water, proceeded to bloom a month later. Watch the trailer here, and keep an eye out for screenings near you!

And, of course, while you’re on the post-tsunami film binge, don’t forget to check out and donate to my film, We Are All Radioactive.

Maywa Denki debuts the Otamatone Deluxe at SXSW

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I just got back from a fabulous two-day trip to Austin, Texas for SXSW with Novmichi Tosa of Maywa Denki. Tomo + I went took him there as part of the IEEE contingency. He gave an amazing performance and debuted the Otamatone Deluxe, which goes on sale next month. (You can buy the normal-sized Otamatone on Amazon.) I’ve known him for years, but this was the first time I got to see him perform live. So great!

Amazing video interview here