The Japanese way of saying “I love you”

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Act 1 of this week’s episode of This American Life is about a makeshift phone booth in Japan where people go to “talk” to relatives who died in the 2011 tsunami. It’s a total tear jerker—especially, I think, for those of us who resonate with the Japanese way of expressing deeply felt emotions, like love and loss and mourning: “He never says I love you directly. Real feelings are communicated through small gestures, especially ones of concern. Like when he asked his wife, are you staying warm?”

Listen to the episode

Watch the final episode of We Are All Radioactive

We Are All Radioactive – Chapter 7: Departure from Lisa Katayama on Vimeo.

Just released the final chapter of my documentary, WE ARE ALL RADIOACTIVE. I hope you enjoyed it! If you missed previous episodes, you can watch all of them at our Vimeo channel.

Coming soon: a new web site, discussion forums in real time with characters from the show. Please keep an eye on TokyoMango or WeAreAllRadioactive.com for updates!

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.

WE ARE ALL RADIOACTIVE: EPISODE 2

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.

Visit us online: WWW.WEAREALLRADIOACTIVE.COM

Join the conversation on our Facebook fan page.

We Are All Radioactive – my new online documentary film project!

Hey guys! Guess what, I’m making a movie!

We Are All Radioactive is an interactive, episodic documentary film project about surfers rebuilding northern Japan. I co-directed it with Jason Wishnow, who is the film director at TED.

Sunday is the one-year anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake, and we really need to remind people of how people in Japan are still living with the aftermath + uncertainty about radiation every day.

Because I’m a storyteller and I spend a lot of time on the Internet, I figured the best way for me to help Japan is to tell stories that are normally ignored. Like the stories of these surfers. And the fishermen they’re helping. And the government officials who are looking for a neutral third party to connect them with the locals.

We Are All Radioactive is going to do all these things, and more.

Because this is an independent project, we need your help in making it real. We are crowdfunding the film — as soon as we raise enough money to pay our editors + designers, we’ll release a new episode on our web site. Our web site launches on Sunday, so I’ll give you the URL as soon as it’s ready!

For now, please visit our campaign page to join the movement! We have lots of fun, meaningful interactive perks lined up for those who join the Radioactive community, like video messages from the characters and the chance to contribute your thoughts on a future episode. Super cool right?

http://www.indiegogo.com/WEAREALLRADIOACTIVE

Remember: by supporting this campaign, you’re helping us tell the inside story of an amazingly resilient community that shared their lives with us so that we can communicate their struggles to the world.

Spanish Arale-chan clip features pink jumping poop

I just discovered this lovely little clip of a Spanish rendition of Arale-chan. It’s not the original and I have no idea what they’re saying, but I enjoy the fact that it features a pink jumping poop.

A couple of years ago in my MangoBot column on io9.com, I wrote this little explanation of Arale-chan and the wonderful things I learned about being human from this funny little robot girl:

Arale Arale Norimaki
Birth year: 1980
Who she is: A purple-haired, near-sighted girl robot built by a kooky professor named Norimaki Senbei (seaweed-wrapped rice cracker) to resemble a real 13 year old human girl. She was created by Akira Toriyama, the same genius manga artist who wrote the Dragon Ball series.
Lessons learned: 1. To be fun and spontaneous. 2. To be honest about your compulsions. 3. That you can be female + completely non-sexual + still be the most powerful humanoid in the entire world. 4. How to launch pumpkin cannons and split the earth in half with one punch. 5. The art of the Japanese poop joke. (Even today, my favorite way to pick up my dog’s poop is by poking it with a stick and then chucking it into the bushes or a trash can.)

Read Four anime robots that made me more human on io9

Story about Maitri, the AIDS hospice, on Boing Boing

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On TokyoMango, I rarely write about what I do other than find Japanese oddities to share with you. But today I want to share the story of Vinny, a man who lives at an AIDS hospice that I have been volunteering at for the last year and a half. Vinny is dying of cancer and AIDS and doesn’t have that much time left in this world. I am honored that he chose to share a significant amount of time with me over the last few months. Every time I see him now, it’s really sad because he is getting sicker and sicker. I’m watching him die. Please read his story, buy his book, or donate to Maitri. This means a lot to me.

I’m a volunteer at Maitri, the only remaining AIDS hospice in San Francisco. Once a week, I hang out with its 15 residents, run errands for them, and — sometimes — sit at their bedsides as they go through the process of dying. I do it because I like to face my fears, and death is the one thing that I fear the most.

The Last Hospice on Boing Boing

Yakuza 3 reviewed by yakuza!

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There are several reasons why I like Jake Adelstein. He always brings cool omiyage. He has a contagious laugh. He’s also the only person I know who has the balls and the connections to solicit three yakuza bosses to play a video game about the yakuza and evaluate it for a story.

Please read this hilarious, insightful special Boing Boing feature in which Jake joins three yakuza as they play Yakuza 3, Sega’s popular action game.

It’s a Thursday afternoon in Tokyo, and I’m sitting in the reception area of a real estate rental agency playing a video game. The real estate agency is actually a front company for the yakuza — the reception area doubles as a mini mob office, and on the same floor are the living quarters for young yakuza in training. The young yakuza come in and out of the room on occasion to empty the ashtrays and pour us tea. A security camera gazes down at us from the door.

Continue reading Yakuza 3 Reviewed by Yakuza

Judith Hill, the “girl from Michael Jackson”, on Studio360

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In November, I blogged about Judith Hill, the mysterious half-black, half-Japanese woman who sang at the Michael Jackson memorial and in the movie This Is It. To celebrate the one year anniversary of MJ’s death, I visited Judith at her home in Pasadena and produced a radio segment for PRI’s Studio360 about her life and music. Her super-cute mom, Michiko Hill from Tokyo, makes a cameo appearance too. Enjoy!

Article about natto and the soy debate on Boing Boing

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On Boing Boing yesterday, I wrote a short article about natto. I personally come from a heavily natto-eating family and love the stuff, but some people think it’s the nastiest shit in the world.

I also talk about the whole “is soy good or bad for you?” debate, and offer a simple recipe for natto spaghetti.

Read Taste Test: Natto, gooey fermented soy bean

And by the way, if you haven’t been following my writing on Boing Boing, I write several blog posts and two features a week there now as a Contributing Editor, and every other week I do a food column called Taste Test — which is what this natto story is part of.

Image via Jasja Dekker’s Flickr

Visit me at Boing Boing!

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Have you guys seen the new Boing Boing? On Tuesday, the award-winning blog got a makeover and had a relaunch. I’m now one of their regular feature writers, which means you can read a lot of my work there now. This week, I wrote about a seasonal fruit called the Red Kuri Squash and told the romantic tale of a man in New Zealand who found a long-lost wedding ring in the ocean. Other writers include BG’s Rob Beschizza, science journalist Maggie Koerth-Baker, BOffworld’s Brandon Boyer, and, of course, the four legendary original Boingers &mdash Xeni, Mark, David, and Cory.

If you’re not a Boing Boing reader already, come visit often!