I'm not always a big fan of these sorts of lists, but there are some great discovers to be made clicking through. Once, long ago, I wrote my university dissertation on animated films from east and west, and if anything shows how anime has pierced the western consciousness, its the mix that is included here. 

I link this up for anyone who has an interest in Japan and in how you can do cross-cultural communication in a really cool way. There are already a bunch of back-episodes to download and I`m pretty sure if you have found this blog, you will want to take a look.

This is a great piece from The Guardian about how music and culture are combining to combat brute force politics.

"Our job as musicians should be to celebrate the good and do something about fixing the bad," said Kina, who some have called Okinawa’s answer to Bob Marley. "That’s why I hate the military bases here, but I love Americans."

And then.

The spirit of resistance pioneered by Kina is to be found in the more eclectic music of Tatsumi Chibana, a quietly spoken 33-year-old university graduate and perhaps the most visible of Okinawa’s new generation of rebel artists, fusing traditional sounds with rock, reggae and hip-hop.

It goes on to cover some interesting points on Okinawa`s cultural waves. Be sure to take a couple of minutes to watch the video interview with Lisa Nagamine.

What does one do when beset by illness, bad luck, or a case of lost keys? If you’re in Okinawa one possibility is to consult a yuta. The yuta are female spirit mediums who have been around for centuries, though it was not always easy for them. Many people know of the Salem witch trials and other examples of such persecution throughout Western history. However, I would venture to guess that very few would know that there were similar occurrences in the history of Okinawa.

And then.

Compared to the yuta, the noro are an interesting contrast. At the most basic level, noro were priestesses, while the yuta were spirit mediums. They were both women involved in rites, rituals, and spiritual work. However, positions such as the noro were generally inherited matrilineally, and were part of a system. On the other hand, yuta were individuals who had “awakened to their own psychic or spiritual abilities.” Being a yuta was a self-proclaimed vocation, with no requirements needed or qualifications to be shown. If someone had a problem they could pay a yuta to consult with the spirits and find a solution, and there were always people with problems.

I love the Tofugu features.

Past Barriers

The UK has a new culture secretary in charge of the UK arts and culture department of the government and the big news is that he is from an immigrant family, whose father was a bus driver. 

Coming back to the UK recently, one thing you notice is the ugliness of our past compared with our present. You see still in bits, in the institutions, the type of people that get to the top of society and the way the media crafts their messages, but in general, we can look back on the ugliness of our history, accept it for the shame it brings us, and look towards a better future.

What I am taking heart from - especially after noticing some of the things such as the growth of cultural events - is that the majority of people look back on the ugliness of the empire with full understanding of its bigotry. When we look at some of those things, its good that we feel shame and horror. Sometimes, we don`t even have to look very far to see them, but thankfully, we are now removed from their direct influence. 

Prejudices that we once had never go totally away, but society moves on and we draw a line over them to show that they become shameful. They move out of common usage and moved to the worst fringes of society. History is on the side of progressives, as over time, the prejudices are proved wrong.  There are some painful moments at times, such as the sexism / sexual discrimination issue of the moment, but in the end, we move on.

You now what helps that process? The fact that is the progressives in society who create the most, and creation trumps destruction, time and time again.

jkottke:

American favorites (blue jeans, whiskey, burgers) have been embraced by the Japanese, who have been turning out improved versions of the originals.

In Japan, the ability to perfectly imitate-and even improve upon-the cocktails, cuisine and couture of foreign cultures isn’t limited to American products; there are spectacular French chefs and masterful Neapolitan pizzaioli who are actually Japanese. There’s something about the perspective of the Japanese that allows them to home in on the essential elements of foreign cultures and then perfectly recreate them at home. “What we see in Japan, in a wide range of pursuits, is a focus on mastery,” says Sarah Kovner, who teaches Japanese history at the University of Florida. “It’s true in traditional arts, it’s true of young people who dress up in Harajuku, it’s true of restaurateurs all over Japan.”

It’s easy to dismiss Japanese re-creations of foreign cultures as faddish and derivative-just other versions of the way that, for example, the new American hipster ideal of Brooklyn is clumsily copied everywhere from Paris to Bangkok. But the best examples of Japanese Americana don’t just replicate our culture. They strike out, on their own, into levels of appreciation and refinement rarely found in America. They give us an opportunity to consider our culture as refracted through a foreign and clarifying prism.