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Vivienne Sato

Time Out Tokyo recently ran a feature about the lack of a proper Gay Pride parade in Tokyo. The event began in the 1990s, but has withered away in the last decade. When it does happen- rather erratically- it is rather subdued and many of the participants wear masks to cover their faces, or hover around the float that doesn’t allow photos.

To many, Pride is the stamp of a progressive, tolerant society. Its absence is therefore problematic, and hints at the presence of homophobia.
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My article about “soap nuts,” an ecological alternative to laundry detergent, is up here.

I’ve tried the husks myself and was surprised to find that they really did work as well as other detergent. Over the past year I’ve tried to remove as many chemicals as possible from my life, and discovered that baking soda and vinegar work wonders as a substitute for most cleaning products.
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My most recent article on Japan’s food self-sufficiency is up here.

Despite the relatively positive tone of the article insisted upon by The Powers That Be at the paper, I was distinctly unimpressed with officials at both Food Action Nippon (FAN) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) when I interviewed them. I understand that there are no easy answers when one is faced with a catastrophe as great as the March 11 earthquake and the subsequent nuclear disaster. With Japan’s food self-sufficiency in dire straits- hovering awkwardly at 39% again after two years at a no less dangerous 40%- and irradiated food on supermarket shelves, the situation is not looking good.
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When I was at university in London I did a fortnight of work experience at a women’s magazine. I wrote this while I was there.
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Written August 6: before the UK riots

Don't drink the kool-aid

Japanese conversations run along different rules to English ones. In the former, you must simply wait until your opponent has finished voicing his sentiments, and refrain from butting in, even if you echo their sentiments. A conversation is a series of monologues rather than the fluid, overlapping series of comments that an English conversation often becomes.
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The recent Tottenham riots made me think about the difference between the UK and Japan.

Ask most foreigners living here what they like about the country, and they’ll usually reply “The food. Oh, and the safety.”
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My most recent article for the Asahi is a review of photographer Tsuneo Enari’s exhibition, “Japan and its Forgotten War,” at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Ebisu, Tokyo. You can read it here.

I was struck by the exhibition largely because I know very little about Japan’s role in World War II. I’m one of those people who despised history lessons at school and now regrets not paying more attention- although I went to a Catholic Girls School that mostly presented the past through the prism of the Church and probably didn’t touch on Japan at all. The problem is, as Alain de Botton says, “we imagine the past to be extremely foreign, and so we don’t use it as the supreme practical guide that it can be… [Ralph Waldo] Emerson suggested that we read history as a compendium of moral lessons.”

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