How School Lunch in America Compares to Japan, Philippines, India and Korea

 

Yesterday, Buzzfeed released a video called “School Lunches Around The World” which (as the title suggests) shows the average school lunch of children from various countries.  Most interesting of all was the difference in size, nutritional value and of course, content.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.25.31 PMAccording to the video, a typical school lunch in the United States consists of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some chips, a Go-gurt, an apple and some milk. Although many comments argued that a more typical American school lunch consists of a slice of pizza instead of a PB&J, we have to admit that this combination pretty much hits the mark when it comes to average lunches.

 

But does the video accurately show the average school lunch in Asian countries?

 

  Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.37.59 PMAlthough the image shows Japan’s lunch consisting of rice, mackerel and pickled spinach, it’s safe to assume that the vegetables and fish can be substituted with other ingredients. The main essence of a Japanese lunch is clear: food is made from scratch and made to be healthy. In fact, Japan’s child obesity rate, which is always among the world’s lowest, has declined for each of the past six years.        

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.49.14 PMFor the Philippines, the video shows rice and lechon kawali (pork) on a banana leaf rather than a plate. Admittedly, the banana leaf gave quite a few people a chuckle. Viewers recognized this as the tradition in many rural areas of the Philippines. The main issue some had with this image is that it did not feature seafood, a staple of Philippine cuisine. That aside, this simple combination is more than common. Unfortunately, a diet rich in meats like Lechon may be the reason for high rates of hypertension.          

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 5.13.50 PMIndia’s school lunch consists of rice and saag paneer (a classic Indian dish consisting of cooked spinach and fried paneer cheese with thickened cream or coconut milk) and dal makhani (another Indian staple consisting of whole black lentil and red kidney beans). The meal has become an average school lunch thanks to a massive school feeding program which aims to improve nutritional levels among children.          

 

 

  Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 1.55.19 PM Korea’s average school lunch consists of purple rice, soup, kimchi, radish and bulgogi (grilled, marinated beef). While some viewers commented that this plate is inaccurate because it should be flipped to have the rice closer to us, we can go ahead and agree with the plate. Anyone who has dined at a Korean restaurant is accustomed to the colorful meal and the numerous side dishes.  

As viewers watched this video, they couldn’t help but notice that the American meal lacked vegetables and more importantly, it contained quite a large amount of processed and sugary foods. Many have linked this to the high obesity rates in the U.S. which have more than doubled in adults and children since the 1970’s.    

 

Check out more school lunches with the complete video below.

Move Over Pumpkin Latte, Japan’s Fall Favorite Are Fried Maple Leaves

 

October is here and you know what that means! It’s time to get your costume ready for Halloween, pull out that oversized sweater (except in California, where it seems we have to wait just a little longer for the weather to catch up and realize it’s autumn) and of course, indulge in pumpkin-flavored everything.

Japan on the other hand, seems to prefer something else instead of pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin beer and pumpkin donuts. Their favorite treat during the fall is something many of us never even dreamed of consuming: maple leaves.

Of course we love maple leaves, but usually we enjoy them for aesthetic purposes. We enjoy their crunch as we step on them, we enjoy raking them together in a giant pile to be jumped on and we even enjoy them as decorations. We certainly never thought of frying them as a snack.

The leaf snacks are called “momiji” or “momiji tempura” and the leaves are often found and fried in Minoh City, Osaka, Japan. Not surprising, the city is known for their Japanese maple trees.

The leaves used for these snacks aren’t simply plucked off the ground and thrown into a fryer. They are usually preserved in salt barrels for an entire year before being fried in a sweet batter until they are crisp. Apparently, the leaves themselves don’t actually taste like anything, so the flavor heavily depends on the batter.

Admittedly, we’re intrigued and we’d love to get our hands on these adorable snacks. Check them out for yourself below.

 

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(Photo credit: 1, 2, 3)

 

Good News Cat Lovers! Pop-Up Cat Café in Chinatown This Weekend

 

By now, you’ve probably heard of all those pop-up, themed cafés in Japan which (as the name suggests) are temporary and offer special, limited-time-only menu options. If not, then trust me when I say they can get awfully creative. We’ve seen everything from Hello Kitty cafés to Owl cafés, but most popular of all has got to be cat themed cafés. Now if you’re a cat-lover in Los Angeles, you may have been envious of Japan’s cat-friendly cafés. Well, we have good news for you.

Take your keys and drive yourself over to Chinatown for (you guessed it) a pop-up cat café. Yes, this is actually happening, but for a limited time.

31-year-old Carlos Wong was inspired to create his own cat café after living in Tokyo last year, where cat-culture and cat cafés have been gaining wide popularity for several years. In fact, Tokyo is said to have at least 39 cat cafés. So Wong decided that it was about time we have one of these for ourselves and cleverly named it Catfe.

So what exactly is this cat café? It’s a place where visitors can enjoy a nice brewed coffee and all sorts of desserts with the company of cats! And yes, you can pet them as much as you want.

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Though this pop-up cat café is only available until Sunday, October 5, from 4 to 9 p.m., Wong is planning on opening a permanent location in Little Tokyo once it raises $250,000 in funds. For now, the Catfe is free for all visitors, unless you want to make a reservation for $30 that allows you to have priority access to Catfe on the day of your reservation. For those who want more intimate alone time with cats can pay $125.

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Check out Catfe’s website for more information. Catfe is located at Far East Plaza, 727 N. Broadway, Chinatown.

 

–STORY BY MICHELLE KIM

 


Japanese Artist Crystal Kay Is Ready For Her International Debut

 

Born and raised in Yokohama, Japan, to an African American military father and a third-generation ethnically Korean singer mother, Crystal Kay was constantly surrounded by music. She started singing commercial jingles at the tender age of 4 (“My mom’s friend who owned an advertisement production company would borrow me when they needed a child’s voice,” says Kay) and released her first single, “Eternal Memories,” at 13. Fifteen years and 11 albums later, Kay, 28, is looking forward to branching outside of her Japanese fanbase and introducing her unique sound to American audiences.


 

Audrey Magazine: What kind of music did your parents introduce you to when you were growing up?

Crystal Kay: My parents listened to all of the great music of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, from Earth, Wind & Fire, Maze and Luther [Vandross] to Celine Dion and Bon Jovi. My favorites were Michael and Janet Jackson. Watching their videos and shows really inspired me to become an entertainer. My parents’ eclectic taste in music definitely influenced mine in a great way because I love to incorporate different styles to make borderless music of my own.

 

AM: You started in the industry so young. What do you think of when you revisit songs, like “Eternal Memories,” that you performed when you were barely a teenager?

CK: I think, “Damn! I was such a baby!” [Laughs] But I love that song, and I think it captured my innocence and pureness, visually and musically, in a perfect way. It’s also fun to reflect on how much I’ve changed and grown both as an artist and a woman. I’m very proud of my earlier albums and videos.

 

AM: You are a cool and unique mix of cultures. Can you talk about what you’ve taken from growing up in Japan, in addition to the influences of an African American father and a Korean mother?

CK: Thanks! Growing up in Japan has helped me understand unique Japanese traditions and culture. It’s a culture that’s very polite and courteous — sometimes a little too courteous [laughs] — but it’s a nice trait to have, and it makes me different when I’m in a foreign country.

My African American influence is definitely in my sense of music and rhythm. I love to dance, and people always tell me my soulfulness and the way I feel the beat is definitely my black side. I never lived in Korea, but one thing I’ve learned is that Koreans are passionate people. They love to sing and dance, and I love how they are proud of their musical history. I feel I have the best of both worlds musically, and I’m very thankful for that.

 

AM: As a trailblazing mixed-race artist in Japan, has it ever been difficult to express or explain your identity in the public eye?

CK: Moving to New York, I’m finally starting to become more comfortable defining and explaining who I am. In Japan, I never had to really explain myself often, because it was rarely asked. I think that was probably because many people in Japan were just not used to multiracial people like they are in the U.S. And also, I was the first black and Korean singer in Japan, so I was a rare breed. [Laughs]

 

AM: How has the music landscape changed in the last 15 years since you first started?

CK: It’s definitely changing for the better. You can see the growth in number and popularity of mixed-raced artists in the entertainment industry throughout the years. It’s nice to see this change because it helps the youth to be open-minded and see people for who they are, whether they are mixed or not.

 

 

AM: What prompted your desire to debut in the U.S., and what can we look forward to?

CK: I’ve always wanted to share my music with the world. When I first debuted at 13, I thought, “Oh yay, I have a single out, so I’m automatically worldwide!” I always thought, naturally, that music is universal. When I realized I was a “Japanese singer,” my drive to become an international star became stronger, and it was always just a matter of when.

I have over 50 [songs] as of now, and I hope to release an EP very soon. Then I want to start performing so I can finally start spreading my music and create a following.

 

AM: One of your goals is to bring Japanese youth culture to an American audience. Can you elaborate on what Americans are missing out on that you want to share?

CK: Because I’m a multicultural Japanese girl, I want to show a side of Japanese girls that hasn’t really been shown to the world. Let’s reset that stereotype that is often misunderstood as bubblegum cute. There are a lot of sexy, powerful and real women and girls that take charge of their lives. They have their own powerful expression.

 

AM: What do you think about international artists like Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne who incorporate Japanese culture into their music? Is there a way to do it well versus a way that is questionable?

CK: I think it’s really cool how Gwen Stefani played with the Harajuku girl concept, because she really made it her own by creating her version of the Harajuku culture and paying tribute to it in her own way. I also think it’s cute that Katy wears a lot of Japan-themed costumes. You can see that they both adore the culture and appreciate its uniqueness and are not mocking it. Because of them, I’m sure a lot more people became interested in Japan and its pop culture.

It really bothers me when people overuse the neon signs, wrong kanji and geisha girls in white faces and incorrectly worn kimonos in their videos just to be “different.” I remember seeing something similar to that in this R&B singer’s video — I won’t mention any names. [Laughs]

But I want to introduce a cooler and more authentic side of Japan that, at the moment, only I can. I want to show a really unique Japanese subculture that the world doesn’t really know about.

 

AM: And lastly, since we’re talking about crossing cultures, which other international stars would you love to work with?

CK: I would love to work with Calvin Harris. I love his style of dance music, and he has great melodies. I think we can be a killer combo

 

 

To get a taste of Crystal Kay’s new music, click here

 

 

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All photos courtesy of Alli Nakamura
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Controversy Over Miranda Kerr’s Vogue Japan Photoshoot: Cultural Appropriation vs. Cultural Appreciation

 

Miranda Kerr is certainly no stranger to Japan. This time last year, the 31-year-old Australian model attracted quite a bit of attention for her odd, Japanese detergent commercials. Well it looks like she’s back and this time, she’s on the cover of the special 15th anniversary November issue of Vogue Japan.

While this excited many Kerr fans, much of that excitement was replaced with confusion when shots from the photo shoot were released. It was immediately clear that the actress was dressed to look like a geisha, a samurai and even an anime character. Of course, this begs the question: Where is the line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, and what does this categorize as?

Most seem to be leaning towards cultural appropriation. Angry netizens question why a Japanese model wasn’t used for the 15th anniversary issue of  Vogue Japan. After all, the magazine is a Japanese-language magazine. Despite Kerr’s undeniable popularity in Japan, Japanese readers have been shaking their heads in disapproval of the choice to have a foreigner in “Japanese-inspired” outfits.

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However, others have come to Kerr’s defense including the photographer of the photo shoot, Mario Testino. In response to the controversy he explained, “I wanted to represent ancient and modern Japan with these three characters. Japan has geisha and samurai, as well as manga, and I hoped to express these themes through Miranda to the Japanese people.”

Some Kerr fans have even used cosplay as an example of cultural appreciation and note that race does not matter when avid fans dress up as their favorite anime or comicbook character. They argue that this photo shoot does the same. To others, the rebuttal for this argument is simple: this is not cosplay. This is a magazine which creates influence and for some, shapes beauty standards.

Kerr has not released her opinion on the matter, but she has been putting up photos on her Instagram since earlier this month.

Check them out below and give us your verdict. Is this cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation?

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Adorable 101-Year-Old Man Just Became A Model

 

Don’t get the wrong idea about what sort of modeling career 101-year-old Kaoru Nozaki has. He’s definitely not flaunting this season’s menswear down the runway. Instead, his modeling career began when he had photographs taken showing what he loves to do most: Drink coffee.

Nozaki was well-known in his Japanese hometown. The kind man could always be found at the coffee shop (and we mean he was always at the coffee shop). Apparently, he looked so natural and calm while drinking his beverages that he piqued the interest of a gallery that happened to be running a “Coffee Cup Museum” exhibit.

The exhibit featured coffee cups from all over the world as well as an array of photos showing coffee drinkers like Nozaki. Dramafever reports Nozaki’s local community has been supportive and positive about his adorable modeling experience.

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(Source)

Controversial Japanese Illustration Tries To Show What Type of Women Attract Sexual Assault

 

No matter what a woman wears, she is never “asking” for sexual assault. No matter what. So whenever someone tells me I shouldn’t dress a certain way lest I attract unwanted male attention, it’s enough to send me into a angry rage about why they’re wrong.

This is undoubtedly why the Japanese artist who goes by Twitter username @Nakashima273, faced a lot of criticism for his controversial illustration.  In the illustration, he shows 6 females of different height, age, and clothing choice. He then goes on to explain which types of women are more targeted for sexual assault and why. As you can expect, his piece was met with an explosion of angry comments.

However, the artist argued that he was simply showing facts. He points out that the illustration aimed to disprove the common belief that dressing provocatively was “asking for it.”

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Apparently, the picture above shows the easiest targets to the hardest targets from left to right. Surprisingly, those who dressed more modestly attracted more sexual assault. The artist references a blog which states:

Suspects in sex crime cases were asked why they chose that person [to attack]. Fewer than 5 percent said they targeted someone because they were wearing provocative clothing. In rape cases, the most common reason given was ‘they seemed like they wouldn’t report it to the police’ (45%). In indecent assault cases, the most common reason was ‘they seemed meek; I didn’t think they’d be able to stop me’ (48%).

Ayako Uchiyama, who led the research, said ‘It’s often thought that [women] who wear provocative clothing will be targets [for sex crimes], but that’s not the case.

 

Admittedly, we’ve definitely heard the saying that says the more provocatively one dresses, the more likely they attract unwanted male attention. In fact, an Indian politician was under quite a bit of heat for claiming that “rape occurs when women dress and act inappropriately.”

The artist has protested that the point of his illustration was to show that such a belief was incorrect. Does this make his purpose justified? Not quite. As one commenter points out, “Talking about people who attract chikan [sexual assault] easily is looking at it the wrong way. It’s like saying the victim is in the wrong.”

Tell us what you think!

(Source)


Dog And Owner “Wear Each Other’s Hair” … Because It’s Art

 

Most pet owners know there’s a thin line between loving your pet and loving your pet. Well Japanese artist Aki Inomata dangerously walks that line with her new project “I Wear the Dog’s Hair, and the Dog Wears My Hair.” Yes, the title is quite self-explanatory.

Inomata collected bundles of her own hair and wove it into a small coat for her dog. She then collected heaps of hair from her dog and created a trendy, tan coat for herself. Yes, they literally wear each other’s hair.

Although this merely seems like an extreme pet love, Inomata swears that her art project aims to show a conflicted owner’s feelings over “owning” another living creature.

“The concept of my works is to get people to perceive the modes of life of various living creatures by experiencing a kind of empathy towards them.” she said in a statement to DesignBoom.

If you’re interested in checking out this peculiar piece of art, the exhibit is currently running at the Hagisa Gallery in Tokyo.

 

 

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Photos courtesy of Huffington Post. 

A Mother’s Creative Bento Boxes Teach Japan’s Geography And Look Adorable

 

We’ve seen everything from adorable Hello Kitty bento boxes to intricate panda bento boxes. And just when we thought we’ve seen it all, another creative food artist comes along and impresses us even more.

Bentos are home-packed meals common in Japanese cuisine. Traditionally, these boxes hold rice, fish or meat, and pickled or cooked vegetables. More recently, “kyaraben” (which translates to “character bento”) has picked up in popularity. Kyaraben are elaborately decorated bento boxes inspired by characters from anime, comics books, video games, animals, shows, etc. It is not uncommon to come across Japanese children comparing bento boxes at lunchtime to see who has the most impressive looking meal.

But one mother, who goes by the Twitter handle Sasariri, decided that she wanted her bento boxes to not only be cute but help educate her child as well. To do this, she very skillfully incorporated Japan’s prefectures as the theme for each bento box.

For each bento box, she used food items such as seaweed, egg and rice to accurately show the shape of one of Japan’s 47 prefectures, including Hokkaido, Kyoto and Tokyo. She even added the name of of each prefecture written in the roman alphabet to help her child learn even more.

Creative, yummy, cute and educational? Yes, please.

 

 

 

 

 

CHECK OUT MORE OF HER CREATIONS HERE.

 

Adorable Japanese Children Share Thoughts on Love, War and Happiness

 

If I were to ask seasoned, middle-aged individuals about their thoughts on war and love, my guess is that a handful would give me a response sprinkled with political opinions and even more would spew out jaded responses based on “the one that got away.”

But what about asking innocent children to dig into their brain and tell us what they feel about these deep issues? Their answers would be drastically different right?

Ryugin, an Okinawa-based bank, decided to go ahead and find out what sort of ideas were bouncing around in a child’s head. In a commercial titled “Children and Philosophy,” bright-eyed Japanese children give their adorable perspective on things.

The commercial, which is an advertisement for education loans that can benefit a child’s future, will have you smiling over their innocence.