From Entertainment

A Trip Down Memory Lane – Studio Ghibli & Miyazaki Hayao

The studio Ghibli is known for its dynamic films that portray three dimensional characters that all overcome an essential problem in their life. The films themselves are timeless portrayals of courageousness, loss, and love. Miyazaki’s films are at once, fascinating and dynamic.

The Ghibli exhibit is located in Inokashira Park in Mitaka, which is a western city of Tokyo. You can’t purchase tickets onsite – all tickets must be purchased before you get to the museum. According to the Ghibli website, you can purchase online from the JTB Group and online Lawson tickets. If you’re in Japan, any Lawson convenience store should have tickets available for purchase.

Entering the Exhibit

Your foot crosses the threshold with ease, but you pause anyway in an attempt to capture the magic all at once. The exhibit has been around since 2001, but you never got the chance to see it. Fast-forward some decades later, there you are, standing just inside the exhibit with a ton of Miyazaki movies under your belt. You can’t believe it. You’re finally here. There’s an inviting life-sized Totoro behind a bar filled with yummy looking pastries. As you enter even further, you’re wowed by the dozens of film posters covering the wall.

Because taking pictures at this point is not allowed, you are forced to live in the moment. The size of the museum is quite small, so you’re constantly aware of other visitors. Even though crowds are usually a hassle, this crowd isn’t. As a matter of fact, you surmise, this sort of experience reinforces everyone else’s positive feelings about the exhibit. In this place, everyone is a fan of Miyazaki, his films, and studio Ghibli.

Additional Information

In addition to features already mentioned, there are the floating ships, the music, and the cat bus. The ships hanging from the ceiling are a wonderful sight. The giant ship made the biggest impression on me. With faint music in the background, the presence of this ship is powerfully evocative. It looks as if it was taken right out of Laputa. The existence of this animated ship and the cat bus further excites a fan’s nostalgia.

Overall, the Ghibli exhibit is a place where all types of people get together and share in the experience of reliving old memories and admiring Miyazaki’s animation and directing skills. From my observations, pleasure is derived from the commonality found among visitors, the many pictures on the walls, and the interactive features, such as the cat bus and the giant ship. These features are an intricate part of the exhibit, as they create lasting impressions.

For specific information such as directions and ticket prices, check out japanwalkersea.com. This is a good resource for people wanting to travel extensively within Japan.


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Reading The Moon Chaser by Alexa Kang

The Moon Chaser, by Alexa Kang

PJ Review Score: 4.8/5


3: 🙂
4: 😊
5: 😲 

Alexa Kang is the author of WWII and 20th Century historical fiction. Her works include the Rose of AnzioShanghai Story (of which Moon Chaser is a spin-off) and Eternal Flame. To learn more about Alexa Kang and her works, visit her website.

Overview

The Moon Chaser is a historical novella within The Darkest Hour anthology about a woman named Yuan Wen-Ying during the Japanese invasion of China. The story is both lighthearted and intense, switching masterfully between cute jokes and tear-jerking scenes.

It takes place in Shanghai from the third-person perspective of Yuan Wen-Ying. Wen-Ying comes from a wealthy and respected family. Due to the harshness of life during the war, her family loses their power. The story picks up in 1944 with Wen-Ying heavily involved in the Tian Di Hui – a rebel group that aimed to undermine Japanese occupation on the mainland.

Analysis

Yuan Wen-Ying is a strong and empathetic character. Although she lost everything in the war, it’s clear that she’s an invaluable asset to the Tian Di Hui. Throughout the story, there are moments when Wen-Ying thinks about how different life was just a decade before. The memories are vivid and add depth to Wen-Ying’s character.

As far as female leads are concerned, Wen-Ying is a refreshing character. She’s honest and true to herself and her values, which makes her quite relatable despite being a woman who lived in the 20th century. Alexa Kang didn’t feel the need to alter Wen-Ying’s personality to make her more relateable, thereby maintaining the historical integrity of Wen-Ying’s character.

Wen-Ying faces several conflicts through the story, both internal and external, involving her ultimate mission and the man she can’t seem to ignore, Masao Takeda.

Critique

It’s clear that Alexa Kang cares about historical accuracy, which is something I respect a lot. Historical fiction done right is when a captivating story is created from non-fictional elements, such as the war itself, the toll the war took on food supplies, the Tian Di Hui, and so much more. As both a fan of historical fiction and a history buff, I was pleasantly surprised by Alexa Kang’s skill and attention to detail.

The book can be purchased via Amazon.


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5 Influential African Writers You Never Learned About in School

In celebration of recent African literary history, here’s a list of the top five most influential African writers you need to know.

Africa has no shortage of influential writers though, so the five chosen here are in now way an exhaustive list. Feel free to add your favorite African writer in the comments!

Fanon
Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon was born on July 20, 1925 in present day Martinique – a Caribbean French territory. He served in the Free French Army and later became the head of an Algerian hospital, tending to both Algerian and French soldiers. During this time, he observed the psychological effects that colonial violence had on his patients.

Fanon established himself as a leading intellectual in the Negritude movement, as well as an outspoken academic on the effects of colonialism on racial consciousness. His most famous works are The Wretched of the Earth, and Black Skin, White Masks. 

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Buchi Emecheta 

Buchi Emecheta was born on July 21, 1944 in Lagos, Nigeria. Although born in Nigeria to an Igbo family, she spent most of her time in London. She wrote extensively about the maltreatment of women in immigrant and African societies. Her most influential works are: The Rape of Shavi, Second Class Citizen, Adah’s Story and The Bride Price. 

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Yvonne Vera

Yvonne Vera was born September 19, 1964 in Bulawayo,  Zimbabwe. Her mother and father were supportive of her skill, enabling her to jump start her writing career in Canada. Her works deal with the oppression of colonialism, the realities of the maltreatment of women during times of social upheaval. Her most influential works are: Without a Name, Butterfly Burning and Under the Tongue.

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Tsitsi Dangarembga

Tsitsi Dangarembga was born on February 4, 1959 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She spent some time in England, receiving education at an English high school and then studying medicine at Cambridge University. However, due to racism and isolation, she returned to Zimbabwe. Her most famous work is Nervous Conditions, which received the Commonwealth Writer’s prize and is regarded by many as one of  twelve best African novels.

AlexLaGuma
 Alex La Guma

Alex La Guma was born on February 20, 1925 in Cape Town, South Africa. He lived through the oppression of apartheid. He grew up in a family that was active in the liberation movement, finding himself in prison several times for his activism. His works emphasized the harrowing effects of apartheid on his characters. Because of the controversial nature of his works, the South African government banned his works. Try reading A Walk in the Night, and Time of the Butcherbird.


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To Have or not to Have?

Building a ‘Portfolio’ or Building a ‘Life.’


I woke up this morning a little hazy, but the first thing that came to mind was Peaks Journal. The second thing that came to mind was my recently published book, Evanescence: A Fairytale. These two things have been at the forefront of my mind for months, accompanied by general feelings of anxiety.

If you’re like me, with a mental to-do list in your head, then you may feel overwhelmed sometimes. There are times when you may want to throw in the towel, and just join the everyday hustle and bustle of life with a 9 to 5.

If you’re thinking those are pretty heavy thoughts to have as soon as your eyes open, then chasing your dreams may not be the thing for you. And that’s what I’d like to investigate a little here. I saw this meme as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed:

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I immediately liked it, and commented on it. I decided to repost it with my own little interpretation which was this:

Repost via @live_out_lively :

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This was my biggest internal issue during college. 😞People told me the exact experiences I needed to have in order to be on the path to becoming a lawyer, or ambassador. .

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EVERYTHING was about experiencing something JUST to be seen as a qualified candidate for some job that would make a lot of money..😒

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I realized, I wasn’t doing this for me. I wasn’t doing this to ENJOY these experiences. And I just stepped outta line, bc I want to do what makes me happy. I want experiences for the memories, not the money. 🤷🏾‍♀️it’s a long and hard road though. Chasing dreams isn’t glamorous. But it’s worth it. 🙌

A friend commented this:

Or both! Portfolio is nice! Big picture  😂

I appreciated the comment because it challenged the idea that spending your entire life chasing a dream may not be the best thing. It could be the wrong thing, in fact. Completely ignoring your resume in favor of a dream is considered crazy to most. To others, it’s not something that can be done, due to the circumstances surrounding their lives.

For me, following a dream is a really basic way of saying explore what life has to offer. Here’s why chasing a dream can be a bad thing:

  • You don’t know where you’re going.
  • You don’t know how long the journey is.
  • There is little financial security.
  • It may negatively affect your mental health.

When you decide to explore what life has to offer, that means you get up when the sun rises and dive into upcoming waves. You let the current take you to your destination, and you’re attuned to the wisdom of nature. The only guide you have is the idea of your dream, which doesn’t leave you with a map where an ‘x’ is marked for ease of travel.

Likewise, since there is no predetermined path, the amount of time you spend building your dream varies. The amount of time spent on your dream is dependent upon several arbitrary factors that relate to you and your life, like your finances.

Ah, financial security. If you’re a person who quit their job to pursue your dreams, then don’t expect much in the way of financial security. You’ll have to find unique and creative ways of coming up with the finances you need. You need ingenuity, for starters.

All of these factors can be bad for you, especially if you’re a naturally anxious person. Personally, I think it’s worth it. At the same time, your resume can be a great tool for this! So, like my friend said, don’t count it out. If you don’t like the idea of being at the mercy and whims of the journey toward your dream, you can build your portfolio and pursue your dreams this way.

I don’t think there is just one right or wrong answer. I believe that there is something for everyone, whether that means building both your life and resume, or just your life, or just the resume. I think it’s most important to do what feels most natural.


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Travel: 7 Best Burger Joints in Beijing

by 罗子禾


I’m a food lover. The thing I enjoy the most is inventing new, on-the-edge, experimental recipes. But at the end of the day, there is barely anything more satisfying and emotionally fulfilling than a good burger. If you too, are a burger lover, let me make sure you don’t find yourself deprived of good burgers when you travel to my hometown, Beijing. It may be important for you to have a list of trusted restaurants because burgers are not that well understood in China. Most restaurants get it wrong in one way or another.

No. 7 Grandma’s Kitchen (near Beixinqiao)

Grandma’s Kitchen isn’t the most amazing restaurant, but it has a nice, quiet, cozy ambiance to it. Their burgers are decent. They understand what a patty is, how melted the cheese is supposed to be. It basically satisfies your craving, and they have decent fries to go with your burgers.

No. 6 Grey Hound (inside Taiguli)

Fun fact, Grey Hound’s logo is a flipped version of the bus company’s logo. I smell a conspiracy theory cooking. Grey Hound’s burgers are a bit small. Even though they are slightly better in quality than Grandma’s Kitchen, they are overpriced. So if you are looking for a boujee restaurant with a decent burger, Grey Hound is a decent choice.

No. 5 Hooter’s (on Hongjie St.)

Even though they lack slightly in variety, Hooter’s make some really satisfying burgers. You can trust them to make your patty juicy and salty. Sometimes I think they go slightly overboard with their salt. But I guess that’s a personal preference. So, if you like your patty slightly saltier than usual, hit up Hooter’s. To make things better, Hooter’s has pretty decent curly fries and a long cocktail menu.

No. 4 Blue Frog Bar and Grill (inside Taiguli)

Blue Frog is a chain. You can find at least one in almost every major city of China. They have a large selection of burgers and a few house specialties. I recommend trying a few if you ever get a chance. Their ambiance tends to land on the loud side. However, the venues are clean and high-end, and their burgers are something you can stuff your face with.

No. 3 Lily’s American Diner (near Sanlitun)

Lily’s American Diner lacks variety, but for its price vs. quality ratio, it beats every place that came before. The burgers here don’t try to be fancy or sophisticated or clever, they are just plain good. Lily’s also serves a burger with cole slaw, which isn’t exactly my thing. But if you like cole slaw, Lily’s is the only place that serves real, legit cole slaw on one of their burgers.

No. 2 The Irish Bar (across the street from Lido Plaza)

The Irish Bar is tied number two with Lily’s. I wanted to give the Irish Bar a slight edge because Lily’s is more of a breakfast restaurant or a diner whereas the Irish Bar is a Bar and Grill. The drink menu is long; the burgers are satisfying; the fries are better than most.

No. 1 Home Plate (Sanlitun Soho)

Homeplate is my indisputable top choice in burger restaurants in Beijing. The long list of burgers cater to a variety of burger lovers, moods and appetite. My personal favorite is the “Itis”. It combines just the right amount of cheese, a juicy and chewy patty, refreshing veggies, and a perfectly toasted bun. 

This list isn’t meant to be complete or universal. I’m just trying to give burger lovers out there a head start. Stay full and happy!

You see SIX I see NINE.

A Rule of Thumb Inspired by Rudolf Carnap

 by Johnny


One day, I was striking up an interesting conversation with a friend about laws. We looked into the diversity of laws, viz. laws differ from region to region, from country to country, from era to era. We shared a moment of silent admiration after our shared realization that ages of legal and moral laws were all products of human actions.

It’s funny that humans authored this intricate and enormous system of rules and norms, but we can’t seem to escape the banality of our lives.

All of a sudden, my friend said: “You know, even though humans wrote all these laws. The credit goes to God.”

“Here we go.” I muttered.

“No, man, look. Where did intelligence come from? Where did moral intuitions come from? Intelligence and moral intuitions are teleologically meaningful things. They are meant for something. Like helping us establish and further our pursuit of truth and goodness.

It’s natural to think that they exist by the design of a creator. If you see a watch on the beach, would you think it’s more likely that some watchmaker fashioned it or would you prefer to think that the watch formed naturally? I’m allowing the possibility of a watch forming naturally. It is indeed possible, however remotely.

But I choose to believe that something as intricate as a watch, which clearly has a specific purpose, is the product of thoughtful design. Now, would you really rather believe that intelligence and moral intuition formed naturally?”


“A scenario of intelligence and moral intuitions forming naturally, by means of mutations and natural selection is actually more plausible. My narrative tells a much fuller story. Check it:

The origin of intelligence is just one or a few mutations. Before you say your creator is behind mutation, there is a full bio-physics story that explains how a mutation occurs as well. Let’s leave that aside for now.

The genes of intelligence get added to the gene pool and get passed onto future generations. This ability turned out to be advantageous or even the key to survival in a lot of situations. So intelligence and its corresponding genes stayed in a lot of species’ gene pools rather stably, until hominids began consuming cooked foods, which, in time, increased brain capacity and gave intelligence a huge boost.

So, to answer your question, yes, I’d much prefer believing that intelligence formed naturally, rather than by the design of some creator, of which I see no evidence. The same goes for moral intuitions; there is a full narrative that does not involve a creator.”.

Our stimulating conversation eventually turned into a repartee, and it could have gone a lot worse if we weren’t friends.

Too many of us get lured into these disagreements, which trap everybody in an atmosphere of anger and rashness, and nobody ever gets convinced. Then, perhaps we shouldn’t wantonly get into these arguments.

A Christian, who praises Jesus for her fruitful day, shouldn’t be met with my scorn if I asked about her day; if I wanted to convince an atheist, empiricist good-samaritan to come with me to a Hare Krishna soup kitchen, and he says no, I can either try to persuade him by making the case that humanitarian work is humanitarian work with or without religious branding, or I could move on to the next person.

Barring extreme situations, there is really no need to discuss a person’s narrative of life, the cosmos, or anything, unless the narratives are the topic that is agreed upon.

Make maximal use of what agreements you can solicit, and tolerate other people’s alternative narrative.


Being Black in China

So what these four instances taught me is this: they mean well, but don’t really understand what is ‘racially insensitive’ and what’s not. Because of that, they’re bound to make mistakes when they’re unaware, and bound to think they made mistakes, when they didn’t.

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