Category Archives: Culture

How to find a girlfriend in China

All the single ladies, all the single ladies!  Well, and single guys too.  Yesterday, bachelors and bachelorettes in Hangzhou flocked to a grand blind date party, scouring personal ads hung clothes-line-style to find that special someone.  The event, which was televised nationwide, is one of many blind date parties becoming popular in China.


Check out the full gallery here!



Happy Diwali from President Obama!

Happy Diwali, everyone!  Emily, Amy and I grew up in Singapore, where Diwali (we call it Deepavali, the Tamil pronunciation of the word) is a public holiday so I was pretty stoked to find that President Obama gave a special Diwali message today.  Check it out!


See you at the dog: Japan’s ultimate meeting spot

At first glance, it’s just an average bronze dog statue,  but there’s something about Hachiko that makes it one of the most famous meeting spots in Japan. I sometimes see more than a hundred people milling around, making it really frustrating to find someone. And yet, I always find myself back there. It’s an unspoken rule of thumb: people with plans in Shibuya almost always meet up at the dignified Hachiko statue. The reason behind the choice of waiting spot speaks volumes about the Japanese people’s love of culture and history.

An Akita dog born in 1923, Hachiko is a well-loved figure in Japanese history and a national symbol of loyalty. The tale is, Hachiko would go to the Shibuya station to greet his master, college professor Hidesamuro Ueno, as he returned home from work. One day Ueno suffered a stroke and did not return, but Hachiko continued to make his daily trips to the station for ten years without fail until his death. When the statue of Hachiko was erected, it became a popular waiting spot among locals, keeping the spirit of Hachiko alive.



Wong Fu Productions unfolds evolution of “peace sign”

Ever wondered how we fobs managed to turn a simple “peace sign” into an entire collection of fobby poses?  Wong Fu Productions recently released a “mockumentary” to explain this evolutionary phenomenon.  I am a huge fan of these talented guys and I have to say, this video is one of my favorites.  Well done Wong Fu!


Headache? Forget Advil, try a Chinese foot massage

footI admit the diagrams that illustrate which internal organs correspond with which foot pressure points are a little weird, but I swear there’s truth to it.

In addition to my acupuncture, I also got a traditional Chinese foot massage yesterday and it was amazing.  I have chronically tight shoulder muscles and upon prodding and kneading my feet, Mr. Winn looks up and says in Chinese, “You have very tense shoulders, right?”  Shocked, I asked him how he knew, and he replies nonchalantly, “I can tell everything from your feet.”


During my year living in Shanghai, I fell in love with the intense (and admittedly slightly painful) traditional Chinese foot massages, a.k.a. reflexology.  Unlike western massage, which people get primarily as an expensive luxury, reflexology is seen as a healthy practice that can improve circulation, cure high blood pressure and kidney ailments, and relieve headaches.  It’s cheaper than western massages, too–my wonderful hour-long session was just $20 at Oriental Wellness Center in Oakland Chinatown!


Poking my way to Labor Day relaxation with acupuncture

So I had my first-ever acupuncture appointment today, and for someone who’s afraid of needles I have to say it was pretty cool. Randy Lam, a jolly man of 72, assured me that he’d been practicing for decades and that he would get my stiff shoulders relaxed. . . by sticking pins in my legs.


Lying face up on the exam bed, Randy stuck three super-fine needles in each of my lower legs, at acupuncture points along the body’s meridian. I could barely feel the needles, so no biggie, right?

But then he “activates” each needle by turning it, and I feel an uncomfortable, deep pressure in at each point. Turning each needle over and over, the pressure in my legs increase to an almost unbearable intensity. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I feel extremely hot and break out in a sweat, my hands clammy and little beads of perspiration on my face. I ask Randy why I’m so hot–he says he’s activated my circulation. . . weird! I start breathing deeply as I feel a low-electric buzz in my brain–the only way I can describe it is that it feels like gentle pins-and-needles in your noggin. Laying there in “meditation,” I massage my right shoulder and, to my surprise, one of the needles in my left leg starts tingling!

After a couple more needles in my hands and feet, my session is over and I feel surprisingly relaxed, the soreness in my legs’ pressure points still lingering. My muscles feel loose. My brain feels calm. . .

Thanks, Randy–Labor Day weekend, here I come.


Japanese women who dig samurai men

In a country where quirky subcultures are a dime a dozen, hearing about the emerging group of women who dig samurai warriors does not really surprise me. They are called rekijo or female history buffs. These women are attracted to the hunky samurais in the comics they read or in computer games, and start becoming history geeks  because of their crushes on the military commander characters. Some of them even use the crest of their samurai as the backdrop for their cell phone. Check out the video to see more on the samurai-smitten women.


Japan Probe