Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ukulele Showcase - Finest of the Fine

Music is magic! It can help you do away with your headache. It makes you miss somebody, who usually you have no time in your busy schedule to miss. It refreshes your memory about the places you have been to, the people you have met, and expands your imagination to the places you have never experienced. I am talking about the music feast tonight at the Japanese American National Museum - the Southern California Ukulele Showcase.

Joined Little Tokyo's residents and visitors to
celebrate all things 'uke.'

Chose a seating in the front so I could see the stage clearly with my short-sighted glasses. Took a sound breath, and relaxed. Daniel Ho, Heard Ohta Jr. and their ukuleles, the sweet voices of the duo Makena, the seductive Hula dance... I could feel the wind, smell the beaches, touch the sunlight and hear the aloha spirit of Hawaii right here, in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles.

The genius humorous King Kukulele, the intellectual Dan "Soybean" Sawyer, the wild
Steven Espaniola, the experienced Bilgewater Brothers, and many more... each added a different flavor to the feast.

The performance kicks off the 2007 season of the Japanese American National Museum's 1st and Central Summer Concerts. The celebration of all things 'uke.' will be followed by an evening of Taiko with San Jose Taiko & Cava on Thursday July 26, 2007. Log on to for the calendar of events.

Tiny bubbles, in the wine

Make me happy

Make me feel fine

Tiny bubbles make me warm all over with a

feeling that I'm gonna love you

("Tiny Bubbles" in tribute to Don Ho - performed by a group of the finest artists in the field of 'uke.')

And I feel warm.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Food for thought

I have been around Little Tokyo for 3 weeks. Had chance to taste some Japanese and Korean restaurants in the area. Yes, Japanese and Korean food is most easily found in Little Tokyo, not other Asian food. Although I miss my Vietnamese food, I feel happy as it is what I find interesting here in Little Tokyo - a blend of Japanese and Korean cultures through food. It is not uncommon in Little Tokyo to see Japanese restaurants serve Korean dishes and vice versa. I remembered the angry-looking face of my previous boss when he saw the book - This is a Big World and There's Lots of Things to Do by the founder and former head of the Daewoo Group Kim Woo Choong - in the office. Let's not talk about this controversial figure and his book. What I recall is my surprise at that time as he told me he never wanted to see anything related to Korea in the office. I remembered when I was at East West Center, there was a seminar series on Japan - South Korea relationship. Till that time that I learnt about the reason that divided the two countries - history. Other than that, I saw the South Korean students side by side with the Japanese fellows with not much difference. They both are smart, hard working among other qualities. Both share interests for food, reading, football (I have seen two Japanese and Korean guys cheering together while watching an Italian football match), etc. There is clearly no reason for tension between them, except for history, which they cannot change, never. As I enjoyed a hot bowl of Udon, topped with Kimchi at the Korean Kitchen (Hibachi BBQ) in the Japanese Village Plaza in Little Tokyo, I wondered why people often focus on differences, rather than commonalities as they go along.