Friday, April 18, 2014

In memory of Officer Sean Collier

Officer Sean Collier's temporary memorial

Today is the one year anniversary of Officer Sean Collier's death. I visited his temporary memorial today after someone had placed white origami cranes around the edge of the semi-circle surrounding the stone marker. MIT News got a picture of her placing them. I didn't see them at first because of all the white flowers but when I did I got teary.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Origami cranes, an international symbol of peace and hope

It's been one year since countless lives were shattered, but we're picking up the pieces and moving forward. There are exhibits all over town. I visited two yesterday.

Last year when I went down to Copley Square/Boylston Street for the first time after the Marathon bombings I was surprised to see origami cranes at the memorial and in a few places on Boylston Street. I had also seen some cranes at Sean Collier's makeshift memorial at MIT. Until last April I had never been to a makeshift memorial for a tragic event and I didn't know that origami cranes have become an international symbol of peace and hope. I assume this is because of the story of Sadako Sasaki and her peace cranes.

Peace cranes @ Old South Church

Recently, I was touched to learn the story of 1,000 cranes that were hand-delivered to the Old South Church (the church at the finish line of the Boston Marathon) by the Newtown Congregational Church which had received them from a church in Chardon, Ohio following the tragic December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Pilgrim Christian Church had received the cranes following a shooting at their high school from the Saron United Church of Christ in Sheboygen Falls, Wisconsin, who had made the cranes for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The cranes are currently being exhibited in the front hallway of Old South Church until Tuesday, April 22nd, the day after the marathon, after which they'll be delivered to a church in Fort Hood, Texas following the second mass shooting at the base in recent years. If you're in the neighborhood you should stop by and see them. They're beautifully displayed.

Apparently, these cranes were not the only post marathon bombing tribute. Someone organized an exhibit of 1,000 cranes at Anime Boston last year.

After visiting Old South Church I went across the street to the Boston Public Library to see Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial where they also included a few origami cranes in the exhibit. One was a large photo of a crane at the memorial last year printed on a canvas.

It appears that they may have borrowed from the Japanese Tanabata tradition of writing wishes on strips of paper (tanzaku) and hanging them on bamboo. There were 4 trees on which you could hang wishes. There were daffodils at the base of each tree, which might be related to the Boston Strong Marathon Daffodils project. The exhibit runs through Sunday, May 11th. I highly recommend checking it out. It was beautifully and lovingly curated.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

H Mart grand opening date in doubt

Grocery store - 4/8/14

I knew I should have waited before I posted the grand opening date. One of my sources tells me that H Mart hasn't even begun the inspection process and given that they're still not finish installing things, it doesn't seem likely they can even begin to schedule inspections for another couple of weeks. It usually takes several rounds to pass inspections so I'm thinking an opening in May or June is more likely. As you can see from these photos taken on Tuesday and Saturday, they've made some progress, but there's still much more to do.

Grocery store - 4/12/14

Monday, April 7, 2014

H Mart grand opening on April 23rd

Update 4/13/14: They've put up a banner announcing the grand opening, but I think it's doubtful they'll open on schedule.

Paris Baguette

Thanks to reader RiceWalker for alerting me to the fact that H Mart has announced their grand opening for Wednesday, April 23rd. I'm a little surprised because I was there yesterday and while they've made significant progress since my last visit it seems like they still have a lot of work to do before they can start the inspection process.

This is great news for H Mart fans who are tired of driving out to Burlington, but very bad news for all the independently-owned Korean grocery stores in Cambridge and Somerville (and possibly for Ebisuya, but I hope not). Reliable Market in Union Square has a major advantage over Lotte (Central Square) and J&K Han A Rum Oriental Market (North Cambridge) since they have free and hassle-free parking, but not being on a train line they may find it hard to compete with H Mart. On the other hand, if you're driving, Central Square is already a nightmare to park in so H Mart may primarily attract people who are taking the T.

Food court

Mass Ave. entrance

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Films: To Be Takei, Yoshiko and Yuriko @ 2014 Boston LGBT Film Festival

Yay! The Boston LGBT Film Festival is celebrating their 30th anniversary with the East Coast premiere of the George Takei documentary, To Be Takei!

To Be Takei

Thursday, April 3, 2014, 6:30PM - VIP Reception @ Empire, 7:30PM Film Screening @ ICA, followed by Post Party @ Empire
ICA100 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 02210
Empire Asian Restaurant & Lounge @ 55 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 02210
Tickets: $30 for film & post party, $50 for reception, film, and post party
Directed by Jennifer M. Kroot & Bill Weber
2014 | 90 mins | Documentary
George Takei doesn’t shy away from digging into his remarkable career and personal life in Jennifer Kroot’s delightful and incisive film To Be Takei. As a child forced into Japanese-American internment camps, the actor-turned-activist reveals the ways that racism affected him well into his early acting career, where he played stereotypical Asian stock characters in film and television shows. Even after landing the iconic role of Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek, Takei’s sharp eye, coupled with his wicked sense of humor, continued to challenge the status quo well into the twenty-first century.

Now at 76, nine years after formally coming out of the closet, Takei and his husband, Brad, have become the poster couple for marriage equality, highlighting homophobia through television interviews and hilarious skits, many of which have gone viral and garnered widespread attention. Whether dishing on William Shatner or parodying the now-infamous comments made by Tim Hardaway, Takei proves time and again why his presence in popular culture remains as fresh and necessary as ever.—Sundance Film Festival

The only Japanese film at the festival this year is based on the real life love affair between two Japanese women, Yoshiko Yuasa and Yuriko Chujo (Miyamoto is her married name) during the Taishō & Shōwa periods (early 1920s-1930s).

Yoshiko and Yoriko

Original Title: 百合子、ダスヴィダーニヤ (Yuriko, dasuvidânya)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 @ 8:30pm
Tickets: $12
Directed by: Sachi Hamano (Wikipedia)
2011 | 102 mins | Narrative Feature
Japanese with English Subtitles
Read about Yoshiko & Yoriko and the making of the film, detailed synopsis
Based on a true story, Yoshiko and Yuriko relates the journey and great love affair of Yoshiko, who was a renowned translator of Russian literature and drama, and Yuriko, who was a feminist novelist and great activist of the post-war democratic literature movement. The two women shared a strong attraction to each other from their first meeting and enjoyed a powerful love affair. Yoshiko reveals that she’s an out lesbian, whilst Yuriko is married to a well-known scholar – a situation she can’t walk away from with ease.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Japan Festival will be June 7, 2014 in Cambridge

Looks like there's been a bit of a shake up over at the Japan Festival in Boston. I had heard rumors that it might not happen this year but it seems they teamed up with the Cambridge River Festival, so the 3rd annual Japan Festival in Boston will be in Central Square, Cambridge on Saturday, June 7th. I'm unclear if the Japan Festival will be in one place or spread through. The Cambridge River Festival will be on Mass Ave. and Sidney St.

I received the following email from festival organizers yesterday. The vendor application process is a little confusing so read carefully if you apply.

( 日本語が以下続きます )

Dear all,

Thank you very much for your support and patience for Japan Festival Boston 2014. We are pleased to announce that this year the Japan Festival will be held in conjunction with the Cambridge Arts River Festival on Saturday June 7, 2014, from 12:00pm to 6:00pm. We are excited to be participating in the River Festival and hope you will all join us.

There are changes to the process of applying at this year’s festival. Please go to the following vendor applications for Japan Festival Section at Cambridge River Festival to find out more.

           Art booth application

           Food booth application

           Community table (Free, Nonprofit organization only)

If you are interested in becoming a vendor,please download the vendor application from the link above, fill in the form and send it by e-mail AND by post as follows. The postmark date for submission is April 4th, 2014 :
-       By post to JREX (the address below) : 1) Original application form and , 2) Check payable to “JREX(Japanese Resource Exchange)
-       By e-mail to : 1) Scanned application form and, 2)  photo of goods you plan to sell

            JREX (Japanese Resource Exchange)

            411 Waverley Oaks Road, Suite 317,
            Waltham, MA 02452

Please be sure that your activities or products are related to Japanese culture or the art. Please note that there will be NO TENTS, TABLE and ELECTRIC arrangements by the organizer this year. If you require any of them please bring them with you.

Participants fee: Regular booth $175 , Food booth $275~ ( please see the application form ) 

There will be no early bird discounts applied if you wish to join as a part of Japan Festival Section.

There are strict regulations on what vendors can and can not do at the festival.  Final acceptance of all applications is made by the Cambridge Arts Council and they may reject your application if you don’t meet their criteria. If the Cambridge Arts Council declines your application, Japan Festival Boston is unable to take any responsibility.

All vendors applying to be part of the Japan Festival Section should submit their paperwork and payment to JREX(Japanese Resource Exchange) as above, and NOT DIRECTLY TO the Cambridge Arts Council as their application instruction say.

If you application is not accepted, we will notify you immediately. You will be refunded the full amount of your application.

Questions please contact:

Thank you once again.

Japan Festival Boston 2014

--- in Japanese below ---


JAPAN FESTIVAL BOSTONをご支援頂き、心よりお礼申し上げます。大変お待たせ致しました。今年の日本祭りは、6月7日(土)午後12時から午後6時に開催されるCambridge River Festivalの一部に日本祭りとして団体参加することが決定いたしました。会場は一般ブースがMassachusetts Avenue(Prospect Street からSidney Street)そしてフードブースが Sidney Street (Massachusetts AvenueからPilgrim Street) を使用いたします。

今年はRiver Festivalの規定に従って行いますので、参加条件と実施内容をご確認ください。詳しくは下記の申込書リンクからFestivalの規定をお確かめください。

・申込書(電子版)と販売予定の商品の写真をEメール添付で までお送りください。締め切りは4月4日当日消印有効です。

一般ブース(Art Bazaar)
フードブース(World Food)

JREX (Japanese Resource Exchange)
411 Waverley Oaks Road, Suite 317,
Waltham, MA 02452



参加費 一般ブース$175 フードブース$275〜(申し込み書参照)



1. 実行委員会がケンブリッジ市よりの返答を待ち、各申請者へ結果を通達
2. 却下された申請者には支払われた金額全てを返却





Sunday, March 16, 2014

Photos: H Mart's Progress

Mass Ave. entrance

I went to H Mart last week to check on their progress but discovered after I got there that I'd forgotten my camera! I managed to make it back there today. All three signs (they have three entrances) were up last week, although I don't know when they went up.

Don't let the shiny exteriors fool you though. You won't be eating curry and ramen there any time soon. At the end of January they told the Cambridge Chronicle that they planned to open in April, but with April just two weeks away, I don't see that happening. There are construction materials everywhere, wires dangling from the ceiling, and the floors and walls aren't finished. They have a lot more work to do before they can even begin the lengthy inspection process.

When I texted a picture of the interior to a friend last week he commented that maybe they wouldn't open until next year. The store has been plagued with delays so anything is possible. The Globe first reported that H Mart had signed the lease on the old Harvest Co-op space in June 2012. At one point H Mart was optimistically projecting a February 2013 opening, but it was apparently delayed due to power issues with the building. Then they were saying late fall 2013. Then they told the vendors they could move into their spaces in January 2014. Now here we are in March with their last projected opening date next month. Perhaps I should start a pool? When do you think H Mart will open? Leave a comment with month, date, and year!

Food court
Grocery store
Grocery store
Essex St. entrance
Lot 5 entrance