Notebook on Cities and Culture
(Formerly The Marketplace of Ideas.) Colin Marshall sits down for in-depth conversations with cultural creators, internationalists, and observers of the urban scene all around Los Angeles and beyond.
S3E3: "The Foreign Guy" with Michael Lambe

Colin Marshall sits down in Kyoto, Japan's efish café with Michael Lambe, Deep Kyoto blogger, teacher, and Public Relations Representative for the Kyoto Journal. They discuss the city's flummoxing preponderance of Irish pubs and the "celebrated infamy" of one in particular; the rich cultural heritage that brings foreigners to Kyoto, the modernization that foreigners bewail, and the preservation efforts that certain Japanese now make; his arrival in Japan on the JET program and original intent to go to the "wild snowswept north" of Hokkaido, though he wound up going from the northeast of England to the northeast of Japan instead; the Beatles-in-1963 treatment he received as the only foreigner in town; his time in Fukushima, then known as an unusually safe place, and one famous for its fruit; disasters, such as the 2011 one in Fukushima, as facts of life in Japan, and the necessity to rebuilt efficiently as another fact of life; his own adoption of that spirit when he volunteered to build houses in the Miyagi prefecture; the times he found himself bowing on the phone, leaving taxi doors open in England, and having lived over a decade in Japan; the difficulties of living vegetarian in Japan, even when you allow yourself fish; missing British television amid the "appalling" morass of cheap Japanese variety shows; evasion of the British television license men versus Japan's (as seen in Haruki Murakami's "Town of Cats"), and how he once got an NHK collection agent to think him a madman; how his four-year stint in Tokyo came up against his small-town sensibility, and how he disappointedly discovered the capital's absolute lack of demand that he speak (and thus learn) Japanese; his move to Kyoto, where visiting a rock bar he began making "real" non-Anglophone Japanese friends; the role of "the foreign guy" in Japan as comparable to Norm's on Cheers; Sons music bar, one place he discovered in the project that is Deep Kyoto (and Tadg's, which he recommends wholeheartedly); the history of the Kyoto Journal and its latest special issue on energy; Japan's odd reliance on nuclear power (not to mention squat toilets); and how blogging has connected him with foreigners, opposed to his original mission as that is.

(Photo: Stewart Wachs)

Direct download: NCC_S3E3_Michael_Lambe.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:03pm UTC