Moving down the road

This Swedish city has to move. Find out why and how they’re doing  it:

Read more here: “The Plan to Move an Entire Swedish Town” (from The Atlantic)

And here (click on the gif, article from CityLab):


“Firearms vs. Frappuccinos”

With another mass shooting in the U.S., gun control is topping the news cycle again. I have little hope that this tragedy will make a difference. The right to bear arms is too important to too many American citizens (even if that “arm” is a an assault rifle).

How bad is the problem? CityLab has created an interactive map of the U.S., comparing the number of Starbucks to the number of places you can buy a gun.

It’s pretty depressing:

firearms vs frappuccinos

Some cities, like Seattle (home of Starbucks), Washington DC and Chicago all have more Starbucks than gun dealers:

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 7.22.29 AM

but there are plenty of cities where the pink dots far outnumber the green. And Orlando, Florida (site of the recent shooting) is one of them:


It’s hard for us here in Japan to understand why it’s even an issue. But it is. If you can think of a solution that will make both sides of the debate happy, you’ll be ahead of just about everyone in the U.S., including the current president and the presidential candidates.

From the land of the sleepy ones

I lived in Mâsach8sut for a little while many years ago.

Where, you say? That’s how you say Massachusetts in the Wôpanâak language — the language of the indigenous people of that part of North America. The language had basically died out, but it’s been revived by this Reclamation Project. Why?

“Reclaiming our language is one means of repairing the broken circle of cultural loss and pain. To be able to understand and speak our language means to see the world as our families did for centuries.”

Some might say that it’s a waste of time to learn a language that won’t be useful for you in finding a job. What do you think about that criticism?

There are many place names in the U.S. that have their origins in Native American words. You can find some here (where I found out that Iowa, where I was born, means “the sleepy ones”!) and here. Do you know any Japanese place names that have their origins in the Ainu language?

The chameleon city

Watch this video to see how Vancouver has been used to play a variety of cities around the world in movies and TV shows: New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and nameless cities in India, Japan and even North Korea:

It’s such a popular filming location that it’s even called “Hollywood North” (though Toronto is too). This article from Slate is a bit old, but it explains why.

Next time you take a walk around your city, try to see it as both a location and a setting. Which sections, which angles give it an unmistakable “This is Tokyo (or wherever)” look? Which areas could stand in for another city?