News Sushi: Morsels of News from Japan and Beyond #12

Editor Note: We want to thank Hamish for his insights into Japanese Pop Culture and for making this column World Famous. Keep up the good work.

Twelve columns… we’re growing up



Not in the awkward teenage years yet, but still significant. The end of childhood. I still don’t know 100% how I want this column to look. Maybe it’s good that it’s different every week. One thing I do know, is that I’m very grateful for your continued support and thank you all who share the articles on this site! I also know that I like to start by looking at –


There are so many indie filmmakers here, and I feel it’s good to have something to look up to. So many films look so bland. Even if it’s shot in one location is no excuse for the standard – shot/reverse-shot, wide, close etc. school of filmmaking. Even if you go old school – look at what Hitchcock achieved under those restrictions. Perfection.

Look at this shot. It tells a story. Together with the name, there’s a whole movie in that one shot. Sometimes as a writer it’s easy to forget that one shot can tell a whole story. You don’t need to over-explain.


Old Style Stores Disappearing

The trouble with embracing the new too quickly, is sometimes we lose something before truly understanding it’s value. As Joni Mitchell said, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. How true that is.

It’s nice to shop anonymously online; though, in the day and age of big data, how private are our transactions? That said, please support this website by clicking on the Amazon links to the right and below.



Which brings me to Seán Michael Wilson…

He’s not just a guy who laments the death of the mom and pop shops of old. I met him through facebook when I was promoting my comic “Mirai” (available via amazon – click on the links to the right – don’t see anything? Then, turn off your adblocker – just this once – for our website. See it now? Good. Go click on it. Ben and Keith probably only get 1/100th of a cent, but still, every bit helps). Sean very sweetly gave me a lot of advice on promoting my comic. So, now, I really should repay him on this site by letting the lovely people who read this column (and hopefully the rest of the site) know who he is.

From his website:

“Seán Michael Wilson is an Eisner and Harvey award nominated Scottish graphic novel/comic book writer. He has written more than 30 books, published by a variety of US, UK and Japanese publishers and translated into 12 languages.

His books are of two broad types: ‘western’ style graphic novels, including original story ideas and various books on social issues; and a unique line of manga style books on Japanese themes, unmatched by any other English language comic book writer.

He has tried to do comic books that are different from the normal superhero/fantasy brands by going into areas of history, biography, drama, and social issues in collaboration with a variety of organisations such as charities, universities and book publishers. He often gives lectures and talks about comics in schools and colleges, and writes articles for such places as The Japan Times and The Herald Scotland.”

So, a pretty cool guy. You can find his work here:


A Life in Glorious Colour! RIP Doreen Simmons

We were saddened by the death of our local Tokyo expat and identity Doreen Simmons and send our condolences to our friends at St. Alban’s Anglican congregation in Tokyo as they celebrate her life and mark her passing. She was a one-of-a-kind, unique individual who brought a lot of joy and laughter, especially her comedy routine of a British-Japanese tea ceremony, news of her bungee jumping in New Zealand at age 76, and, of course, her colourful sumo commentary on NHK (Japan’sPublic Broadcaster) every year. Last year she was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun for her contribution to the sport. The medal was established in 1875 – and is one of the highest orders bestowed by the Japanese Government. Here is a TEDx talk that she gave recently at Meiji University, where she urges the students to live life in glorious colour:

A true Tokyo legend (from Nottingham, UK). She had lived in Japan for over 45 years. Rest in peace, Doreen.

If you want to read about how Doreen became a sumo wrestling commentator, check out this article:

Islands of Solitude: A Psychiatrist’s View of the “Hikikomori”. Some estimate that up to 1 million people have withdrawn from society in Japan and are living holed up in their rooms. A psychiatrist who has worked with these recluses and their families for many years presents a first-hand view of what their lives are really like…


Freestyle rap on the streets of Osaka

Let’s celebrate life a little with this lovely rap (it really is) on the streets of Namba, Osaka. This guy basically just raps about the people he sees walking past and it is really charming.


Awesome UK Artist Garth Gatrix

I met this magical fellow via my old friend Clancy (and for the indie filmmakers out there… her film festival for Black and White films is accepting submissions now! link – Garth is one of the few people in the world who is able to make a comfortable living from his art (the lucky man)! He can do this because he really is that talented. Here is a throwback to one of his first installations.

He’ll hate me for saying this, but his paintings really remind me of Keith Haring. A sweetheart of a guy who is also ridiculously talented? They really do exist.

Any curators out there? You should totally bring this guy to Phoenix!


Me, The Travel Reporter!

Recently, I got the opportunity to film a segment for the cable travel show on NHK World, “J-Trip Plan”. While I’ve been interviewed on TV briefly, been filmed teaching grade 6 kids for local community TV, and such… this is really my first official time on TV as a “talent”. The day started very early as you can see:

Filming something for @nhkworldtv… doing my best impression of Catriona Rowntree 🙂

A post shared by Hamish Downie (@hamishdowniewriter) on

And it finished quite late. I have to say that I have a new appreciation for how relaxed those travel reporters always look. It really is quite difficult to maintain excitement about the same thing over and over until you get what you need to say right.

Done for the day! #wishyouwerehere

A post shared by Hamish Downie (@hamishdowniewriter) on

That’s all I can really say for now. My episode is scheduled for mid-June and I believe it will be available internationally for a week after that via facebook and the offical website. So, please stay tuned for that one!


Michael geeky joke

Finally, a sweet pun from our friend Michael Chan…


Thanks folks for staying with me for 12 issues of News Sushi!


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