News Sushi: Morsels of News from Japan and Beyond #18


Editor Note: It is Friday and that means it is time for the World Famous, soon to be Intergalactic Famous, News Sushi from our very own, Hamish Downie. He brings us a decidedly different slant on Pop Culture as viewed through the lens of a non-native living in Japan. Thank you Hamish for your insights.



Eighteen columns… time to grow up… but, I’m still experimenting with what I want this column to be. Much like real life… I didn’t know what I wanted to be. Well, that’s not really true. At eighteen, I came up with an idea to retool ‘Melrose Place’, which was on it’s last legs at the time, and I wrote what I know know to be a treatment on how to improve the show (which only lasted one more year).


(footage of what happens to unsolicited mail in Hollywood)

And I kind of know what I want to do with this column. It’s essentially based on the Miscellaneous News Column in Towleroad:

But, I’m still figuring out how to put my stamp on the “Page 6” genre of column (aside from the fact that this will never be a ‘take down’ type of column).

So, this week, I’m going to start with an interview with my friend Clancy Mason, who is doing so much for the arts in her community in Blackpool, England.


TGG: Of course, we’ve been friends for over ten years, but for the readers, could you please tell us a little about yourself?
CM: I hail from a seaside town in the north west of England called Blackpool. I currently work as a relationship manager for Arts Council England, but I’ve previously worked in a variety of fields such as Cultural Services for my local authority, Public Health England and in education for many years – generally any job where I get to talk to people is where you will find me! Of course Hamish, we met in Tokyo when we were both working for a well know chain of English language schools as language instructors. Outside of work I am passionate about my hometown of Blackpool, and in particular in its cultural offer; I read everything I can get my hands on; I adore anything sci-fi related, I’m a committed vegetarian and I have the most adorable Border Terrier dog called Molly who my partner and I dote on… to be clear, she is definitely the pack leader in our little family!

TGG: Could you tell us about your projects; Wordpool, the Winter Gardens Film Festival, and Three Cheers? What inspired you to create them?
CM: In my previous job I co-directed Wordpool, Blackpool’s Arts and Libraries Festival of Words, a joint project between the arts and library services which has been running for 12 years. Wordpool succeeds in bringing quality authors, artists and performers to Blackpool, a highlight of which is the Family Day held in our beautiful Stanley Park which attracts thousands of children and their families to come explore and play with all things work related. Even though I no longer co-direct, you will still find me volunteering on the day, supporting my community.

Three Cheers Productions is the production company I set up with my friend and co-worker Kerry Vasiliou several years ago. We found through our jobs at the time that although we were supporting lots of artists and creatives with their own projects, we weren’t actually doing much in the way of our own work. Kerry and I are passionate about Blackpool, the people who live here and the stories that they tell, we set up Three Cheers to set about drawing some out of those tales. We make short narrative films and also documentaries. Our current project is Niche Shops, a series of three documentary shorts about some of the quirkier shop keepers in the town.

I manage the International Short Film Competition element of the Winter Gardens Film Festival – the cometition for 2019 is now open for entries! Catherine Mugonyi, Festival Director, is passionate about bringing film to Blackpool that wouldn’t normally get an opportunity to be exhibited here and she does an incredible job putting together a diverse and interesting programme. The festival is held in our historic Winter Gardens venue and the shortlisted competition entries are showcased in the stunning Art Deco Opera House screen. We strongly encourage local film makers to enter and do work with the local university students and we get submissions from all over the world.

TGG: Why is promoting Blackpool so important to you? And, what would you recommend visitors do in the area?
CM: Funnily, I couldn’t get out of Blackpool fast enough when I was in my teens, I spent all of my 20’s living away in London, Tokyo and Preston. I came returned after my time in Tokyo and I just fell in love with the place. I do not tell a lie when I say we have better sunsets then what I have seen in Hawaii! There is a huge amount of creative talent here, many of these creatives I am proud to call my friends. It’s a small town with a big attitude and heart and although it does have its challenges I can’t imagine living anywhere else right now.

I have many friends I have made on my travels and time living overseas, and when they come to visit I love to proudly show off my hometown. Highlights include the Blackpool Tower Circus, the Comedy Carpet, Stanley Park, the Grand Theatre, Funny Girls, the Central Library and Grundy Art Gallery. If my guests go home absolutely shattered, then I know I have done a good job!

TGG: We have a lot of writers and indie filmmakers who read the site, could you tell us how to apply and what you are looking for with Winter Gardens?
CM: To enter into the film completion, all submissions are via FilmFreeway. All films must contain a minimum of 30 seconds of Black and White content, although films can be entirely Black and White. Entries must run no longer than 20 minutes.
Entries can be a narrative, documentary or music video on any theme or subject. Deadline for submissions to the competition is Friday 30 November 2018 at 5pm. Entry fee is £10 per film or £8 for entries from an FY1-8 postcode. Good luck!

TGG: Also, how can we keep up with what you are doing (i.e. can you tell us the social media links for your projects)?
CM: You can follow my twitter @clancym123 , I regularly post things about interesting cultural events and activities I find out about through my job at Arts Council. Other links are: altBlackpool which is the best local source for all cultural happenings in Blackpool. Its volunteer led and all the articles are written by a passionate volunteer team.

TGG: Finally, just before you go, as someone who studied Judo at Japan’s top Dojo, what advice do you have for anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
CM: Enrolling at the Kodokan, the birthplace of Judo, was my primary reason for moving to Tokyo in my late 20’s. From being a little girl I always dreamed of being awarded my black belt there and achieving that was one of the proudest moments in my life. I’ve trained in judo for over 30 years, ironically my local judo club in Blackpool sits above my library – I love it when the two big loves in my life collide! Blackpool Judo Club has been going since 1942 and very much follows the traditions of the Kodokan. I went to Tokyo when I had some big changes in my life and I really needed a change of scene and an adventure. I came away with so much more than I could have ever imagined, the best thing being the friendships that I still treasure dearly.

Training at the Kodokan was a challenging, hilarious, rewarding, humbling and joyful experience; I had to unpick of lot of my own previous training which at the time was very strength and speed focused and instead look much towards technique and skill. It was refreshing to rethink the sport I love so much. When I returned to the UK I spent four years as the head coach of the children’s section at Blackpool Judo Club and I had so many new skills to share. I would advise anyone who has a dream, whether that dream is related to sport, art, business etc to just go do it. There is a saying in judo: ‘get knocked down 7 times, get up 8’, that is one of the many life lessons you learn on the mat that teaches you about resilience and perseverance off the mat too. Regardless of your aspirations: show up, work hard, stay humble, be kind!

Thank you Clancy!


Offbeat food! Pass the Charcoal Ice Cream please!

What offbeat food have you tried recently? Comment below!


There’s a bird theme going on here… makes some sense… here’s my favourite songbirds this week…

Here we have a legendary Australian guitarist doing a duet with a local bird. If you want to know what Australia is really like, this gives you a good idea.

This was Phil Emmanuel (sadly no longer with us), brother of the more famous Tommy Emmanuel, who was one of Australia’s best guitarists, and who played with the who’s who of Australian music.

Speaking of Australia and Birds… here is a Robyn… Robyn Loau (@robynloau), redoing her signiture song live with a guitar:

That was a slam dunk of a performance, wouldn’t you say?


That’s right!

Not avian related, but if you’re in Newcastle, Australia and in some serious need to feel the funk… then you’re in luck, funKtus has a performance coming up very soon! Here’s their laid back take on “Tainted Love” to get you in the mood:

For more information:


World famous cosplayer, Kaori Takee does it again with this fabulous take on Wonder Woman –

PS- if you’re interested in getting fit, changing up routine, or more send Kaori an email: kaorifitness at gmail dot com with your goals and you can go from there.


This one isn’t necessarily a “beautiful” shot, but it tells a lot of story in that one moment.

Now for some HOT LINKS!

厦門は猛暑です🌻😎☀️ 👙@hommeplay 😍

A post shared by Alex_V (@alex_v90) on

And Finally….


Another week, and another funny from Michael Chan! Go follow him and find out where I steal (er…. help expose) all my best content from!

Also, someone who isn’t me, has made the most wonderful parody account…

Trip from Florida. You’re going to have to be a deep Trekkie for this one!

And a vision from the future!

What are you waiting for? Go follow him! Toot sweet!


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