I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in 1976 when I was fifteen. I was so entranced with costuming, theatre, and especially Shakespeare. My stepmother’s co-worker also volunteered and she arranged for me to meet her. I made my first costume, not all that historically accurate, especially compared to the sophistication seen nowadays at renfaires, but this was the early days. Even the SCA was still only about 10 years old. Although I was pretty young, it seemed to me there were several factions and what ever one I belong too was not the SCA. I made friends with several Berkeley students who were kind enough to give me rides to and from the site. We also did the faire in southern California in the following Spring. Here are my few and faded pictures of me, my father and sister, and many people who’s names I’ve long forgotten from the Novato Faire in the summer of 1976.

Here are some link about the Faire:

I remember the first day of MTV on 1 August 1980. I had moved back home and I wasn’t even 20 years old yet. My parents had cable TV and it was just chance that I was watching on the first day of MTV broadcasting.

Yes. I remember the Buggles “Video killed the radio star.” I have the LP to this day. It was a very exciting time musically,  I can hear Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and not be catapulted back to this ear.

As I watched my favorite kdrama “W” this past year, I was reminded of of the Aha video “Take on Me.” in 1984.

I cleaned out a lot of boxes of old stuff this past summer up in the barn. I finally decided I could parted with my old cassette mixes.  But I couldn’t part with the carefully created labels. These were mixes I actually listened to on a daily basis in the 1980′. I was a full time study in the Apparel and Costume Design program at Seattle Central Community College at the time.

This is my 1986 mix:

  1. Addicted to Love. Robert Palmer
  2. Everybody have fund tonight. Wang Chung
  3. One of the living . Tina Turner
  4. Burn. Doctor and the Medics
  5. Girls and Boys, Prince
  6. Two of Hearts. Stacy Q.
  7. Change in the Weather. John Fogherty
  8. Nobody’s Fool. Cinderella
  9. Don’t Forget Me. (when I’m Gone). Glass Tiger
  10. Mountains. Prince
  11. You Give Love a Bad Name. Bon Jovi

I’ve collected books since I was a child. I have way too many books, but even as I cull them, they seem to increase in number. I love bookbinding as a hobby and I’ve made a few small books in my time, mostly hinge, post, or Japanese stab bindings. I adored the Japanese drama “ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖” (Biblia Antiquarian Bookshop) which is a delightful mystery and reverence toward books. Ayame Goriki as the proprietor of an used books store with in depth knowledge of books and literature and Akira as her employee who struggles to read. Each episode revolves around one book or series of books and a real world mystery.

I was thrilled when futurelearn offered a course “Japanese Culture through Rare Books” from Keio University. it is in Japanese with subtitles. It is easy to follow with my 2 years of college Japanese with the subtitles. I created a flashcard set on Cram for the terms in the course to include language learning as well.

In November I visited the Portland Art Museum. I hadn’t had an opportunity after several visits to Portland to view the collection and a wonderful Andy Warhol exhibit convinced my less museum fanatic friends to agree. I enjoyed the museum immensely.

There was one small exhibit that was just wonderful exhibit up my alley “Cranes, Dragons, and Teddy Bears: Japanese Children’s Kimono from the Collection of Marita and David Paly.” Here are few images I took of these darling garments.

I’ve listed my favorite Korean and Japanese dramas. Now here’s my take on Chinese language dramas, focusing on my favorite genres of historical and fantasy (or better yet, historical fantasy) dramas.

First is the 2015 Taiwan drama The Crossing Hero (仙剑云之凡)  starring Jiro Wang(汪東城)as a modern day detective who gets mixed up with two imperial military guards from the Ming Dynasty played by Bruce Xie (謝孟偉) and Hu Yang (胡洋).

Next I watched the Chinese take on the Korean drama “My Love from Another Star” which was one of my favorites (not to mention very, very popular in China. My Amazing Boyfriend (我的奇妙男友) is a similar, but not identical story starring Korean fashion model Kim Tae Hwan (김태환]) in his first acting role as an immortal, rather than alien. I watched the story and thought it was an interesting adaptation, but I found the heroine played by Wu Qia (吴倩) to be extremely annoying and petulant.

Now I am in the middle of Scarlet Heart (步步驚心). I planned to watch the upcoming Korean version Scarlet Heart Ryeo (달의 연인 – 보보경심 ) but started to watch the Chinese (2011) version and was hooked. The story of a modern young woman cast back to the Qing dynasty during the Kangxi Emperor’s reign. My son calls this “who’s that prince” since there are so many of them vying to become the crown prince and next emperor.

I started watching a current Chinese drama Yun Zhi Fan (仙剑云之凡) based on the Taiwanese video game The Legend of Sword and Fairy (仙劍奇俠傳) in part because the costumes looked great and Elvis Han (韩东君) was adorable in his purple wig. This drama hasn’t finished, but it is enjoyable.

Last week I posted about Korean dramas. I also love Chinese and Japanese dramas. Japanese is by far my best Asian language as I had the opportunity to attend school there and I am currently studying Chinese partly for work and partly for my master’s thesis on computer-aided language instruction. Any Korean I know is either from Kdramas or my son, who studied Korean at University (although I did learn hangul for fun.)

I remember how much I loved the Taiga drama (大河ドラマ) drama Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康). I left Japan long before the series completed and have long wished to see the end. Japanese television isn’t outside of anime is not as accessible as Korean or even Chinese TV, often only on sketchy streaming sites. There are several Japanese dramas that I particularly enjoyed on some of the mainstream services.

The most charming was Atelier developed by Fuji Television for Netflix. Mirei Kiritani plays Mayuko Tokita a young women just hired to work for an exclusive lingerie shop called Emotion in Ginza owned by Mayumi Nanjo (Mao Daichi). It reminded me of “The Devil Wears Prada.” Highly recommend it.

Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo (イタズラなKiss: Love in Tokyo) is based on the manga “Itazura Na Kiss” written by Tada Kaoru. There are drama versions in Korean, Chinese, and even Thai as well, but the Japanese is by far my favorite. It is extremely charming and Honoka Miki and Yuki Furukawa as the leads are adorable. The Japanese first and second seasons are available on Crunchyroll, Viki, and DramaFever.

Another beautiful and slightly intellectual drama is Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia’s Case Files ( ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖) based on novels “Biblia Koshodo no Jiken Techou” novels written by En Mikami. Beautiful Shioriko Shinokawa (Ayame Gouriki) is the owner of an antiquarian bookshop who solves literary mysteries each episode along with dyslexic Daisuke Goura (Akira). There is  list of the books in the series on DramaWiki. There is a related Japanology episode on used book shops in Japan and another on  宮沢 賢治 (Miyazawa Kenji) that tie in nicely with the series (you can find these on japanologytv.) The series is available on Crunchyroll.

I read a recent “My Top 5 Favorite KDramas” list and yet again, none of my favorites were in the list. In fact, I hadn’t seen any that the author liked. So here is the list of the dramas felt were good enough to have watched through more than once. I don’t think it is all that weird of a list…

The First Shop of Coffee Prince


커피프린스 1

Boys over Flowers



My Girlfriend is a Gumiho


여자친구는 구미

Sungkyunkwan Scandal


성균관 스캔

City Hunter






My Love from Another Star



This doesn’t necessarily mean they are my all-time favorites, but I think if these dramas are good enough to keep me captivated a second time, they are pretty good.

I’ve mentioned “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” before. I still love this one and am casually watching it a third time. Song Joong Ki, super popular after the recent success of “Descendants of the Sun” is adorable in his Joseon era hanbok and signature wink. Park Yoo Chun and Ah Yoo In are pretty hot in their costumes too.

I still think “Boys over Flowers” is a good “starter” Kdrama and catches the manga note just right, although I am not sure that I would watch it through a third time except to admire the F4.

“Coffee Prince” was one of the first dramas I ever saw and I think it is what compelled my long standing interest. I also like the cross-dressing Shakespeare play “Twelfth Night” immensely and this reminded me of that.

“City Hunter” and “Faith” not only feature Lee Min Ho, but they are more action oriented, which I particularly like. “City Hunter” still stands up over time and who doesn’t love someone out for the people.

The two fantasy dramas, “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho” and the phenomenon “My Love from Another Star” are well written and draw you in. Shin Min Ah is too cute as the Gumiho and Lee Seung Gi’s transformation from an immature, selfish young man to someone willing to sacrifice himself for love is sweet.

Vending machines were one of the things I noticed on my first day in Japan more than 30 years ago. These sold not just soda in cans, instant coffee, or candy machines I was familiar with in the US, but alcohol.


I came across a wonderful photo series on Japanese vending machines — Jidouhanbaiki: Photo series that explores Japan’s obsession with vending machines. There is an NHK Japonology episode devoted to this topic too.

I had a lot of fun at the flea market at Tō-ji when I visited there in 1983 (昭和 58). Old kimono and accoutrements abounded and I brought many home.

Toji0116  Toji2

The picture of the temple is from User Fg2 on Wikipedia Commons.

I wish we had digital cameras back then! I was a new photographer and film was so expensive, but at least I have a few to remind me of the experience.

Toji1  Toji3

The poor vendor in the picture on the left wasn’t used to bargaining, cultural learning on both sides!