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Asian Insight

I'm Japanese and I love to travel and understand local cultures. The books I read are mostly related to uncovering the truths behind different kinds of cultural phenomena. To not be too serious, I relax with all kinds of entertaining books about traveling!

Tale of Books Taking The Form of a Show in Shanghai

There are times when a picture tells more than a thousand words, however it can also be the other way around. Words have a unique quality, in describing something in a way that incorporates with imagination. And as all of us know from our childhood, imagination is an extremely powerful thing. Something that some people have even lost because they are too concentrated on observing what is real and what not. This is an illusion however, and books are a great way to break that illusion and make us more open to all the beautiful experiences around us.


Yet, there is a third path between pictures and words. It is the combination of the two which is definitely one of my great favorites in the world of mediums such as performing arts. I was checking out some of the shows in Shanghai and found out that there are performances that use this exact combination. To display extreme theatrical skills beyond facts and fiction.. one needs to persuade the audience through both sences, of the visual and of the language itself. While not a book in it's exact form, all speech can be considered one in it's original form. Take for example, the great Osho (who unfortunately never had the opportunity to visit China) who is has written perhaps more books than anyone else in the world. However, all of his books were not written but spoken by himself, thus excluding him from such classifications. This is a shame, because it could not be further from the truth and simply feeds these "reality seeking" society structures.


But in China, particulary in Shanghai you have an awareness that is melting the two, and skipping reality alltogether inorder for people to enjoy and be happy in life. These shows, such as acrobatics carry this unique quality of giving people hope beyond their normal daily "realities". So I did go and see one of these, at the Shanghai Centre Theatre, which boasts historical acrobatic performances. And I was very surprices indeed, because the show was something even more spectacular than the city of Shanghai itself.


It made me think that I should write a book about it. Which could be the next step in my taking part of the melting of these realities or dreams if we could call them that.


Best literature and show regards,


Hyuuga Kawai

Paying is Optional

Evasion - CrimethInc.

"Paying is Optional" seems to be the motto throughout this enlightening book about how an alternative lifestyle in this world. And giving new light and positive meaning to the word bum. These are personal and real stories of people who refuse to use money for their lives, yet live within the society itself which runs on money.


Who is to doubt these people and their doings, in contrast to a businessman these people have simply selected a different way of life within the same game.


This thought provoking book leaves us thinking of the adventures we have missed because we had money. A well hidden message within the book is that using no money is not about having or not having it. Anyone in the world could enjoy dumpster diving.. or giving back to greedy, filthy rich companies.


Must read!

The Ordinary Acrobat: A Journey into the Wondrous World of the Circus, Past and Present - Duncan Wall

This book "The Ordinary Acrobat", took me to a wondrous world of circus acrobats. It uncovers the realities of everyday life at the circus with both it's ups and downs. After reading this book I am convinced however that the life of many such acrobats is just as wild and exiting as it seems from the distance. It reminded me of my childhood and the famous Chaoyang Theatre in China which hosts such performances that I always loved. Dwelling deep into their professional lives was a refreshing and interesting look into a profession that is almost forgotten.


As for the author Duncan Wall, I think his writing is very captivating and well done. I have not heard of his other books but this one certainly aroused my interest towards his works of literature.

People reading books at a Chinese bookstore
People reading books at a Chinese bookstore

Just wanted to share this great photo I short at a huge book store in Beijing. I just love bookstores, especially in Asian countries because here people use them as their living rooms. You can spend hours and hours without anyone bothering you or asking you to kindly buy the book you are reading.


In this photo, people are lined up around a glass wall to read books. Often every possible corner, or edge of a wall is taken so it might take quite some time to find a spot. Or you can always look for a seat in the coffee shop.


I hope you like this picture.



Hyuuga Kawai

Beijing Opera performance at the Liyuan Theatre stage.
Beijing Opera performance at the Liyuan Theatre stage.

It was finally time to get our little intellectual circle together to experience something that so far we have only been reading about..  to experience Opera in Beijing we headed out to the Chinese capital.


In books, the art form is depicted as a graceful and wondrous art form. What we saw was very similar to dreamy storytelling.. but to our surprise there was much joy and laughter in the air. People came here to truly enjoy Chinese culture, in an entertaining way.


If you compare it with other deeply culture rooted art forms, such as the Spanish flamenco. It lacks the tightness of elitism that usually originates from a long history of obsession to perfect the art.


Truly wonderful.

Wangfujing Book Store
Wangfujing Book Store

The Wangfujing Book Store is one of the biggest in Beijing. Just don't expect to find any books about important political figures.. neither western guide books about China!


Despite the occasional lack of inventory, this book store is huge with five big floors full of mostly Chinese literature. There are plenty of English books as well.

Not Just a Classic But The Turth Behind Communism

The Communist Manifesto - Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels

If only Mao Tse Tung himself would have read this book the world would be a better place. Being an extremely old classic, it's quite easy to misunderstand the meanings in this text. However if one has enough dedication as well as time to go deep into the roots of the communist manifesto, one can understand what communism really is.


It is not an enforced state, but instead a natural occurrence of people working together as one for the benefit of all. Creating a large scale community out of communistic ideas is obviously going to lead a nation to failure in one way or another.


I encourage all those who want to understand the true capabilities of China to read this book!

Introduction to Asian Insight

I've been thinking what is it that makes people read books. Why are there such great differences inside different cultures.


For example one striking experience in China is the border between Hong Kong and the mainland. When in the Chinese mainland, one can notice that hardly anyone is reading books, newspapers or magazines. The city centers are equipped with magazine stands, but business seems dull. Makes you wonder how they keep themselves afloat.


Anyway, after crossing the border you will immediately cross into several convenience stores. These stores are packed with news papers which are sold at a rapid rate. Once you board the train towards the city center in the morning, most people will be holding either a book or a news paper. All of a sudden everyone loves to read!


Japan is another country where trains are packed with people reading books to beat the time. Rather than socializing with the person sitting next to you, the Japanese prefer to isolate themselves inwards through a book.


In addition to this striking difference, I noticed differences in myself when moving between these places. Especially in China, as many books are banned it had quite the opposite effect on me in contrary to the locals! When in the republic, I started to get hooked on books that were forbidden in the mainland. Sense I had access to this kind of information, it made me want to read those books even more. I've indulged myself with so many books I would have never read if they weren't banned!


On this home page, I would like to share my experiences within the traveling book scene. Exploring contrasts, differences as well as similarities. This is a non-inward journey into the extroverted exploration of books and literature. Hope you enjoy it!