Writer

My articles, essays, reviews, opinion pieces have been published in newspapers, literary journals, academic journals, magazines and online in both English and Japanese.

A few:

Selling Spring Wheeler Centre – Notes: Sell, September, 2018

The Japanese terms for prostitution are particularly evocative. The most widely used word 売春 (pronounced ‘baishun’) is a combination of two kanji characters, the first meaning ‘to sell’ and the second meaning ‘spring’, as in the season. So, to sell youth, innocence, life’s promises to come. Read here

No, I’m not your Asian model minority! Griffith Review 61: Who We Are, July, 2018

GR61_front.website‘I HAVE A confession to make. Some years ago, while enjoying solace in a café, a well-nourished white bloke accosted me by thrusting his newly purchased cookbook in my face and demanding an autograph. ‘I love your recipes,’ he gushed. I signed his book with a flourish: ‘Love, Kylie K.’

Just to be clear, the Chinese-Australian chef Kylie Kwong and I both wear glasses, but beyond that, we share few similarities. But I figured if this bloke is daft enough to think we Asians all look the same, why not bask in the fake celebrity limelight? What’s the harm in obliging him with a momentary mendacious act? (Apologies to Kylie of course, whose recipes I also love.)’ Read here

‘I Smell You…’: Ethnic Smells and Olfactory Assimilation   ABC online, September, 2017

The ‘smelly migrant’ is the most subversive of all migrants. Societies, including Australia, have ways of controlling the practice of other cultures, languages, customs or religions, but bodily odours just can’t be contained.

Ethnic Smells
I eat a lot of fish….can you smell me??
The Creation of Nikkei Australia: Rediscovering the Japanese Diaspora in Australia Article published in Special Edition of Journal of Australian Studies, Volume 41 Issue 3 2017, Asian Australian Mobilities: Cultural, Social, Political (co-written with Mayu Kanamori)

Nikkei Australia article publishedAbstract: Japanese people first settled in Australia in the late nineteenth century, yet the history of Japanese Australians remains mostly unknown. In fact, many contemporary people of Japanese heritage often feel alienated from their own ethnic history, even actively rejecting any connection to the Japanese diaspora. This article examines the reasons behind this phenomenon and how the group Nikkei Australia grew out of a need to explore these issues of ambivalent identity. Read here or contact me for copy of article

 

My father, I honour, ABC RN online, August, 2015
Masako's Father, at 18, post war

I like telling people that my father was a kamikaze pilot. It makes him seem so courageous. After all, my dad was only 16 years old at the end of the war, yet he was willing to sacrifice himself for his country, his family. Surely that makes him hero, doesn’t it?

Or was he brainwashed, or worse, a fanatic? Just what place do the kamikaze have in Japanese history? Read here

Asceticism or Anorexia? Rethinking Starvation and Women’s Spirituality, ABC Religion and Ethics website, April, 2014images-1

In 1380, a young woman starved herself to death. Her denial of food was regarded as a form of asceticism, a way of fusing with Christ through shared suffering. She was later canonised, and is known as Saint Catherine of Siena. In 2014, a young woman starves herself to death. But far from saintly regard, she’s considered to be mentally ill, seen as a victim of insidious cultural images promoting impossible thinness. Is it just historical context that separates these two cases? Read

Intriguing life lost in an erotic stereotype, Book Review, The Australian, May, 2008

imagesSEX sells, and sex with an orientalist twist sells very well indeed. This could explain the increasing popularity of orientalist novels with covers that feature fetishised body parts of Asian women: a ruby red close-up of painted lips, a thigh exposed by a cheongsam slit, a coyly averted gaze framed by silky hair. These books tend to be first-person narratives of Asian women, and many are also based on the lives of real people. Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha and Wei Hui’s Shanghai Baby are two popular examples.

New to this genre is The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by first-time novelist Maureen Lindley. It has the predictable cover: a veiled face from which gazes a dark eye and next to it is the single word, riveting, an endorsement from Wild Swans author Jung Chang. The eye is indeed riveting, but the novel disappoints, despite being about a unique woman who broke oppressive social mores. The book overly eroticises her and depicts the East as passive, traditional, mysterious and, ultimately, the West’s exotic other. In short, the novel is underwhelming because it is textbook Orientalism. Read here

Factual whale tale is no blubber story, Book Review, The Australian, September, 2007
Harpoon: into the heart of whaling by Andrew Darby

YES, I’ve eaten whale meat, mostly as a child in Japan, and no, I wouldn’t eat it again. If you were to ask me why, I’d have to say a change of heart, a limp sentiment perhaps given the ruthless thuggery that characterises whale politics. But in a new historical account of this international debate, Harpoon: Into the Heart of Whaling, journalist Andrew Darby claims that to put a stop to whaling, all we need to achieve is a change of heart. By heart, he means our values or ethics. This appeal to our collective humanity is what makes Harpoon so refreshing and a fine read.Read here

 

Where to? Australia and Japan, Speech on Australia-Japan Relations presented at The Sydney Institute, Winter, 2001 edition

‘Let me begin by sharing with you an amusing story about Japan I heard recently. The story was on PM, ABC Radio’s current affairs program, which is not usually known for its tongue in cheek glibness. But in this story, the ABC’s Tokyo correspondent was interviewing Australian journalist and well-known “Japan expert” Murray Sayle about a curious new phenomenon—that of Japanese men using hidden video cameras to film inside the skirts of unsuspecting women.

‘The various perversions of Japanese men—from lingerie bars to those little shops in Tokyo that sell unwashed girls’ underwear, nicely packaged in plastic bags, of course—have always been the topic of lurid fascination in Australia, and most of these stories are probably worthy of nothing more than our ridicule.’ Read here