JAPAN FAN / Kristine Ohkubo

OCTOBER 2019 (VOL.146)

Kristine Ohkubo

Currently lives in:Los Angeles
Occupation: Author
Loves Japan since For as long as I can remember…always!
Have you been to Japan?Yes, every other year since 2007.
Favorite Japanese Food:I have too many favorites, but I will say Sukiyaki.
Favorite Japanese Item:Kimono
Favorite Japanese Characters or People:Sakamoto Ryoma, he was a visionary.
Favorite Japanese Word: Ganbaru!Nothing is impossible if you ganbaru.
A Japanese Name you wish to have:Mirai (future)
Favorite Japanese Spot in LA:Kirari West Bakery (now I can enjoy some of my favorite Japanese sweets gluten-free!)

What inspired you to like Japan?

I have always had a love for Japanese culture.  When I was small, I would always draw pictures of women wearing kimono.  Later, I learned through genetic testing that I was 25% Asian, so I believe it was natural for me to be attracted to the culture.  I have been traveling to Japan almost every year since 2007 and have approached each journey with wide-eyed enthusiasm.  I look forward to exploring and learning from each visit.  I like to share what I have learned with my readers through the various books I have published about Japan.

All in all, I believe it is a natural hunger inside of me to discover all there is to discover about Japan and perhaps learn a little about myself in the process.

Any Japan-related things you are deeply in love with?

Rakugo!  I am completely in love with this traditional form of storytelling.  As an author, it appeals to me as it allows the audience to use their imagination while listening to the lone storyteller.  I understand that English Rakugo is now popular in Japan and you can even find free performances in places like the Seven Garden Asakusa.

Anything you think “cool” about Japan?

I find it “cool” that the culture is structured around respect.  Respect for one another, for the past, for the future, for nature, etc.  I am always impressed by the general politeness of everyone I have encountered and their willingness to help people, especially foreigners traveling in this beautiful country.

Not cool about Japan?  Anything you feel difficult to understand?

The adherence to outdated traditions is one aspect of Japanese society which puzzles me.  Oftentimes, even though there is a general consensus that something is outdated, society is slow to embrace and implement change. 

Any recommendation other readers should try?

If you travel to Japan, travel to places off the beaten path.  Well-known tourist attractions are great for first time travelers, but visiting places that locals frequent enriches the experience all the more.  Get recommendations from locals and by all means, try all the local regional delicacies.  There is so much more to Japanese cuisine than sushi, ramen, and tempura.  Travel should be an adventure gastro-nomically as well.  I do offer some suggestions in my travel book, if you are interested.