Roy W. Howard 2008
This blog is the record of the Roy W. Howard National Collegiate Reporting Competition media tour through South Korea and Japan. The nine winners of the award, college journalists from across the country, will be updating this blog from the trip with written reports and photographs as they travel through Seoul, Osaka, Kobe and Tokyo. Stay tuned for up-to-the-minute news and reporting.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Love you, peeps...
Monday, September 22, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
No one is happy to be home. We all wish we were back in Seoul or Tokyo. Back to polite and competent immigration officers (US immigration officer to me: "why do you want to be in the land of the freedom?"), clean streets and airports, vending machines with endless sweet, fruity, carbonated options, and the bowing. We all miss the bowing. I think some of us are still bowing and people look confused.
It's such a cultural difference to be back. We can't walk around late at night without a worry in our heads, we have to watch our bags and lock our rooms, we have to lock our bikes. It's funny how we have to leave the country to feel safe...and I'm not even from this country!
We have to go back to our respective cities tomorrow. It's going to be weird to not be with 8 other people 24/7.
We're all huddled in a Hampton Inn double right now, relishing our last hours tonight before we all leave for our respective schools in the morning. Tonight during the awards dinner we met Pam Howard, Roy Howard's granddaughter and inspirational figure in her own right, as well as Mike Philipps, the president of Scripps Howard. Some parents and family who could make it out were also in attendance.
After we went around and discussed our favorite moments, I got teary and had to leave the room. This trip has been so major and life-changing but it's actually the little things that are hard to leave behind... It's the people. Those in this room right here and those I left back in Asia.
We're shooting for a reunion in Mexico.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
When Roy Howard visited Japan more than fifty years ago, he interviewed the emperor, called the end of World War I a few days early and was "out-geisha'd" his first night on the island.
The same thing happened to us tonight. We illustrious scholars have literally been following in his footsteps, globetrotting to the same destinations on the same dates as the newspaper tycoon did in 1956. We visited the Imperial Palace this morning after three days in Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka, just as Howard did on his maiden voyage to the Far East.
To further honor Howard's remarkable legacy, we stopped by the hole-in-the-wall "Be Full Part II" bar in Tokyo's vibrant Shibuya district to create our own geisha-esque night. The drinks? Super expensive. The karaoke? Same.
Our hostess? A tranny.
We stumbled in, lured by the row of drunken salarymen and smiling she-he's. To be fair, only one bartender was a confirmed transvestite, but we had doubts about the rest.
S/he, pictured with us above, handed us a Japanese menu that we promptly ignored as we ordered Coronas and drafts. Six heartfelt songs later, we were dished a bill of approximately $215, after only two beers or fewer apiece. Our jaws dropped, our wallets clenched, but who should step up to save the day but the man with the ginger ale, Hudson.
Embarrassed, duped and still culturally insensitive, we took off with our lives and allowances before the transgendered could rack up more dollars for our hollers.
Roy Howard-inspired lessons:
1. Never drink as much as your hostess asks.
2. A lap dance from a tranny is exactly what it sounds like.
3. When in the above case, avoid pronouns.
4. Speak softly and carry a big stick. Also, Hudson's get-out-of-jail credit card.
PS. Avoid cliches and salarymen like the plague!
-Natalia and Matt
Monday, June 23, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Today marks the achievement of a life goal. I have waited for years to come across the world and see this embodiment of Zen, much imitated but never replicated. The air was cool, dark and rich with the scent of plants and invisible forces.
The path to the garden is a dense and quiet jungle of moss and spirits. One tree wore a simple rope belt tied about its waist, the sign of a Shinto deity. I felt possessed by the spirit of Basho.
I prepared myself for enlightenment as we ascended the massive stone steps. As soon as we removed our shoes and entered the pavilion, I sat down on the wooden floor before the garden and began to sketch. An inky brush would have been preferable but my mechanical pencil began to move. The steps were crowded with visitors but I felt alone with my dream.
In the presence of the these ancient forces, I was instantly energized. How can I be tired when these rocks never complain, I thought. The 15 rocks, misshapen, perfect and serene expanded to glacial, continental, planetary scale as the pebbles began to blur and shift. Creatures, stars and achievements indistinguishable, small yet infinitely large in scale to the sand of time, present and fleeting.
Leaving the temple, I felt satisfied, content, complete. On the path back to modernity I felt a part of myself pulling away from my physical self, with my blessing. I have never felt so safe, surrounded by the manifestations of the divine.
I kept going and never stopped. My home is this place. My spirit will stay here forever, invisible, in hiding, in trees, laughing.
Photos from the rock garden
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Robots, dog couches, retina scans, talking appliances, monorail cars, steam screens and virtual mail drop boxes. No word yet on the price, but this country seems to be light years ahead of the West when it comes to technology.
Other indicators: the cellphone-to-person ratio is nearly 1:1, at least according to Pansy, the tour guide to who took us to the Demilitarized Zone (more on that later). There are giant, constantly playing televisions everywhere in the city, most of them on the top of skyscrapers.
Seoul is pretty much a giant amusement park, and at times can be kind of childish. Every time a train arrives, a bell chimes that sounds like the completion of a video game level. Same with the elevators in our hotel. There are colorful characters -- three-dimensional and flat -- scattered throughout the city, and sometimes voices pop out of hidden speakers in the ground or on rails.
But the country's history is also so deeply grounded here, even philosophical in its integration among the towering buildings. There are shrines and old-fashioned roads across the street from City Hall. And a few blocks past our hotel is a tranquil palace that captured our minds for two hours as wandered through it in the rain.
OK, someone else put some pics and other stuff on here about the DMZ and such. On to Japan tomorrow!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
So the first dinner has come and gone. We all met over a meal tonight at the Hilton. The disbelief is still hanging in the air but its beginning to fade as the details become clarified. Tomorrow we will depart at noon... and arrive in Tokyo Narita at noon. Ah, the wonders of international travel.
We've been told the best way to stave off jet lag is to sleep on the plane all afternoon as if it were the middle of the night. So that can only mean adventures in Chi-town tonight!
More updates to come, and pictures from tonight below.
Friday, June 13, 2008
The fate of the world depends on CALORIE MATE!!
Somehow this practice continued despite the advent of the Internet and video sharing, which brings us to Japander.com, a site where you can see the collective shame of everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Jack Bauer. If you're visiting Japan, don't be surprised if you see some familiar faces professing their love of Pocari Sweat.
I have never been in an earthquake and I'm hoping the activity will die down by when we arrive...YIKES.
Read the whole story here
So in a random comment from a Chinese friend of mine, "Asian women love South Korean men," a conversation was struck up. He cited the popularity of South Korean soap operas in popularizing their men as romantic and sweet. The article I found from SFGATE is below, and for fun I added a few other countries soap opera pics.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I can hear the Judy Garland song in my head now...
I don't know what time everyone is getting into Chicago on Saturday but I am arriving around 2 (delays forbidding) and I intend to check out a gallery or two before the group dinner.
If you are in a similar situation, check out FlavorPill, a very hip and swanky site dedicated to listings of free, upcoming and ongoing art, film, music, theatre and book events in Chi-town.
I can't wait to try the takoyaki in Osaka. Sometimes called "the quintessential comfort food," takoyaki are little balls of fried batter wrapped around boiled octopus, adorned with tempura scraps, pickled ginger, green onion, and then topped with okonomiyaki sauce, green laver (aonori), mayonnaise, and katsuobushi (fish shavings).
Both the Tokyo Earthquake of 1923 and the aftermath of World War II drove the Japanese to incorporate flour into certain dishes, as it was often provided for relief food, resulting in the creation of dishes like okonomiyaki, an egg-based savory pancake, and takoyaki.
An Osaka street vendor by the name of Endo Tomekichi is accepted as the inventor of takoyaki. It is a popular street food found most anywhere in Osaka, but a word of warning- the fried balls are deceivingly hot as the octopus retains high temperatures so bite with care.
"Takoyaki: Icon of Osaka" by Alan Wiren
Here are some things I've heard about Japan:
1. In Tokyo, there are no street names. Also, the numbers on buildings don't go in order.
2. No tipping. It's offensive. (Also, that city is in China.)
3. If you don't know how much to pay for something, open your hand and the clerk will pick out the correct amount of change.
4. Everyone loves tourists.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
S. Korean Cabinet Offers to Quit After Beef Protests
by CHOE SANG-HUN
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s entire cabinet offered to resign on Tuesday as President Lee Myung-bak struggled to find a breakthrough in the biggest political crisis to face his young government, one set off by fears that an agreement to reopen markets to American beef could expose the public to mad cow disease. Read more...
Here's an article from The New York Times, including podcast, about the protests in Seoul over the move to resume suspended imports of American beef.
If you notice the Washington-style building in the photo, our hotel is just behind it--how exciting!