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On the purikura: Japanese photo booth

If you have been to Shibuya or Shinjuku, you must have seen girls going to photo booths to take Purikura. Purikura is a shortened version of “Print Club.” In a Purikura photo, the girls come out with enlarged and anime-like eyes, smooth skin, and extremely long and skinny legs. How they appear in a Purikura seal is different from what they actually look like. And they are satisfied with this. They even praise each other because of how cute they seem in the photo. I was one of those girls when I was in high school. I dropped by Shinjuku to take Purikura almost every time I went out. My friends and I were obsessed with the way we looked in Purikura. Why is Purikura so popular among young Japanese girls, particularly those in high school? Purikura started in the 1990s. Back then, it was different. You could only take black and white pictures, and Purikura did not really modify your face and body. It was used to etch memories in a seal. Over the …

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Have a cup of Christmas

The protest that ensued from such a plain design tells us of the determination of some groups to impose their beliefs and interpretations on others and the stubbornness in thinking that one way of life holds true over other ways of life. While the Starbucks cup non-issue might appear trivial amidst the troubles of the world, we can see it as an invitation to reflect on the reasons for why we celebrate, or think we should celebrate, certain events.

Annyeonghaseyo: Reflections of a Korean in the Philippines

My journey of living in a foreign land commenced last March. The scorching, tropical weather seemed to foretell imminent experiences in the Philippines but my heart was overflowing with unmitigated zeal and confidence. Challenges, after all, make life more dynamic and provide pivotal experiences to make one stronger. Even though I am a mere student at the Ateneo de Manila University under the auspices of my parents, I realized that I am taking on more roles. Studying abroad has enabled me not only to see myself in relation to Filipinos, but also to be cognizant of the broader international relations between South Korea and the Philippines. This essay is a reflection on Koreans as a subcultural group in the Philippines. A subculture can be defined as a group of people who share ways of life distinct from the mainstream but do not transgress the social rules, beliefs, norms, and values of mainstream society. Koreans living in the Philippines are regarded as a subculture because, while they take part in Philippine culture as residents of the country, …

Interacting with Myself and by Myself: Social Interaction in Online Space

When I was a student in Japan from 2011 to 2015, the incidence of hikikomori was a much-talked-about issue. The Oxford dictionary defines hikikomori as “(In Japan) the abnormal avoidance of social contact, typically by adolescent males.” It was an unprecedented social phenomenon; no one knew what it was and how to deal with it. It is easy to conclude that the hikikomori are outcasts of a fast growing society and that their emergence is a natural outcome of social change. However, such a notion raises too many questions: why did they emerge in this particular point in time? What have influenced young people to be hikikomori? What do they imply about the current society?