Worth Reading – August 9th, 2021

Courtesy of Wrath of Gnon

Welcome back to Worth reading – my occasional roundup of news & articles on anime & Japan along with my thoughts and comments. There’s some good stuff this time around…

So, let’s hit the jump and take a look at what’s Worth Reading!

Incredible 15th-Century Japanese Technique for Growing Ultra-Straight Cedar Trees


Not far outside of Kyoto, there are immense cedar forests planted along the hills. This Kitayama cedar is known for being exceptionally straight and without knots and has been in high demand since the 15th century. With such a demand and lack of space, foresters came up with an ingenious way to grow more wood using less land. This involves the heavy pruning of a mother cedar tree, which encourages tall, thin saplings to shoot upwards. Think of it as a bonsai on a large scale.

A fascinating article on Daisugi – raising straight, clear cedar in a sustainable fashion.

Coppicing is a related practice in Europe, though it seems more aimed at high yield sustainability than high quality.

Zuishinmon Gate, entrance to the hall of Japanese cedars leading up to Oku-sha at Togakushi Shrine
Zuishinmon Gate, entrance to the hall of Japanese cedars leading up to Oku-sha at Togakushi Shrine.

Image Courtesy of Big Ben In Japan via Flickr

I was inspired by the article linked above to search Flickr for images from Japan – and I hit a jackpot.  Probably something I need to do/feature in Worth Reading more often.

It’s still a shame what Yahoo! did to Flickr back in the late 00’s and early teens though.  (tl;dr version:  Destroyed a thriving community in a misguided attempt to compete with Facebook and Instagram.)

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Recently there’s been some discussion about how much it costs to license an anime series, especially in the wake of the recent AnimeTube Kickstarter campaign. There are many factors that impact the cost of the license

Christopher Macdonald

If you followed the Anime Tube debacle (background here, and here), you know they made a number of misleading claims and statements…  Among them, they expressed the belief that anime streaming rights could be had very cheaply.

In this article on Anime News Network, Christopher Macdonald breaks down the complexities and costs of licensing.  There’s a lot more to it than you might think.

Honestly, I wish ANN did these kinds of articles more often – giving insights into the actual business of anime and streaming.

“A Gift Wrapped in Pandemic Paper and Offered in Pieces,” or “Meaning without Consequence: My Pandemic Experience with Fruits Basket”

To some, it may seem silly to give that sort of credit to a piece of media, but the odd sprinkling of untimed, random dub releases were small gifts handed to me when I needed something else to feel. 


Shoujo’s deeply personal and emotional post on how Fruits Basket helped her make it through the pandemic really resonated with me…

Many of you know what I’ve been through in the last two and a half years.  Two close family deaths, the stress of isolation (which I haven’t spoken of much), and now as I write this one of my closest and oldest friends is dying.  Her post really makes me think of how many times recently I’ve dove into anime (often a rewatch) to escape the present.

Anime has always been something of a stress reliever, and it’s been very helpful during these times.  But it also makes me think about how I’ve been avoiding the perceived stress of writing here…  

Sheltering in small places : What life indoors looks like in Tokyo’s cramped homes

Image courtesy of GaijinPot Blog : What do Japanese Apartment Layout Terms Mean?

For residents in Tokyo, where the majority of new cases are being reported, that means spending more time at home – often tiny by Western standards.

The average home in the Tokyo prefecture is 66 square meters (710 square feet), compared with 80 square meters (860 square feet) in London. However, apartments in the city tend to be smaller than this.

Sheltering in small places : What life indoors looks like in Tokyo’s cramped homes

I wish I remember where I came across this article so I could credit the source…

Anyhow, while it’s written in context of the pandemic lockdown, it’s still an interesting look at housing in Tokyo.  The one room apartments seen so often in anime are actually a thing in real life.  I’ve lived in a space that small, and it’s very stressful because there’s a lack of places to be.  Your daily and ‘moment to moment’ view is absolutely unvarying.  Where we live now is only about 800 square feet – but at least it’s separated into multiple rooms!  I can be in a ‘different space’ now and again.  Though really on the living room and dining nook have seating, at least there’s separation between me and the dishwasher.  (Which is currently running and would be very noisy and distracting if it wasn’t in a different room.)

The article also includes a couple of interviews with Tokyo residents and their views on the matter.


And that wraps up this issue!

Though looking at it and pondering how popular newsletters are of late… That gives me ideas for projects I probably have no time or spoons for, and no business contemplating.


Anyhow, haven’t been writing much weekly on seasonals because this season is going so darned slow… And having so few shows doesn’t help much. But Love Live returns tomorrow and maybe My Hero Academia will get out of it’s rut. So look forward to a post later this week.

Fair warning: That’s also entirely dependent on what happens with my friend mentioned above. I’m going to be in a bad place when the inevitable happens.


So, what are your thoughts on this issue of Worth Reading and the linked articles? Drop a comment and let’s chat!

7 thoughts on “Worth Reading – August 9th, 2021”

  1. Those very straight cedar trees are fascinating, but from an aesthetic perspective I prefer the gnarly ones. Still, it’s amazing what you can do if you want to.

    I’ve read both the licencing and the FB posts already.

    When I first came across the anitube project, I wondered whether they were actually scamming people or whether they clueless idealists. I saw how much money they wanted to raise, and thought to myself, they can almost get a single linces, provided they neither space, personell, nor electricity, etc. Then along comes the article and it turns out I underestimated the cost. I still think anitube might be due to clueless you-can-do-it-if-you-try-really-hard-ism.

    The Fruits Basket article… Yeah, anime is a great stress reliever. I’m currently re-watching Mokke, and it’s much better than I remember it being. It’s playing in the same ball-park as Natsume Yuujinchou or Mushishi, and it doesn’t reach either height, but it’s not that far below actually. I really loved that quote from the main characters’ grandpa, from the last episode I watched. Roughly: “Sometimes it’s good to have just the right amount of fun. Good times and bad times never last very long.” More powerful in context. It’s a lesson-of-the-week show, but not a moralising one. That’s actually hard to pull off. And I find that extremely calming. The more sugary, ignore-all-bad-things shows often don’t work as well (though some pull that off, too), as I don’t really buy into it. An it’s-going-to-be-alright message is always more effective for me in a show that aknowledges that there are no guarantees, and that you’ll never really know whether you’re doing the right thing. Mokke’s trick is to keep stakes low (in a coming-of-age sense), but to use the supernatural elements to heighten the effects. It’s interesting.

    Looking at the rooming plan, here, it never occured to me before, but taking a bath can actually be partly ritualised refuge, too. Seen it often enough in anime. That’s the place where the characters think things through; in their rooms they tend to play games, do homework, or sleep. They think over thing in the bath (well, lying in or on the bed is a not-so-close not-so-distant second). How did I never really pay attention to that.

    Whe the outcome is inevitable, you just have to make the best of the process. You folks, hang in there. Good times and bad times never last very long…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I still think anitube might be due to clueless you-can-do-it-if-you-try-really-hard-ism.

      Not impossible, I lean slightly towards scammer but I’m not closed to the other either. (Not that it matters.) Either way, they weren’t professional and they weren’t prepared or well informed.

      The more sugary, ignore-all-bad-things shows often don’t work as well (though some pull that off, too), as I don’t really buy into it.

      Yeah. For me a “stress reliever” show has to have at least some drama/climax. Even if it’s low stakes stuff like Yama no Susume or Harukana Receive… The catharsis that accompanies the resolution is what actually relieves the stress.

      Re: Baths-as-refuge.

      Damm, that’s actually a significant insight. You (the generalized you) could write a rather nice article looking at examples… I can think of several just off the top of my head.

      Whe the outcome is inevitable, you just have to make the best of the process.

      Yeah, and it was over just a few hours after I posted. It’s hitting me pretty hard (my tweet provides context) but I’m not incapacitated like I was over my mom… Which is kinda odd, to be hit as hard as I expected but not to have the “side effects” I had every reason to expect.


      1. Never quite sure how to talk about someone else’s loss. It’s quite the change. Take care of yourself, and drop in whenever you feel like it. I expect Dragon Maid to have most distraction value this season; just the right mix of silliness and warmth.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. As far as I’m concerned you’re not oversharing. I didn’t feel put on the spot either. This really isn’t the time to worry about me; you’re not going to say anything I wish I hadn’t read. I’m just unusually straightforward about being socially awkward; it’s one of my features by this time, I suppose. If you have nothing to say, you can stay quiet without causing offense. If you want to share, I’ll read it. If you want me to shut up, because I’m such a chatterbox, do so. This isn’t the time to worry about me.

            Freak coincidence, but I lost two relatives in the span of two weeks in summer 2019, too. How did I react, emotionally. Mild shock. Retreating into myself. Worrying about what I should have done. Worrying I’m letting down my mum. I’m great at worrying. And once the worrying dies down, I sort of get used to absences. And then a random situation concretises absence, and it’s like punch in the gut (that’s literally where I feel it). But it doesn’t last long. I had a really strange family dinner dream, once, and the mood was odd. Calm, melancholy, and a pinch of oh-this-is-a-dream metaness, but more in the environment than in the “plot”, to the extent that dreams can have plots. Before that, I’d only really lost pets. I was too young when I lost my grandparents to remember. I’m a low-intensity, slow-burn griefer. If I don’t go into any detail, it’s because I don’t talk about real life people where google can listen in. I feel I don’t have that right. (Did I mention in this paragraph that I’m great at worrying? QED)

            In any case, I’m here. I can talk. I can be quiet. Whatever helps the most. I mean it when I say take care of yourself.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. First, my condolences. I’ve been lucky not to lose any friends up to now, but my parents are getting up into their mid to late 80s, and while I try not to think about it, living on the opposite coast just makes me more conscious every year of the fact that there are only so many more times I’m going to get to see them.

    I’d read the article on licensing fees already, and I thought it was really interesting. I dig that kind of “insider information” stuff. The part that caught my attention the most was the note that North Amercan license costs have surpassed China again. I wonder if that’s because China’s started ramping up their own domestic animation market, or because of the government’s increasing heavy-handedness the last few years dampening everyone’s enthusiasm.

    And man, I knew Tokyo apartments were small, but that really puts things in perspective. 9.8 square meters of living space is a little over 100 square feet. I’m pretty sure my college dorm room was bigger than that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for the late reply, I kinda got distracted…

      I completely understand about your parents as I was in the same boat (though the coasts were swapped). It’s not an easy thing. In most ways I’m comfortable with the decision I (we, as my wife and I reached it together) made to stay in the Pacific Northwest… In others, I constantly second guess myself.

      And man, I knew Tokyo apartments were small, but that really puts things in perspective. 9.8 square meters of living space is a little over 100 square feet. I’m pretty sure my college dorm room was bigger than that.

      I rated more than that as junior enlisted in the Navy near to forty years ago! Of course that included the “common area” of barracks rooms, which was counted multiple times – once for each occupant… But didn’t include the bathroom and of course we didn’t have a kitchen and there were lounges in the barracks.

      My wife and I lived in a 350 sq ft (32 sq m) studio for a year, but we knew it was temporary so it was bearable. And because it was temporary, most of our stuff was in storage. I can’t imagine packing your whole life into something that small.

      Our current place (800 odd sq ft, 74 sq m) seemed a bit on the small side. At least until the last year, now it seems REALLY tiny,,,


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