Archive for November, 2010

[Photo] The Good Old Summer Days in Beijing

Oh the summer days. When everyone was so happy and we were all looking for restaurants with air conditioning. Long gone are those days and Beijing Winter is already here. This is a good image to remember the good old summer day in Beijing. Photo taken in Beixinqiao area.

 

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.

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[Photo] The Art of the Flying Noodle Show

Sorry for the lack of posting this week. But here is a photo that I really like. As it gets colder and colder in Beijing, it’s time for hot pot or in Chinese “HuoGuo”(火锅). It literally means “Fire Pot”. But hot pot is a great experience overall enjoying good food and conversation with your friends. In some hot pot joints in China they have flying noodle shows and here is a photo of it:

At Little Sheep Hot Pot in Inner Mongolia. It takes years to master the art of flying noodles.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a CreativeCommons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Photo] Lost in the World

As I have noted throughout this week, the air quality in Beijing has been poor the past couple days. The AQI usually is high during the morning rush hour period and then it cools down during noon and the AQI kicks backup again around 4pm. But what happens when pollution and working late night happens? This happens:

Photo taken at Guomao Central Business District at 1am.

I have been snapping photos around Beijing all week of this pollution so stay tuned for a photo essay from this entire week. Oh, by the way the Track “Lost in the World” by Kanye West has been on repeat for me all week.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Beijing Restaurant Review] How Japanese Food is Perceived in Beijing

If you ever get a chance to visit China and look for Japanese food you would be surprised by the number of Japanese restaurants there are in the major tier-1 cities. You’d think because of the recent Sino-Japanese tensions, Chinese people would boycott Japanese food but as a general rule of thumb, it really has no effect. What I find most interesting through my stay in China over the years is that a majority of Japanese style restaurant owners in China don’t have any connections with Japan at all. I ask them what they think about Japan and the common response that I hear over and over is that they can sell Japanese food for a much more expensive price than Chinese food. This is because in China, consumers know that Japanese products are considered high quality and thus, much more expensive. In China you’ll see a Takoyaki restaurant with the name Hokkaido (北海道) or a ramen restaurant with the name Nagano (長野). In Japan, Hokkaido is not known for Takoyaki and Nagano is not known for ramen. But in China, Hokkaido is a rather popular tourist destination for the lavender fields and so a lot of people associate Hokkaido with random Japanese food for their marketing strategy to attract more customers.
In Beijing you can find anything from B-Class Gourmet, as they call in Japan as being ordinary but still tasty dishes like ramen, udon, dumplings to upscale venues providing sushi and sashimi imported directly from the Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market. You can enjoy a 130RMB (about $18USD) all you can eat and drink Japanese food or spend 15RMB ($2USD) on a bowl of Yoshinoya Beef Bowl. Some of the Japanese restaurant owners say that although they attract an abundance of Japanese customers from a pool of about 10,000 Japanese residents currently residing in Beijing, without attracting the Chinese consumers their business won’t last. So the Japanese food in China has a bit of a Chinese feel to it creating a brand new fusion.
From my view point, Beijing has adapted the idea of Japanese food as any foreign country would. Like in the US, when you think of Japanese food, sushi, sashimi, ramen and sake comes to mind. Beijing is exactly like that incorporating the exotic high class model into Japanese cuisine.  Most people here are surprised to find out that Japanese people don’t actually eat sushi at least once a week but only maybe once a month on a rather special occasion. But the fact of the matter is that in America, most middle income families can afford a night out at a high-end Japanese food restaurant but in China these restaurants market their food towards high class Chinese and expats so the majority of the population here in China doesn’t get to interact with Japanese food and culture at all.

At Kagen in Beijing, a American Style Japanese grill restaurant. Chinese chefs are busy preparing the Robatayaki.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Quick Update] Beijing AQI reaches 500

I just checked the AQI in Beijing and believe it or not we have reached the maximum 500 mark. AQI is a scale devised by the US-based Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With an AQI of 500 it states “Health warnings of emergency conditions”. What do we do now? For more information of interpreting the AQI in a Beijing context please visit the My Health Beijing Blog.

Image taken from http://iphone.bjair.info/

 


[Air Quality] Today at 3pm vs Two weeks ago at 3pm

Every morning when I wake up in Beijing, the very first thing I do is to open the blinds to see how the air quality is outside. Two seconds later I’m either in an extremely good mood or I close the blinds immediately and fall back to sleep for a couple more minutes or so. On a lucky week, Beijing does get its share of blue sky’s but when its really polluted, I can’t walk outside without a mask.  The Air Quality Index does a pretty good job measuring the air quality in Beijing as I have noted in my previous post. For reference, Air Quality Index (AQI) of 470 on a scale of 500 looks like this:

On the other hand,  two weeks ago at the same time at a AQI of 100 looked like this:

As you can see, it’s quite a difference. The lesson here is to be thankful when you have a blue sky and don’t take it for granted. I think these visual comparisons make it easy to understand and I’ll be coming up with more comparisons in the future.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Photo Essay] TedxBeijing: Uncovering Innovation

On 11/13/2010, Beijing had a treat as the 2nd Annual TedxBeijing conference was held. TEDxBeijing is one of hundreds of independently organized conferences around the globe inspired and licensed by the United States-based non-profit TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. With the theme 'Uncovering Innovation', 12 key speakers with industry specialization of science, technology, entertainment, and design and over 200 audiences combined each others experience, knowledge and ideas throughout the day to answer key questions like 'Where does innovation come from?' and 'How do we implement these ideas?'. This photo essay is a review of some of the key speakers from the event and their inspiring ideas.

The event kicked off early at 9:00AM as the audience enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and accompany from a mix of local and international innovators. I must say the speakers were inspiring and we learned so much from their expertise and ideas but for me meeting so many innovative thinkers and individuals who really want to make change happen from Beijing re-assured me of how great this city is and how much potential it holds for the future.

The first speaker Martin Barnes, a Beijing-based artist, videographer and creative director talked about his inspiring project with Blind Photographers. As a student of photography myself, I was inspired by this idea. Often times the disabled are left in the darkness especially in China, people do not know how to tolerate them. But during his presentation he illustrated the importance of ‘non visual photographers’  and how organization of different combination of ideas creates great ideas. For the how to implement this idea he said that it comes from being free, having an authentic idea, including everyone and keeping it obvious and simple.

Adam Kidron, a serial entrepreneur and former music producer based in New York spoke on behalf of Music Piracy in China. He emphasized how the internet has changed the way we purchase music and that today 95% of music is being shared online with this statistic excluding China. He questions how today, the creator’s do not get enough loyalties for their work and how there needs to be a universal music library where the original creator gets the credit and the user pays for the cost of usage.

Sam Flemming, pioneer of Internet Word of Mouth (IWOM) in China and provides extraordinary insight into the Chinese netizen community by systematically analyzing the millions of BBS and blog posts they exchange to each other. He emphasized how brands listen to what consumers are saying and that the internet community is a great way to see trends and how social media influences their purchasing decision. I took away from his talk that with the internet, small groups of people can really do great things. He illustrated how in China, car buyers will organize a group purchase event online to get great discounts and how China was way ahead of US/EU in terms of social media and online communities.

Dr. Guangming Xie inspired us with his innovation in robotics. His new cut innovation of Robotic Fish could one day guide real organisms away from an oil spill to prevent further extinction of species. It was interesting to see his videos where his robotic fish and a real fish interacted as the real fish showed interest and followed the robotic fish joined by other real fish.

Lijia Zhang, a journalist spoke on behalf of her memoir and hardships growing up in a factory in Nanjing. She made a connection with how the factory that she lived in was a communist state itself as she had no freedom and no personal life with nowhere to escape. Her metaphor of herself being a 'Frog trapped in a well' came up several times in her presentation. She explained that her passion to want to make a change in her life and to be different convinced her to learn English. She said everyone was afraid to be different as her metaphor of the 'First bird that fly out of the cage gets shot first' shows exactly that. It was nice to hear her overcome her fear and hardship as her storyline inspired us to think about hardships and how to overcome them to make change.

The audience experienced a new world through the art of dance as Gaoyan Jinzi, artistic director of the Beijing Modern Dance Company's dancers show cased their innovative stance in the form of dance.

The Majin Buu drum club, showcase their energy and western African style music as they pump up the audience with new sounds and original art.

Wen Fang uses art to make social change in China. Her latest project, Art against Poverty brings her around China helping to make change from the grassroots level by using the power of art to help rural women find sustainable livelihoods. The rural women were already skilled in making crafts and with their creativity and passion makes great art for change.

The event was broadcasted live on Tudou and a live satellite viewing location. Overall, it was well-organized and if you are in Beijing next year around this time of the year it’s an event that you don’t want to miss.

Bonus: if you are wondering where you can get the intro music from Beijing’s very own DJ Slide, you can get it here.

© All images copyrighted. Please use only with permission.

[Photo] Autumn Tree at Xuanwumen, Beijing

It's been really cold in Beijing the past couple days. I think winter is already here. Stay tuned for my next Photo Essay from the TedxBeijing event I attended over the weekend. This picture was taken at Xuanwumen on 11/13/2010.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Photo] Growing up in Gulou

Photo taken in Gulou right by Drum Tower. Growing up, I think Hutong communities are the perfect playground for kids.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Quick Update] TedxBeijing Tomorrow

Quick update: Tomorrow I will be attending TedxBeijing. This annualy held event brings innovators and speakers from all over the world. Not familiar with TED? Check it out for yourself.

(Image taken from http://tedxbeijing.com/)