May Is Asian Heritage Month

One of the other bloggers in Detroit published a post yesterday about May being Asian Heritage Month and providing her readers with "7 days of fun" to celebrate it. The problem is that all of her suggestions were a series of "Asian" restaurants.

I'm sorry.

I love D-Tales and think she has one of the best blogs around. However, I know enough Asians to know that there's a lot more to Asian culture than a series of overpriced sushi places, even without invoking Frank's Rule of Sushi or talking about the Sushi Witnesses.

With that in mind, I give the world my own version of her 7 days of Asian culture - that are 100% sushi-free.

Tuesday - Literature
Asian culture has produced a cornucopia of top-notch literature over the centuries. Yan Lianke's novel Dreams of Ding Village, for example, told the story of HIV/AIDS in China. This resulted in the novel being banned in his home country because the People's Republic of China insists that AIDS doesn't exist in China - and if ever showed up it would only be the result of Western imperialism.

Another great Asian novel that's much easier to get one's hands on is Waiting by Ha Jin. It tells the story of an ordinary man who misses the best opportunities of his life, simply by trying to do what he perceives as his duty.

Ha Jin won the National Book Award in 1999 for this novel. As a result, it's available at most bookstores and libraries.

Wednesday - Music
I couldn't find any concerts in the Detroit area this month that would showcase the musical talent that has come from Asia. Luckily, I did find one web site with loads of MP3s for music from a wide variety of Asian cultures - from Chinese opera to Thai classical to Cambodian instrumentals.

Thursday - Dance
I saw a Thai Candle Dance once and it's amazing. Thanks for the wonders of YouTube, you can see on below.

Friday - Art
Detroit is home to a rather impressive collection of Asian paintings, ceramics and sculptures as part of the Detroit Institute of Arts. In fact, more than 2,600 objects of Asian art are available for one's viewing pleasure at the new DIA.

Plus, admission to the DIA is free on Friday to Detroit residents. It's only $8 for everyone else.

Members of the DIA, of course, are always allowed in for free. You can purchase a membership for only $65 at either the museum entrance or via their website. Not only does your membership get you into the museum from free, there are also a variety of special events throughout the year for DIA members.

Definately, worth it. But I digress.

Back to all things Asian.

Saturday - Cinema
If I ruled the world, anyone over the age of 21 who hasn't seen Akira Kurosawa's 1950 classic film Rashomon would be required to wear sack cloth and ashes. They would also have to ring a bell and proclaim, "Unclean! Unclean!" whenever they walked the streets.

Oh, and they would only be allowed to walk the streets because they wouldn't be considered worthy of other means of transport.

I don't rule the world - at least not yet.

However, one never knows when this may change. Therefore, I recommend that everyone see this film at least once as a precautionary measure. It's available at better video stores, such as Thomas Video in Clawson or Liberty Street Video in Ann Arbor, as well as on Netflix.

Sunday - Architecture
I.M. Pei is generally considered to be one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, having won both the AIA Gold Medal as well as the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Unfortunately, there aren't any of his buildings in Michigan. I would normally start a lobbying campaign to have one commissioned here. However, he has retired.

Luckily, the folks at have photos from some of his more high-profile projects available on their web site.

Monday - Anime & Manga
Walt Disney brought animation to the masses, but the Japanese have given it their own touch with anime and manga. Both are available at almost every comic book store in the country, such as my personal favorite - Green Brain Comics in Dearborn.

And there you have it. My 100% sushi-free tour of Asian culture.


Liza said…
Wow, Frank! I am quite impressed. :) As an Asian-American (though I've never really thought of myself in those terms), I found your list to be thorough and thoughtful. Thanks for the tips!

FrankNemecek said…
You're welcome as always!

Love & laughter,

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