I’m in Chiba, Japan, attending an international workshop on “Islam and Political Dissent: Studies and Comparisons from Asia and the Middle East”, held at the Institute of Developing Economies. It’s fascinating to compare Middle East, Maghreb and Turkey with Malaysia, Indonesia, and Pakistan, which are not often examined together. Many of the scholars are from the region (including Australia), so some new and interesting ideas and insights. I can’t share them with you yet, since this is a work in progress. We’ve all written articles that have gone through two rounds of this mutual discussion and vetting, so an edited book will emerge from this before too long.
The food is fabulous here, and so beautiful and artfully arranged that it’s a shame to eat it. But it’s also delicious. Bears no resemblance to the simple, one-sided fare we get in US sushi parlors. A few of us escaped this evening and took the train to Tokyo for a couple of hours, had a drink in a skyscraper near the station, took the train back (50 minutes each way). But check out this gigantic pink inflatable pig that raises and lowers its wings as it inhales and exhales. And that’s me behind the glass baubles.