Echo Park’s New Sake Bar, Ototo

A minimal but warm space that aims to make the Japanese tipple more approachable

Ototo is a venture for chef Charles Namba and sommelier Courtney Kaplan (of Tsubaki next door) to share their joint passion for sake and food. While Namba helms the kitchen, Kaplan is sharing her extensive knowledge of sake—telling vivid stories of breweries throughout Japan—and recommending sakes to bar-goers, who range from rookies to experts. The food and sake at Ototo (and the pairings that occur) may …

Katsushika Hokusai’s Iconic Artwork Bound for Japanese Currency

An instantly recognizable artwork—Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock print The Great Wave off Kanagawa—is set to appear on Japan’s 1,000-yen banknote. Just one of several new designs announced—others including images of industrialist, Eiichi Shibusawa; educational reformist, Tsuda Umeko; and more—the Hokusai note will depict Nobel Prize-nominated bacteriologist Shibasaburo Kitasato on the other side. The new designs will be circulating by 2024. See more at CNN.

CHAI: Curly Adventure

A jubilant and uplifting tune by Japanese four-piece CHAI, “Curly Adventure” was released a couple of weeks ago and now has a delightful animated video to match. Directed by Sean Solomon, the video is just as pleasant and playful as the song itself—a glorious track in which J-pop meets indie and rock. The song is about freedom and changing mindsets, with a lyric loosely translating …