Culture peek No. 1: Who were the real ninjas?

Podcast Culture Peek is produced by Jiaxun Fan, a senior Chinese student studying Journalism in University of Minnesota Duluth.

A global talk: My inspiration for the first episode 

I hosted a dinner at the beginning of September to show off my perfect spicy fish. What was interesting about that dinner is that the five of us who attended come from five different countries: China, Korea, Malaysia, Japan and the United States.

Since everyone brought a dish to the dinner, we had a chance to taste some authentic food with home flavors. After eating, we talked all night about the missing Malaysian plane, World War II, the 2011 earthquake in Japan, plastic surgery in Korea and how ignorant Americans are when they deal with foreign cultures.

Last year I made my first podcast — “Stop being stupid in front of foreign cultures” — in which I talked about all the stupid questions Americans ask about other cultures.

I used to think Americans were really open-minded since they are from the most advanced country in the world; there’s no way they don’t know McDonald’s and Pizza Hut have restaurants in China. The truth: Not only Americans, but people from all over the world, tend to make assumptions about other cultures based on their own cultural standards.

Since then, I have had an idea to create a professional podcast — this podcast — to educate people about the cultures of foreign countries.

Back to the dinner: I didn’t forget to take advantage of this chance to collect some ideas and suggestions for my podcast.

My Korean friend asked my Japanese friend whether Japan still has ninjas and also talked about how he was impressed by the movie “The Last Samurai.” My Japanese friend gave him an ugly look and said samurais and ninjas are different, and Japan doesn’t have ninjas anymore.

I found that really interesting, especially because everyone in America now learns about ninjas from movies and comic books. Has anyone wondered about who the real ninjas were and what they actually looked like?

The purpose of this episode is not to tell people what is right and what is wrong, but to show different voices and angles of a cultural phenomenon that people take for granted.


Culture Peek has its own Facebook page, and you will be able to find related pictures for every episode. If you have questions or ideas, I would like to have a global talk with you. 

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