The Pachinko Parlor

Ian Scott Silk Road Blog Post ImageAfter working as an assistant editor for this magazine, the words Silk Road no longer hold the meaning they once did. If you were to do a Google search of “Silk Road” the first result is a Wikipedia page describing the historical trade route. Following that, there is a plethora of hits on the infamous illegal online drug marketplace, also known as “Silk Road.” This literary magazine doesn’t appear on a Google search until page three, following a hit on a Stanford website of a project with the same name.

Falling into a static view of the world is common. It’s easy to forget that there are a multitude of perspectives on any subject. Some of these differences are entrenched in a region or society’s culture and language. This past January I returned from a three week trip to Japan during which I collected data for my thesis regarding cultural differences in facial perception between Japan and America. The above picture is of a Pachinko parlor near Fuchinobe Station in Tokyo, just down the road from J.F. Oberlin University where I was collecting data. Watami, advertised above the SilkRoad sign, serves some really good Korean style raw horse (bazashi).

As opposed to American culture, it is not as acceptable to be extravagantly boisterous and to constantly display overt emotion. There the emotional culture is one more of facial stoicism. Consequently, when reading faces, Japanese people tend to look at the eye as it is harder to hide emotional expression in that part of the face.  In America we tend to be more open about our emotional state and advertise it, thus Americans tend to look at the mouth, where it is easier to read emotions.

This difference is most exemplified in the use of emoticons. An article titled “Cross-cultural comparison of nonverbal cues in emoticons on Twitter: evidence from big data analysis” published in the Journal of Communication, Park, Baek, and Cha found that Japan uses vertically orientated emoticons which emphasize the eyes. Conversely, in America we tend to use horizontally orientated emoticons which emphasize the mouth.

Asia is in many ways fundamentally different than the west. They eat “strange” food, they tend to hide their emotions more than we do, and they even read faces differently. In essence, they have a fundamentally different view of the world and society around them. I’ve already read some of the submissions for Silk Road’s Asian edition.  I must say I’ve been impressed and moved on all accounts, and this Asian edition is something I am really looking forward to. I hope that this upcoming edition will shed some light on a new way to approach or think about the world. I encourage you to put your preconceived notions of the world down and fully open yourself up to these new perspectives. Asia has a lot to offer. All you need to do is read.

By Ian Scott

Image Credit: Kana Tateyama

Connecting to the Minds and Hearts of Asia



Image credit: WikiCommons

By: Ashley Grogan


Asian culture bleeds past the continent daily.  Asia is more than just yellow stars on red material, and our newest Silk Road: Voices on Asia volume will show just that. There are too many hidden secrets in Asia for it to concern itself with classic stereotypes and rash judgments. This edition of Silk Road will raise some questions and answer others about a world that is not familiar to most of us. What must farmers experience when a dzi bead is found on their land, both waiting to be discovered and waiting to be plowed back into the earth?  Do you know how it feels to rely on returning home in order to progress in your future?  How have ancestors shaped the present and how will yours shape the future?

Elizabeth Horneber has been hypnotized by a dzi bead.  In her piece “Vermilion,” she delves into these mysterious and marvelous beads that capture some of the Tibetan culture.  Matthew Yasyoka tells the story of “Papa, the sky father, and Wakea, the earth mother” (54) and how their children sparked the history and future that is Hawaii.  Tammy Ho Lai-Ming gives hope by showing us a glance into a summer day of Hong Kong.  These are just glimpses into the pieces of some contributors, yet already, Asia is present in your mind.

After reading this issue, I felt a connection to Asia.  I learned more about Asian culture than I would have through mere research.  Experiencing these stories and poems has helped me feel connected to the minds that created them.  My views on the meaning of marriage were challenged as I understood Maitreyee’s desire to continue a façade with her husband, Biren, in “The Year of Paper.”  I also found myself speaking about Haloa, the child of Papa and Wakea, to classmates within a week of reading Yasyoka’s story.  This issue is more than just a collection of essays, stories, and poems to keep you entertained on your commute to work; these images stick with you and begin your connection with the air halfway around the world.

Silk Road: Voices on Asia will be available for purchase December 9th both online and at the Pacific University Bookstore in Forest Grove, Oregon.

Call for Submissions: Asia

Call for Submissions Silk Road Review will be producing a special issue entitled ASIA.  We are interested in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction presenting an Asian or Asian-American perspective or work that explores an aspect of locations within Asia.  Writers of all backgrounds are welcome to contribute as long as the submission fits under the umbrella of ASIA.

Deadline to submit for the special issue: August 15, 2014

Prose can be no longer than 20 double-spaced pages in length.  No more than five poems per submission. Please write the word Asia in the comments box.

Submit here:

More about Silk Road Review here: