Natsumi Tsunoda Wakana Koga

Japan got off to a roaring start as the 2021 World Judo Championships began Sunday in Budapest, Hungary. Natsumi Tsunoda defeated Wakana Koga to capture the women's 48 kg class in an all-Japanese finals. After running an armbar clinic on her early round foes, Tsunoda showed her standing game against Koga scoring a wazari (half point) with a sacrifice throw and another wazari on a counter throw to claim the gold.

On the men's side, Yago Abuladze became the first judoka from Russia to win a world championship in a decade as he too scored a pair of wazari to defeat Gusman Kyrgyzbayev of Kazakhstan in the 60 kg finals. Technically, it was not a gold for Russia as Abuladze was competing under the banner of the Russian Judo Federation while the nation of Russia remains under a four year ban from all international sports by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

That a director of my city's opera company would call me seemed a little odd. There are probably some monkeys who know more about opera than I do. But the director was inviting me to lunch, so of course I went.

It turned out the company was producing a performance of Madame Butterfly, the Puccini opera that tells the story of a doomed love between a French military officer and a geisha in early 19th-century Japan. The opera has come under fire for its stereotyped, utterly fanciful depictions of Japanese culture. The local company was trying to anticipate such criticism, and the director asked me, since I serve on the board of some organizations related to Japanese culture, what I thought.
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