Viewing Category: Japan
2009 May 15
A few months ago I watched an amazing concert on NHK that featured Joe Hisaishi (久石 譲) as conductor. That evening’s music was a compilation his beautiful compositions from the Miyazaki movies such as Tonari no Totoro, Nausicaa, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. It was pretty awesome, and at the end, Hayao Miyazaki himself surprised everyone by walking down the aisle to hand Hisaishi a bouquet of flowers. The video above was from Spirited Away, and is one of my favorites. Be sure to check out the related videos at the end of the video above for more clips from the concert. It must have been an incredible experience to be there in person to hear all of the great songs from those movies.
2009 May 08
Crazy little video of a whirlwind on the baseball diamond.
2009 Apr 15
I’m a big Yoshino Kimura fan, so I knew I would enjoy Zenzen Daijobu (English title: “Fine, Totally Fine") It’s basically a quirky, harmless romantic comedy that follows three main characters and their love triangle. It’s all very innocent and tame, but the characters are all a bit odd. Kimura’s character Akari is a clumsy, accident-prone introvert artist who loves to eat chikuwa (fish sausages). Hisanobu (Okada Yoshinori) is probably the most normal character: a hospital administrator who is too nice a guy to every attain any real power. Finally there is Hisanobu’s brother Teruo (Yoshiyoshi Arakawa) who is by far the most bizarre of the bunch. He’s obsessed with horror and ghosts, and dreams of one day owning his own amusement park where he can scare his guests to death. His scenes are the funniest, especially at the beginning of the movie with plenty of props and sight gags to keep you rolling.
The story takes place in Tokyo, but not the common high-tech glamorous version of the city. Instead we have settings such as stark hospital, a run-down but charming second-hand bookstore, middle class neighborhood alleyways, and the characters’ small, well-lived-in apartments. It all lends itself to make the story and characters accessible, even with all their strange behavior. The plot meanders its way through a bunch of small scenes, many of them really funny, some a little scary, but each one building up the characters and plot little by little. One of the funniest scenes happened when the frazzled Akari is working as the shop clerk and has to help an otaku who is buying a dirty magazine. She gets flustered while trying to put the magazine in a bag, ends up spilling coffee all over it, then can’t open a box of tissue to clean it up and in the end tries to find a replacement porn magazine. It’s a lot funnier than I can describe it, and there are lots of scenes like this. Really bizarre, awkward, unexpected, but in the end hilarious! Kimura’s acting is great. Her shaking hands as she fails to open the tissue box (twice in the movie!) is perfect. I was laughing out loud several times, and had a smile on my face throughout the film.
Zenzen Daijobu is a charming movie that has a nice message. It’s the simple things that make you happy, like being yourself and finding someone you love. It doesn’t have to be about money or power. These characters have neither, but they do find a warmth and happiness that all of us are striving to attain.
2009 Apr 07
I used to love Mondo Grosso/Shinichi Osawa. Here’s his “Our Song” video. I love it.
[found at Ernie’s Tumblr
2009 Mar 06
I was just checking my twiiter feed and banannie had a post that said “I can’t remember the last time I swept the floor”. I mistakenly read that as “slept on the floor” and got to thinking about the last time I actually did that. Not like taking a nap, but actually spending the night on the floor. I guess the last time I did that was in 1997 at an acquaintance’s house in Saitama prefecture in Japan. We went over for dinner, and had tons of good food and drink. Mariko’s friend’s husband was Tunisian and cooked an awesome beef stew, which we all enjoyed. It got late and we decided to sleep there, on the tatami, in our street clothes. It was summer and so hot and there was no A/C in their place, so it was a pretty damn uncomfortable night. But what was worse was traveling home the next morning on the train, wearing the same old, semi-sweaty clothes. Still, it was pretty fun, and a good memory to stow away!
2009 Feb 11
This is one of my favorite ZARD songs. What makes this video special is that Izumi Sakai actually looks at the camera a few times in the video. She pretty much never looked at the camera in photos or videos.
I love the night shots of Yokohama too. Makes me want to live there again! I guess in about 13 years?
2008 Dec 02
There are three Japanese doramas I am watching right now. Ryuusei No Kizuna is the one that both Mariko and I are both interested in, so we watch more or less at the same time. (I have to wait a little longer for the subtitles to be released, but that’s just a few days) This story is about three siblings whose parents were murdered when they were youngsters. Now in their twenties, they try to find the solution to the mystery that has eluded both them and the police for all those years. The story has a bunch of interesting sub-plots, and what looked like a simple motive to the crime has become complicated and there are a couple of good twists. The acting is pretty good, with the main three roles being acted out convincingly. It’s a little hard to identify and fully sympathize with them, however, since they aren’t the most likable bunch. They part-time as swindlers, and the oldest brother is the mastermind, but he’s also kind of weak and pitiful. Then there’s a couple romances starting to happen, and one of them just seems too kimochi warui (bad feeling). Apart from those small things, I am finding this dorama to be fun to watch, and I look forward to each episode, wondering how they are going to resolve all the small subplots as well as the main story. I’m also a big Toda Erika fan, so it’s nice to watch her every week. She’s actually a pretty good actress!
2008 Nov 06
Jeremy sent me this amazing video of Tokyo by Utusuru, shot using a Canon 5D MkII. Makes me miss Tokyo so much!
2008 May 21
The Honda Supercub has surpassed the 60-million mark of total units produced! It’s the 50th anniversary of the legendary bike. It’s the highest selling vehicle of all time, and it gets ~100 mpg.
Article at Yahoo! Japan
Translated (to English) article