Memoirs of a Geisha starring Zhang Ziyi as a ravishing prewar geisha by the name of Sayuri (‘white lily’), sinks to basement level lows of pigeon-holing and cultural misunderstanding. As a Japanese female I just don’t feel like forgiving this one – the emotional damage is irrevocable. To make things worse, national acting treasure Ken Watanabe makes an appearance and seals his fate as an enabler for Hollywood filmmakers to cater to the white male fantasy regarding all things Japanese – namely, geishas. The one bright spot is Kaori Momoi as a hard-as-nails proprietress of a geisha house. The lone authentic presence in a film hyped up on false pretensions.
As eerie as the location sounds, Aoyama Cemetery is far from spooky with hundreds of trees that bloom each spring. The cemetery also contains the graves of several notables including Toshimichi Okubo, one of the founders of modern Japan; Henry Spencer Palmer, the Times’ first correspondent for Japan; and the owner of Hachiko. Yes, Hachiko, the famous dog whose statue serves as a popular meeting place in front of Shibuya station. For history buffs or for someone who wants something different from the same old picnic in a normal park, Aoyama Cemetery is the place to be.
After 3.11, Hideo Nakata, Japanese horror film director famous for “Ring” made a non-fiction documentary movie called Living in the Wake of 3.11, collecting testimonies from various people and victims of the March 11th tsunami disaster in Tohoku.
Japan, the Mother of World’s First Novel to Hosted its First International Literary Festival, this year.
With your eyes, you see raw fish, sea weeds, sea-urchin and rice. But it’s all made of vegetables. Welcome to vegetarians! The French restaurant with the Japanese touch, or Japanese with the French touch serves sushi all made of vegetables, carefully selected. Potager, opened its second restaurant in Roppongi Hills two years ago. Aya Kakisawa, [...]
Tora-san, Japan’s most popular movie figure, doesn’t have a home. He’s a tramp, and a tekiya (的屋)–a street-merchant yakuza–who earns his living by traveling in remote Japanese towns and selling his wares. In the very first movie, he even visits a local yakuza office to pay his respects. This scene is allegedly no longer included in televised versions.
Blood-Stained Mai Love by Mamoru Oshii is a black comedy about a high school student with a fetish for donating blood and his strange friendship with Mai, a wandering Transylvanian vampire who is too timid to actually bite anyone. When the two form a friendship–well in situation comedy parlance, “whacky, blood chaos ensues.” The protagonist’s attempts to procure more blood for his beloved turn into low comedy far removed from Let The Right One In.When we asked Mr. Oshii why he thought so many Japanese teenagers were drawn to giving their blood, the so-called 献血マニア (Kenketsu-mania) he laughingly quipped, “I can’t stand the sight of blood but I love getting IV transfusions. I get them whenever possible. It makes me feel great.”
Hashbrowns refers to a dish of cooked potatoes, typically with onions added, that have been chopped into small pieces and fried until a golden brown. They are often served in American diners, which are typically small roadside restaurants with a long counter and booths, originally designed to resemble a dining car on a train. Hashbrowns can be served with gravy or cheese on top, and in Japan, are often dusted with finely cut strips of 海苔 (nori/Japanese seaweed). In the Kansai area, hashbrowns often include chunks of octopus along with the onions and are served with a healthy side of Kewpie Mayonnaise.
You see, the Japanese are sometimes called the world’s great antiquarians. And they can trace their own tradition of Buddhist sculpture back to Bamiyan. So they –like many people– find it nearly impossible to grasp why anyone would have wanted to destroy those precious 55 meter and 38 meter-tall statues, which for so long had towered up against the sandstone cliffs in what is called one of the world’s most beautiful high-altitude valleys.
Chapter 12: “We Ran It In A Different Way” is a must for anyone interested in the shadow history of Japan. It details how in post-war Japan, the CIA, using large amounts of cash, reinstated former war criminal Kodama Yoshio and hand-picked one of Japan’s Prime Ministers–in order to supress communist/socialist movements. Kodama had extensive yakuza ties and huge amounts of capital made in the black markets in China. ($175 million estimated). The Tokyo CIA station reported on September 10th, 1953, “(Kodama) is a professional liar, gangster, charlatan, and outright thief….and has no interest in anything but the profits.” It still didn’t keep the CIA from doing business with him up to that time and behind the scenes later. The chapter also notes how the CIA was able to ensure that Nobusuke Kishi became Japan’s prime minister and the chief of its ruling party, in order to ensure that Japan didn’t go red. The president himself seemed to have authorized huge cash payments to Kishi and his other lackeys within the LDP.