Archive for May, 2008

The Tower…courtesy of NTT

more-towers-5

Any of you who have heard my piece, Denpato, will note the heavy, analog, fatness of the piece.

I’ve written a few things about it in the past, so I’ll post a picture finally: The NTT tower in Hirakata, Osaka.  My digital camera couldn’t capture it well, but my low-light setting on the DV camera worked great.  I exported some stills from the camera, so here they are.

The Tower

The Tower 2

Ein feste Burg ist unsere Gott…

強い塔

Trends in Japan blog

Don’t have too much time to write today – have to work on music for a short film…but this is WAY cool:  Trends in Japan Blog.

You can find out about latest technology, gadgets, fashions, and good websites.  For instance, the post on brand research with Nekore was published 5 days ago.  Nekore allows fashion seekers to use various magazines as brand catalogs (aren’t they already?)

Trends in Japan

Images of East Asia in American TV

Tales of the Gold MonkeyI remember watching shows growing up in the 80′s like Tales of the Gold Monkey, the A-Team, and Black Sheep Squadron. Some of these were fair, well written, and had a well-researched understanding of Japanese culture at the time. Others were just terrible! For exhibit A, I give you Tales of the Gold Monkey. It reminded me of those awful 1950′s African exploration shows complete with old white guys from Brooklyn in blackface.

But Black Sheep Squadron was different. The deft writing of Stephen J. Cannell attempted to look at the war from both sides, both that of the American and Japanese pilots. I just watched Season 1 Episode 6, wherein a Nisai (American-born Japanese) was piloting a zero and was shot down by American forces. There was initially a lot of bad feelings and violent intentions on the American side, but after discovering that the Japanese pilot was raised in America, playing ping-pong,Prisoner of War

hanging out and just getting to know him, the American guys befriended him and wished that they could be friends outside of the war. They all seemed to agree that war was hell and was based on fear. This was not some PC or schmaltzy attempt at pacifism and international friendship, it seemed genuine. Cannell also captured the Japanese understanding of honor and a bit of the idea of the furusato or “long-gone hometown” that many Japanese pine for. Later in the series, the main character, Greg Boyington got into a sort of personal 1-upsmanship with a Japanese pilot, and they both were looking for mutual understanding.Of course, these things are not entirely accurate, but I do appreciate the efforts! Black Sheep Squadron along with Gregory Boyington’s autobiography, Baa Baa Blacksheep, helped me begin to look into the human picture of the Japanese side of the war. I came to realize that it is important to always realize the humanity of the other side of the war. Boyington was captured by the Japanese during the last year and a half of the war. While he did suffer some mistreatment, he also told stories of a great number of kind Japanese who looked out for him and treated him with human kindness. (Showing jin to an American pilot!) You could say that Boyington’s book became an American Furyo account, comparable in some ways to Ooka Shohei.All this is to mark how much media can influence our ideas and thoughts. I think today’s shows like The Unit and Numbers attempt to do similar things, and I would encourage us to use media to explore deeper matters than political soundbites and the status quo.

Indiana Jones and the lost culture.

After almost 20 years, he’s back!

I rented the third installment of the Indiana Jones story, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” last week and watched it three times. My goodness, I’ve forgotten how much I love this series. I can’t wait to find a sitter and go with my wife to see the “KOTCS.” I hope it won’t disappoint – I really couldn’t stand the “Temple of Doom.” So far, the reviews are saying it’s pretty good, although some nay-sayers are positing that it doesn’t hold together well and is not suspenseful. We shall see.

After this viewing of the originals (am I up into the 100′s yet?) I was struck by how in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Last Crusade” there is so much Judeo-Christian imagery and reverent references to the Bible and other Christan stories present. Sure there were myths and hyperbole, (much like in Anime) related to these themes but they were in no way antagonistic to the underlying beliefs and truths we find.

It is hard to believe that only 20 years ago, the Judeo-Christian story was not so far removed from our hearts and minds, even if people were not adherents to either religion. It was a weltanschauung, even if not a belief system. It was Western culture, much like Confucian morality and Buddhist thought are the underpinnings of the east.

I wonder what we’ll see in this latest installment; it will be an interesting cultural comparison.

Meanwhile, I cannot get John Williams’ themes out of my mind! I wonder what themes he will put into the new movie. I am always struck by the haunting minor second to open fifth theme of the Ark of the Covenant, and the reference to the plainchant Te Deum Laudamus for the Grail.

Japan Media Research

Japan Media Research at USCDoing some digging for a future project, I discovered the Japan Media Review site at USC.There, you can find articles on anything from e-learning on cell phones to censorship, goings on at NHK to tabloid coverage.  The News Blog section is also noteworthy, as it covers unconventional topics.