(Cyber-) Mania, Magazines and Memorials

Positive change can

only come, it seems, from

one group at a time

 

I wonder if Black Friday took off in Japan this last Friday …. or Cyber Monday? I haven’t noticed anything in the Japanese newspapers I’ve been browsing on-line this evening. Do you know in French, they call it Vendredi Fou? Mad Friday.  In some francophone parts of the world anyway.  No wonder!!  People do go a bit mad but I guess it is a good time to get early Christmas shopping in as long as you do it wisely, and even if it is just for yourself : P.  I took advantage of Cyber Monday myself- seeing as I missed Black Friday (and Black Weekend for some shops) as I was busy working – to buy myself a coat which I’m going to consider my Christmas present to myself.  I never buy clothes online as I prefer to check something out myself first but I guess I got caught up with the buzz.  I hope it looks good because the thought of returning clothes makes me feel very lazy!   I have bought footwear on-line and luckily that turned out well so I’m hoping this does too.  I’m a big fan of coats and would have bought this one at its normal price (25 euros more) so I think it will be worth it.

Speaking about news articles from Japan, I was just thinking back to my post on #metoo.  It seems to be gaining traction now in Japan with various recognisable people talking about their experiences, one of them a journalist writing in an article about being groped by a chikan on a train at the age of just eight!!  The stigma about being a victim in Japan, whatever about everywhere else, is said to be very strong so people prefer to be silent but hopefully they’ll get the courage to at least talk about it with people even if they cannot get justice against the men in question.  She only began to speak about it as an adult.

On a similar subject, I came across another women-related article about how a well-known convenience store chain in Japan is planning to take pornographic magazines off its shelves.    Why?  The Olympics apparently.   It has taken them this long and only because of the Olympics to take these magazines off the shelves, realising that it would make foreigners uncomfortable.  What about regular Japanese people, or indeed anyone living in Japan, who feel uncomfortable seeing men (I think it’s safe to assume it’s just men who do this!) in the shop just to perve at the young women, probably young girls (or boys) in these magazines, while they (the regular folks) are in getting their groceries or what not.    I understand that Japan wants to make as good impression as possible on visitors for the Olympics (or indeed the Rugby World Cup the year before) and of course Japan already makes a good impression on most visiting foreigners but just to make this decision now when they could have made it a long time ago which would have pleased an enormous amount of people. Hmmm. It says a lot that it’s even news.

Yet more unbelievable news about how women are thought of by some men in Japan, this time in a historical sense.  The Mayor of Osaka has cut a six-decade tie with San Francisco after the latter’s mayor designated a comfort women memorial as city property.   Not only has this Mayor announced his plan to cut ties because ‘trust was broken’ (get real!) but the Japanese government itself opposes the existence of that memorial and others.  I say bravo to the Mayor of San Francisco.  Cool city, cool mayor!!   Of course, many Japanese abhor this denial policy of Japan’s leader and support the memorials to these victims – let’s not forget that either.  Better for Abe and his cronies to change their views themselves than be forced to do it later just to look good for the Olympics or whatever.  The idea of cutting off ties with a prestigious city like San Francisco – a bonkers idea in general – just because its mayor clearly does not ‘bow’  to Japan’s policy is just fascist.

The news from Japan should be a real eye-opener this evening.   There’s another story about rent boys in Japan (vulnerable victims as well) but I’ll leave you to chew on the above for today, or check it out yourselves. Besides I could just read the headline as I had reached my ‘story limit’ for the day (annoying or what).

Postscript:  It seems that the convenience store is only ‘suspending’ (中止する )the ban on those magazines, implying that they may return.  Hopefully not though. They should realise that they should have been doing this along.   The English used by the person who translated the article (you can opt to translate it yourself but there is a translation already done) isn’t great by the way.  They used the word ‘nationwidely’.   Noone says that.  Widely by itself yes (widely known, widely regarded, etc.)  Nationwidely ….no!  Nationwide is fine. This is for the English language version of a big Japanese newspaper by the way but the quality of writing, or lack of editors to pick up on poor quality writing, in newspapers is pretty dire these days from regional newspapers to bigger national newspapers everywhere, so unfortunately it’s not alone in its misuse of words.   Are people so keen to get out the news that they forget their English?  Apparently so.  Then again, I was in a hurry to report this interesting news and missed the word suspend so I should have been more careful myself, even if I’m not a national newspaper.

 

 

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Movie melodies

Melodies add a

lot to a film, helping

it tell its story.

 

I’ve been thinking about soundtracks lately, putting together playlists on my tablet or rather transferring them from my laptop and adding more as I went along.  I love music and rarely let a day go by without listening to something.  I’ve various playlists but my soundtrack playlist is probably one of the longer ones.

I’ve been meaning to add something to this blog about the music in Japanese or Japanese-related films I’ve seen so now I have.  I’ve added a page Movie Melodies just under Films worth a look (while Dramas and Documentaries is now a heading of its own as you can see).

Regarding Cafe Lumière, I think the actress who sings the closing credits is the actress who plays the girlfriend of Yoko’s chef friend  and not the lead actress, Yoko, though she is or was a singer herself.  Nice song.   I’ve just now remembered another film whose main theme I have to add.    Funny how one song can lead to you thinking of another even though the two films are very different.   I’ve heard that Hiroyuki Sanada has a very fine singing voice and whether he sang or not the theme tune or a version of it to Twilight Samurai, that’s what made me think of it – lead actors or actresses singing in films or on the film score.

It’s funny but usually, with Hollywood films at least, I tend to roll my eyes when I hear that the actors contributed to the soundtracks.   I tend to think ‘Aren’t they indulged enough already without people telling them they can sing!’   Maybe this sounds mean I don’t know and I don’t care.  They’re strangers, not people I know.  Plus they could be depriving some little known singer of potential fame gained by appearing on the soundtrack.  However, there is one exception I can think of.  Tim Blake Nelson is said to have sang ALL his parts both in the film scenes and on the soundtrack of Oh Brother Where Art Thou – a fantastic film and film score – while his co-stars only lip-synced or mimed the words.  I’d believe it too.  I guess some actors and actresses can actually sing.   Another exception is Holly Hunter who actually learned the piano for the film The Piano and that too is an excellent film and score (though I only listen to The Heart seeks Pleasure First, to be honest).

Anyway, back to Japanese films which is what I talk about here.   I hope you enjoy these scores and if you’ve any suggestions I’d be glad to hear them.

 

 

 

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ハロウィーン

Certain Halloween 

tv fare no doubt won’t be

right for all of us

 

Well, I did watch Yakuza Apocalypse after all.    All of it.  It’s truly bizarre and actually kind of funny at times in the way they take the piss out of the yakuza in the dialogue. To a taunt that yakuza are all stupid (or the yakuza guy being taunted is stupid) the taunted yakuza guy goes, ‘yakuza minus stupid doesn’t leave much’, while another guy goes ‘my skin is too sensitive for a tattoo’.   I said to myself ‘ok I’ll see how it goes’ but then I just got into it.  It’s no more violent than any other zombie film or your usual yakuza fare from directors like Beat Takashi or, as is the case here,Takashi Miike, director of 13 Assassins, a film I really like, who has also directed more infamously violent films such as Ichi the Killer (very hard to find for obvious reasons but the trailer is off-putting enough – even Tadanobu Asano being in it wouldn’t make me watch it and he’s brilliant in my opinion) and Imprint (haven’t seen that either).    There is a warning in the film description that there is sexual violence and it’s only fair to warn people, especially women and any young adults or children, who may be reading this, of what to expect.  It is not something you want, as a woman especially, to see in a film whether it’s graphically portrayed or hinted at by the context of the scene.

So that was my Halloween film, a night before official Halloween night.  Speaking of Halloween, it does well in Japan apparently, based on the 2016 report of the Japan Anniversary Association totalling the amount spent in the 2016 market on everything from shopping to Halloween-themed dining at ¥135 billion, surpassing the ¥134 billion spent on Valentine’s Day, making it the second-biggest event in Japan after Christmas last year. Crikey.  Pokémon and Super Mario were popular last year due to, respectively, the Pokémon go phenomenon (I just don’t get the appeal of that) and Shinzo Abe’s appearance at the Olympics closing ceremony last year as Super Mario (what a good sport he was but I’m still not a fan).  The JAA is a new association to me  – only hearing of it in some random news report I came across online yesterday – which registers and tracks commemoration days in Japan (their strangest one must be lactobacillus day. Bizarre)

Well who’s surprised really that Halloween does so well in Japan.  Not only from the modern point of view of Japan outdoing America in virtually everything it adopts from there, but because Japan has always done ghost stories really well, not to mention horror, though Korea is probably better these days at horror.

As for other TV entertainment, well, Japanese Style Originator, listed in my drama/documentary list, is as entertaining as watching paint dry.  I knew it was too early to list it!!  It’s more of a panel show with a documentary feel.  I watched the first episode of the series available on that streaming service we all know and love, and barely made it through to the end.  However, I decided to watch a bit of the next one and only lasted about 10 minutes.   A lot of the episodes are missing but it made no difference to me as I couldn’t go further than the second one they have up.   Between the rather silly panel of personalities and guests, and the syncing of adult voices to the kids’ dialogue which is slightly over-acted by one of them – sorry but it’s true though not nice to say about kids – it just wasn’t my cup of tea, however interesting the cultural aspects and great the potential for expanding my range of cultural vocabulary.   I might recommend it for university students whose teacher wants to kill some time, or a whole class worth of it, but otherwise I’d recommend people watch something else.  Like a good drama or documentary.  I never find the syncing of adults voices to dialogue spoken by children cute or endearing.  It’s just a bit wierd in my opinion.  Just as wierd is seeing adults in something with kids’ voices synced to their dialogue.   There’s an ad on tv a lot which is for a certain brand of sweets and these adults on a train platform are saying which ones they like the most out of a selection (another one is set on a football field) and the adults have kids’ voices and it’s just freaky.  It’s some bit funny though whereas the other way around is just not.

Anyway, Happy Halloween – hope your outfits are fun and some bit original.  Pennywise the clown from Stephen King’s IT, made into a film this year, is a pretty popular one.  I read that book years ago and it was really creepy.    I still remember how freaked out I was by it.

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