Haiku reflections on Japan, Snapshots of Japan

After the Storm

After the Storm – 

another hit from the

class Kore-eda?

There’s a film out at the moment called ‘After the Storm’ starring Hiroshi Abe and Kiki Kirin which is meant to be really good.   I’d go see it only it’s not available anywhere near me.  I might have to head to another city to see it so we’ll see.   It looks like one I’d add to my ‘Films worth a look’ list.   It’s another one by Kore-eda whose films are nearly always about family ties.

Haven’t studied any Japanese in a few weeks.  I think I just got to a level on Renshuu that I had to think ‘Oh well where do I go now?’   I went to another part of the site that specialised in kanji but found myself going over old ground, really basic old ground so was not very motivated to continue it.  I like to copy a lot of sentences from it which have new terms in them, or certain grammar structures I want to perfect, into word files according to theme and then I try to go back to the Word files once in a while to look over what I’ve learned – I’ve pages and pages by now per theme (politics, business, sport, food/drink, household, etc.) – to review them.   Well, good intentions and all ….  I don’t usually have the time.   Still, it’s good to give something a break now and then so you can return to it with a clear mind.

One or two files that are really handy at the moment are the politics and war files considering the antagonism coming from NK towards Japan and the new leader in South Korea.  Another is my weather and climate file since firstly Japan has such a wide range of weather conditions and catastrophes and secondly since the climate is more important than ever and not just because or since that clown in the White House pulled out of the all-important Paris agreement.  Boooo!! 馬鹿だよ!

Any thoughts on this?  I look forward to hearing them.

Slightly edited – 3/6 – to add haiku and other additions to main text.

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Haiku reflections on Japan

The Samurai way … or not

Dramas about food – yum

yet not so eager about 

diners in this one

I guess because I wasn’t overly impressed with it that I didn’t mention sooner a drama series called Samurai Gourmet which I watched lately.  I had a lot to say about the recent films I watched (I really hope you haven’t watched A taxing woman returns!).

A newly retired salary man, a nice guy too (unlike the obnoxious image of salary men you often get which is of course unfair to most of them), who finds himself with not a lot to do in his retirement but eat out everyday finds his behaviour somewhat influenced by the presence, which only he can see, of a samurai who is not shy about acting the way he wants.  This is mostly good – he learns to relax and not pay so much attention to what people might think of him – and sometimes ‘bad’ – he still backs down from a ‘good’ confrontation or gets intimidated too easily when he tries to ask someone to shut it as he’s annoying other customers.  If you summon up the courage to start to tell someone to shut it you should follow it through.

As an aside, I still think you should never slurp your pasta in Japan even if you’re taught that it’s ok with noodles.   Even if everyone else is doing it.   And I was not impressed with the way the pasta was cooked in the second or third episode I think it was.

An extra quirk is that in the scenes with the samurai, the actors present, bar the retiree, suddenly change from their modern attire to the style of dress from the particular era the samurai comes from and when he disappears they’re seen again in their modern attire.  The retired salary man is played by an actor I might have mentioned here before, Naoto Takenaka.  He’s a good actor for this kind of role.

It’s a real slow-moving casual kind of drama, sometimes charming, often funny, about an ordinary guy (re-)discovering himself in a Japan he hardly recognises (he’s been so busy working and has never had the time to relax and observe what’s going on around him) and in some ways it looks at family ties as well.  His wife seems to live her own life completely and his niece acts like he should be happy with her company even if she’s ignoring him and engaging more with her phone. Though I wouldn’t compare it quality wise to Cafe Lumiere, it did remind me of that film, only with humour.   I guess it’s a good one after all!  Midnight Diner, with its raggle taggle of different customers and a very taciturn diner owner, another nice guy, is similar but also without as much humour.

Speaking of Cafe Lumiere, Huo Hsiao-Hsien is 70 today (the 8th of April) – happy birthday!

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Haiku reflections on Japan, International or other matters

Itami update – Taxing indeed!

Sometimes the sequel

to a film just ain’t worth the

effort of watching

Well, I watched A Taxing Woman and as expected, it was very good (earning Miyamoto a Best Actress award at the Japanese Academy Awards in 1988) with great performances by both Miyamoto, the ‘taxing’ woman of the title and Yamazaki, the tricky person she’s after for taxes, yet comes to respect and like (a feeling that’s more than mutual).  Who would think a film about a tax inspector could be so riveting!!  Not me.  There are some pretty comical scenes exaggerating the power and excitement these tax inspectors get in catching tax evaders.

However, I’d be very reluctant to recommend the sequel A taxing woman returns which I decided to watch straight after because I had just discovered a sequel existed (and I was doing nothing else). This time she’s going after a religious cult mixed up with the Yakuza (like the Yakuza aren’t challenging enough!) and there are some very distasteful scenes in it.  I turned it off after a while as I couldn’t watch anymore.  Even the first scene is hard to get past.  You could say it was taxing to watch.  It’s almost an insult to the original to be that distasteful (even though it’s the same actress and same director – I’m a bit disappointed people!)

I was wondering what the マルサ of the Japanese title referred to.  It’s slang for the tax inspection agency.  She does mention it herself when her boss decides they need the assistance of the national inspection agency (they’re just regular auditors working for the local tax office) to which she then gets promoted to working with, but I couldn’t see the linguistic connection.  Wikipedia put me right.  I’m a linguist by profession so this need to know something like this is obsessive.  I’m not a human dictionary after all and nor would finance /tax be an area I’d be in a rush to translate so I wouldn’t know it through my work either.  Anyway, サ/査 comes from one of the words for inspection (調査・ちょうさ) and マル・まる which is circle represents the circle beside the 査 kanji, two kanji  〇査 (ok, symbols as the circle’s not a kanji but you get my drift) which the tax inspection agency use side by side in their official seal. I like how it translates in English to ‘(a) taxing woman’ as to the people she’s after she’s rather taxing as she won’t get off their case but likewise it’s ‘taxing’ work for her to deal with such people, however smoothly she does it.   Exciting knowledge to have I know(ok now I’m just being sarcastic) – but you’d never know when you might need it.  Just don’t get caught out on your taxes in Japan and you won’t have to. But if you want to translate finance/tax (yawn!), it’s good to know anyway.

Don’t forget to watch the original though – it really is very good.

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