Ainu People facing more trouble

The Ainu people 

have their work cut out getting

what they have rights to..


… returned to them, items which are being held in possession by a few universities around Japan but mainly Hokkaido University in Sapporo (Hokudai, as it is called for short).     These items are no ordinary items.  They are skulls, bones, and other bodily components belonging to their ancestors who had tests carried out on them by researchers from said university/universities.     It`s shocking stuff to read really – these researchers would go along to traditional Ainu villages and carry out tests on the villagers like measuring their skulls, their heights, taking blood samples etc.

Meanwhile, the current leader of the country that allows these universities to do this has come under the spotlight for his August 15th speech for the 68th anniversary of Japan`s surrender in World War II.     Leaving out any vow to avoid future wars which are usually included in this speech is just one major faux-pas.   He did not go to Yasukuni as promised but he did send a proxy who went in his name.  Hmmm.   Is he trying to cause outrage???






Snowdori Park

Ode to snow forms big

and small in Sapporo`s blocks-

long park – (sn)Odori.

I haven`t put a picture up in a while so, seeing as Sapporo`s Snow Festival has just kicked off as it does this time of year, I thought I`d add my own photographic memory to the blog.   Taken with my pre-digital camera – and I still remember the funny look I got from the person who took a picture of me in front of one of the sculptures – built yearly by members of the self-defense forces.   Who I assume don`t have much else to do.  Thankfully really because they`re often needed for disasters or issues with the neighbours – not that they can do much there – so building these may be a bit of a relief!!  By the way Asahikawa also has a winter festival for those of you who don`t know.    Most sections of this park are taken up with these sculptures but there`s also a section with an artificial ski-jump.  There was when I was there anyway.

I think the contrast between the snowy sculpture of the ancient Taj Mahal and the modern Japanese office block is interesting.



Foodie film fest Tokyo/Osaka

Food and movies make

a good combination, just

look at Tampopo!

Oh this would be music to my ears, a feast to my eyes and taste buds if I was living in Tokyo (or Osaka, mention that in a sec) – the annual Tokyo Gohan Film Festival is coming up from the 6th to the 21st October.     15 films about food from Japan and abroad will be shown and oh man I`d love to go along.  This is its third year apparently.  There`s a shorter spin-off food festival in Osaka from the 6th to the 14th, for anyone living there.

Tampopo, Itami`s seminal film from 1985, will feature.  I love that film and have watched it over and over.    Julie and Julia I have also seen and it wasn`t bad but Meryl Streep`s accent drove me mad.  Just which accent from Britain was she trying to cover exactly??  Her acting was a bit hammed up but the person on whom it was based – Julia Childs – must have been a very eccentric character as you rarely see Meryl Streep being hammy. Except maybe Mamma Mia.  I never saw that but it involves Abba so….  You tell me was M.S. hammy in that?

Two Japanese films I`ve not heard of yet are Kamome Shokudo (Kamome Diner) and Pengin fuku no tsukurikata (How to make a penguin couple – the name alone is curious) and they look good according to the descriptions.

I was actually looking for a J-drama to watch a few weeks ago and came across a foodie drama.  It was set in Sapporo incidentally which is partly why I was interested.  However, after about ten minutes I just had to turn it off because the acting was terrible and big colourful lettering kept appearing on the screen distracting me from what was being said (yeah I should have been used to that from my time watching tv in Japan but it`s still annoying) and so, despite wanting to watch something about food and set in Sapporo, I decided I wasn`t really that desperate.  I can`t even remember the name now but it had curry in the title.

Sapporo by the way does a great ramen – yummm.  Anyone visiting Sapporo should try the ramen there.  Then there`s the stew named, curiously, after Genghis Khan, which is delicious as well and appropriate given the temperatures in Hokkaido.