Ichi great film!!

Goze, Samurai –

both inept and once great – and

Bandits are all here

So I`ve been chopping and changing my film list lately as I have mentioned but I just made another change to it, restoring Ichi to its rightful place in the list i.e. in the first section, having watched it again last night.  Though there is one ex-Samurai in it, Banki, who has fallen out of favour (because of his looks) and another guy who did not quite make it to Samurai status because of his fear of drawing his sword (but was pretty handy with a wooden sword nonetheless), it`s mainly about one blind girl`s quest to find an answer to a big question in her life which brings her into the acquaintance of Toma and forces her into an encounter with Banki, who now leads a bandit gang against a yakuza family and the town they control.   She fights as well as any Samurai too having been taught to fight by her father throughout her younger years, despite being blind.   That`s why I put it in the Samurai section.

With the exception of the few heart-wrenching parts when she is a child and other certain scenes,  I forgot how  funny it is (not laugh out loud but chuckle-funny) especially hapless Toma who can`t use his real sword but amazingly gets by most of the time without having to draw it.  The soundtrack is interesting as well, by Lisa Gerrard, who sings the main theme of Gladiator (great theme and great film).   Not music I`d want to listen to too much, a bit heavy for me, but fitting for this film. I never paid attention to who it was before.    Shidou Nakamura, who plays the leader of the bandits (and once great Samurai) does my head in though.  Overacting just a tad as usual (I don`t really think he has that shibui-ness anymore either).   His righthand man in the film definitely overacts.  I don`t know who that actor is but I bet he`s in lots of gangster or samurai films.  I mentioned in a previous post about Tora! Tora! Tora!  that actors were encouraged to overact back then but maybe that is still the case or Nakamura is an actor who likes that method.

The film also shows how hard it is for women at that time.  In this case, the character was spurned and thrown out of her Goze (blind musicians) troupe (the only section of society that she could feel part of) even though she was the victim in the particular situation.    Men took advantage of her in one case, or she of them as she needed `to be warmed up at night` and women judged her for it.    I say `that time`.  A lot of women are still quite cruel to each other, whether a woman is a victim or not.



Having prominent

thoughts of a return to ole

Japan but hang on…

… my head is usually telling me to stay put where I am and I`m even planning to move out to a new abode so how does J fit in to this?  It doesn`t really.    You`re great Japan but if you don`t mind I`m attempting to focus on other things right now.  What to do what to do.

It`s been a while since I wrote my last post but I have been kinda busy and I just couldn`t think of something to write about despite regularly reading the news from Japan.   I`ve managed to get a few J-dramas in though all this while and films too (I think I may add Ryõ Kase, who was in one of these films, to my shibui list – there is definitely something about him.  He is good looking and  kinda cool and as an actor he`s very talented – being able to play a wide variety of roles – though being shibui does not really include your competence at your job).  I`m still enjoying the drama  about the divorced couple.   Such good actors in that and the story has just taken a very interesting spin.  There`s another one I started watching about a Japanese American family (with a blow-in from Tokyo) in the west coast of the USA but that`s not that good (the acting is dire at times).  There are no more episodes being posted up for that anyway so just as well.   It`s great when you find a J-drama you like but it`s still a good thing that most J-dramas only have about 10 -13 episodes.  I was given a link to a film called Princess Toyotomi lately so I watched it yesterday.  Quite good.  I can never help myself, when I see places I have been to myself (such as Osaka, the city the film is set in), from going `I was there!  I was there!` (Maybe it is time to go back to Japan and add more places to my `I was there!` list hahaha).

Terrible to hear about the bombing in Boston – on Patriots Day and all (though obviously that is part of the message from the culprits).   Those low lifes whoever they are, are obviously smarter low lifes (and yes it should be lives but the plural used in this case is lifes*) than people give them credit for, though maybe the US is not paying as much attention to security as it used to be post-911.   I hope they`re caught and punished but somehow I don`t think there will ever be an end to this antagonism and need for revenge against the US (and other powerful countries).  I believe a lot of countries are going on security alert.   I`m just glad I live in a fairly non-descript city, as much as I may complain about it, though there is one link which might piss off said terrorists (it certainly pisses off the locals who don`t want this link to exist).   I guess Japan is already on security alert what with the `friendly` neighbours next door threatening nuclear action.  I don`t think Japan would ever be considered targets for the wing of terrorism targeted at the US but who knows.  It seems any country closely linked with the USA is no friend of theirs.   Anyway, sorry to sound like a scare-monger.  Enough about that.


* Excuse the linguistic nerdiness there.  I can`t help it.





Love and marriage in Japan

Well, dating and of

course marriage has its moments

good and bad but does….

…  the culture of the person you`re dating/marrying make it even more work?  Respect and love between the two people involved is the most important but cultural differences have to be taken into account and adapted to from the start to make it easier.

Why am I talking about this?  Well I read an article reviewing this book which gives advice to Japanese men on how to date western women.    A bit of a strange one and I wonder how many Japanese men will take a look at it or even buy it.   The author runs a certain website which helps foreign women find their feet when they arrive in Japan and help them network and find friends while they`re there.  She also has a book with all this information and advice.  The wordplay in the name of the site /book itself is what interested me and made me want to browse the site.   Anyone who knows the site will know what I`m talking about.

A few examples of what is in the book was available in a separate article and some of them were amusing enough and quite relevant.   Some were a bit `hmmmm don`t know about that now`.

One I appreciated was telling Japanese men that they don`t have to be able to speak English to approach a western woman (who might not be a native speaker anyway – that`s my little addition to that), and that they should just speak Japanese.  The woman will most likely have some Japanese and if anything she`ll appreciate not being made feel like she`s expected to give a free English/(other language) lesson.   Another point related to this was telling them not to be shy.   She says that Japanese men should not be `afraid` of western women (inverted commas are mine and of course she may be jesting).

What I say:  True, we are approachable and friendly unless you`re creepy or make us uncomfortable in some way, in which case we have every right to decline conversation (and move away slowly or at a speed which is at our discretion – it depends on the scale of wierdness and where you are – in a public place with lots of people or not).   Generally though, we`re not aliens (though according to our `alien registration cards` we are haha).    About her `fear` idea which, like I said she might be saying it in jest:  I briefly touched on the idea before of the idea of Japanese men being afraid of western women before and how strange an assumption that was to make (at least two of my foreign colleagues in Japan said this to me and they weren`t jesting).

Another example is telling Japanese men not to order on behalf of the woman he`s with, in a restaurant.  It`s clearly controlling behaviour.   I think she, or women she has spoken to, may have had this experience with someone before so she`s letting Japanese guys know, on behalf to the women she has surveyed, that it`s not acceptable from them either.

My reaction: This is spot-on of course.  I`d hate someone to order on my behalf whether or not I can read the menu (and of course I can but I`d just pick something out randomly if I couldn`t) but there are men in every culture/country who order for their wives/girlfriends/dates so it`s not just a Japanese thing, if they even do it and there probably are men somewhere in Japan who like to do this – who knows.  That would make me run a mile.

A final one for this post is giving a list of Japanese men `we` all love*, we being western women.

What I thought: I recognised about 4 or 5 names and that was it.     But to say `we` was annoying as if she and the western women currently in Japan (who she did survey but still…) represent `all` western women out there who all have different tastes in men.   It also depends on what your concept of western is because Australia isn`t in the west but women from there are considered, for the purposes of this survey, to be western.  Similarly, one woman who was from Russia replied in a comment that she didn`t consider herself `western`.

There are more examples (of which some are on the ball and some are not) but it depends very much on the people involved and what they are looking for in a person.   Just like any country in the world.  As long as a woman shows respect for herself, she`ll be able to find a man who respects her back.  Dump him if he`s not showing signs of doing so.  So I wonder again if this book will fly off the bookshelves or at least if Japanese men will swap their habit of going into convenience stores to read from a certain kind of magazine, and slip into a bookstore and browse through this book instead.

*Some of the men were not that special but I agreed with a few (and thought she left out a few more possibilities).  I also see that she could have meant love in a general term as in they`re great characters (which perhaps explains the inclusion of some samurai character in a novel – or from real life I can`t remember – from centuries ago).  Even so, the point about generalising still applies.

By the way, speaking of this list, there are two actors on it who are soon to appear in a samurai flick with Keanu Reeves.  One of these men is Tadanobu Asano who starred in Mongol (also had a small part in Zatoichi and he must be in a lot of other stuff) and who I mentioned in a previous post about certain Japanese men being `shibui`.    The other is Hiroyuki Sanada, who is in one of my favourite films featuring samurai (only he doesn`t quite like the fighting aspect of being a samurai which he is forced to take on as the film rolls on, being devoted to his two young daughters instead and wanting to go home to them every day after work- awwww isn`t that lovely).    They both deserve to be on this list.   So anyway, I saw a photo of these two actors and Keanu Reeves in some promotional shoot for it and Sanada San`s face looks a bit ….. stretched shall I say.  Like he`s had a bit of botox or something.  Now I  really hope not because he`s actually a guy who would not be harmed by a few wrinkles.   At that age you expect wrinkles not stretched faces.  So don`t do it Sanada – you`ll ruin a very fine face if you start with that nonsense.   Asano on the other hand looked very handsome as usual but he`s a good few years younger than Sanada I think.  Hopefully he won`t go down the botox route either.